Tractor [Massey Ferguson]

Maker and role
Massey-Ferguson Limited, Manufacturer
Production date
See full details

Object detail

Accession number
Production period

Type: Ferguson Tractor
Model: TE20
Engine type: Petrol, 4-cylinder
Horse power: 28.2 HP at 2000 rpm
Fuel efficiency: .38 to .64 km per litre on the Antarctic journey (1.1 to 1.8 miles per gallon)
Serial No. TEA513816 Engine No. SC124329E

Tube - rubber inner tube with 60 mm cylindrical protrusion towards the centre with a metal tip. Around the protrusion is a circular area with "U250" and "TR35" printed on it.
Brief History
The Commonwealth Trans Antarctic Expedition of 1956-1958 ordered seven tractors from Massey Harris Ferguson Ltd.They were manufactured at the Standard Motors factory in Coventry, England during 1956. TEA513816 was built on Monday June 18, 1956. All the tractors left the factory painted grey. During trial runs in Antarctica it was proposed that they be painted red so that they would be more visible by aircraft if they needed urgent help.

They were then transported to Massey Harris Ferguson Ltd for modification before being sent to the expedition. Two tractors were sent to the Weddel Sea Base, established by Sir Vivian Fuchs and five were handed over to the Ross Sea Committee for use by Sir Edmund Hillary. They were sent to Wellington where they were checked before being transported by H.M.S. Endeavour to Ross Island, Antarctica.

There the tractors were used for hauling supplies and building the camp known as Scott Base. This tractor was one of three that set off to the South Pole on 14th October 1957. A tracked United States transport vehicle known as a Weasel completed the ‘train’ which pulled sledges carrying several tons of supplies and fuel.

Dog teams were originally planned for the trip, but the first stage of the journey demonstrated the reliability of the tractors. Further through the journey the Weasel developed serious transmission problems and had to be abandoned.

On January 2nd within 70 miles of the Pole and with only 180 gallons of fuel left for three tractors Hillary decided to make a non-stop run for the Pole. For 20 hours they drove steadily on, checking their position every six hours. At 8pm on January 3rd Hillary spotted a red marker flag, they stopped for the night and at noon on January 4th drove through the last few miles of soft snow to the American South Pole station.

“…in the end our faithful tractors got us through – and with 20 gallons to spare.”

The telegram sent by Sir Edmund to Massey Harris Ferguson read as follows:

“Despite quite unsuitable conditions of soft snow and high altitudes our Fergusons performed magnificently and it was their extreme reliability that made our trip to the Pole possible. Stop. Thank you for your good wishes. Hillary.”
U250 TR35 Printed
Credit Line
Massey-Ferguson Limited. 1956. Tractor [Massey Ferguson], 1964.228. The Museum of Transport and Technology (MOTAT).


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