Archive for January 10th, 2016

Mike Etzel – Iowa, USA – 4/25 ‘Mini’ – 7 + year restoration project

Mike Etzel’s Nuffield ‘Mini’ 4/25 restoration project

Nuffield 4/25 'Mini' Finished Tractor

Nuffield 4/25 ‘Mini’ Finished Tractor

Mike Etzel grew up on the family farm in Iowa, USA, and learned to drive a Ferguson TO 30. Although his father left farming in 1963 he had cousins who farmed near his family home so was able to help out during his years at school. Thirty years later he is now living on a small farm a mile from his parents house, the land has belonged to his family for 100 years. Whilst looking for a way to clear the snow each winter he found a Ferguson TO 20, after a blade was mounted his problem was solved. During a minor restoration he discovered his tractor was a 1948 model, this lead him to dig deeper into its history and became involved with the ‘Ferguson Enthusiasts of North America’ club. Through this group he met two English Ferguson enthusiasts and was able to visit the UK in 2007.

Mike at Malvern Show

Mike at the Malvern Show – 2007

He was taken to the Malvern Show where he saw a BMC Mini tractor for the first time. He was hooked! He loves old British vehicles and owns a ’73 Mini, a ‘02 Mini, an ‘11 Mini and rides a Triumph Rocket 3. A BMC Mini 4/25 tractor would fit his collection just fine so he had to have one! On returning to the USA he located a suitable one in Florida, it was well worn but had potential. Mike made the trip to Florida with his pick-up truck, fortunately the 4/25, badged as a ‘Long’, just fitted inside the bed. (Long Manufacturing imported various Nuffield tractors and sold them as ‘Long’ models) Once unloaded back in Iowa he found the real truth, the sun and humidity hadn’t been kind, the electrics were shot, the wiring rotted and the gauges junk. Fortunately the nuts and bolts, whilst rusted, came free with little effort.

4/25 as purchased in original condition

‘Long’ ‘Nuffield’ 4/25 as purchased in original condition

The mudwings were rusted through and the front grill was pushed in. At least the engine turned over with the aid of a wrench (BMC Mini’s and 4/25’s in the USA were fitted with petrol engines). The transmission was free to turn but the steering box was split and rusty, the petrol tank was rusted and the tyres rotted. But he had a 4/25 Mini!

The restoration began quickly, everything was dismantled, cleaned and stored. A long list of ‘New’ parts was made. Parts are much more numerous in the UK than the USA but he made contact with, and became dependent on, Tim Blackburn of On finding a salvage yard 300 miles from home he sourced a number of parts from a Leyland 154 before it was scrapped.

BMC 1600cc Petrol Engine

BMC 1600cc Petrol Engine

The BMC 1600cc engine was used in MGA cars therefore parts were easy to find and after calling a USA based supplier everything he needed was delivered. The rebuild was a simple re-ring and bearing job – new valves were fitted after the seats were resurfaced.

A second hand fuel tank was sourced from a breaker in Texas, it was off a 154 and didn’t have a petrol level gauge. This problem was overcome by cutting the old one out of his rusted tank and refitting it to the 154 tank. The finished tank was then sent off for cleaning and sealing, job done! The radiator was also sent way for repair and painting. The front axle pivot bearing was badly worn, after a new one was fitted the pin was welded up and machined to fit, another job done!

Nuffield 2/45 Hydraulics and Wheels

Nuffield 2/45 Hydraulics and Wheels

The hydraulic unit was in bad condition with a number of welds here and there. The top link was rusted solid, it was soaked in penetrating fluid, and finally came free in the Autumn of 2015 after 7 years of applying heat and more fluid. The brakes were worn out and required new discs, new ones were obtained but were too thick, after another visit to the UK he picked up a new set from Tim.

Nuffield 4/25 Skid unit

Nuffield 4/25 almost complete

Now 7 years after the restoration started, parts had been sand blasted, repaired, painted and stored. Two more visits to Malvern had been made and a set of UK number plates obtained, but with the engine untested, wheel rims in primer and no new tyres bought Mike was at a standstill!

In talking to a friend who lived 200 miles away in central Iowa, the subject of tractors came up, unknown to Mike his friend had a Nuffield 4/25! He quickly went to view it. Fitted with grassland tyres, a loader and non standard bonnet it had issues similar to his own tractor, however the mudwings were in good condition! His friend called Mike in the autumn of 2014 to see if he wanted to buy the 4/25. Numbers were discussed but no agreement was reached. To Mikes’ surprise his friend called him again in late summer 2015 and asked him if he was willing to honour the price he had previously offered! Mike said yes and the 4/25, less loader, was his. When he got it home he discovered that the serial numbers on the two tractors were only 18 apart!

Nuffield 4/25 from Florida

2nd Nuffield 4/25 with non standard bonnet purchased in Iowa 

Although similar problems existed on both tractors Mike decided to use the Florida tractor as a donor for his latest purchase. With so many parts available plus numerous new parts sourced from the UK, Ireland, Canada and other places a semi complete tractor began to take shape.

Tin Work ready for painting

Tin-work repaired & ready for painting

All the tin work was sent away to a body shop for straightening and painting, new tyres were fitted front and rear. The dynamo, starter and electrics were all sorted out although at one point smoke escaped from a wire feeding the rear lights! A good functioning hydraulic system was fitted using parts from both tractors.

Mike Edzel - Restored 4/25

Mike Etzel’s – Restored 4/25

A new seat cushion was locally obtained and modified to fit the Mini’s seat pan, new bonnet badges were bought and fitted to complete the job – as complete as any restoration can be called complete, there are always minor jobs to be done.

Nuffield 4/25 'Mini' & Ferguson 1948 TO 20

Nuffield 4/25 ‘Mini’ & Ferguson 1948 TO 20

Mike’s 7 + year restoration has resulted in a very tidy, very original tractor worthy of all the hard work and money spent and is a credit to his abilities . The tractor will be shown at a number of local shows in Iowa, including the annual Ferguson Enthusiasts Expo to let the Ferguson folk enjoy seeing the results of Harry Ferguson’s research foundation.



Posted by John  January 10th, 2016