Harry Ferguson is best known for the invention of the three-point linkage system for attaching an implement to a farm tractor. This remarkable innovation, which was to transform farming around the world, can be traced back to 1917, when Harry was employed by the Irish Board of Agriculture to give demonstrations on good ploughing techniques to farmers throughout the country. He soon discovered that pulling a plough after a tractor with a chain was not only inefficient but also very dangerous, as when the plough engaged an obstruction it could cause the tractor to tip over backwards, often trapping the driver.
Harry's solution, the three-point linkage system, was developed over fifteen years of trial and error. Through this system, where the plough becomes an integral part of the tractor, the operating depth of the plough is controlled hydraulically while simultaneously the forces generated by the plough in the ground transfer weight to the back wheels of the tractor. This, in turn, keeps the front wheels firmly on the ground at all times. As a consequence of Harry’s invention, a lightweight tractor could now do the same work that had previously required a much heavier machine. This not only avoided soil compaction but ensured a high degree of safety and ease of operation with much greater economy.
There remained one problem. There was not a suitable tractor available onto which the three-point linkage system could be built. So in 1933, with the help of Willie Sands, Archie Greer and John Chambers, Harry designed his own tractor. Now known as 'The Black Tractor' (simply because it was painted black), it is now on display in the Science Museum in London. The design was revolutionary. It produced 18 horsepower and weighed 1,600 pounds (725kgs), making it the first tractor to weigh less than 100 pounds (45kgs) per horsepower. This was only possible through the use of the built-in features of the now universally used three-point linkage system.
THE PLOUGH AND RIDGER
The plough is of the two-furrow type, fitted with general-purpose bottoms. It is manufactured from the highest quality heat-treated alloy steel, which combines tremendous strength with a light weight. Brine-hardened three-ply steel mould-boards are fitted and the shares are chill cast. The standard equipment includes disc coulters and skimmers and adjustments can be carried out easily and quickly. Its weight is approximately 21/2cwts.
The ridger has three adjustable ridging bottoms with high carbon steel mould-boards and chill cast shares. Spacing from 18" to 30" can be obtained easily as the frame is drilled at intervals of one inch. A patented steerage fin is also fitted which maintains the implement centrally behind the front of the tractor when working on hillsides and when splitting ridges.
THE GENERAL CULTIVATOR
This implement embodies an exclusive and patented design of spring tine which extends rearwards when overriding obstructions and comes back into work instantaneously. The standard equipment includes seven spring-release tine units, which are adjustable for spacing. This implement is also manufactured throughout from heat-treated alloy steels.
THE ROW CROP CULTIVATOR
The ridger has three adjustable ridging bottoms with high carbon steel mould-boards and chill cast shares. Spacing from 18" to 30” can be obtained easily as the frame is drilled at intervals of one inch. A patented steerage fin is also fitted which maintains the implement centrally behind the front of the tractor when working on hillsides and when splitting ridges.