Massey Harris

Massey Harris Restoration

Restored Massey Harris Tractor

Beacon Mens Shed Gallery


front view of Massey Harris tractor restored to like brand new
Massey Harris Restored at Beacon Mens Shed
rusted out and in poor condition before work started on the Massey Harris tractor Restoration

The Australian operations of the Massey -Harris company was  founded by Hugh V. McKay in the 1890s in Ballarat.  In 1930, it merged with Massey-Harris to become H.V McKay Massey Harris. In the 1955 the company was absorbed by Canadian agricultural firm Massey-Ferguson.

rear view of the Massey Harris tractor restoration
Massey Harris Restored

Massey Ferguson was founded in 1847 in Newcastle, Ontario by Daniel Massey, as the Newcastle Foundry and Machine Manufactory. To begin with it made some of the world’s first mechanical threshers, at first by assembling parts from the United States, but eventually designing and building its own equipment. Daniel’s eldest son, Hart Massey, renamed the enterprise the Massey Manufacturing Co. and in 1879 moved it to Toronto, where it soon became one of the city’s leading employers. 

The massive collection of factories, consisting of a 4.4 hectares (11 acres) site with plant and head office at 915 King Street West (now part of Liberty Village), became one of the best known features of the city. Massey expanded further and began to sell its products internationally.

In 1891, Massey Manufacturing merged with A. Harris, Son & Co. Ltd to become Massey-Harris Limited and became the largest agricultural equipment maker in the British Empire. Massey-Harris made threshing machines and reapers as well as safety bicycles, introducing a shaft-driven model in 1898. In 1910 it acquired the Johnston Harvester Company in Batavia, New York, making it one of Canada’s first multinational firms.

Massey-Harris’s early tractor models included the 20 horsepower Massey-Harris GP 15/22 (1930–36), 25 horsepower Massey-Harris Pacemaker (1936–39),  35 horsepower Model 101 (1938–42), Massey-Harris Pony, Model 20, Model 81, and Model 744.

Grain harvesting was revolutionized by Massey engineer Tom Carroll in 1938 with the world’s first self-propelled combine – the No. 20. —but it was too heavy and expensive for extensive mass production. However, it served as a guide for the building of the lighter and less costly No. 21, which was tested in 1940 and put on sale in 1941. The Massey-Harris No. 21 Combine was commemorated with a Canada Post stamp on June 8, 1996. E.P. Taylor, one of C.D. Howe’s dollar-a-year men, joined the board of directors in 1942, and Eric Phillips joined management in 1946.

The final generation of Massey-Harris tractors, introduced immediately after World War II, included the 25 horsepower M-H 22 series, the 35 horsepower M-H 33 series, the 45 horsepower M-H 44 series and the 55 horsepower M-H 55 series. In 1952 the M-H 22 was replaced by the M-H 23 Mustang. In 1955 the 30 horsepower Massey-Harris 50 was introduced after the merger that created Massey-Harris-Ferguson. It was based on the Ferguson TO-35 and was also produced as the F-40 for Ferguson dealers. The MH-50 was available in several configurations: utility, high-crop utility, or row-crop with a choice of single, tricycle, or wide adjustable front ends. In 1956 the M-H 33 was replaced by the MH 333, the M-H 44 was replaced by the M-H 444 and the M-H 55 was replaced by the M-H 555. These tractors commonly known as the triple series were mechanically similar to their predecessors but featured new styling which included a slightly different hood design, chrome trim on the grill and hood, and a different colour scheme. They were also available with power steering, live PTO and hydraulics. The Massey Harris triple series tractors remained in production until 1958.


In 1953, Massey-Harris merged with the Ferguson Company to become Massey-Harris-Ferguson, before finally taking on its current name in 1958.

Massey Ferguson

The name was shortened to Massey Ferguson in 1958. They tried to consolidate the two dealer networks and product lines. Its television and radio advertising featured an upbeat jingle, with a male chorus singing, “He’s a get-up-early, keep-’em-rollin’, Massey-Ferguson kind of a man.” But the company soon began to decline financially. Facing increasing international competition in the 1960s the firm began to decline financially. Facing increasing international competition in the 1960s the firm began to struggle.

Sunshine, Australia

In 1955, Massey purchased the Australian manufacturers of Sunshine harvesters, H.V. McKay Pty Limited. Hugh Victor McKay had invented the stripper harvester in 1884, the first machine to combine the functions of reaping, threshing and winnowing grain from a standing crop. By the 1920s the H.V. McKay Pty Limited was running the largest implement factory in the southern hemisphere, covering 30.4 hectares (75 acres), and were leading the international agricultural industry through the development of the world’s first self-propelled harvester in 1924.

In 1930 the H.V. McKay Pty Limited was granted exclusive Australian distribution of Massey-Harris machinery. The company was then renamed H.V. McKay Massey Harris Pty Ltd. Throughout World War II, H.V. McKay Massey Harris exported over 20,000 Sunshine drills, disc harrows and binders to England to facilitate the increase in food production.

In 1955 the remainder of H.V. McKay Pty Ltd was sold to Massey Ferguson. Manufacturing ended in 1986 and the last section sold off and demolished in 1992. 

 “Massey Ferguson.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia

Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 2 May. 2018. 


Massey Harris becomes Massey Ferguson

When Harry Ferguson left the partnership with Ford he produced his own tractors. 

Written by Bill Ganzel

The Canadian manufacturer Massey-Harris became Massey-Ferguson, expanded their international operations and laying claim to the title of largest worldwide agricultural manufacturer. In the post-World War II boom, Massey-Harris had moved ahead of Oliver, Cockshutt, Case and Minneapolis-Moline in ag equipment sales. But it was still selling only half of the tractors that John Deere was, and Deere was only number two behind International Harvester. Massey-Harris would claim industry leadership through a series of mergers during the 50s and 60s.

In 1950, Massey’s strength was in it self-propelled combines. Its weakness was its tractor line. The tractors had a reputation for being built well, but they lagged behind competitors in power and features. Massey-Harris needed an advantage, and they found one by taking on the cantankerous Harry Ferguson as a partner.

In the previous decades, Harry Ferguson and Henry Ford had partnered to produce the revolutionary Ford-Ferguson Model “9N.” Ferguson had developed his three-point hitch mechanism in 1926 as a way of preventing a tractor from rearing up when the plow it was pulling hit a rock or hard patch of ground. A linkage between the plow and a high point of the tractor would transfer force from the plow to keep the front end of the tractor down.

By 1946, the handshake agreement between Ford and Ferguson came to an end, and Ferguson began producing his own tractors in England and later the U.S. Both the British Ferguson and Canadian Massey-Harris firms were chasing their competitors, and the two firms had talked over the years about various possible joint ventures. Finally, in 1953, Massey offered to buy out Ferguson’s company. Ferguson accepted.

The merged company became Massey-Harris-Ferguson and, in one fell swoop, became the number two manufacturer in the world behind IH and ahead of Deere. All of the new tractors offered the three-point hitch and that was a major selling point.

But the merger also caused problems for a few years. The merger had put Harry Ferguson on the new board of directors and the company agreed to continue to market separate lines of tractors – one under the Ferguson brand and the other under the Massey-Harris brand. There was even an entirely separate dealer network for the two brands.

That produced confusion in both the dealers and – worse – the customers. It also produced conflict over future designs. Harry Ferguson was a proud and headstrong man, and in just under a year, he left the board in a dispute over the design of the Massey-Harris Model “50.”

The “Two-Line Policy” continued until a new CEO, Col. W. Eric Phillips, brought in management consultants in 1958. They were appalled by the confusion the policy created, and the policy ended in 1958. The company name was shortened to Massey-Ferguson, and it began to exploit its historic emphasis on global manufacturing and marketing. They standardized their offerings, so that the same tractors were sold in Canada, the U.S. and Europe as well as around the world.

By the mid-60s, Massey-Ferguson claimed to be the largest farm equipment of tractors in the world.

Because of the merger and “Two-Line” product offerings, it’s difficult to chart the tractors themselves. There were overlapping models offering the same horsepower and features from the same company. But we can outline the major series of tractors during this period.

Post-war Massey-Harris “22,” “30,” “33,” “44” and “55.” To take advantage of the post-war farming boom, Massey brought out a new line that, for the first time, featured engines that they built themselves (as opposed to buying from other manufacturers). This line was introduced in 1946 and continued until around 1955. This was also the first line of Massey tractors that featured their red color styling. The “22” was rated at – as you might expect – 22 horsepower on the drawbar. The “30” produced 26 HP, and was built until ’52 when it was replaced with the “33” with 35 HP. The “44” was tested at 39 HP, and was upgraded to the “44 Special” from ’53 to ’55 with 43 HP. The “55” produced between 52-57 HP depending on the type of fuel. Between 1948 and ’58, Massey also produced the “744” and “745” in Great Britain, both with around 46 HP. 

The Massey-Harris Pony. In 1947, the company brought out the Model “11” Pony tractor that was rated at 10 HP on the drawbar. Designed for small operations and truck farms, the Pony was produced for 10 years.

Ferguson “TE-20” and “TO-30.” When he was on his in the early ’50s, Harry Ferguson essentially reproduced the Ford-Ferguson model in his English factory and called it the “Ferguson TE-20.” The designation stood for “Tractor, England – 20 Horsepower.” In 1948, he wanted to sell the tractor to America, so he bought a plant in Detroit and renamed the new tractors “TO-20,” for “Tractor, Overseas.” In 1951, he upgraded the power (to 30 HP) and came out with the “TO-30.”

Two Line Policy Tractors. Between ’53 and ’58, there was a plethora of models. In the 30 HP class, there was the “Ferguson TO-35” and the “Massey-Harris 50” which became the “Massey-Ferguson 50” when the company dropped “Harris” from the corporate name. There was also what might be called the triple numeral series. The “Massey-Harris 333” had 33 HP and was produced from ’53 to ’57. The “MH 444” was rated at 44 HP, and the “MH 555” produced 52 HP.

The First Massey-Ferguson Line. In late 1957, Massey introduced the “Massey-Ferguson 65” rated at 38 HP. The “MF 85” had a gasoline engine and “MF 88” had a diesel engine. Both were both rated at around 55 HP on the drawbar. Oddly, the company also chose to market the “MF 95” with around 55 HP and based on a Minneapolis-Moline tractor called the GBD. The “MF 98” topped out the horsepower lineup at 73 HP and was based on the Oliver Super 99 GM tractor.

The Sixties Begin. In 1960, the “Massey-Ferguson 35” replaced the “TO-35” at the same 30 HP rating. A year later, the “MF 65 Mark II” got a power boost to 51 HP. The “MF Super 90” shot up to 70 HP, and the “MF 97” topped the line at 90 HP. Finally, in 1963, the “MF 25” was introduced to the small tractor market with 20 HP.

The DX 100 Series. Faced with competition and consolidation in the industry, Massey-Ferguson designed a whole new line that it introduced in 1965. White Corporation had acquired both Oliver and Minneapolis-Moline and would no longer supply tractors for Massey to repaint and sell as their own. The new lineup was anchored by the “MF 130” at 20 HP, followed by the “MF 135” at 30 HP, the “MF 150” at 33 HP, the “MF 165” at 45 HP, and the “MF 175” and “MF 180” both with around 55 HP. The “180” had a higher clearance and was designated a row crop tractor.

The DX 1000 series. Massey-Ferguson entered the high power sweepstakes with the 1000 series. In 1967, the brought out the “MF 1100” that boasted between 85 and 90 HP from its six-cylinder Perkins diesel engine. A turbo-charged version, known as the “MF 1130” produced 109 HP on the drawbar. A year later, a four-cylinder version came out and produced 80 HP.

           Written by Bill Ganzel