I recently saw a Craigslist ad for a TO-30 with a John Deere 1010 motor. It is a 2.4 L gas engine that looks similar to the Continental engine. I have seen 30’s with inline 6’s, V6’s, and V8’s. I’ve seen many interesting modifications at shows. I wonder, did any of the Fergusons come with authorized alternate engines, or we’re there experimental combinations that were demonstrated? I’ve never read about any but, it is common that manufacturers prepare interesting variations for shows and dealer presentations.
I’m not aware of any that were shown publicly but I do know that Continental made a Z129 diesel engine and a fuel-oil fueled carburetor engine, similar to the TEA-20 version. They didn’t make many of the true diesel engines but shortly after Continental was phasing out a lot of their production there was a liquidation of all sorts of parts including a bunch of engine blocks for the Z129 diesel engines. I believe this is when the Montes people first got involved.There was a predecessor to Montes that was first involved and then the present owner(S) who were part of that original group took over. Anyway, in that listing, there were several Z129D blocks.
Of course Harry Ferguson Limited in the UK was developing diesel versions of the TEA-20 and produced some. Diesel engines did not become as popular here in the states until several years later. But, if there was a diesel version of the Z129 it seems logical that Continental would have tried to get Ferguson to try it out.
Sadly, Del Gentner would have been the guy who knew about those things. Paul Nelson and Del became good friends and Del turned a lot of the paper he salvaged from the old Ferguson Park Engineering facility over to Paul. Paul was also in contact with Del’s son. I’m not sure if any material is available today or not.
Paul did do an article on the TOD-20 which is the fuel-oil version of the TO-20. The engine parts that are different from the TO-20 gas tractor are listed in the TE/TEA/TO parts book. The TOD-20 was built in Detroit and used a Continental Z120 engine, set up to operate on fuel oil, using a carburetor with a heat shield, started on gasoline and then switched over to fuel oil after the engine reached operating temperature. However, I have never seen one of these tractors nor do I know if there are any records of how many of these were produced.
This engine has a special cylinder head, pistons, valves, distributor, sediment bowl with switch over valve, dual fuel tank, thermostat, carburetor, with heat shield, fan, additional fuel lines and air cleaner tube. I’ve never seen one of these engines. The Ford Ferguson 9N and 2N were also available with a similar engine.
The Z129D engine Continental developed was a diesel version of the Z129 engine used on the TO-30 but, I believe the Z129D had a fuel injection system like conventional diesel engines. I have nothing to indicate this engine was ever installed in a Ferguson tractor but the fact that Continental built it makes me wonder if it was being considered for the TO-30 and wonder if any prototypes were ever built? The people that I know that might have had knowledge of whether that ever occurred are now deceased.
Harry Ferguson did not like these engines because there is a tendency for unburned fuel to get past the rings and into the crankcase which dilutes the engine oil and shortens engine life. He resisted efforts to develop these engines as indicated in various biographies. I also know that Perkins, in the UK, built complete diesel engine conversion kits for the TEA-20 and there are a number of pictures of those in various books and in restored condition. The conversion was quite popular. I don’t believe it would have been that difficult to install the same Perkins diesel in a TO-20 or TO-30.