For a while I have been wanting a small tractor for use in the woods, for shifting logs from felled trees to the rides where they are stacked. I need something manouverable, able to get between hazel stools, and light so it doesn't cut up the ground deeply. The machine can't be stored in the wood, so a tractor that fits on a small trailer seemed wise. I've always liked crawler tractors, so this set of requirements has given me an excuse for getting a 1951 Ransomes MG5! This only weighs about 10 cwt, with a ground pressure of 4lb/sq.inch, and it is less than a meter wide and two meters long. A fair amount of work over two years has been needed to get the machine into a moderately tidy and reliable state. This has included the following:
Clean out, repair and re-paint fuel tank
Repair and re-paint tool box
Re-paint seat, exhaust guard, engine cowl, bumper
Repair tool bar lifting machanism
Change all oils
Make up new fuel line
Rebuild fuel pump
Clean carburettor, replace float needle and jets
Remove engine to allow access to clutch
Replace clutch springs and buffers
Free seized clutch shoe
Renew plug lead
Fit insert to allow use of modern spark plug
Fit new exhaust system
De-coke cylinder head
Lap in exhaust valve
Adjust magneto timing
Rub down float needle until carburation correct
The plan is to use a choke chain on the drawbar to secure logs to the crawler, and in tests along the ride a 10 foot oak log about 9 inches in diameter presents no problem. It remains to be seen what the MG5 can do to lighten the load during real extraction work, but to be honest any work that it can do that reduces manual labour will be very welcome.
The engine is a 6hp, 600cc air cooled sidevalve. Carb and fuel pump are Amal parts, the magneto is a Wico A series. A centrifugal clutch drives reduction gears and differential in large central box, there are only two gears, forwards and reverse. Two brake bands provide steering, then reduction gears each side drive front sprockets on the tracks, which are rubber jointed. Parts supply is surprisingly good.
April 2010: I've now had a session extracting about two dozen 10 foot lengths of birch and beech, and the MG did brilliantly, the extraction is simplicity itself, and lightens the load considerably. Loading and unloading the MG from a trailer is another matter - fiddly and heavy work! Definately best to wait until there is a good load of work to do before taking the Ransomes to the wood.
August 2011: I've now sold the crawler. As I'm not felling standards now, and mainly coppicing, I couldn't justify keeping it. However, I think it proved itself capable of the work, and well suited to the site. If there was someting like it but younger and easier to maintain it would be ideal.
© Ian Swain 2019