Agricultural Heritage

The Massey Ferguson MFE35 Restoration. Part 1

Tractor enthusiast, Charles Gardiner, has taken on the restoration of Sandstone’s Massey Ferguson FE35 tractor. This unit has not run for a while and Charles is discovering numerous faults as he proceeds with the strip down of the unit.
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The Massey Ferguson FE35

Here is Part 1 of the story which will be continued as Charles progresses.

New life in the Donkey herd.

Recently we had the birth of a new donkey foal at Sandstone. He has been named Kagiso after the famous South African cricketer, Kagiso Rabada!

Our pictures show Kagiso with his mother and also some information, courtesy of Wikipedia, on the Kagiso who inspired the name for the new born!
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Stepping away from fossil fuels!

Visitors to our 2022 Easter Steam event will remember the Donkey Cart that provided so many great pictures alongside the railway line to Grootdraai. We have now introduced a new Donkey Cart of more modern design that can be used as executive transport, much cheaper than a diesel bakkie!, and will also offer rides at the forthcoming Cherry Steam Festival event on November 18th and 19th 2022.

Our picture, by Leon Hugo, shows the Donkey Cart at Easter just before the heavy rains came and our video, a recent staff test drive for the new cart!
Click the image below to watch the video :

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A short history - Click here

Sandstone Estates has a well-known and comprehensive collection of classic and vintage tractors.  We first came to the attention of the vintage tractor world in 1999 with the inauguration of The Great 100 Working Event which set in motion a number of events around the world where different countries attempted and in most cases succeeded in breaking the world record for the maximum number of pre-1966 tractors working in one field at one time.  Massey Harris is a pre-eminent brand in the world amongst tractor collectors and we are fortunate in having quite a number of these models.  We decided to concentrate on bringing two of them back into full working order, a 744 and 745. Both have been restored by Chris Wilson. 

The reason for this is that these tractors are often deployed on the farm as required to carry out various tasks.  In fact this is a programme that is gaining momentum.

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The two Massey-Harris  tractors, a 744 and 745 restored by Chris Wilson.

Click here for more information on the Massey-Harris 744 and 745.

JohnDeere Restoration

Chris Wilson reports. - Click here to read PDF

Lanz Bulldog Collection

Andy Watson in the UK maintains a worldwide register of classic Lanz tractors which currently holds information on over 6,800 tractors in 41 countries. The Register has recently been updated and extracts for South Africa are attached below. The Sandstone Heritage trust has a large number of these in its collection, as reflected in the second list. Additions and updates are always welcome. Please note that if an owner prefers privacy his name and address will be removed immediately on receipt of an email.

A free Lanz Newsletter is available on request; this contains information on spares, paint, manuals, books etc, and is aimed at English speaking Lanz owners.
Contact Andy on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Lanz Register (South Africa)
Click here to read more (22kb)

Single Cylinder Register Extract
Click here to read more (10kb)


For more information, please click here to visit the Lanz Register website


Sandstone consolidates its collection of Lanz and John Deere Lanz tractors.

With 17 of these in the collection we feel it is time that they be brought up to scratch and presented as a separate collection. A lot of work needs to be done on many of them. Sadly over the years a lot of parts have been pilfered, probably during our open events. It is for that reason that we have changed the model and our events are now essentially by invitation only.

However, we still have the tractors, which is the good news. A few photographs of some of the tractors appear below.









The works continues.

We often receive calls from collectors, in this instance Tracy Robb, who wish to dispose of their collections for whatever reason. This was an amazing load of agricultural items including ploughs, a windmill, an old tractor, a little maize mill, and other items.  

Loading these items on our low bed can be a real mission and once all loaded we had to throw a net over the load for safety reasons.

Note that on some occasions we have to take our TLB along because most collectors do not have loading facilities.

Thanks to Tracy Robb and Thomas for assisting. The loading took over 8-hours to complete.



Green John Deere

There is a lot going on with regard to our non-Steam activities which is over overshadowed by the activities of the Narrow Gauge railway.

A good example is a shipment that came in this week from a collector who had decided to throw in the towel. This comprised a very nice windmill, which is becoming a rarity in its own right, together with a number of implements and an Earthmaster tractor. 

The green John Deere on board was being restored for a farmer down in the Langkloof and will be hitching a ride down there soon. This work was completed by Chris Wilson who has been working on our John Deeres for nearly 20-years now.



Ancient plant and machinery continues to do an honest day’s work.

A large farm like Sandstone Estates requires constant upgrading and maintenance.  Whenever possible we address infrastructure deficiencies.  However, rather than bring in contractors or hire expensive plant and machinery we tend to use our own.


This week we opened up an old sandstone quarry from which hundreds of loads of good quality material for roads was hauled by our ancient 1940’s Foden Dump Truck. While this was happening our 1953 International TD-14A, Serial No: TDF36506 finally cleared and tidied our composting area to allow for more material to be brought in.  Many of these projects do not have stringent deadlines and for that reason the old plant which was designed to operate at a more leisurely pace is ideal.   Slow revving engines consuming small amounts of fuel tick away quietly but they do get the job done.

Ironically our operators love them and in many cases prefer driving these old machines to
modern equipment. 


Old Timers to the fore!


Two pictures of our big old 1974 White tractor which we purchased in a scrapyard for a few hundred Rand was put to work hauling a monster 40,000 litre water tanker to supply with sprayers.  Sandstone is fortunate to be able to draw on a large inventory of old yet very effective equipment for work like this.



P1030015Another picture of the White tractor near our diesel refuelling station.

DSC06924Another tractor that is used to pull this huge water tanker is our Oliver Construction tow tractor.  These tractors have the 2-stroke General Motors diesel engine and are conspicuous due to the noise that they make.


A 1953 International Harvester TD-14A Dozer purchased from a farmer in the Eastern Cape and put to work immediately turning compost.


The White on the road about to overtake our 1951 Ford F100 which is used on a daily basis.


 It might be safer to move the Ford.


Our Foden Dump truck which dates back to the Second World War is a real stalwart.  With its 6LW Gardner engine it doesn’t understand the word rest.  Here it is in the compost area with the Ford.

P1030047 It looks good, goes well, and our driver, Manas, loves it.



 Pastures and areas which are less fertile than should be are constantly being rehabilitated.


When we wanted to plant pumpkins we looked around in our vintage implement store and found the ideal item – a single row planter dating back probably 50-years or more.

Second Fairbanks Morse tractor discovered.

A second Fairbanks Morse tractor, or at least the remains of one, has been located in the Cradock district.  The farmer who owns it has kindly released it to the Sandstone Heritage Trust in order to make the restoration of the recently acquired unit more feasible.  This will be a long and difficult restoration but we are enthusiastic about it due to the rarity of the tractor itself.


Heritage treasures continue to be revealed

Our low bed has returned from the Eastern Cape with two items of significant historical interest. The first is a very early (approximately 1915) Fairbanks Morse tractor. This is a big tractor as can be seen from the photographs below and follows very much the design of the big North American prairie tractors from that era. The Sandstone Heritage Trust already has two, namely Emerson Brantingham Big 4-30 and a Rumely Oil Pull. The configuration is similar to this Fairbanks Morse.





Fairbanks Morse ceased to manufacture tractors in the early part of last century and so this example is particularly rare. Very few tractors of this size were ever shipped to SA and our research reveals that many of them went to the Eastern Cape. We know of two Fairbanks Morse survivors, one of which is derelict, but the other acquired from well-known tractor and machinery collector, Roy Nel, has suffered less. Restoration of this tractor is possible and we will be assessing whether it can be returned to full working operation.

An early photograph of a complete Fairbanks Morse appears below.



The second item is a very rare Otavi freight wagon from the very famous 2-ft Narrow Gauge Otavi Railway built by the German Military well over 100-years ago.

The Sandstone Heritage Trust has been trying for over 20-years to acquire these Otavi wagons which were probably bought from South West Africa / Namibia by the Transnet Heritage Foundation quite a while back in order to preserve them for Heritage purposes. Unfortunately they were discarded in Port Elizabeth and once again we had to intervene more as scrap purchasers than Heritage players in order to acquire them. We hope to have one or more of them restored by the Stars of Sandstone event next year.

Visitors to our web site who are interested in the Otavi Railway will find plenty of good information on the Internet. For its time and indeed even in retrospect it was a significant 2-ft Narrow Gauge railway which was operated under difficult conditions and which more than achieved its objectives. The NG15 locomotives were specifically designed for use on the Otavi.




An excellent article on these tractors appeared in the March/April Edition of USA Antique Power Magazine in July 2005


Click here to view the full article - 2MB PDF (opens in new window)

Vintage tractor gathering - Pretoria.

The Highveld Veteran tractor and Engine Club (HVTEC) are again hosting the annual Farm Festival "Plaasfees" at the Willem Prinsloo Agricultural Museum on 8th September 2012.

If anyone is interested in attending they should call Tel: 012 736 2035/6 for further particulars.




An operating International Dozer has been acquired from a farm in the Eastern Cape.

It is a Model: TD-14A, Serial No: TDF36506, manufactured in 1953.

Dozer Blade is a Bullgrader 14WG2, No: 107168.

Full details on this model appears in the following link: International Harvester TD-14A tractor information.






Fordson Super Major

Sandstone is rehabilitating old machines for current farm use.  Our Fordson Super Major is a good example.  It is now being stripped. 







156 2nd June 2012 Cramer Mill at Stanford

I was contacted recently by Anton Boshoff of Stanford for help to get a Cramer Mill running.


He said it was possibly brought into the country for use at Camphill Hermanus, a place for ‘supported living and working with people with complex needs. [Also an] independent, residential and day school for children and young adults with special needs.’ 

As the badge shows, the firm was founded in 1835 in Leer in the north-western corner of Germany near the Dutch coast, and is still in operation, although now specialising in garden machinery The Mill is a so-called Portable, meaning it can be assembled from a kit of parts by a layman, not needing the skills of a millwright, and driven from any power source. In this case there is an electric motor attached, and it will be run from a massive bank of solar panels which otherwise run woodworking equipment and other household needs.


It is very easy to dismantle compared with, say, a Stamford Mill with the same size stones, yet uses very little floor space, which was one of Blackstone’s selling features for theirs where the stones are on a horizontal axis. The other interesting feature is that the fixed bed-stone is above the rotating runner. This is only the second time I have come across this arrangement; the other being the pair of Mills at Elim. Suddenly one is thinking upside-down! 

With the three wing-nuts unscrewed as shown above, the hopper, horse, upper stone and the top of the tun can be lifted off as a unit. It’s not light, but for the two of us, to then turn it over and put it down carefully was no problem!


The runner is then exposed in the the tun, with a square socket for driving the agitator. I hesitate to call it a damsel!


The runner in turn can be lifted out, exposing the mace and cock head of the stone spindle, all in one, and a very easy-to-clean base of the tun.


It looks as though the cruciform support for the runner works as a fan to help expel the meal. The date inscribed under the runner was interesting, 2nd November, 1951; I was a baby in Cologne, 200km to the south at the time!


We were particularly interested in the dressing pattern and the amount of ‘swallow’ at the eye. We used a steel tube to check the profile and found the bedstone convex and the runner correspondingly concave. Perhaps this has the effect of holding the meal back a bit? The furrows seemed deep enough; in fact it looked as though it had perhaps never been used.


The stones are composite, the lands having a black abrasive stone mixed in, while where the furrows are, the granules are evenly yellow in colour. The furrows are tangential giving a good crossing angle and the surface of the lands is so rough that I doubt they will ever need further cracking or stitching.

The electric motor had been sent away to have new bearings fitted; it was very noisy when tested, but the stone spindle bearings felt very smooth. There are two guides for the axis of the motor’s mounting bracket; the lower has slots on its fixing screws, to align the flat pulleys so the belt won’t run off.

I mentioned that the Mill didn’t have a damsel; the feed is very simple, like a fertiliser spreader: a rotating agitator and a simple outlet which is opened by swinging a handle. The oval outlet in the picture below is shown half open. Not very sophisticated!


The quadrant on the outside for the handle is marked Groß and Fein, showing the relationship between feed and fineness. Below the outlet are magnets to catch any iron particles.


The basic setting of the height of the fixed upper stone is clever, there are three long curved slots in the top of the tun; the underside of each is a ramp. The studs set into the stone are pulled up against this ramp. Anton has set these at the mid-point for lack of a better idea! In the picture below, if the stud was at the right hand end of the slot, the stone would be at its highest.


There is about a 20mm difference between high and low; there is a reference to 20mm and turning to the left in the instructions (in German) which are made more difficult to read by their being scratched and pitted with rust.


The tentering set-up has a quick-release as well as a spring (like the Stamford), which in the case of the latter, is said in the instructions to allow a foreign object to pass through without damaging the stone.


The wing nut can be locked against the tentering wheel in the ideal position and the lever used to bring the runner up into working position (Betrieb). A large movement of the wheel is diminished by about two thirds at the stone spindle by the length of the lever and the position of the hinge point, as seen below.


The refitting of the the hopper, lid and bedstone was a bit difficult, to make the tun sides fit in the recess in the lid, but with practice it will be easier. The tie-bolts can be fed in from below and wing nuts are used to hold the lid down.


The meal spout is fitted with a close-fitting flap for changing bags without stopping, operated by the weighted lever in the picture above. The method of holding the meal bag on the spout is novel; there are round weights on bars fixed to the top of the spout. The bars are angled to converge on the spout as they go downwards. Simple and clever!


Here follow the first two columns of the instructions:



Not easy to read! On each side of the maker’s name there are other interesting decals.


A First Prize, and….?




By Andy Selfe (2nd June 2012)

Massey Ferguson Tractors

Our two Massey Ferguson tractors mounted on a flat truck were a big feature of our Kalahari Sunrise event.


Photo by Hannes Paling

Bernard Dodd of the UK had sent us a picture of the genuine article, i.e. Massey Ferguson tractors en route from Coventry.


This picture is printed with the kind authority of Warwickshire Railways.

We are looking for old signage.

Old Signs

The Sandstone Heritage Trust in the Eastern Free State who maintain an Agricultural Heritage site are looking for old signs which reflect South Africa’s Agricultural  history.  These could be old fertilizer signs, lubricants, or even farm gate signs.  They will be used to decorate an area housing our large collection of vintage tractor, combine harvesters, and agricultural implements.  If you have anything available please contact Peter Webb on Tel: 082 990 5640 or 058933 2235.

Op soek na ou Tekens

Die Sandstone Heritage Trust wat ‘n Landboukundige erfenis in stand hou, is tans op soek na ou tekens/advertensieborde wat die Suid-Afrikaanse landbou geskiedenis weerspieel. Dit kan enige antieke tekens/advertensieborde wees bv. Kunsmis, smeermiddels, plaashekke. Hierdie tekens/advertensieborde sal gebruik word as dekorasie in die lokale wat tans die groot versameling antieke trekkers, stropers en landbou implemente huisves. Indien u enige van die voorgenoemde items beskikbaar het, kontak asb Peter Webb by tel nommer (082) 990 5640 of (058) 933 2235.