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Shillingstone, Dorset (May 2006)

What a fantastic way to start the new Pulling season in Southern England! The Pulling event was part of the Three Okefords Preservation Society Rally held at Shillingstone, about 4 miles north of Blandford Forum on the A357 on the 13th & 14th May. Although the weather threatened to do something nasty in the end it stayed fair and even treated everyone to some sunshine, so Norman Young (the Pulling organizer) obviously had a friend on high.

Bob Tanner with the Landford Sledge

The Rally marked the first outing for the entirely redesigned and rebuilt Landford Sledge. To say it looked nothing like it did at the end of 2005 is a bit of an understatement. The team (Darren & Richard Angel, Ned and Paul Parker and Bob Tanner) must have worked like slaves to have the project ready on time. The sledge operators now sit at the back of the bed with a perfect view of the Pull and the power-plant for the weight-box has now been moved under the body, just behind the re-located wheels which have been moved forward. The new skid plate has a nasty sting in the tail, where chevrons have been welded to the base of the pan. With the cunning use of hydraulics to adjust the angle of the skid plate this sledge can bring anything to a stop, up to and including 'Midland Sherpa Spares' and a Track Marshall!

Major AggroTwo completely new and three totally redesigned and rebuilt Pullers made their debut at the Event. 'Major Aggro' made the trip down from Solihull in the West Midlands. The Puller was built by Phil ('Pikey') Parker and Darren ('Mandy') Mann. This tractor has a rather unusual tandem engine arrangement. The rear power-plant is a straight-6 Ford Turbo diesel while the front one is a V8 Perkins, the two being connected by a short prop-shaft! Well, it certainly pulled OK so the unorthodox arrangement obviously does work.

Devils DogThe second of the new Pullers was Kevin Frampton with his Ford 5610. The engine came out of 'She's a Perfect 10' (7½ litre Ford 8560 series straight-6), but is actually blue instead of red primer. Kevin can be seen sporting his new and improved engine thermal management system (a lack of bonnet), but managed to pull very effectively.

He also did a good few stints on the Sledge so must have had quite a busy week-end.

Noise PollutionThe first of the major re-builds came from James Yardley from Gloucester who is running last years engine in a completely different tractor. His trusty (and very loud) 7½ litre (that's 460 cu .in. in old money) petrol Ford V8 now resides in a Ford 5000 running on 34" Goodyear Versagrip tyres. The 5000 he bought from someone who lives in Wisbech in Cambridgeshire. This chassis proved to be a much better match for the engine than the old Fordson one! Unfortunately by Sunday afternoon the clutch had decided enough was enough and welded itself together. By the way, no matter what 'Spain' says, the Puller doesn't use 6 gallons of petrol on each run!

Black Dog's PistonRebuild number two came in the shape of 'Black Dog' built by Peter ('Wobbly') and Danniel Quinton from Landford on the edge of the New Forest. His Leyland DAF Roadtrain managed to loose all its bodywork over the winter and gain some different wheels. Unfortunately for 'Wobbly' it also lost the top of number one piston on Saturday and was relegated to the sidelines for the rest of the week-end.

Sorry the photo is a bit out of focus, but at least it gives you an idea how much havoc Tractor Pulling can wreak on a perfectly good engine.

Dragon PowerThe third of the re-builds fared much better (it managed to keep going the whole week-end), making the trip down from Newport in Gwent with Dave Phillips. This Puller used to belong to Nigel Bees but Dave aquired it and set about the tractor with a vengance. The power-plant is a 7½ litre Ford straight-6 from a TX66 Combine. The Puller is now called 'Dragon Power' (I knew those words would come back and bite me in the bum) and is equipped with intercooling and water injection. Dave ran it with a big KKK Tubo off a 14 litre MAN, but I understand he's now in the process of changing it.

Actually, I think it may have been a bit of a close run thing, because Dave has had to dismantle and re-build the clutch after Shillingstone only to find a stray (?) bolt running around in the clutch housing!

The GopherOK, before I really upset the Stratford-on-Avon contingent, I know Shaun McGinn had his Puller at the event, but I wasn't able to catch up with him. He says the tractor was bought in Wales as an unfinished project, due to the lack time on the original owners part. He bought it back home to his highly equipped workshops where in the past they have built a number of tractor pullers including some with multiple engines, none of which have been any good, he says. I think he is eluding to the 'Mad Massey'.

The Major is having a well earned rest and a new clutch replacement and should be up and running in time for the tractor challenge. I only hope to God that the photo actually is Shaun!