Farming & Fisheries

FARM CLASSICS: A big player in the high horsepower

March 2nd, 2022 10:05 PM

By Southern Star Team

The Q cab is sparse by today’s standards but very functional.

Share this article

FARM CLASSICS with Peter O'Brien

AS agriculture progressed rapidly into the 80s, the quest for both power and output continued.

In addition, more manufacturers had turned to producing higher horsepower tractors in both two and four-wheel (4wd) drive format. Ford were no strangers to the high horsepower market, with American-built models such as the 8600, and European 9700.

However, 4wd was still not highly regarded as a permanent option. All was to change in 1979, with the launch of the legendary TW series, replacing the top end 8700 and 9700 models.

Built in Ford’s Antwerp factory in Belgium, the first TW range consisted of the TW-10, TW-20, and TW-30 and easily recognised by their high exhaust stacks and dominant stature.

Even though the three tractors were powered by Ford’s 6.6l engine, the horsepower greatly differed, with the turbocharged TW-20 producing a sizable 153hp. A constant mesh transmission provided 8F/2R gears, with dual power doubling the ratios, while the tractor has a lift capacity of almost 4tons, although not fitted with assistor rams.

While not a new feature on big Ford tractors, a ZF front axle was fitted to provide 4wd, with its distinctive offset drive shaft and front axle bell housing.

Featuring a large 14” clutch and improved hydraulic output, the TW-20 was usually supplied with PAVT (power adjusted variable track) rear wheel rims as well as rear wheel weights for maximum traction as well as a bank of Ford’s 37kg front weights, bringing the tractor’s weight to almost 7.5 tons.

The Q cab is sparse by today’s standards but very functional. The logical dash layout features a large rpm dial, with four smaller dials placed to the left and right displaying the tractors vitals, along with adjustable steering wheel.

The round handled gear levers are enclosed by a guard bar, the closest and smaller selecting hi, lo and park with 1-4 and reverse on the larger lever.

To the right of the clutch, a large foot-operated rocked pedal controls the dual power splitter from the floor.

The TW series were prime movers for Ford and featured as prominent sellers for an impressive 20 years – with two upgrades along the way – until their replacement by the 30 series in 1989. The TWs established Ford as big players in the high horsepower, 4wd market while ultimately leading to the demise of specialist 4wd manufacturers, such as County, who used the TW-20 skid unit for their equal wheel 1474 tractor.

• Contact Peter at [email protected] or see Instagram @flashphotoscork



Ford TW-20




Ford 401 6.6l

Years of manufacture


Tags used in this article

Share this article


to our mailing list for the latest news and sport:

Thank You!

You have successfully been subscribed to SouthernStar newsletter!

Form submitting... Thank you for waiting.