Farm Classics with Peter O'Brien
Even though County Tractors ceased trading almost 40 years ago in 1983, the name is still synonymous with equal-wheeled, high horse power, four-wheel drive tractors. Established in Fleet, Hampshire in England in 1929, the firm initially converted lorries, before moving to crawler tractors and ultimately equal-wheel four-wheel drive tractors.
These tractors started life as Ford skid units which were built upon by County which honed in on the market niche for the specialist four wheel drive machines, with a large amount of tractors exported overseas.
Launched in 1979, the 1184TW replaced the 1174. This County tractor was a hybrid of Ford’s TW-10 tractor which was mated to a heavily modified 8-speed dual power 7600 gearbox and back end-including twin assistor rams. Power came from Ford’s 6.6 litre 401 engine, producing 120hp.
Each front wheel received power from the rear half axle which had its own drive shaft that travelled along either side of the engine to the massive front wheel hubs.
This allowed for exceptional traction, as well as a full front axle differential lock, but compromised the turning circle and manoeuvrability of the tractor.
Apart from the equal-wheel design and mechanical modifications, the tractor also featured an O’Hara cab as well as a Count-designed front nose cone, which added to the striking and dominant appearance of the tractor.
The flat floor cab inherited many parts from Ford, but with a County twist.
The dash console instruments were taken from the 600 range of Ford tractors, with the radio also incorporated into the dashboard.
Driver visibility is exceptional due to the high driving position perched on the comfortable Bostrom Viking seat, as well as the huge panes of glass.
On early 1184s, small cab doors, due to the turning range of the large front wheels, made entry tight. These tractors are easily identified by the sheer closeness of the wheels. However, later models benefited from the addition of a spacer, allowing for larger doors for ease of entry, as well as giving the tractor as slightly longer wheelbase.
When County ceased trading, the firm was purchased by the Benson Group, which continued to produce certain models up to 1990 – the 1184TW being one of the chosen few. The tractor was both updated and uprated to a Ford TW-15 engine and 7610 gearbox and back end.
Ford 6.6l 401
Years of manufacture