Most people, if asked what color a Massey Ferguson is, would answer Red. But some of the rarest and most unique are painted Industrial Yellow. These are pure magic to me and here is my story of how I acquired one of the rarest.
In 1963, the year MF entered the North American GT market with the 7hp Executive built by Dura Corp, they also worked together with Gutbrod in Germany and marketed the ELF in Europe. The foundation for the ELF was Gutbrod's Popular Model 1030 tractor.
Information on production numbers is varied, and I haven't had much luck confirming them, but "hear say" indicates as few as 250 or so ELFs were ever sold in Europe; many more of Gutbrod's 1030 tractors and attachments were sold. Making ELF searching even harder, is many of the discovered ELFs have repainted by previous owners to look like the Gutbrod 1030.
One of the most impressive things to me about the ELF was how ruggedly they were built. Garden Tractors in the 60's North American Market were designed to be used for ground engaging equipment and other heavy use, but not to the degree of the ELF.
Some of the features of the ELF that set it in a class of it's own are: Disc clutch, Differential lock, Steering brakes, 4 forward/1 reverse plus a hi/lo range transmission. On the rear PTO, one can even select between engine speed or ground speed. It is equipped with Hi/Lo beam headlights, front and rear turn signals, and a loud moped style horn.
I first learned about the existence of Massey's ELFs on the Gardentractortalk.com website in the fall of 2011. A conversation had started on the GTT site, about "A Special MF". Being a collector of MF GTs, I knew right away I had to have one to compliment my collection, thus the "Quest for the ELF" began.
My Red Collection
So, as any good addicted collector would do, I started hunting for one. In March of 2012, I found one on an obscure buy/sell website in Denmark. We all know how the hunt and capture is half the fun, well I had a ball with this one. I truly had a good time.
Using google translator and email, and many megabytes of videos and pictures, Claus (previous owner) and I struck a deal. I then made arrangements for shipping and customs requirements/paperwork.
My ELF had to be steam cleaned and crated with heat treated wood. (customs/ insect issue).
After that it was containerized, and trucked from Denmark to Antwerp Belguim, where it was loaded on the ship Maersk Palermo.
After a brief stop in Halifax, Nova Scotia, ELF landed on Canadian soil at Montreal, Quebec. From Qubec, it took a train ride to Toronto Ontario, where after 5 months from it's departure from Denmark, I finally took possession in August 2012. I often chuckle about how my ELF has seen more of the world than I have.
"Quest of the ELF"
Painted for me by my Daughter on some remnants of the shipping crate
Translated from German to English, ELF means "Eleven". Originally, these tractors were equipped with a MAG (Motosacoche Acacias Genève) 8 HP engine, but some later models had 10 HP engine. At some point, mine had been repowered with a Briggs 11HP I/C. Knowing that the original engine had been out of production since the 60's, I was OK with the repower. Finding, and getting Original Equipment engine parts from abroad, could have been an ongoing monumental task.
Under The Hood
Restoration began in early November 2012 and was completed by mid January 2013. My ELF was completely dismantled, parts repaired, sand blasted, primed and painted. Some alterations were needed to the drive train to accommodate the Briggs & Straton engine better. I also had to source some parts from Germany, such as headlights, signal lights, and switches.
The oil bath air filter, seat pan, battery tray, back rest, and muffler, I had to fabricate to resemble original equipment.
During the restoration, the ELF and I spent many wonderful hours together. Many more than my wife would care to talk about.
Oil Bath Air Cleaner
The decals I had reproduced from pictures and dimensions I took prior to tear down. The old paint was a perfect match to the yellow used on the MF Executive tractors.
I have been asked several times "Why turn signals, Hi/Lo headlights, horn, and that big #6 on the grill?" In many parts of Europe, people don't have much land around their homes so, they own or rent garden space on the outskirts of the village. These safety features permit the road travel needed to commute between the home and garden. The big #6 indicates maximum allowable road speed.
Of the 40 or so attachments that were available for the Elf and Gutbrod 1030, the one that intrigues me the most, is the PTO driven utility/dump trailer; when the PTO was engaged at the ground speed, it would power the trailer axle and drive the trailer at the same speed. The trailer was also equipped with all the road travel safety features.
Utility / Dump Trailer
The rear lift and dual plow arrangement for the Elf is also quite unique. Rear wheel stance on the Elf is adjustable to align the front and rear wheel for plowing. Optional speed reduction hubs where available for tilling. These planetary drive hubs reduced speed to 1/3 of normal speed.
To the best of my knowledge, this Elf is the only one in North America. If anyone knows of one, or has one, I'd sure like to hear from you, so we can compare notes, and hopefully meet; maybe even have an ELF Reunion.
We've all heard the phrase, "Garden Tractors collect the nicest people". From the previous owner Claus, to the helpful and friendly gang on Gardentractortalk.com, I'm convinced it's true. Claus was a joy to deal with, in fact, he never made a peep, when the trucking company showed up a week ahead of schedule to collect the Elf. He even helped load it, even though he hadn't been paid in full yet.
I'll never forget the day I picked my ELF up at the bonded warehouse. Tractor "Buddy" Doug (DH1 on GTTalk.com) met me to help load it. As I was tearing the lid off the crate to get my first "in person" look at my ELF, I glanced over at Doug, who already had his hand in the crate. He smiled and said "I touched it first".
It's almost "Magic" how GT's draw people into friendships.
That's a big part of what I like about this hobby.
To read more about the Journey of the ELF, Click Here
To read more about The Restoration of the ELF, Click Here
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