Drazzed for work

Published: 03:46PM Sep 13th, 2011

We take a look at some spring drazzing, a local Yorkshire term for chain harrowing, it also gives us an excuse to see this Field Marshall Series 3 in action.

Drazzed for work

Twin fuel filters were mounted on the left-hand side of the Series 3 tractor and the Burgess domed oil bath air cleaner became standard, the centre bonnet was redesigned and the tractor featured a new front axle design

Spring seemed to suddenly appear this year, with March reported as one of the driest on record. With the advent of an early spring, the fields on the edge of the West Yorkshire Pennines bristled with activity as farmers prepared their fields for another season.

It was by the way of chance in late March that Michael Babbings called to say he would be out in the fields within the next couple of hours chain harrowing his pastures or ‘Drazzing’ as he called it. (Drazzing is a local Yorkshire name for chain harrowing.)

Proud owner

Michael is the proud owner of several Field Marshall tractors and the chance to see and listen to one of his great British built power horses working was not to be missed. The familiar sound to farming ears of the mighty single cylinder diesel engine popping away as it pulled hard up the steep slopes quickly gained the interest of several Sunday morning walkers who pondered and speculated as to what a tractor of this age was doing still working in the British countryside.

Michael stopped to talk with several of the walkers who were slightly shocked to see him covered in oil, or what we know as ‘Marshall Measles’. He explained to the small group: “This is the type of tractor we used on our farm some 50 or 60 years ago when life was quite straightforward and a lot less complicated. Tractors such as this, which are now mainly collectors’ machines, are a pleasure to operate on my small farm. They don’t actually owe me a lot of money as a new modern tractor would, and these older tractors are a lot easier and simpler to maintain than a modern day machine. What better way to spend a warm spring morning, the smell of the freshly harrowed grass, the birds singing, working in the sunshine and driving a tractor of great character.”

As the interested group of walkers bid good day and moved on, Michael turned his tractor uphill and opened the throttle, the sound of the engine popped loudly as it moved off and a great cloud of black smoke in the form of smoke rings made the walkers turn their heads for one last time as the sound of the Series 3 Marshall resonated around the valley high above Holmfirth.

The Babbings’ all grass farm, which is well maintained, is ideal for hay making; small paddocks surrounded by the familiar stone walls of this part of Yorkshire and a good rich growing soil. The growing season is slightly shorter than that of the lower countryside which makes pasture management ideal at the end of March. As the chain harrows pull and tear out the old dead grass of winter they open up the grass sward and help new tillers grow. The grass pastures which are not fertilised form a good mixed balance of natural grasses and wildflowers, ideal for hay making towards the end of July.


“The Series 3 Field Marshall is one of my favourites,” said Michael. “Most of us know about the early history of Marshall of Gainsborough’s tractors. It was a bit of a surprise when everyone thought that the new Series which were designated Field Marshall were going to be multi-cylinder, diesel engined machines, which would have been an advancement on the earlier single-cylinder Marshalls, but sadly as we found out this was not going to be the case.”


What Marshall did introduce in August 1945, which was a bit of a disappointment to the farming fraternity of the day, was an uprated version of the horizontal two-stroke, single-cylinder diesel engine of a type which was loosely based on an engine design first introduced in 1929.

Despite the lack of a larger multi-cylinder engine, the Field Marshall Mark 1 saw 2011 units built between 1945 and 1947. The Field Marshall Series 2 was introduced by the Company in July 1947 and yet it still retained the enormous single-cylinder engine which was rated at 40hp at 750rpm and it is believed some 7000 units were built. Michael said: “Marshalls must have done something right, despite people wanting an improved engine, because in mid-1949 plans were well advanced for a new Series 3 Field Marshall again rated at 40hp from its 4894cc single cylinder engine which had a 6½in cylinder diameter and a 9in stroke.

“The Series 3, I believe was in production from 1950 to 1952 with over 3000 units built. The Series 3A continued to be built up until 1956; the multi-cylinder MP4 was introduced in 1954 with only two units built before the mighty MP6 was available in 1956. Powered by a six-cylinder Leyland diesel engine the MP6 was rated at 70hp at 1700rpm. After only 197 units were built, production of this model came to an end in December 1961.”

On top

As Michael showed, despite its age and its single-cylinder engine the Series 3 Marshall was well on top of its work and as the production figures show, the Field Marshall proved a popular tractor both at home and overseas.

Nearly 60 years after it was built, the Babbings’ Series 3 Field Marshall proves testimony that the single-cylinder engine worked well and still to this day works well. In conclusion, Michael says that any diesel engine needs to be worked and his Series 3 is no exception, working the tractor this way just clears the engine after a long winter stored in the barn in readiness for the coming show season.

Words & Pictures Gina Harvey

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