Double-Take: A Ferguson 40 Utility and Massey-Harris 50 Utility

Minnesota collector's Ferguson 40 and Massey-Harris 50 are essentially the same tractor with different names.


| May 2015



The grille of the 1956 Ferguson 40 Utility

The grille on Mark's 1956 Ferguson 40 Utility is original, discovered in a salvage yard only after he had a replacement made.

Photo by Bill Vossler

Double-takes are a dime a dozen when people view a unique tractor pair put together by Mark Aschenbrenner, Courtland, Minnesota. The two tractors look identical, but in fact they’re different: a 1956 Ferguson 40 Utility and a 1956 Massey-Harris 50 Utility. Mark has no trouble keeping them straight: He grew up with the Ferguson.

“I didn’t grow up on a farm,” he explains, “but I did help on two farms in the New Ulm, Minnesota, area, baling, pulling hay wagons back and forth. In those days, there weren’t as many big tractors around as there are now. My family had smaller tractors, including a pair of Fords.”

After a few years, the Aschenbrenner family needed something a little bigger than those Ford 8Ns – something with a little more power, and a live PTO. A friend put them on to the 1956 Ferguson 40 Utility. “We ran a few head of cattle and had 15 acres that was mainly pasture,” Mark says, “so we used the Ferguson for baling and cleaning out the barn. We also loaned it out to others who wanted to use it to bale hay. It really never did any field work other than cutting hay.”

When the Aschenbrenners bought the Model 40 in 1971, it still had its original paint and a loader. People who saw the beige tractor referred to it as a Massey Ferguson, and said it should be red. So Mark painted it DuPont red.

After Mark bought his own place and got married, his dad got interested in collecting what Mark candidly refers to as junk. “The Ferguson was used for a lot of loading and unloading,” he says, “and Dad was not the greatest at stepping on brakes, so the front end got banged in and it had a little bit of rust growing on it.”

Then Mark’s brother took over, using the Ferguson to move snow – until the bearing retainer bolts on one rear axle broke and the axle began to move out on him. “He almost lost that back wheel,” Mark says. “He got it back in and parked it in the shed. There were only six bolts holding that bearing retainer in the end of the axle. In a subsequent upgrade they increased the number of bolts, using 10 or 12 to keep it on.”