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Keeping vintage wheels turning


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Machines4Sale, Knockalls Farm, Mitcheldean, GL17 0DP

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Keeping vintage wheels turning
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Much as there are collectors of classic cars, the same applies to tractors and providing replacement components for Nuffield, Leyland and Marshal tractors from the 1950s, through to the 1980s, has proved to be a successful business for Tractor Spare Parts Ltd. Run by husband and wife team of Andrew and Joanna Griffin, Tractor Spare Parts is based in the picturesque village of Alstonefield in the Peak District National Park, but its products travel across the globe, with customers as far afield as New Zealand, Australia, Chile and Africa.  

It was the combination of Andrew’s background as a toolmaker and his and his father’s passion for the restoration of a Leyland 285 Synchro tractor that germinated the seeds of the business. When it proved impossible to source certain parts Andrew used his skills to make them, and while he was at it, he made a spare set and sold them on. That was back in 2001 and, from those two part numbers, the business now has an extensive list of available parts including new, re-manufactured or, manufactured bespoke for individual customers. As Joanna explains: “We can supply just about anything and everything, not only for tractors, but any machinery that uses the Leyland or BMC engines, from marine applications to excavators. We like to think if we can’t supply it the customer would struggle to get it anywhere.  In addition to the classic tractor market, Andrew also uses his engineering skills to support the local farming community producing one-off parts providing a rapid service to keep machinery running.”

In order to meet this demand for quick turnaround on low volume parts and with his original mill coming to the end of its life, and not supported by the manufacturer anymore Andrew placed an order for two-axis XYZ SMX 2000 turret mill, specifying the optional DXF converter. “For many of the parts we make I have to create new CAD files as drawings either never existed or the originals are long gone,” says Andrew. “The ability to then export the DXF file straight to the ProtoTRAK control is a big advantage. The support available from XYZ is also a big plus. When the machine first arrived I struggled to get to grips with the DXF side of things and XYZ sent an applications engineer out to us, here in the middle of the Peak District and he spent time explaining the system, everything fell into place and now it is second nature.”

With batch quantities typically between 1-off and 10-off the SMX 2000 with its ProtoTRAK control is ideal is also perfect for the occasional large batch of repeating parts which Tractor Spare Parts produces. However key to its success is the ability to turn parts around quickly from an extensive catalogue of items, here Andrew describes the SMX 2000 and ProtoTRAK as ideal and the business would be lost without them. The SMX 2000 is popular among the XYZ range thanks to its size and versatility, making it ideal for low-volume and toolroom environments. It can be specified with either a two or three-axis DRO for manual use or, for more productivity the two- or three-axis ProtoTRAK CNC control. A 2.25 kW (3 hp) R8 (30 ISO optional) spindle with variable spindle speed between 75 and 4200 revs/min handles most tools used on this type of machine while the axis travels of 762 x 380 x 400 mm (X,Y,Z) are complemented by additional ram travel of 450 mm and quill travel of 127 mm.

“The tractor spares side of the business is all mail order via our website, but due to the nature of the parts we are producing and the age of the vehicles they are being fitted to there may have been modifications along the way. Therefore we tend to contact customers directly and discuss what they actually want, these conversations ensure that they get exactly the part they need and Andrew can tailor the manufacture of that part easily with the XYZ SMX mill, we are then confident to ship it half way around the world in the knowledge that it will fit,” says Joanna.

For those tractor enthusiasts without the facility to restore their own vehicles Tractor Spare Parts also offers a full restoration and rebuild service, the latest project though was a personal mission to fully restore Andrew’s own 1959 Nuffield Universal Three tractor, which now acts as a showcase of his rebuilding skills and also of the machined parts he produces.   

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