Based in Castlemery, Cloyne,in east Cork, Anthony Cronin is a full-time carpenter with a keen interest in classic and vintage machinery, Ford and John Deere brands in particular.
Anthony has fond memories of the many Ford tractors owned by local farmers and contractors. It was his grandfather who sparked his interest in the blue brand growing up. A through and through Ford man, he had a Ford 2000 and later a 3000 model on the farm.
Anthony later inherited his grandfather’s Ford 3000 which was in need of some repair. In 2010, Anthony tidied up the tractor mechanically and cosmetically. It’s regularly used at garden work, ploughing or powering a rotavator. This project gave Anthony a taste for restoring tractors.
Finding a tractor
So, in late 2018 he started scouting for a Ford that would make for a good project. He had originally thought about a 4000 model but happened to spot what seemed to be an original 4600 in Galway, so he made the trip up from Cork.
“One Saturday in January, I went up to look at the 4600. When I got there it wasn’t at all what it was made out to be, so I turned around and headed for home. On the way back down the road I was passing by Fitzgibbon’s garage, the Zetor dealer in Kileagh, Co Cork. By pure fluke I happened to spot a Ford 7610 fitted with a Tanco front loader behind the fence. I went back for a look.
“It was a 1990-registered 7610 Series III. So it had the Super Q cab which I had always been very fond of. The tractor looked in need of some attention but appeared genuine. I made enquiries the following Monday and went to look at the tractor. Having got a closer look, all panels were in good order with only few small patches of rust here and there. Mechanically it wasn’t too bad but I always had the intention of completely overhauling it. I knew it was the makings of good project so a deal was struck. I had the tractor at home in the yard that Friday.”
Once home, Anthony removed the Tanco loader and sold it. From here the dismantling began, removing all that could be removed down to the bare chassis. This included the whole cab and its interior, wheels, front axle and fuel tank.
“From here the tractor was sent to Brian Mulcahy, a local man who specialises in painting and mechanical repairs. Brian Overhauled the tractor from front to back. He rebuilt the engine, fitted a new clutch, did the brakes, refurbished the hydraulic and steering pumps, PTO seals; pretty much anything that could be done was done for peace of mind.
“Considering the tractor had been fitted with a front loader, the front axle wasn’t in great shape. The kingpins had worn that much that they had done harm to the hubs. This all had to be rebuilt too. From here, Brian worked on repairing any rust on the cab. Then the cab along with the chassis and all other components were sand-blasted and painted. I sourced a set of weights in the UK which I had shipped over and painted too. Every hydraulic hose was replaced and every nut and bolt yellow-zinc-plated to give that factory finish. From here, as simple as it sounds, it was a matter of slowly piecing the puzzle back together.”
Anthony explained how the lockdown earlier this year freed up a lot of his time to work on the tractor, which was a great distraction. He noted how no new body parts were needed apart from sourcing new cab glass as the original windscreen had been scratched badly from a worn wiper blade and that someone at some stage had been welding on or near the tractor, causing sparks to melt small holes in the door glass. The original window rubbers were in good nick and reused; just the rear window and door rubbers needed were worn, so they were replaced. The rims were sent to Agrigear to be refurbished and fitted with a new set of 480/ 70 R38 and 420/70 R24 BKT tyres, helping improve the tractor’s stance.
“Once the cab and all was refitted, I had it completely fitted with new upholstery which was supplied by Tractor Cab Specialists in the North of Ireland. Parts of the tractor were rewired and then fitted with all-new lights. Other new parts such as the exhaust, breather bowl, mudgaurd skins etc were all fitted too. Wanting comfort for the future, I fitted the tractor with a new Grammar seat which along with the wider tyres are probably the only two non-original features of the tractor now which can easily be changed down the road if I decide to.”
The restoration started in January 2020 and with the help of lockdown was completed by the end of June 2020. Now Anthony’s 7610 is as good as or better than the day it rolled off the production line in Basildon in 1990. Anthony said he is very happy with how it has turned out. “I’ve had people come up and tell me how the tractor is finished to a better standard now than they were new back in the day, especially the paintwork. The tractor both looks and runs pretty much like new now.”
Anthony did some research on his tractor, learning that it was sold new in southeast England in 1990 by Ernest Doe, which was a Ford dealer at the time and now sells New Hollands. Having remained with the one owner until 2011, it was imported by New Holland and Ford importer Paddy Lacey Tractors in Enniscorthy, Co Wexford. From here the tractor was sold on and worked for the next eight years in Kileagh, Co Cork. It was then traded in and quickly snapped up by Anthony.
Waterford Lee trailers
More recently, Anthony has bought a 1989-built Waterford Lee single-axle silage trailer to suit his Ford 7610 and to use at vintage working days. This multipurpose trailer was built by Paddy Lee in Co Waterford, who was and still is well known across the country for his trailers since the early 1960s. The example Anthony bought to take on as a project for the spring is in need of some repair, he says. “I spotted the trailer for sale complete with a silage rear door, cattle ramp and low rear door all together, which is hard to come by.
“The plan is to fully strip the trailer and replace all of its larch timber tongue-and-groove boards, overhaul the axle, replace tyres and hydraulic ram seals. Once this is done I’ll fully respray the trailer in its original MF red colour which they came in new back in the day.”
Asked what his future plans are in terms of his classic and vintage interests, Anthony said: “For now I’m just going to enjoy the 7610 for a few years. I’m glad looking back it was a 7610 I bought – they’re not as common to see restored as some other models like the 7810. Next summer I hope to have my own silage trailer ready which I look forward to taking to all the local events.
“I feel like this isn’t the end of the road in terms of restorations. I would love sometime in the future to purchase a New Holland precision-chop harvester or a large six-cylinder Ford, Ideally an 8830. To me they’re one of the nicest-looking six-cylinder tractors Ford ever made. Maybe one day I’ll be in a position to buy one and give it similar treatment to which the 7610 got.”