The firm of Ransomes of Ipswich has long been associated with agricultural machinery of one sort of another from the mid 1800s onwards, but it wasn't until 1936 that Ransomes introduced their Motor Garden Cultivator. It was Roadless Traction, later to be connected with Fordson, who developed the rubber-jointed tracks that both Ransomes & Bristol used on their small crawlers.
The initial MG2 model cost GBP135 and sold in considerable numbers to the horticultural and smallholder customer base. The machine was powered by a 6hp Sturmey Archer single-cylinder air-cooled engine with Lucas magneto ignition. Speed was a maximum of 2mph with just a single forward or reverse gear. The tractor weighed 101/2cwt and was equipped with a swinging drawbar to attach a plough. An improved Sturmey Archer engine with Wico impulse magneto was introduced in 1938.
The MG5 replaced the MG2 in 1948, but the speed was still only 21/4mph. However, other improvements had been made with increased PTO rpm and relocated gear lever, plus the petrol tank now under the driver's seat. MG5s were sold into Australia and a hydraulic ram kit for the tool bar was developed there. Available in Britain at a cost of GBP89 15s, the Neville hydraulic system was an easy retro fit option and said to provide finger-tip control of all mounted equipment, instead of the heavy hand-lift fitted as standard.
The MG6 was introduced at the 1953 Smithfield Show, and was based on its predecessor, but with 3 forward gears and reverse, it was a notable improvement, with a maximum speed of 4mph in top. The hand-lift was still standard but hydraulics and PTO were optional at an extra GBP52. Basic price in standard form was GBP305. Two additional models were introduced in 1956, being the Industrial ITC (Crawler) and the pneumatic tyred 4-wheel drive ITW. A dumper version of the ITC was made with a rear-mounted engine.
Like Barford & Ferguson, Ransomes made a whole range of implements for the MG series in the 1950s. Trailed and mounted ploughs, front & rear toolbars, disc harrows and a potato lifter were all available and sprayers & trailers from other manufacturers were also approved by Ransomes. Hunt & Co. of Earls Colne, Essex, made land rolls for use with these machines.
The dominance of the little blue crawlers was in decline when the MG40 was announced in 1960. There were petrol, TVO or diesel engine options available, and 3 forward and 3 reverse gears. Drawbar pull was an extra 200lb over the MG6 and 500lb more than the MG2. Prices ranged from GBP370 to GBP495 depending on engine type. The MG40 was updated in 1962 with a fibreglass bonnet as an option, which was supposedly to protect the engine from over-hanging fruit trees. However, the driver had to take his chances. Production ceased in 1966, and over their 30-year production run, 3000 MG2s, 5000 each of the MG5 and MG6, and 2000 MG40s were made at Ipswich, making a total production run of 15,000 units.