Background The first Mayfield pedestrian tractors appeared on the market sometime in 1949 and were principally designed as a grass cutter in much the same vein as the Allen Scythe. Subsequently a comprehensive range of attachments were available to turn the tractor into a useful tool for the smallholder and market gardener. Initially tractor assembly was carried out at the Balfour works of S R Wood & Co in Croydon but latterly moved to a site in Redhill Surrey. The tractors were designed by a Mr Harry Whitlock and assembled by a firm called SR Walton & Co Ltd on his behalf at Croydon and other sites nearby. This latter name can still be seen on some of the castings.
Croft Mayfield These first machines were known as Croft Mayfields and
encompassed an extensive range of models, viz the single wheel Hoe & Mow, MK
10, Mk 12, MK14 Mk15, Mk16, MK20, Mk21, Wentworth and MK25. The model
designations related to the Villers engine types, which powered most of
them. The Hoe & Mow, the Mk 20 and 21 also had optional Briggs & Stratton
engines. The Mk 21 was a specialist grass-cutting tractor being fitted with
a cylinder mower or a rotary grass cutting attachment.
Track grip tyres were standard but grassland tyres could be supplied as an alternative. These latter are today unobtainable. The gearbox was normally 3 speeds but a reverse could be supplied as an option and due to the motor bike application of the Albion gearboxes, lever starting was available as standard. The Mayfield Wentworth model was an attempt to produce a tractor with a rotary cultivator attachment incorporating a lower range of gear ratios, but how many were built is not known as only one bearing the number R108 has been identified to date.
Allen Mayfield In 1965 the goodwill, drawings, parts and production
facilities was sold to Allen Power Equipment of Didcot Oxford. Some Croft mo
dels including the Mk 15, Mk 16, Mk 20, Mk 21, Mk 25 and Hoe & Mow continued
to be produced as before alongside the new Allen Mayfield models introduced
after 1971. For these new models engine horsepower options were raised to 7
for the Briggs & Stratton and 8 for the Kohler and construction beefed up.
Three new designs of grass cutter were offered, cylinder, rotary and
reciprocating being suitable for heavy commercial use. These were added to
the comprehensive range of Croft Mayfield attachments.
An interesting derivative was the Allen Mayfield Hydrostatic introduced in 1980, which gave single lever control. In 1966 the Mayfield Merlin was offered as one of the first ride on rotary mowers, however its cutting attachment proved somewhat delicate and only 109 were produced before production ceased in 1968. Allen models continued to be made up to 1985 despite the sale of the Croft tractor goodwill and parts to Arun Tractors in 1975.
Arun Mayfield In 1975 the Croft goodwill, remaining spare parts, drawings and tools were sold yet again to a firm trading as Arun Tractors and subsequently as Riverside Precision which finally found a home at Littlehampton Sussex. This company set about designing a completely new and up to date tractor marketed as the Arun Mayfield. A Hoe & Mow version was offered in 1978, which lasted until 1981. The two-wheeled tractor was offered initially with engines of 3 HP, 4HP, 4.25 HP, 6 HP and finally the Kohler engined 8Hp model. Many of the Croft attachments remained in production for use with these new models. Towards the end of production the range was simplified to offer four models, the single wheel Hoe & Mow, a Briggs & Stratton 5HP, a Briggs & Stratton 8HP and a Kohler 8HP. By April 1990 the price list offered only the Kohler 8HP tractor at £1200 and the Hoe & Mow at £792. Despite the records recording the final build in 1981, the last known sale of a new tractor under this designation was in October 1991. Sales of a dwindling number of spare parts continued up until autumn 2001 wh en what remained plus the drawings was passed to Ray Smith of Cheddar and the author for safe keeping, but remain in the ownership of Brian Mathews of Riverside Precision.
Engines The commonest make of engine fitted on the Croft Mayfield was from the Villiers range but latterly Briggs & Stratton models of 3 and 4 hp HP were offered on the Hoe & Mow, the Mk 20 and 21. Horsepowers of the Villiers range were from 1.3 of the MK 10 up to the 4 of the MK 25. With the introduction of the Allen Mayfield Kohler 7 and 8 Hp engines were specified, thus considerably beefing up the output on these larger models. For the Arun Mayfield things got more complicated. Initially engine options ranged from the Villiers F15 3.0 hp Villiers C28 4 hp, B&S 4.25hp B&S 6 hp. This was rationalised to B&S 5hp, B&S 8hp, and Kohler Magnum 8hp. The final Arun price list contained the option of the customer specifying almost any engine of their choice including Honda petrol models and a Lister Petter Diesel.
Attachments You name it there was an attachment for it, Cutter bars, 2ft, 3ft, 4ft, offset and mulch; cylinder mowers, rotary grass cutters, 18in, 25in, and 36in; saw benches two types; cultivating equipment, plough, ridger, trailer, wheelbarrow, water pump, generator, sprayer, snowplough, hay sweep, riding bogie, roller, hedge cutters two types, potato lifter etc.
Faults and what to look for. Thankfully these were few but the following points should be checked if you are contemplating a purchase. If the tractor has stood for some time with flat tyres check the condition of the sidewalls as new tyres cost £30 each plus £6 for new inner tubes. Check the petrol tank for soundness as replacement can let you in for up to £50. Control cables were vulnerable and had a hard life. These are often mutilated but repairs are reasonably cheap. Another common fault are oil leaks from the gearbox. On the earliest tractors gearbox oil seals were nonexistent the vital fluid being restrained by an oil thrower. The cure is to use a thicker oil or low melting point grease. Check that all the gears including reverse can be selected; new parts whilst still available are expensive. Drive chains are often neglected but reasonably priced replacements are readily available. Check the effectiveness of the clutch, as new plates are £30 to £50 to replace. Due to over liberal oiling of the drive chains nearly all models exhibit contaminated clutch plates these can with care be cleaned using suitable solvents. Engine repairs can be expensive, availability of Villiers spares is reasonably good but prices are rising. Parts for B&S and Kohler engines are much easier to obtain however B&S have recently raised prices for obsolete spares with for example an air cleaner cover costing £50! Exhausts are the first to go, but reasonably priced replacements are available and exhaust valves are often found stuck open in engines, which have stood for any length of time. Lubrication was often neglected particularly engine oil levels, this lead to worn big end bearings and cylinder bores. New rings and big end shells may need to be replaced so check for compression and excessive play in the big end. One final point, the drive to the land wheels was delivered by a ratchet arrangement lubrication of this was often neglected and the hubs seized. New operating springs are still available but considerable work will be required to free the seized hubs.
Identification For Croft and and Allen Mayfields an identification plate was fixed to the main drive guard, this shows a serial no and a marque designation. For Arun Mayfield models a number stamped on the upper surface of the main frame to the right of the gearbox gives the tractor number and year of manufacture.
Dating Ray Smith of Cheddar (Tel No 01934 742437) holds the remaining number records and can on request date your machine. This is not infallible as there are still gaps for certain models.
Plans and spare parts availability All the remaining spare parts are in the possession of Ray Smith of Cheddar and the author, but readers should not think that much is left, as all the consumables particularly wearing parts have long since run out. As tractors have been renovated a considerable amount of technical information has been collated and stored either on file or floppy disc. All the remaining plans are also archived at Cheddar and information from them can be made available to specific enquiries. The drawings are not for sale as they remain in the ownership of Brian Mathews at Riverside Precision.
Prices This depends on the condition and your bargaining skills. For tractors, which are runners with reasonable tyres and a few basic implements i.e., cutter bar or plough expect to pay £40 to £80. The price also depends on horsepower and whether fitted with a reverse gearbox. For tractors in working order with a more comprehensive set of attachments including say any of the following saw bench, generator, hedge cutter and maybe a rotary cutter values up to £160 are more realistic. For some of the rarer tractors in particularly good condition values in excess of £160 are available but rare. Occasionally auctions produce freak results but don't be tempted by values over £160 unless the tractor is very exceptional. Don't be misled by adverts in enthusiast magazines asking for prices in excess of £100 with few if any implements, remember that considerable work and expense may well be needed to bring many of these offerings up to even working condition. A realistic cost ranging from £200 to £400 will be needed depending on your expertise and facilities to bring an ex farm condition tractor up to show standard. Some of the examples are now over 55 years old.
Additional Information For readers seeking additional information contact
either myself on Tel no 01952 257816 or Ray Smith Tel no 01934 742437.
Bill Castellan and Ray Smith
|Croft Mayfield 1949 to 1965||Allen Ownership 1965 to 1975|
|Hoe & Mow|