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Did You Know You Could Start an Old Field Marshall Tractor With a 12-Gauge Shotgun Shell?

YouTube/John Finch

Some old tractors, like the Field Marshall, needed an explosion to get started. Most wouldn't expect it to be from a shotgun shell!

How do you start a tractor that doesn't have a battery or a starter? Well, it just might be an old Field Marshall series, and in that case it needs a 12-gauge shotgun shell to get it going. Originally sold in the UK, Australia, and Canada, the Field Marshall goes back as far as the 1940s.

Usually they came with three speeds forward and one in reverse with a diesel, one-cylinder, two-cycle engine, but certainly not every model was the same. The beauty of these old girls was in the simplicity.

Maybe the most entertaining part of having an old Field Marshall was the way in which the user had to start her up: with a blank 12-gauge shotgun shell. There's actually more to it than just that, so I guess it's time to watch the video.

First he had to align the flywheel into position and engage the decompression mechanism. Then he had to remove the rod in the front of the beast to ready it for (blackpowder users pay attention now) a saltpeter paper wick to be used as a sort of glow plug.

Now he was ready to open the bore to insert a new blank cartridge, but first he had to take out the last one. He pulled out a paper wad from his kit, inserted it into the rod, lit the paper, and pushed the rod into the cylinder head.

Then with one magic hit to the "firing pin," the cartridge went off and the tractor was started!

Our only question is this: Did we just witness a diesel, four-wheeled smoke-pole?

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Did You Know You Could Start an Old Field Marshall Tractor With a 12-Gauge Shotgun Shell?