Wellard Street, Serpentine, WA, 6125

Work Hours
Mon-Tues: Closed
Wednesday: 9am-1pm
Thur-Fri: Closed
Sat-Sun: 10am-3pm
Public Holidays: 10am-3pm

Note: Closed on Good Friday and Christmas Day

Field Marshall Series 3 - 1940 XX


English Flag

Field Marshall tractors were manufactured in Lincolnshire England between 1930 to 1957. The last single cylinder tractor produced by Marshall was the 3a which could be purchased for £UK525. The 3a on display used an improved fuel injection system and an optional electric start with the “Adrolic” type lift system. The model was finished in orange livery instead of the normal green but due to other manufacturers offering 4-cylinder diesel tractors at a far cheaper price, the tractor was discontinued in 1957.                                                                                

WA Distributors (1956): Moore Road Machinery (WA) Pty Ltd, Corner Hay Street and Troy Terrace, Subiaco.  

Technical Specifications:   Single cylinder, 2-stroke diesel engine using the crankcase for compression. Bore 6 ½” and Stroke 9”. Dry sump with force feed lubrication. Gears: transverse gearbox with 6 forward and 1 reverse with high and low range. Starting was via paper wick doused in saltpetre or a 12- bore shot gun blank cartridge.

History: The accidental failure of this starting method led to the massive injury sustained by the museum founder Hugh Manning in 1982 when the cast iron assembly holding the cartridge exploded during a standard starting procedure that went seriously wrong.

On 12 October 1982 Hugh Manning, then 64, had turned up a new fitting on his lathe, for the fuel system of the very Field Marshall 3A on display in the Museum. After coupling up the new part, Hugh attempted to start the engine.

The normal starting procedure involves igniting a rolled-up piece of saltpetre-impregnated paper and inserting it into the appropriate passageway at the top of the engine. A blank shotgun cartridge is then inserted into a special breech and screwed down for firing. The cartridge is triggered which causes the piston to rotate and fuel is ignited by that rolled -up piece of paper inserted a few moments earlier. In theory, at that moment the engine comes to life.

However, on this day, the cartridge fizzed and did not start the engine. Thinking the cartridge was faulty, Hugh replaced the first cartridge with a second and triggered the new cartridge. Unbeknown to Hugh, the original cartridge gunpowder had not ignited and had fallen straight from the cartridge into the starting chamber. The second cartridge fired correctly but fired onto the un-ignited gunpower resulting in a mighty explosion.

The explosion caused the cast iron cylinder surrounding the cartridge to disintegrate and Hugh’s body took the full brunt of the explosion.

Afterwards, Hugh said he remembered the bang and seeing the flying metal drop his left arm from the elbow. It also caused major damage to the bones of his right arm. The femur of his left leg was blown apart from his hip to his knee.

Hugh said he remembered falling over in a crumpled mess and that he was finished.

Fortunately for Hugh, his wife Stella had heard the explosion from inside their house some 400 metres away. She came to investigate and would not accept Hugh’s claim that he was finished. After assuring him that while he had his mental faculties he would pull through, Stella went back to the house and organised the volunteer ambulance, the police and other local emergency volunteers.  That was around 3-00pm.

It took the volunteers nearly an hour to separate Hugh from his tractor get him out of the shed. An ambulance took him from Mardella via Armadale Hospital where he was stabilised and a doctor joined the journey to administer further treatment enroute to Royal Perth Hospital.  Hugh was patched up and after some time discharged from Royal Perth to spend time in the Royal Perth Rehabilitation Hospital from which Hugh was not discharged until 31 January 1983. 


Field Marshall Series 3 - 1940 XX
Field Marshall Series 3 - 1940 XX