I bought an old Massey Fergusson 135 Diesel which I have a theory has not had its oil changed for at least 20 years:

The tractor

I don't have the means to transport it to a mechanic, so I am preparing to change the oil myself, an exercise I have not undertaken before. I have bought an oil collecting pan - and I think I may need two to hold all the oil in the tractor, but what other preparations should I do? Lay down a tarp to protect my concrete flooring or a sheet of plastic and some oil absorbent cat litter?

And what do I do if it turns out that the oil has stiffened and become gel?

I also assume that running the engine prior to changing the oil is preferable to make it more liquid before removing the oil filters and plugs...

Additional information

I didn't write that the tractor runs. I only had to jump start it to get it up on the trailer I rented to fetch it.

Here is an image of the filters and dipstick: filters and dipstick

And here one of the oil on the dipstick:

oil viscosity

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    Catch-22: you need to run the engine to reduce the viscosity of the oil, but you can't run the engine if the oil has thickened. Of interest: Is An Engine Flush Good Or Bad? Step 1 could be to look at the dipstick. Jul 31, 2023 at 12:09
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    You might also change the gear oil. This model should hold more than 30l, so the shown pan is too small.
    – Martin
    Jul 31, 2023 at 12:10
  • @WeatherVane I added a picture of the dipstick. It is very runny, I assume that means I'm not going to find gel?
    – JoSSte
    Jul 31, 2023 at 18:57
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    From your comment below Paulster's answer, you've already bit the bullet, and the dipstick oil looks good and is at MAX. Presumably it's been run since 20 years and not just stood idle. Jul 31, 2023 at 19:00
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    @JoSSte i was under the impression that this model has a combined tank for both transmission and hydraulic fluid.
    – Martin
    Jul 31, 2023 at 20:02

1 Answer 1


The engine in your tractor should hold are 6.5 quarts (6.2L) of 15W-40 oil. That amount should fit in most oil collection pans.

If you want to use kitty litter as oil clean up, that's a great idea. I'd suggest you get the non-clumping kind. Kitty litter does a great job of cleaning up spilled oil. It is what I use. As long as you place the pan correctly, you shouldn't spill too much, but it's always a possibility.

I see both cartridge and canister oil filters shown for the Massey Ferguson tractors. If yours has a canister that looks something like this:

enter image description here

Be prepared for a struggle. The rubber o-ring gasket at the top has a habit of locking the canister into position. If a regular filter wrench does not get it off, you'll need to use something like a large set of channel lock pliers or even a larger pipe wrench. I've also stuck a screwdriver through the body of them to get them to come off. It can be a lot of fun. If yours has an element style, getting them off is a lot easier.

Once the oil filter (if canister) is off, ensure the gasket has been removed with the oil filter. If not, you'll need to pull it off the engine. If it is left there, it will leak.

Double check to see if your tractor has one or two oil filters. Sucks to not have what you need.

You should be able to pull the dipstick to see the state of the oil. If it feels runny on the dipstick or you can see it drip off of there, you shouldn't have to worry about it being gelled up or cause you an issue draining it. Even if it is a bit thick, it will still most likely drain out ... it might just take a little longer.

Putting the oil drain plug back in, ensure you do not over tighten it. Stripping out the threads in the pan isn't a good thing. There's a happy medium between too loose and too tight. Get the plug to snug and give it another 10-15° of turn to get it there. Too much more than that and you can expect trouble. Also check to see if there is a copper or aluminum washer on it. Make sure it's back in place and in good enough shape to seal the plug. It's a lot easer to change it out when there's no oil in the pan rather than finding it leaking after the fact.

Once the oil change is complete, plan on changing the oil again a lot sooner than the normal oil change interval. The reason for this is, you never get all of the old oil out. Once the new oil is in and runs for a while, it'll mix with what was left. You'll want to try and get this out as well. I assume the tractor has an hour meter. Running it under normal use for a couple of hours should do you just fine. Change it again, then just do it under a normal schedule.

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    In addition, when starting an engine that has not run for months or years, it's good practice to crank without allowing the engine to start until some oil pressure is developed. This helps to prevent friction damage to dry journals and bearings. On a diesel, you can disconnect the fuel cutoff solenoid. For a gas engine with distributor, disconnect the coil wire. Cummins recommended this procedure after every oil change on an '89 5.9L diesel that I owned: crank till the oil pressure light goes out, then start normally.
    – MTA
    Jul 31, 2023 at 18:03
  • @MTA The engine runs smoothly. It drove up onto the removal trailer by its own power.
    – JoSSte
    Jul 31, 2023 at 18:34
  • @Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 I added a picture of two of the oil filters and the dipstick. Should I use my torque top for the oil drain plug? And if so at what setting? Same as for my wheel lugnuts on my car?
    – JoSSte
    Jul 31, 2023 at 19:02
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    @JoSSte - Uh, no ... you don't want to torque them down to the torque of your lugnuts. First thing I'd do is give that engine a bath. You DO NOT want all of that crud in fresh filters. If you follow my instructions on how to torque the drain plug, you should be just fine. Same for the oil filter canisters, just a little past snug. On first startup after the oil change, you need to look at the canisters to ensure they aren't leaking. I don't know for sure, but I'm thinking you have one canister which is an oil filter and the other is a fuel filter. You need to get a manual to know for sure. Jul 31, 2023 at 20:13
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    @JoSSte - Also, you should have zero problems draining that oil. Looks like it has a few less hours on there than you were thinking it has :o) Jul 31, 2023 at 20:14

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