Australian Made Tractors

 

 JELBART

 RONALDSON TIPPETT

 McDONALD

 HOWARD

 CALDWELL VALE

 McKAY SUNSHINE MH

 KL BULLDOG

 CHAMBERLAIN

 BIG LIZZIE

 BACK TO PAGE 1

 

 

 To gain further information about our agricultural heritage and tractors in Australia I recommend you subscribe to "The Old Machinery Magazine Magazine"(see under Aussie Links) and read the following books, Australian Tractors by Graeme R Quick. Ian M Johnston's Century of Classic Tractors, Agricultural Tractors, World of Classic Tractors and Classic Tractors in Australia. Big Lizzie by Ron Maslin. Hugh Victor McKay The young inventor and Digging Stick to Rotary Hoe by Frances Wheelhouse. A. H. McDonald Industrial Pioneer by Kennith Neal McDonald

JELBART

Frank and George Jelbart registered their business in Ballarat, Victoria in 1911. They had been working on their air scavenger engine for some time and took out a patent in 1909. They produced one of Australia's first combustion engines and within a few years had several models available. Around 1914 they fitted one of the engines to their first tractor and continued producing them until the mid 1920's. They were all basically the same but were fitted with a variety of their innovative engines. A peculiarity of one of these engines was the stepped piston that was used. The firm had its financial problems but continued for several years in a small way after tractor production ceased in about 1926. You can see the Australian made Jelbart at, Gulgong Museum, Swan Hill Pioneer Settlement, Temora Rural Museum, Booleroo Centre.

I have just received a lot of interesting information on Jelbart tractors and engines from Scott Shaw who holds a Register of Jelbart equipment. If anyone out there has a Jelbart tractor or engine I'm sure he would like to hear from you. You can contact him at PO Box 283 Hastings 3915 Victoria. We owe a lot to people like Scott who spend a lot of their time compiling information which helps to preserve our agricultural history.

 

Photo, Temora Museum

Back to top

RONALDSON TIPPETT

The Ronaldson brothers started to produce farm machinery in 1903, Jack Tippett joined them in 1905. They produced some of Australia's earliest internal combustion engines including the Austral brand, by the early 1920's they had produced over 4000 engines. They experimented with tractors as early as 1910 but it was not until the mid 1920's that they introduced their Super Drive tractor.(see story below) They also imported the Wisconsin engines and later made them under license, they produced a lot of engines for WW2 and by the end of the war were Australia's largest engine manufacturer. They ceased making tractors in the late 1930's and continued making engines until 1972

Things are not always as they seem and this could apply to the Vintage Ronaldson Tippett tractor which is part of the large collection at the Temora Rural Museum. Actually the only part that is Ronaldson Tippett is the oversize cast iron radiator with Ronaldson Tippett cast into its ample front area. The tractor is in reality, a l924 American "Illinois", one of 73 tractors imported by Ronaldson Bros and Tippett of Ballarat, Victoria, who were heavily involved in the manufacture of Austral oil engines and a variety of high grade farm machinery. It seems that the Temora tractor, serial number l0, was one of the first batch of 25 Illinois tractors imported in l924 and all of the batch had a cooling system problem, being prone to boiling when working under unfavourable conditions. To overcome the problem Ronaldson Bros and Tippett made an oversize radiator, incorporating a very large top tank onto which they cast their name.

Ronaldson Tippett TractorIn other words they re-badged the tractors. Tractor No l0 was dispatched to a Temora farmer on 8th October l924. It was presented to the Temora Rural Museum by Mr Bob Dunn, of Temora, in good working condition. It is not known if he was the original purchaser. These tractors were known as "Super Drives" which probably referred to the somewhat unique transmission which consisted of a planetary final drive on the rear wheels and a quick change set of cogs under a cover on the side of the transmission housing. Having an assortment of various size cogs it was possible to change the gear ratio of the tractor in a few minutes. The tractor also had a gear lever that gave two forward speeds as well as a reverse. The Illinois-cum Ronaldson Tippett was a made up job using a Wisconsin l8-30 HP engine with a bore of 5" and stroke of 6". The transmission was manufactured by Foote Bros and the wheels by the Electric Wheel Co of Illinois. Like many other tractors and machines the Illinois had its own very disconcerting peculiarity. The foot brake, while reasonable effective, became immediately ineffective when the gear lever was placed in neutral. I first discovered this unusual trait when unloading the tractor on a long slope in the railway goods yard. The tractor took off as soon as I put it out of gear. Ronaldson Bros and Tippett went on to manufacture a replica of the Illinois, starting with their own serial number of l0l. It is thought they made over 400 Super Drive tractors and ceased production about l939. The later models were fitted with pneumatic tyres but apart from a few minor improvements to the governor and the fitting of a power take-off there was little change in design from the original Illinois. The Super Drives were a simple, but rugged tractor, easy to start and the slow revving motor governed at 900 RPM was capable of lugging a heavy load. I found, even with its lack of frills, it is a delightful machine to drive.

Thanks to Ron Maslin and the Temora Museum. Photo 1998 Exhibition

Back to top

CHAMBERLAIN

Chamberlain 40KChamberlain had worked on repairing tractors for several years and believed he could produce a tractor more suited to Australian conditions. After working on a prototype for a few years, A.W.Chamberlain and his Sons produced their first production tractor in 1949 at their Welshpool factory in Western Australia. The 40K & KA and the more powerful 55KA models had a twin cylinder, horizontally opposed, kerosene engine with 9 forward and 3 reverse gears. The 3cylinder diesel 70DA followed and then Champion and Countryman models. A Champion 9G was transformed into the well know Tail End Charlie and competed in the Redex round Australia endurance rallies.(see it at the Tractor Museum of Western Australia, link on page 1) In the early 1960's the Super 90 was produced, it proved to be very popular and competed favourably with the imported heavyweights. In 1970 John Deere took a large stake in Chamberlain and their engines, transmissions etc were gradually incorporated into the tractors. The last wholesale delivery occurred in 1990, the end of a great Australian tractor. For further information on Chamberlain check out http://www.starwon.com.au/~painter/WA/museum.htm

Photo above, 1950's 40K

Back to top

McDONALD

McDonald TWB Another tractor pioneer of Australia was Alfred Henry McDonald, with his brother they established an engineering business in Melbourne in the early 1900's. They produced their first tractor the Imperial EA 20hp 2 cylinder model in 1908, the EB, EE etc. followed. In the 1920's they imported the Swedish, Advance and the Emerson Brantingham from the USA. After a short absence of manufacturing tractors they began production again in 1930. Their single cylinder hot bulb engine similar to Germany's Lance was installed in the T range, the earlier models used some Rumley parts. The TWB model was popular and continued until world war 2 disrupted production. They recommenced limited production after the war until the 1950's.

Photo, 1934 TWB at the Gunnedah museum.

McDonald EBJohn Kirkpatrick of Victoria has been kind enough to send me a photo of his EB Imperial 25-30, tractor No. 138 engine No. 164. He believes it was built in about 1913 and was purchased by his father in 1963. The water from the engine is pumped to the square cooling tower and allowed to trickle down the screens, the muffler above helps to create draught over the screens. As you can see by the photo John has done an a magnificent job in restoring this old Australian tractor

Back to top

HOWARD

Clifford Howard was one of Australia's greatest agricultural engineers and in 1971 was awarded the CBE for his services to the industry. His first "Rotavator" was produced in Sydney, Australia in the early 1920's and over the following years he became one of the worlds leaders in affordable rotary cultivator manufacture and exported them to many countries. To continue the push into the world wide market he decided in 1938 to set up a manufacturing plant in Essex, England. The Howard range included several walk behind models known as the Gem, Foxie, Bantam, Bullfinch, Terrier etc. tractor driven cultivators and 3 and 4 wheel tractors. To capture the market for his larger cultivators he made a wise decision to produce a range to suit the Fordson F & N models at the time when these tractors outsold all others. In 1930 he produced his DH22 tractor with matching cultivator, it was powered with a 4 cylinder 22hp engine, ( see photo above) these tractors were sold in several countries including England and North America. A small market garden tractor called the Kelpie was also produced, it was similar to the Beaver made in the USA. For a short time the 1950's the English factory also produced the Platypus crawler tractor.

Back to top

CALDWELL VALE

The following is an extract from a feature in the TOMM magazine on the restoration of a Caldwell Vale by Reg Schuster. Link to TOMM http://www.tomm.com.au/

The Caldwell Vale tractor/truck had its beginning in Adelaide 1907 when Felix and Norman Caldwell applied for a patent described as "four wheel drive, four wheel steering". In 1910 with Henry Vale a financier, heavy equipment and locomotive manufacturer they established Caldwell Vale Motor and Tractor Construction Company in Auburn, Sydney. Unfortunately due to financial problems the production of what was most likely the worlds most technically advanced tractor was ceased in 1916 when the company was taken over by Purcell Engineering.

Caldwell Vale TruckReg acquired his Caldwell Vale truck after a phone call stating that there was an unusual looking piece of machinery at a scrap metal merchant. He immediately recognised it to be two Caldwell Vale road trains. This was a major find which led Reg and friends to many months of extensive restoration work. For the complete and interesting story of this restoration process contact me or "The Old Machinery Magazine" on the above link. The photo on the right is the Caldwell Vale making its debut at the Rusty Iron Rally, NSW with Reg proudly seated at the wheel.

Caldwell Vale EngineThe tractors of 40 and 80 HP were also fitted with platform bodies for overland road train operations, the one Reg rebuilt being a fine example. I have not been able to get a photo of a tractor. It is believed that approx. 40-50 were built between 1910 and 1916, several were used in the construction of the city of Canberra, others were used by the Australian Pastoral Company in the Longreach area. The photo on the right shows Reg holding the Schebler carburettor beside his fully assembled engine. The 4 cylinder petrol engine developed 80hp at 800rpm, has a bore and stroke of 6in x 6in, 11.25 litre. The transmission has 3 forward, 1 reverse and gives the 9 ton truck a maximum speed of 10mph and a petrol consumption of 1 mile per gallon. The engine with the exception of the Schebler carburettor and the Simms magneto was built entirely by Caldwell Vale in their Auburn factory. It runs in constant 4 wheel drive and interestingly featured power steering, way before its time. Any photos or further information on the Caldwell Vale is always welcome

 Back to top

McKAY SUNSHINE MH

Hugh Victor McKay had a huge input into Australia's agricultural history, he was only in his teens when designed his first stripper-harvester. He experimented with self propelled harvesters and around 1915-20 produced the Sunshine model "A" and "O" tractors. It is not known how many were made, a model "A "survives at the Victorian Museum. Shortly before he died in 1926 production of these tractors ceased. The Sunshine Harvester Works had early ties with the Canadian firm Massey Harris and in the 1930's went into partnership with them. The Sunshine Massey Harris model 25, 26-41HP was sold in the early 1930's, this tractor was based on the Wallis 20-30 which Massey Harris acquired when they purchased J. I. Case Plough Works in 1928. The 16-26HP Pacemaker and Challenger followed, other tractors including the 744D which was made in Massey Harris's Kilmarnock factory in Scotland wore the "Sunshine" name until Massey Ferguson took complete control in 1955

Back to top

KL BulldogKL BULLDOG

Kelly & Lewis who had imported Lanz Bulldogs prior to the 2nd World War decided to produce their own Bulldog after the war . They set up a plant in Victoria and had great plans to produce large numbers but in the end made less that 1000. They ceased production in 1954, by this time Lanz had resumed production and were once again available on the Australia market. The KL Bulldog's are sought after by Australian collectors and several have been purchase by European collectors, lets hope that most of them stay in Australia as they are an important part of our agricultural heritage. The Photo was taken at the Gunnedah Museum.

Back to top

BIG LIZZIE

Frank Bottrill had a dream to transport wool from the sheep stations in the Broken Hill area. His first attempt with a steam engine ended in disaster when he became hopelessly bogged. This led him in 1906 to developing his Dreadnaught Wheels which he fitted to several tractors. His mind still on his dream he built the huge "Big Lizzie" tractor in 1915-16 in Melbourne. He left Melbourne in the 34foot, 45 ton monster and headed north, he only got as far as Mildura. Not being able to cross the Murray River he worked Big Lizzie in the Mildura Red cliff area until 1924. Big Lizzie has been partly restored and is on display in Red Cliff. Read the full story on Big Lizzie in Ron Maslin's book of the same name.

 Big Lizzie at Red Cliff, Victoria

Back to top

Last Revised: Jan 2008