Written by Michael Lethbridge
In the late 1940's and early 1950's many Victorian farms still used horses. Those with tractors had, in the main, drawbar machines. They were heavy machines and heavy to drive.
In horticulture there were Farmall A's, AV's, Allis Chalmers C's to name a few. Among the smaller farms, Fordson E27N and IHC W4's were popular, on large and broad acre properties, Case, Chamberlain, Massey Harris, IHC WD9, Twin City, John Deere and single cylinder makes such as Field Marshall, KL Bulldog and Lanz were to be found.
Post war, the Ferguson arrived and later the David Brown (1948). The problem was to convince farmers that these smaller machines could do the work of the larger, more powerful and heavier tractors. Those farmers using horses were delighted to receive the news that they could replace their horses on the flat ground, but on rolling and hilly country they were not convinced.
The solution was to demonstrate to farmers that the lighter linkage tractors were more efficient, easier to handle and could work steeper ground. BFE (Ferguson) and Emptor (David Brown) each developed a travelling "circus"- tractors with trailers attached, loaded with implements, which literally took to the road and travelled the state.
The David Brown circus selected various Dealer locations, where the Dealer would invite farmers in the district to come and see the tractors working in the paddock and to drive them. Day 1 would be travel, day 2 set up and prepare, day 3, demonstration. We did two of these each week until Victoria was covered. In a later promotion, a "demo unit" was left with a selected and approved Dealer for a week.
Young Farmer's achievement days were usually attended with a demo unit. In the early 1950's we were invited to a YFC day at Hughes Creek, south of Nagambie. District Manager Max Higgs was keen to attend and our two demo units (DB 25c, trailer and implements) were in the yard at Notting Hill (now Deakin University).
We decided to drive one unit each from Notting Hill to Hughes Creek, leaving at early daybreak arriving late morning. The Ferguson crew were already there and we all had a successful day. Mid afternoon, Max and I climbed aboard and headed back to Notting Hill. By the time we reached Coburg, daylight was fading and we had to abandon the units in a back street and take a taxi home. Such was life in the tractor business!
The result of these promotions was approval and acceptance by the farming community of Ferguson and David Brown, the former doing an excellent promotion of "The Ferguson System". In the mid 1950's David Brown field people frequently heard the comment "but you haven't got the Ferguson system" or "but you still have to use a depth wheel."
I recall the popular and well told story of two farmers arguing in a Geelong pub, the relative merits of a Cropmaster and IHC W4 resulting in a challenge. The venue chosen, the two tractors back to back, a short chain attached between them, the signal given, the Cropmaster hydraulics were raised just enough for the W4 to lose traction and be pulled around the yard!
In 1957 the Hon TW Mitchell MLA had obtained the World Ploughing Organisation ploughing rules and judging sheets. He floated the idea that ploughing contests would be an excellent "achievement day" exercise for the Young Farmer Movement.
Mitchell also encouraged the Corryong YFC club to have a ploughing contest at Colac to "try out these rules". Mitchell invited Emptor amongst others to muster the troops, bring tractors and ploughs and compete, which we did.
The day was the first contest of the modern era with linkage tractors and mainly two furrow ploughs. By 1958 many Young Farmer Clubs throughout Victoria held eliminations in preparation for the Victorian and National Contests, the winner of the latter representing Australia at the forthcoming World contest in Germany.
The winner was Bill Fraser on a David Brown 25D using a David Brown BE series plough. Second was Len Clark on a David Brown 900D also with a David Brown BE series plough. We at Emptor saw this success as a means of proving to the market that the David Brown linkage system with depth controlled by a land wheel was more efficient and worked better than our main competitor, the Ferguson system with ADC.
In the first five years (1958-1962 incl.) of National contests, David Brown Tractors and ploughs filled 60% of the first four placings, in the first ten years of National contests, David Brown filled 58% of the first four placings.
I recall sharing a beer with a BFE manager and the late Alex Morrison after a contest (which he won) at Gilliondale (Yarram) when the Fergie fellow offered the comment "we cannot win against the DB system, without a land wheel"! I thought our decision to support competitive ploughing had been vindicated.
THE DAVID BROWN LINKAGE AND DEPTH CONTOL SYSTEM.
For those not familiar with the David Brown three point linkage, the following may be of interest. To explain the geometry. Imagine using a ground engaging implement such as a mouldboard plough. The geometry is the same for any cultivating implement.
The fundamental design works on two triangles. The bottom links form the sides on the horizontal triangle, the base being at the implement hitch points, the apex at the front axle trunion. The bottom links following a an imaginary line from implement to the through to the front trunion. This enables the implement to follow the nose of the tractor and allows the tractor to steer correctly. This is "converging linkage".
An interesting historical fact is that the earlier Cropmasters, 25 and 30 series were delivered with the bottom links on the outside of the hitch points, that is "parallel linkage". On delivery to the farmer, during the start up service the dealer was advised to attach the lower links to the inside of the hitch points in the "converging linkage" configuration. This procedure was adopted to avoid infringing Harry Ferguson's patent on converging linkage.
A vertical triangle is formed by the top link. The top link should be at such an angle so as to trace an imaginary line from implement hitch point to front axle trunion. The bottom links, in work should be parallel to the ground and form the bottom side of the vertical triangle. The top link implement end hitch point should always be higher than where the top link attaches to the tractor by two or three inches. This enables the implement to float behind the tractor, its draft pulling it deeper, the land wheel limiting the depth.
Until the Selectamatic range, (1962 in Aust.) David Brown tractors all had a "rolling top link". This was designed to stop the implement lifting out of the ground when the nose of the tractor fell. When the nose of the tractor dropped, the lower links would drop a little, the top link tractor end hitch point was caused to roll back towards the implement, in effect, lengthening the top link. Conversely, when the nose rises the opposite action occurs. The implement remains at the same depth unaffected by the rise and fall of the front of the tractor.
David Brown have always believed that a correctly set implement, floating behind the tractor, depth controlled by a land wheel has always been the best method of attaching an implement to a tractor. The operation of the plough/cultivator is not affected by changes in soil density as with the Ferguson ADC.
Years ago, I saw the late Jim Else do a winning plot near Kyabram. He was using a his own Ferguson tractor and plough. There was a sheep track diagonally across the plot. When shallowing off for the finish he hit the sheep track, the draft control reacted, lifted the plough just enough to break away. A winning plot relegated to a minor placing.
Today competitive ploughing rigs have a mass of hydraulic controls and a variety of depth wheels, but the plough is "floating" and the depth is controlled by a depth wheel!
MY INTRODUCTION TO DAVID BROWN TRACTORS AND PLOUGHS
By Hugh RICHES DB AUSTRALIA CLUB MEMBER.
Upon leaving Colac High School in 1957 I came home to work on the family dairy farm. My father had been farming in partnership with his brother on a 450 acre dairy farm (large for those days) and the decision was made to divide the farm and each family operate their own farm.
A new dairy and sheds were built on our half of the farm. A new David Brown 25D tractor and a 3 furrow BE David Brown mouldboard plough were purchased ; we were up and away.
In the ensuing years several other David Brown tractors were purchased ; a second hand 950A livedrive, 1967 770 Selectamatic , 1972 990/1 Selectamatic, and a second hand 1976 885/1 Selectamatic, also a David Brown Hurricane Forage Harvester. We have since purchased several Case and Fendt tractors.
In later years I have collected several David Brown tractors, ploughs and machinery which is waiting patiently to be restored.
1948 VAK 1c (magneto, no electrics, crank handle start, round front). 1948-50 PU series 2 furrow plough
1949 VAK 1c (magneto , 6volt electrics.genuine DB 2door cabin.) 1950-55 A series 2 furrow plough
1950 VAK 1c (magneto,6volt electrics, double seat, square front.) 1950-55 A series single furrow pl
1955 30C (restored , used in vintage ploughing contests.) (deep digger body)
1953 25 (parts only ) 1955-60 BE series 2 furrow plough
1956 25D (parts only) 1955-60 BE series 2 furrow match pl
1957 900D (restored, used in tractor trek.) 1960-65 C series 2 furrow match pl
1963 850 Implematic (in process of restoration.) 1960-65 C series 2 furrow reversible
1963 880 Implematic ( part restored, used in ploughing contests.) (deep digger bodies)
1967 1200 Selectamatic ( approx. 1600 genuine hours, good order.)
1967 880A Selectamatic ( parts only, 12 speed gearbox.)
1982 885/1 Selectamatic (farm tractor, used in ploughing contests.)
Machinery David Brown Albion small square baler ( good order.)
David Brown Hurricane forage harvester. ( poor order.)
David Brown Albion 3 disc, disc plough. ( good order.)