...to produce a tractor entirely suited to the large land holdings of Australian farmers... — Melbourne engineer A.W. (Bob) Chamberlain in the 1930s
While Bob Chamberlain was working as a tractor mechanic in Victoria he designed a tractor and built a prototype tractor around what he believed farmers wanted. It became the basis of the 40K model tractor.
The Western Australian Government having heard of Bob Chamberlain's plan to build tractors persuaded the Chamberlains to use an ex-munitions factory (Welshpool, Western Australia. Thus the first Tractors rolled off the production line in 1949.); in
The first Chamberlain tractor produced was the model 40k which had 40 horsepower (30 kW) twin-cylinder, horizontally opposed engines. They weighed about four tonnes and were considered to be ideal for the needs of Australian farmers.
In 1953 Chamberlain started to produce diesel powered tractors such as the GM diesel powered 60DA and later the 70DA, as well as the 55DA, which was powered by an Australian built diesel engine. A few years later the production of kerosene powered tractors was stopped. In 1955 Chamberlain developed the Perkins diesel powered Champion models and as a publicity stunt in the same year Chamberlains entered the new diesel powered tractor in the Redex around Australia rally as a rescue/recovery vehicle. It became known as "Tail End Charlie" The tractor in question was fitted with modified cab, bench seat and high speed gears (allowing it to reach speeds of up to 110 km/hour). Initial attempts to enter the event were met with disbelief, and it was only officially recognised as a recovery vehicle for one leg of the rally. Tail-End Charlie is reputed to have completed one stage of the race while towing as many as six other entrants that broke down on the way. In a subsequent rally, the powers that be relented, and the Chamberlain machine completed the whole course.
In subsequent years, Chamberlain produced a range of iconic larger tractors suited to broadland farming in Austalia . These tractors are now popular for heritage tractor pulling contests, and feature their own national championships.
An expansion and refit of the Welshpool Plant was undertaken in 1978. The Welshpool manufacturing site was redeveloped and a new office complex built in 1982, however by 1986 due to significant decline in demand, the manufacture of the famous Chamberlain tractors ceased.
John Deere Merger
In 1970, the John Deere Company of America purchased a controlling interest in Chamberlain.
Chamberlain tractors on display at the 2007 Perth Royal Show
- Australian History of the John Deere company
- A history of Australian Tractors
- Quick GR 2006 Australian tractors Indigenous tractors and self-propelled machines in rural Australia, Rosenberg Publishing, Australia. ISBN 9781877058394
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