David Brown Ltd
Type Private
Fate Tractor division divested to Tenneco
Successor David Brown Engineering Ltd
Founded 1860
Founder(s) David Brown (snr)
Headquarters Huddersfield, England
Area served World wide exporter
Industry Engineering
Products Gears
Owner(s) ?
Divisions Gears
Subsidiaries Aston Martin(sold)
Website www.davidbrown.com

The David Brown Factory at Meltham Mills

David Brown 770 Selectamatic at Belvoir Castle show in 2008

David Brown Limited is a British engineering company, principally engaged in the manufacture of gears and gearboxes. Their major gear manufacturing plant is in Swan Lane, Lockwood, Huddersfield, adjacent to Lockwood railway station. Previously from the 1930 till the 1970s they were a major tractor builder. Selling the tractor production line to Tenneco (J.I.Case) during the 1970s recession.

Company General History[edit | edit source]

David Brown 25D at Wymswold show 2008

David Brown 25D Aircraft Tug in as found condition at Cromford Steam Rally 2008

Founded in 1860 as a pattern manufacturing company, by 1873 David Brown had focused on gear systems, and by 1898 was specialising in machine cut gears. The company then moved in 1902 to Park Works at Huddersfield, were the firm is still based. David Brown died in 1903 and Percy and Frank his sons took over and began manufacture of complete gear units with bearings and shafts worm drive gears.

Gearing manufactured by David Browns and powered by electric motors manufactured by Brook Crompton (Electric) Motors, whose factory was in near by Brockholes, West Yorkshire are used to rotate the top of the BT Tower in London.[1]

By the end of the First World War the workforce had increased from 200 to 1000 as they started building propulsion units for warships, and drive mechanisms for armaments. In 1913 they established a joint venture in America with Timken for worm drive units. By 1921 the company was the largest worm gear manufacturer in the world.[2]

The company in 1930 took over P.R. Jackson Ltd, another local firm of gear manufacturers and steel founders. David Brown II became MD in 1931 following his farther Percys death, with Frank becoming chairman. The Firm formed another overseas joint venture with Richardson Gears (Pty) Ltd of Footscray, Victoria, Australia in 1934. The company obtained a patent for a tank transmission using controlled differential steering system, known as the Merritt-Brown system in 1935.

Tractor Building[edit | edit source]

They first ventured into tractor production in a joint project with Harry Ferguson in 1936 building the Ferguson-Brown tractor. David Brown became one of the biggest British tractor manufactures for a period post war, with a major manufacturing plant at Meltham Mills, Meltham West Yorkshire England. The company broke new ground where others were only to follow later, being a pioneering company ultimately lead to their downfall. The Ferguson brown had a load of innovative features including allot of the components being of cast alloy construction, which was light but could be prone to damage. The Ferguson-Brown used a Coventry Climax engine for the first 350 tractors. Browns developed their own engine which was fitted to subsequent production. Total production was 1350 + 1 built from parts in 1940 after production finished.[3]

Then when Ferguson joined up with Henry Ford to allow his "Ferguson System" three-point linkage to be used on the Fordson N tractors the agreement was terminated prematurely by Ferguson's actions. Prior to the end of the manufacturing agreement with Ferguson, David Brown had foresaw a future in tractor production and designed his own tractor the 'VAK1' in secret. It was launched at the 1939 Royal Show.[4]

During the war David Brown built many tractors for the Royal air Force (RAF) that were used as aircraft tugs (VIG) and for pulling the bomb trolleys for aircraft re arming. These tractors are distinctive with Truck like tyres wrap round body work, and HD bumpers front and rear, some being fitted with winches.

In 1942 they started building a Tracklayer version the DB4 after an earlier attempt the VTK1 had failed to work as an aircraft tug. The DB4 was built for the Army engineers and solved some of the problems found with the VTK, and got round an embargo on imported machines for military use.

By the 1970s tractors stated to be offered with cabs as an accessory and by the late 70s had to be supplied with Safety cabs to provide rollover protection, or be fitted with ROPS safety frames. In 1972, the tractor division was sold to Tenneco and merged in with their J.I.Case division. The 90 series tractors introduced in 1979 were part David Brown-derived designs, but the larger models were from the Case range from America.

David Brown distributed Satoh tractors in England and many other countries, while Satoh distributed David Brown in Japan. Satoh built some models based on David Brown designs that closely resemble David Browns, but are built in Japan and are unique models. Examples include the Satoh S-400, Satoh S-650G and Satoh Bison S-650G, among others.

There were also David Brown tractors assembled in Germany by Carl Fr. Wahl (C.F. Wahl), like the David Brown 750 Farmatic.

By the 1980s cabs had to be sound-reducing as well (see Q Cabs. The last David Brown branded tractors were manufactured in 1983, with all tractors changing to the Case brand after that. The last tractor off the line in March 1988 was a Case 1594 (s/n 154BJB11528785).

Car manufacture[edit | edit source]

In 1947, the company acquired Aston Martin and in 1948, Lagonda. The investment by David Brown led to the DB series of Aston Martins. The most famous being the DB5 type loaned to the producers of the 'James Bond' series of films, this resulted in a huge amount of publicity & resultant sales rise.

Both car companies were sold in 1972 to Company Developments Limited, when Aston Martin was in financial trouble, for a nominal £100. And David Brown was hit by banking fall out from the recession and Rolls Royce (aero engines) getting into trouble.

Engine Manufacture[edit | edit source]

David Brown tractors after the initial Ferguson-Brown's using bought in engines developed and built their own engines.

Gearboxes[edit | edit source]

A David Brown gearbox on a harvester.

The Parent companies main expertise was (& still is) Gearbox manufacture.

The Current David Brown Company, now a subsidiary of Textron Inc. Still manufacture gearboxes with a capacity of up to several 1000 hp for use in industrial drives and Ships.

David brown built gearboxes for Tanks during the 2nd World War, and also for other machinery. Some makes of truck had David Brown gearboxes as well as construction machinery built by ?

Customers included
  • details required

Hydraulics[edit | edit source]

The company also built its own hydraulic systems and part of the original David brown group still manufacture hydraulic pumps.

Implements and Machinery[edit | edit source]

A Type CM4 10-12 Four furrow plough

The David Brown Tractor division merged / took over Harrison, McGregor & Guest Ltd manufacturers of the Albion Machinery brand from Lancashire in 1955 and added the Red rose of Lancashire and the White rose of Yorkshire to the new company logo / badge as part of the updating after the merger.[5] The machinery and implements being marketed as "David Brown Albion" for several years.

Products included
  • Cultivator
  • Forage cutters
  • Loaders
  • Manure spreaders
  • Ploughs

Restructuring[edit | edit source]

A truck in the David Brown livery from the 1970s

In 1970, the family disposed of its stake to its management who floated the group as a public company in 1973. David Brown was acquired by the Tenneco Corporation. and integrated in to their J.I.Case tractor operating division in October 1978. In 1984 Tenneco acquired the tractor business of the International Harvester Company. The Case UK operations (David Brown tractors was merged with the International Harvester operations in the UK. By 1988 the Meltham factory shut with production moving to the IH factory at Doncaster. Branding was changed to Case-International, and product lines rationalized (See Case IH article)

David Brown Industrial Gears was acquired by Textron Inc. in October 1998. The company, now trading as David Brown Engineering Ltd, is headquartered in Huddersfield, and is now a leading supplier of heavy transmission systems for industrial, defence and marine applications. These include transmissions for the British Challenger 2 Tanks and American M2/M3 Bradley Fighting Vehicles.[6] Basically carrying on their original gear and transmission business, as a subsidiary of Textron Inc.

David Brown Engineering was sold by Textron and acquired by a UK based engineering holding company.

Model range[edit | edit source]

David Brown 30D reg no. 457APO

A David Brown Super Cropmaster at Bakewell Show 2008

A David Brown 1200 with cultivator in the Working area at the GDSF 2008

David Brown 50D Crawler Tractor in ex farm condition

A restored David Brown 950

A David Brown 780 selectamatic of 1968 in council yellow

David Brown 880 Implematic of 1964 reg no.BNU 931B

A David Brown 990 Selectamatic

Crawler Tractors[edit | edit source]

DB ? Bulldozer in the S.E. Davis & Son collection 2008, (Blaw Knox built Blade ?)

A David Brown 40TD at the Belvoir Castle Steam rally in 2007

A David Brown DB4 Crawler tractor reg. FRY 871 at Belvoir Castle Rally in 2007

Industrial models[edit | edit source]

The most common industrial versions were the Aircraft Tug versions built during WWII

  • DB VTK1 - 1941-42 Tracked Tug for air ministry, most converted to tractors as it failed to work
  • DB VIG1 - 1941-49 Air ministry aircraft tugs
  • DB Tracked loader -

Specials[edit | edit source]

A rare Equal Wheel 4-wd David Brown 995 Mudder seen at Bath and Southwest Tractor show 2009

Case Versions[edit | edit source]

  • Case 970 Agri-King 101 hp

Preserved Machines[edit | edit source]

  • David Browns are a popular model for collectors, with a good selection of them on display at a lot of the shows. There are quite a few of the Aircraft tug versions about that look more like a truck with tarmac tyres, and often twin rear wheels.
  • the 1st Ferguson-Brown is in the Massey-Ferguson Heritage Centre in Coventry.
  • The David Brown Tractor Club is actively promoting the Marque at tractor shows, putting on a club stand at Major and local shows. They had a large presence at the Malvern National Tractor Show in 2009 and at the Newark VTH show in 2008. As well as presenting David Browns in the David Brown Museum at Meltham, with several unique examples on display.

Collectors Groups[edit | edit source]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. http://www.brookcrompton.com/pages/history.htm
  2. http://www.davidbrown.com/history.php
  3. David Brown Tractors 1936 to 1964, Alan Earnshaw, Nostalgia Road, ISBN 1-903016-02-9
  4. David Brown Tractors 1965-1988, by Anthony L Heath, ISBN 1-903016-03-7
  5. David Brown Tractors.Com - The David Brown Rose Badge
  6. David Brown Website - History
  7. David Brown tractor .Com - Gallery image

Further reading[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]

Smallwikipedialogo.png This page uses some content from Wikipedia. The original article was at David Brown Tractors. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with Tractor & Construction Plant Wiki, the text of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons by Attribution License and/or GNU Free Documentation License. Please check page history for when the original article was copied to Wikia

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.