What's Up Down Under at the Vintage Harvest Festival

New Zealand's Vintage Harvest Festival showcases old tractors and other antique farm equipment.

By Don Mackereth

October 2015

Lanz Bulldog

The display included two Lanz Bulldogs of German heritage: big single-cylinder, broad-acre tractors from the early 1950s.

Photo by Don Mackereth

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Attracting restored vintage tractors and farm machinery from the surrounding area, the Vintage Harvest Festival was held early this year in Glenbrook, 60 miles south of Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city. Planning had been underway for some time, with old models given the final polish, and the band and food were organized in readiness for the biennial event.

Held March 21-22, 2015, the festival is sponsored by the Franklin Vintage Machinery Club. A 15-year tradition, the show is a place where “city meets country,” with many city visitors attending the two-day event.

As always, there was a range of Fordsons on display. The smallest was a Ford Ferguson of the 1930s; the largest was a 4-wheel drive Ford 5000. Within the Ford range, there were 1950s Fordson Majors (both petrol and diesels) and diesel Dextas along with one or two later model 1000 series Fords.

David Browns from the English stables were well represented, including David Brown Cropmasters from the late 1940s to the David Browns of the 1960s (model 850’s and 990’s), as well as Nuffields (also English) with models ranging from the early PM’s, 3/42’s and 10/60’s to the later 3/45’s and the 4/65’s. 

Two or three stationary engine clubs exhibited about 100 vintage stationary engines, each popping away as it powered a pump or generator demonstrating the technology of yesteryear.

The tractor pull competition, always a spectator drawing card, was hotly contested with tractors of all shapes and sizes vying for honors. Throughout both days, an aerial viewing of the show could be made in a Vietnam-vintage “MASH” 1965 Bell 47 helicopter.

The festival included several working displays. A paddock of barley was harvested and threshed in a threshing mill powered by a Farmall MD. Tractor and bulldozer ploughing and discing were displayed, and an old rope (steel cable) Ruston-Bucyrus excavator was put through its paces. The RB 22 is one of a very few remaining in the world in working condition.

The crowd was well catered to with hot dog stalls, coffee vendors, ice cream and all other culinary attractions one would find at such a show, while the jazz and country-and-western music delivered by an 18-piece big band set the mood. With wall-to-wall sunshine, a memorable weekend was had by all. FC

Don Mackereth has worked as an instructor in heavy automotive engineering at Manukau Institute of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand, for the past 25 years. He is also an experienced tractor mechanic, working mainly on Massey Ferguson tractors and implements. In recent years, he has restored a Farmall Cub and is now working on a petrol Fordson Dexta. Contact him via email.