Tractors and Trains Down Under

New Zealand show blends the best of two vintage worlds in a biennial event.


| June 2017



1901 traction engine

This 1901 traction engine was built by Burrell & Sons in England. It is now owned by Kaikohe Pioneer Village.

Photo by Don Mackereth

With a full head of steam and fuel tanks full of petrol, paraffin oil or diesel, everything was ready for the two-day Glenbrook Vintage Rail and Franklin Vintage Machinery biennial show held Feb. 25-26, down under in New Zealand. This was the eighth time in the past 16 years that the two main sponsors have come together to present the show in Glenbrook, 59 miles south of Auckland, New Zealand’s biggest city.

Show visitors were privileged to travel from Glenbrook to the small provincial town of Waiuku, a distance of 7 miles, in vintage British Pullman carriages drawn by one of two vintage steam locomotive engines. One engine, number 179 (rated in the WW Class), was built in 1915 in the Hillside Workshops in New Zealand. The other, a JA Class engine, was built in New Zealand in 1947.

After the railroad experience, spectators were towed around the 40-acre show site by one of two traction engines. The older engine, called Betty, was built in 1901 by Burrell & Sons of England and is now owned by the Kaikohe Pioneer Village. On show day, Betty was hauled some 200 miles to the event. The other, an Aveling & Porter 3-speed compound engine called The Mistress, was built in 1912. The privately owned Aveling & Porter was hauled from New Plymouth, a 500-mile round trip over some of New Zealand’s most notorious winding mountain roads.

The display of road-building machinery of the past offered a 1925 Aveling & Porter road roller powered by a Blackstone diesel engine of 18 hp running at 100 rpm. The other machine of great interest was a 1927 Ruston excavator powered by a Dorman petrol engine of 32 hp at 1,000 rpm.

Broad range represented

It would have been great to say that every tractor manufacturer was represented from A to Z, but unfortunately this year there were no Zetors present! There were, however, other manufacturers from around the world, accounting for a large range of brands in the 65 wheel tractors on display.

Allis-Chalmers, a B.F. Avery General and an Australia-built Chamberlain 90 dating to the early 1950s were represented, as was the David Brown line, from the earliest (the 1947 vintage), to the early 1970s, when the line was absorbed by Case. Fordson tractors were well represented with a good showing of Fordson Majors from the 1950s and two Fordson Dextas of the early 1960s, both models manufactured in England.