Unipower Forester Timber Tractor

The Unipower Forester timber tractor earns its keep

| June 2011

I’m sure one of the reasons North Wales is such a great place for spotting vintage tractors at work is because it is a relatively poverty-stricken little country. I don’t mean that we can’t afford shoes here, but rather that Wales, and indeed Britain as a whole, has become an expensive place to live in recent times, and many small agricultural contractors find it makes more sense to continue using their old machines than to pay for state-of-the-art, modern machinery. We do have modern farms and machinery here, but if contracting work isn’t your main income, then it makes sense to make do and mend when it comes to machinery.  

Much of this region of North Wales is woody. While the bulk of timberwork goes to large contractors with cutting edge forestry harvesting equipment, a certain amount of private work is usually available for the regular guy who is in possession of some reliable old kit.

I suppose the bottom line is that most tractor enthusiasts love nothing more than a spot of winching, and if you can make a bit of cash out of it, so much the better. It is always nice to feel that your vintage tractor is earning its keep and continuing to do the job it was intended for. Much of this old equipment is still fully capable of a good day’s work.

The Unipower Forester

One timber tractor that I know personally is the 1952 Unipower Forester that belongs to my brother Pete. Regular readers of my column will by now be getting to feel that they know Pete quite well, as I’ve featured some of his tractors in previous articles. Pete and I tend to share the same (excellent!) taste in tractors, so I feel that his little collection includes some great examples of good old British tractors, which is what inspires me to share them with you folk over there. The Unipower Forester is quite unusual in that it is one of those machines that looks for all the world like a truck, but is in fact classed as a tractor.

There aren’t many of these handsome beasts around. I had certainly never seen one before, but Pete had, and he’d been dreaming about them for a good few years before he managed to track down this particular model. “I never thought I’d actually be able to own one of these,” he says, adding that this is one machine he will be hanging on to no matter what.

A truck with attitude

The first time I clapped eyes on the Unipower was when Pete rang me to say that he had bought this “amazing machine” and he was in the process of driving it from where he had bought it in England back to his home here in North Wales. I told him to ring me back when he was approaching the Conwy Valley where I live, and I would come out in the car to see him pass on his way home. Receiving the warning call I drove to the appointed spot and waited and waited, reflecting that Pete must be absolutely exhausted, not to mention partially deafened, from having driven a timber tractor all the way from England.