Howard Rotavator Update

Content Tools

28 Lymburner Road, S/Side, Gympie, QLD 4570, Australia

I am writing about the Howard Rotavator 'Gem' in your Gas Engine Magazine of February 1999, Volume 34, page 15.

I'll give the background of the Howard. Howard was named after Cliff Howard, born in Crockwell, NSW Australia the 4th of April, 1893. In 1914 Cliff and his brother, Albert, volunteered for the air force, but entry was postponed because of a motorcycle accident. Cliff later went to England in 1915 to work on munitions and aeroplane engines until the end of the war.

In 1919, Cliff came back home to Australia and in early 1920 he started his small rotary hoe venture. The prime mover for the wheat cultivating machine was a Halford lorry engine of 40 HP.

Encouraged by the way this machine performed, Cliff Howard imported a U.S.-built 60 HP Buda engine to power a 15 foot wide rotary hoe, made of five sets of rotavator gangs, each three feet wide.

The 60 HP machine plowed three and a half acres in an hour in 1922--there were about six of these tractors made.

In 1923, due to lack of finances Cliff made rotary hoe attachments for Fordsons, especially for orchardists and cane-growers. Howard's business grew to a stage that, in 1927, it required a move to a bigger factory.

The Fordson tractor application was proving most lucrative for rotary hoes, nevertheless, Howard did diversify, into a small single-axle or walk-behind rotary hoe tractors. These were the 'Junior' (5 HP), the 'eight' and the 'twelve.' Powered by air-cooled engines initially imported from England. There was also the 'Rolling Dolly' hand-operated washing machines (only 40 built). In 1930 Howard Cultivators Ltd. was licensed in England to handle export orders outside Australia.

A three-wheeled Howard tractor with a 16 HP Morris engine was built primarily to carry the mid-mounted Rotavator built between 1926 and 1930. The DH 22 tractor became Howard's tractor line-leader for thirty years and was launched in 1930 with a 22 HP Morris engine from England. Later the company produced their own water-cooled, locally built, four cylinder spark ignited engine of 22 HP for the DH 22 tractor. It was reportedly the first overhead valve engine manufactured in Australia. In 1937 the DH 22 upgraded to four-wheel drive using the same 22 HP engine.

In 1938 WW II production of munitions and equipment for the War effort began. In 1950, they introduced a Howard Platypus Crawler, and in 1952, the Howard DH 22 was updated to an HD 226, with a U.S. built LeRoi engine of 35 HP and also made available in four-wheel drive.

In 1958 the Playtpus Crawler was updated to a Platypus 30 with the Perkins P4 31 HP engine. In 1962, Howard introduced the Howard 2000 compact tractor with 12 HP air-cooled engine.

In 1971 Cliff Howard died on the fourth of January. The company survives and is still called Howard, but only makes rotary hoes for tractors.