Howard Rotavator Update

By Staff

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.

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