Arthur Clifford Howard was a great Australian inventor and manufacturer of farming equipment. In 1912 he built a prototype rotavator powered by a motorcycle engine. Owners of large wheat farms expressed interest but only if he could create a machine that could match or better the work of horse teams. By 1922 his first tractor was demonstrated. He got orders for six machines. Working initially from Moss Vale, Austral Auto Cultivators was registered. He also produced rotary hoe attachments for Fordson tractors. 1926 saw the production of the A16 tractor. In 1927 the business moved to Northmead and the walk-behind rotary hoe joined the production line.
The company grew, DH16 tractor, DH22, and in 1937 the FWDH22 models were produced. 1953 saw the Kelpie tractor, with a variety of implements including the dozer blade, tipping trailer, disc harrows, tool bar, mouldboard plough and spray pack. Later models introduced the underbelly slasher, spring tyne cultivator, rear grader blade and field roller – a “low cost garden tractor that will find a place with every market gardener, poultry farmer and small orchardist” as the advertising blurb read. When the factory was closed in 1985 anything that was left was written off and dumped, including valuable literature and information on the machines.
Shane Djuric is an expert on Howard tractors and rotavators. His interest began as a child clambering over his grandfather’s retired Kelpie garden tractor on their property in the Hawkesbury. When he restored his first Howard tractor he realised there was a dearth of information about the brand. However, Robert Moore, another enthusiast, started a register of Howard machinery so others could share knowledge and learn more. Shane began taking his growing collection to vintage machinery shows with Robert and other Register members, gathering information about machinery and the history of the company. Shane writes, “This book has been written to cover the most frequently asked questions in regards to what model tractor had which particular features, and as this information has helped me, I now hope that it may help you.”