The bright yellow Caterpillar grader, and the Fitch Four Drive tractor, previously owned by the former Pohangina County Council, are imposing items of interest at the Coach House Museum.
They are the centrepiece of the extensive collection of working machines and stationery engines donated to the Museum by the late Jim Spall, a farmer originally from Whakarongo, and latterly Feilding.
The 1922 Fitch Four was brought by the council via Adams and Burgess in Palmerston North for 750 pounds and shipped from America to Auckland.
Once there, it had its steel lugs removed so it could be driven on the road from Auckland to Pohangina.
The Fitch Four was renowned for its traction and pulling power. Weighing three tons it was ideal to drive the council’s metal crusher and pull the grader.
It is powered by a four-cylinder Climax engine, with a five inch bore. It has steerage that resembles that used on a traction engine.
The Fitch Four was later sold to Clarry Buckman of Pohangina, where it was used for log hauling and scrub crushing.
It was bought by Mr Spall in 1970, for restoration, and returned to its former, new condition.
On Mr Spall’s death in 2011, his family followed his instructions to donate it to the Museum and is a reminder, and great example of the 1920s engineering.
It was bought by the council for use on road maintenance and all the many jobs required off the gravel roads of the county, particularly on the northern roads, such as Tunipo Track.
A small Caterpillar eight foot blade grader with big grader features, it was bought for use with tractors of approximately 25 drawbar horsepower. Its wide range of blade positions (including leaning), and ease of handling, make it an ideal unit for light construction, grade improvement, widening, ditching, scarifying, bank cutting, and road maintenance.
It was later bought from the council by the late Don Linklater, of Umutoi, who featured it as the centrepiece of the woolshed drive roundabout on the farm.
The farm was sold, and bought by Mike and Jan Holdaway, who presented the grader to the Museum following the Apitiand Rangiwahia 125th celebration parades in February 2011.
The grader was restored by Brian Schnell of Bunnythorpe.
121 South Street,