This orange Chamberlain tractor looks the odd one out in the Coach House Museum’s impressive collection of green and gold John Deere tractors, yet it is one of the same family.
This is the Chamberlain-John Deere Model 306, made in 1970 with a Perkins 6-306 diesel engine. The tractor was previously owned and operated by Ferg Crawshaw, and later presented to the Museum along with his John Deere collection of 17 tractors in 2009. It has three-speed main, and three-speed auxiliary transmission. It was capable of speeds ranging from 3 to 40 kilometre per hour.
But how did the Chamberlain tractor become part of the John Deere family?
The Chamberlain tractor had its roots in Australia, and was the brainchild of mechanic Bob Chamberlain who wanted to build a tractor suited to the large Australian land holdings.
Chamberlain Industries was formed, and the first prototype tractor was built, but when the West Australian Government got wind of the project, it persuaded Bob to use an ex-munitions factory in Welshpool, Western Australia.
The first Chamberlain tractor to run off the production line in 1949 was the model 40k, which had 40 horsepower (30kW), twin cylinder horizontally opposed engines. They weighed four tonnes and were considered ideal for Australian needs.
In 1953 Chamberlain started to produce diesel-powered tractors such as the GM 60 DA, later the 70DA, and 55DA.
After producing the Perkins Champion diesel tractors Chamberlain made a range of even larger tractors to further suit the Australian broadland farmers. These proved popular at heritage tractor pulling contests and even had their own national championships.
In 1970 the John Deere Company of America bought a controlling interest in Chamberlain Industries, and in the 1980s it became a fully owned subsidiary of John Deere.
The Welshpool plant was expanded and upgraded in 1978, however, by 1986 due to a significant decline in manufacturing, Chamberlain ceased production of its tractors.