Fitch Four Drive
This “Fitch Four Drive Tractor” is one of the many rare tractors on display at the Marlborough Vintage & Farm Machinery Society’s museum at Brayshaw Heritage Park. Originally purchased by agricultural contractors the McCullum Brothers of Riverlands, Blenheim prior to 1927.
The Tractor was built by the “Four Drive Tractor Company, Big Rapids, Michigan with a hefty price tag of £650 & was possibly one of six to come to New Zealand. The tractor spent all its working life driving threshing mills and other farm equipment. Soon after purchasing the tractor, the McCallum Bros. changed the radiator because the original became clogged up with chaff from the grain husks after separating it from the seed. Since the new radiator was taller than the original, the brothers fashioned a new hood to go from the top of the radiator to the gas tank. As a result, the make-shift hood appeared slanted. At some point early in its life, the Climax engine gave up and was replaced by a Dorman engine.
The tractor lay derelict during the World War II years and then passed into the hands of a saw miller who used it for a short time. He then sold it to a collector Mr. I. Giltrap of Christchurch, NZ. Mr. Giltrap offered the tractor to the Marlborough Vintage Farm Machinery Society in 1985.
The Society purchased the tractor in October 1985 and began to restore it in 1986. Society members Ian LeGrice and Bob Thoms (whose older brother,the Late Harry Thoms operated the tractor when it was owned by the McCallum Bros.) had completely restored the tractor by 1988. A new hood and panel was handmade by Bob to fully enclose the sides of the engine and the gas tank.
The tractor has had many modifications but is a good example of an early Fitch Four Drive Tractor. The tractor is fully operational and quite often can be seen out and around during the Society's open Days at the Museum.
Donald and Grant McCallum, son and grandson of the original owner, stand next to the former McCallum Bros. Fitch Four Drive Tractor at the Christchurch, New Zealand tractor centennial rally in 1990.