David Brown

Early HistoryDavid-Brown

David Brown Engineering Limited was founded in 1860 as a pattern making business but very quickly became a specialist in machine-cut gears and complete gear units. In 1934 they built a new factory at Meltham on the south side of Huddersfield.

In 1936 the company first ventured into tractor production in a joint project with Harry Ferguson building the Ferguson – Brown Tractor. David Brown was noted for the manufacture of transmission gears and Harry Ferguson wanted to produce a tractor with an American Hercules engine and an innovative hydraulic lift. The tractor was built at the Meltham factory first using a Coventry Climax engine and subsequently with an engine of Brown’s own design, 1350 tractors were built before 1940.

Very quickly Brown and Ferguson disagreed over tractor design details in the late 30’s which led David Brown to design his own version the VAK1 which was launched at the 1939 Royal Show. As a consequence Ferguson split away from Brown and joined up with Henry Ford in 1938 after a ‘handshake agreement’ to allow his Ferguson System three point linkage to be used in Fordson N tractors. The Fordson handshake agreement lasted through to 1947 where Ferguson split away to form Ferguson Tractors in 1948.

The VAK1 with the VAK1a tractor proved a very successful tractor, in 1947 the Cropmaster model was unveiled, this became a popular tractor especially the diesel option which was introduced in 1949. In 1955 David Brown unveiled the Model 2D at the Smithfield Agricultural Show, this was a small tractor designed for small scale farming and row crop work, only about 2000 were made in a six–year production run.

The David Brown tractor division took over the Lancashire Albion brand of tractors, after the takeover the company’s badge was modified to incorporate the white rose of Yorkshire and the red rose of Lancashire. At its height the David Brown Tractor division had ten subsidiaries around the world, at one stage 80% of production was being exported, sales were handled by over 2500 agents in 100 countries around the world.

David Brown 950

The styling of David Brown Tractors remained closely based on the rounded VAK series until 1956 when the new 900 tractor was launched. The 900 series offered a choice of four engines, its production run was short until 1958 when the 950 model was announced. The tractor was available in both diesel and petrol versions both rated at 42.5hp. The specification of the 950 was upgraded during the production run with automatic depth control on the hydraulics and dual speed power take off. A smaller 850 model was also available from 1960 onwards as a 35hp diesel, it stayed in production until it was replaced by the diesel 770 model in 1965. During this period Meltham produced approx. 2000 tractors for the US company Oliver, these were DB850 and DB950 models rebadged Oliver 500-600.


In 1972 the company sold the tractor operations to Tenneco Inc USA who owned the JI Case tractor company, the sale was as a consequence of a reduction in the UK tractor market, increased product development costs and increased competition from imported tractors. From then on David Brown Tractors were painted in David Brown White and Case Red.

Here at Engine Fix UK we cover the vast majority of the David Brown range, we supply all the major mechanical engine parts including pistons, piston rings, liners, gaskets, crank seals, gasket sets, valve train parts, water oil and fuel pumps plus much more.

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