Maurice Short laughs as he blames his wife for his large collection of 31 David Brown tractors and one Ferguson.
“When my son showed an interest in flying I seriously considered getting a microlite and learning myself, but the words: ‘you could be lonely milking 500 sheep’ were mentioned, so I started collecting tractors instead.”
Born and raised on a drystock farm near Tokanui, east of Invercargill, Maurice spent much of his working life farming 60 acres at Balfour and running his bus company.
His father claims to have had the first David Brown crawler in the South Island, in the late 1940s, preferring machinery to the extra work of horses.
“He used to say: ‘why get up in the morning to tack the horses to plough a paddock, to grow the oats, to feed the horses so they could plough another paddock, to grow another crop to feed the sheep…’.”
Maurice’s father was a qualified mechanic, and all four of his sons were taught to fix things that were broken around the farm.
In 2003, Maurice was gifted his father’s second David Brown crawler. The bright yellow, 1962 David Brown 40 TD has been in the family since it was new, one of the several of the 300 manufactured that were imported to New Zealand.
“It was bought from Hart Motors, the Invercargill David Brown dealer at that time.”
The TD has a diesel, four cylinder engine with six forward and two reverse gears, and was well known for its stability.
“It was used for agricultural work, breaking in steep land.”
Before Maurice owned it, it had been sitting for a while with its tracks off, thankfully inside.
A man with his father’s ‘can do’ attitude, and mechanically minded himself, Maurice repaired and renovated the TD.
“Parts are easy to find in New Zealand and I figure if someone was able to design it, I can fix it.”
Maurice’s collection is well travelled. When he and his wife moved to the Waikato in 2005, along with friends, the couple made three trips to the South Island over three years to bring his tractor collection up.
Each time five wheeled tractors were driven up over seven days, four of them pulling trailers with the crawlers and non-running tractors, or carrying his collection of stationary engines. The 10 crawlers were trucked up.
Today they are all homed in Maurice’s large shed on his lifestyle property near Maihiihi, and groups of machinery enthusiasts often come through for a tour.