Alfred McDonald and his brother Ernest established a workshop in Melbourne in 1903 to manufacture their own design of stationary engine under the name of A.H. McDonald & Co. This was followed in 1908 by the McDonald Model EA 'Imperial' Oil Tractor, which was Australia's first home-grown tractor. This was powered by a two-cylinder 20 hp petrol engine mounted crossways and had a large tower at the front for cooling. Thirteen of this model were built between 1908 and 1909, and the first was sold to a farmer near Batesford, Victoria, who was very pleased with its performance. The success of this machine encouraged McDonald to continue experimenting with tractors, and the Model EB appeared in 1910; this incorporated a number of improvements, including a screen cooling system. In 1913 two new models were launched: the Model EAA, a 40/45 hp tractor with huge wheels on the rear and smaller ones on the front and a tower for cooling (later replaced with a fan and radiator); and the Model ED, available with either a 20 hp or 30 hp engine and tubular radiator, and intended for mining and construction applications. The same year, the company received an order from the Australian Transport Co. for two machines capable of hauling supplies to remote mines. These tractors were fitted with 30 hp three-cylinder power units and used Bottrill's patent 'pedrail' wheels, which allowed them to move over soft ground without sinking in. Further special orders followed for two haulage tractors to be supplied to Commonwealth Railways and a heavy-duty scrub-clearing tractor for the Gippsland region of Victoria. The introduction of the three-wheeled McDonald 'Steel Horse' in 1916 signalled a move away from giant tractors such as the EAA and ED, and this was further emphasised by the emergence of the McDonald 'Lightweight' tractor two years later. This was powered by a single-cylinder 20 hp vertical engine, and set the scene for a series of similar designs over the next decade. The 1920s saw McDonald placing less emphasis on their own tractor designs, and the company became involved with distributing both the American Emerson-Brantingham and Swedish Avance tractors in Australia. By the end of the decade, however, they had returned to the fray with their Imperial Super-Diesel tractor that used a single-cylinder hotbulb engine capable of running on a variety of low-grade fuels, and it was this model that evolved into the famous Model TWB in the 1930s.

(Click on images below to enlarge)

McDonald Imperial Model EB (serial no. 138, built 1912) at Lake Goldsmith Rally, Victoria, Australia in 2007.

McDonald Imperial Model EAA (or possibly ED) at the Wheatlands Musuem, Warracknabeal, Victoria, Australia in 2007.

McDonald Imperial 'Lightweight' at the Pioneer Settlement Museum, Swan Hill, Victoria, Australia in 2007.


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