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Tractor - KL Bulldog, 1951 Object Reg. No: ST 045021

Before Kelly & Lewis embarked on their Bulldog tractor project in August 1947, there had been several earlier attempts to manufacture tractors in Australia to a range of local and overseas designs. The Melbourne firm A.H. McDonald & Co., had pioneered Australian tractor manufacture with their "Imperial" EA model in 1908, but like most of the initiatives that followed over the next three decades, the project meet with only limited success and only a small number of the early McDonald tractors were made. The McDonald TW and TWB 'Super-Diesel' tractors were produced between 1930 and 1944 with production reaching one tractor per working day between 1936 and 1940. However demand exceeded supply as McDonald's could not produce tractors at a faster rate.

Both during and immediately after World War II, Australia faced an acute shortage of tractors, severely hampering agricultural production. Both Federal and State Governments were keen to stimulate local tractor manufacture, which had almost ceased during World War II, due to shortages of materials, labour and equipment. Chamberlain Industries received assistance from the Western Australian government to produce their larger tractors in Perth in the 1950s. Although a range of initiatives were proposed, the KL Bulldog was the first new Australian tractor to go into production after the war. The project had the financial and technical backing of Kelly & Lewis, then one of Australia's largest engineering firms, with half a century of experience manufacturing a diverse range of products from centrifugal pumps to air compressors, steam and internal combustion engines, power station condensers and structural steelwork, including machinery for the Spotswood Sewerage Pumping Station. Engine castings were made in Hobart.

The "KL Bulldog" was based on the German "Lanz Bulldog" tractor design, originally developed in 1921, by Dr Fritz Huber, and manufactured by Heinrich Lanz AG of Mannheim and successfully exported throughout the world before World War II. The Lanz factory was destroyed in bombing raids during World War II. Production of the KL Bulldog commenced at Springvale, Victoria in 1948, at an initial rate of 20 tractors/week and continued until 1952, with about 900 built in total. At the heart of the Bulldog tractor is a huge 10.7 litre single-cylinder two-stoke semi-diesel engine that produces excellent torque at low revs and has a loud and very distinctive barking exhaust. The hot-bulb ignition and the need to manually turn the engine over using the removable steering wheel column makes the tractor somewhat temperamental to start. It would run on almost any liquid fuel, from kerosene to low-grade light crude oil or even old engine sump oil. Lanz and KL Bulldog Tractors were a proven low-cost and very reliable power unit ideally suited to ploughing, cropping or even belt-work driving stationary machinery. Under a fluctuating load the hit-and-miss governor would open up with the exhaust resounding to an increasing tempo of deep throaty barks. Unfortunately for Kelly & Lewis, newer tractor models came back on the Australian market with features such as electric starter motors making the KL Bulldog seem out of date and sales never reached the expected volume.

This tractor was the 428th KL Bulldog made, being sold new to Neil and Eric Ellis of Devenish, near Benalla, in 1951. The Ellis Brothers used the tractor for wheat cropping work until 1964, when it was traded in on a new Nuffield tractor. It was then purchased by the German immigrant Lou Murr, who had previously worked for both Kelly & Lewis and Lanz in Germany. He was by this stage running his own business repairing and trading KL and Lanz Bulldog tractors, travelling throughout Victoria and New South Wales in a VW combi van. He fitted a 4-inch Harland centrifugal pump and sold the tractor to Alan Gilmore, who used it for irrigating his nut farm at Thornton, pumping water from the Goulburn River. The tractor remained in regular use until the late 1970s and was acquired for restoration in 1987. It has been repainted to original colours, with signwriting reflecting the first owners.
Discipline: Technology
Weight: 3270 kg (Weight)

More information

Tagged with: agricultural equipment, manufacturing, tractors, hutch, hutchinson, chamberlain
Themes this item is part of: Engineering Collection, Sustainable Futures Collection
Primary Classification: AGRICULTURE & RURAL LIFE
Secondary Classification: Internal Combustion Power
Tertiary Classification: oil tractors
Manufacturer: K.L. Tractors Ltd, Springvale, Victoria, Australia, circa 1951
Designer: Dr Huber, Mannheim, Germany, 1921
Restorer: Mr Richard Newell, Yarra Glen, Victoria, Australia, 1987-2000
References: http://business.unisa.edu.au/tonyburnell/lanz/KL_Bulldogs/index.htmIan M. Johnston, "Classic Tractors in Australia".


craig pink Posted on 26 Nov 2009 12:49 PM
Youir Kl tractor story needs some correcting,
production ended in early December 1952, due to unsold tractors piling up, many myths have been written and are incorrect, why did Chamberlain stop production of tractors in early 1952 for 3 months ??? Tractors were piling up and the new generation Lanz tractors did not go on sale in Australia until at least April 1953, obviously after KL tractor production ceased. if you would like the whole story see Restored Cars magazine July 2009, next issue has rest of story and is what really happened.
craig pink Posted on 26 Nov 2009 12:52 PM
also the kl tractor you have has a prewar steering wheel, it doesn't matter, the original is a 3 spoke type and came from the Bren Gun Carrier, early Chamberlain tractor production used the same.
Discovery Centre Posted on 20 Dec 2009 1:26 PM
Museum Victoria Comment
Hi there, thanks for your feedback. We've referred your detailed information to one of our History & Technology staff.
Discovery Centre Posted on 21 Dec 2009 10:49 AM
Museum Victoria Comment
Hi Craig - The curator has previously updated the information based on the Restored Cars article but it will not update to the web until the next data reload. These photos were taken before the Museum acquired the KL and it has since been fitted with the correct Bren Gun Carrier type steering wheel.
Herby VOIGT Posted on 02 Sep 2011 2:33 PM
The Hot Bulb Lanz Bulldog tractors are NOT semi Diesel, they are crude oil tractors.
charles Posted on 29 Sep 2012 6:50 PM
Hi liked your story i remember as a pre teen in the late 60's a neighbour had a Lanz Bulldog bought at auction for $10 it was never used for work just as a go kart fun for all the kids in the district to ride on yes those were the days of fun can still see and remember it so well
Phil Newnham Posted on 28 Nov 2012 12:59 AM
Hi i rember
Hi I recall Lui had about a 54 Chev sedan with back seat removed for tools and parts
best engineer so/so any who new him will relate to that Phil

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