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McKay's Brandnames

Sunshine Harvester Brandname

Image: Sunshine Harvester Brandname

Source: Museum Victoria

"Sunshine" was H.V. McKay's original and most enduring brandname. It was the name given to his flagship product - the stripper-harvester - and to his Ballarat factory, which by the late 1890s was known as the "Sunshine Harvester Works". In 1906 when McKay moved his principle manufacturing base from Ballarat to Braybrook Junction on the western outskirts of Melbourne, the "Sunshine Harvester Works" name moved also, and within little more than a year, "Sunshine" had been officially adopted as the name of the burgeoning suburb surrounding the factory. In  the late 1920s when the company established a subsidiary works at Waterloo, Ontario, to manufacture harvesters for the North American market, that factory was also named "Sunshine", and in 1954, when the company opened its new Queensland distribution branch at Geebung, on the northern outskirts of Brisbane, the railway siding serving the depot was also named "Sunshine".

According to company legend, Hugh Victor McKay had the original idea for the "Sunshine" brandname after attending an inspirational lecture by the visiting American evangelist Reverend Talmage. [1]

From the late 1880s, when Hugh Victor McKay and his brother John first began selling harvesters built under sub-contract, it appears that they were marketed simply as the "McKay Harvester". [2] The "Sunshine" brandname was introduced for an improved version of the harvester that H.V. McKay patented in August 1893 and extensively trialled over the following two harvests in 1893-95. It was first applied to either six sample machines built to the new design in late 1894, or the 12 machines built the following year. It is reputed that James Menzies, father of the Australian Prime Minister Robert Menzies, was employed as a signwriter to paint the first batch of Sunshine harvesters.[3,4]

The "Sunshine" brandname was a perfect reflection both of the optimism and energy of the product's creator and the natural disposition of many of his target customers - the hard-working Australian farmers who rose each morning imbued with optimism from the bright rays of the dawning sun, ready to resume their daily toil against nature. A stylised sun with radiating rays of yellow and red was painted on the front of each harvester above a colourfully embellished vignette depicting an idealised scene of a Sunshine harvester working through a bumper crop of grain - or in later years a vignette depicting the sprawling Sunshine Harvester Works with smoking chimneys. Interestingly, when the harvester was exported to South America, it was sold under the "La Australiana" brandname rather than the "Sunshine" name, but retained the same motif of radiating sunrays on the front elevator panel behind the name.[5]

As H.V. McKay honed his entrepreneurial skills he came to appreciate the benefits of a good brandname. In the late 1890s, as the product range produced at the Ballarat factory expanded, he introduced the 'Sterling Stripper', 'Bonnie Binder' and 'Wendouree Winnower'.[6] By the early 1900s, it appears that brandnames were being even more carefully selected. In 1902, "Hercules" was chosen for the firm's horseworks - an obvious reference to the legendary ancient Roman demigod and warrior, renowned for his superhuman strength - while "Maxim" was selected as the name for the firm's chaffcutters. The dictionary definition of a maxim is "a self-evident proposition expressing a general truth of science or experience", making it the perfect choice for a machine that McKay wished to promote as a product of both science and practical experience.

In 1906, after taking over the Braybrook Implement Works, McKay introduced the "Sun" grain & fertilizer drill, together with the names "Sunbeam" for his new range of fixed mouldboard and disc ploughs and "Sunrise" for his range of stump-jump mouldboard & disc ploughs and stump-jump harrows. They were followed in 1907, by the introduction of the innovative "Sunflower" disc cultivator.[7,8] These four brandnames were McKay's first derivatives of the "Sunshine" brandname. They were to be the first of almost 90 distinct brandnames for McKay products using derivatives built on the basic "Sun" root, introduced over the following half a century  The following is a list of all known derivatives of the "Sunshine" brandname used by H.V. McKay and his successors at the Sunshine Harvester Works, together with the key product type to which each brandname was applied, and known dates of production:

SUN - Grain & Fertilizer Drills  (c.1906 - c.1956)
SUN - Disc Cultivators  (c.1909 - c.1930)
SUN DRILL - Grain & Fertilizer Drills  (c.1907 - c.1956)
SUNBEAM - Disc Ploughs  (by 1906 - c.1958)
SUNBEAM - Mouldboard Ploughs  (by 1906 - 1944)
SUNBIRD - Mouldboard Ploughs  (by 1931 - c.1950)
SUNBLADE - Pasture Renovating Harrows  (c.1930 - c.1970)
SUNBOW - Stump Jump Disc Ploughs  (c.1928 - c.1934)
SUNBUMBER - Disc Cultivating Harrows  (c.1951 - c.1956)
SUNBURY - Stump Jump Harrows  (by 1920 - c.1982)
SUNBUSTER - Mouldboard (Drill) Ploughs  (c.1931 - c.1942)
SUNCANE - Sugar Cane Weeders  
SUNCHAIN - Pasture Renovating Harrows  (c.1938 - c.1954)
SUNCHIPPER - ???  
SUNCLEAVE - Disc Cultivators  (c.1908 - c.1930)
SUNCOG - Disc Ploughs  (c.1908 - c.1921)
SUNCRESCENT - Mouldboard Ploughs  (c.1929 - c.1950)
SUNDELVE - Seed & Fertilizer Drills  (1950 - c.1966)
SUNDERCLEAVE - Disc Cultivating Ploughs  (by 1916 - 1938)
SUNDERCUT - Stump Jump Disc Cultivating Ploughs  (c.1920 - 1975)
SUNDERSEEDER - Disc Seed & Fertilizer Drills  (1925 - c.1958)
SUNDERSEEDER - Grain & Fertilizer Drills  (c.1955 - c.1965)
SUNDEX - Petrol & Kerosene Engines  (c.1922 - c.1932)
SUNDIAL - Disc Cultivators  (by 1906 - c.1912)
SUNDIAL - Petrol & Kerosene Engines  (1924 - 1955)
SUNDIESEL - (Kerosene) Diesel Engines  (c.1920 - c.1940)
SUNDIGGER - Scarifiers  (c.1921 - c.1938)
SUNDISCER - Disc Cultivators  (c.1954 - c.1960)
SUNDRAG - Harrows  
SUNDRAULIC - Tractor Remote Hydraulic Systems  
SUNDRILL - Grain & Fertilizer Drills  
SUNDROP - Ferlitizer & Manure Spreaders  
SUNDUKE - Stump Jump Scarifiers  (c.1934 - c.1957)
SUNDUMP - Chaffsavers  (c.1927 - c.1955)
SUNDUO - Petrol Engines  (c.1923 - c.1928)
SUNDURA - Disc Ploughs  (c.1955 - c.1960)
SUNFEED - Feed Mills  (c.1932 - c.1980)
SUNFIELD - Disc Cultivators  (c.1934 - c.1954)
SUNFINGER - Cultivators  (c.1937 - c.1956)
SUNFLEET - Cultivators  (c.1928 - c.1938)
SUNFLEX - Stump Jump Spring Tyne Cultivators  (by 1931 - )
SUNFLOW - Fertilizer Drop Spreaders  (c.1928 - c.1942)
SUNFLOW - Manure Spreaders  
SUNFLOWER - Disc Cultivators  (1907 - c.1930)
SUNFLY - Mouldboard Ploughs  
SUNFURROW - Fertilizer Spreaders  (c.1941 - c.1956)
SUNGAP - Cultivators  (c.1920 - c.1935)
SUNGEM - Seed Planters & Straddle Cultivators  (c.1932 - c.1957)
SUNGENERAL - Stump Jump Disc Ploughs  (1930 - c.1946)
SUNGLINT - Mouldboard Ploughs  (c.1925 - c.1950)
SUNGLOW - Cultivators  (c.1921 - c.1938)
SUNGOIL - Grease Guns  
SUNGRADE - Reversible Stump Jump Disc Ploughs  (1933 - 1947)
SUNGRAIN - Tractor Control Equipment  
SUNGRUBBER - Cultivators  (1931 - c.1965)
SUNHAY - Hay Rakes, Hay Sweeps & Hay Tumblers (c.1939 - c.1955)
SUNJUMP - Stump Jump Harrows  (by 1924 - c.1982)
SUNJUNIOR - Spring Tyne Cultivators  (c.1920 - c.1936)
SUNKELM - Comb Cleaners  (c.1930 - c.1935)
SUNKID - Mouldboard Pony Ploughs  (by 1931 - c.1950)
SUNKING - Disc Cultivating Harrows  (c.1922 - c.1956)
SUNLEA - Stump Jump Seed & Fertilizer Drills  (c.1937 - c.1950)
SUNLEADER - Mouldboard Ploughs  (c.1955 - c.1960)
SUNLEAF - Disc Ploughs  (c.1919 - c.1935)
SUNLIFTER - Hay Bale Loaders  (1951 - 1957)
SUNLIGHT - Header Harvesters  (c.1916 - ? )
SUNLIGHT - Crop Lifters (c.1920 - ? )
SUNLIGHT - Stump Jump Disc Ploughs  (c.1908 - c.1915)
SUNLINK - Tractor Toolbars  (by 1953 - c.1983)
SUNLOCK - Mouldboard Ploughs  (c.1912 - c.1938)
SUNLORD - Disc Ploughs  (c.1950 - c.1970)
SUNMAJOR - Disc Harrows  (c.1955 - c.1960)
SUNMASSEY - Cultivators  (c.1937 - c.1951)
SUNMASTER - Disc Harrows  (c.1945 - c.1957)
SUNMULCH - Seed Bed Harrows  (c.1934 - c.1940)
SUNNIE - Disc Ploughs  (1912 - c.1962)
SUNPALM - Pasture Renovators  
SUNPALM - Stump Jump Tyne Cultivator  (c.1926 - c.1950)
SUNPEARL - Disc Cultivators  (c.1923 - c.1956)
SUNPET - Petrol Engines  (c.1921 - ?)
SUNPLIANT - Disc Cultivators  (c.1934 - c.1940)
SUNPOWERLIFT - Tractor Toolbars  (c.1945 - c.1955)
SUNPRINCE - Stump Jump Mouldboard Ploughs  (1926 - c.1956)
SUNPRONG - Cultivators  (c.1936 - c.1960)
SUNQUEST - Disc Ploughs  (1929 - 1936)
SUNRAY - Disc Ploughs  (c.1912 - c.1943)
SUNREACH - Disc Cultivators  (c.1935 - c.1945)
SUNREED - Mouldboard Ploughs  (by 1931 - )
SUNRIDE - Harrow Carts  (by 1931 - )
SUNRISE - Stump Jump Harrows (by 1906 - 1908+)
SUNRISE - Stump Jump Disc Ploughs  (by 1906 - c.1940)
SUNRISE - Stump Jump Mouldboard Ploughs  (by 1906 - 1956)
SUNRISE - Crop Lifters  
SUNROOTER - Pasture Renovators  (1934 - c.1942)
SUNROTOR - Sugar Cane Weeders  (by 1931 - )
SUNROW - Seed Planters  (c.1934 - c.1956)
SUNSAVE - Chaffsavers  
SUNSEEDER - Grain & Fertilizer Drills  
SUNSET - Cotton & Maize Planters  
SUNSHOE - Seed Planters  (c.1929 - c.1934)
SUNSIDE - Dusting Equipment  
SUNSIDE - Fertilizer Applicators  (1950 - 1953)
SUNSIDE - Grain & Fertilizer Drills  
SUNSLIDE - Harrows  (c.1933 - c.1945)
SUNSLOPE - Crop Lifters  
SUNSPEED - Disc Cultivators  (c.1945 - c.1950)
SUNSPIN - Fertilizer Spreaders  (c.1941 - c.1969)
SUNSPRAY - Spraying & Dusting Equipment  
SUNSTAR - Mouldboard Ploughs  (c.1914 - c.1952)
SUNSTRADDLE - Cultivators  (c.1938 - c.1948)
SUNSUPER - Fertilizer Spreaders  (c.1940 - c.1956)
SUNSWEEP - Chokecutters  
SUNTAPPER - Fertilizer Drills  (c.1931 - c.1938)
SUNTEE - Swingle Trees  
SUNTILL - Cultivators  (by 1931 - )
SUNTIP - Chaffsavers  (c.1930 - c.1945)
SUNTOP - Disc Ploughs  
SUNTOW - Stump Jump Harrows  (by 1935 - 1982)
SUNTRAC - Disc Harrows  (1940 - c.1957)
SUNTRAIL - Stump Jump Harrows  (1931 - 1982)
SUNTREE - Disc Cultivators  (1933 - c.1937)
SUNTRIPOD - Harrows  
SUNTWIN - Disc Cultivators  
SUNTYNE - Seed & Fertilizer Drills  (c.1916 - c.1966)
SUNTYNE - Cultivators  
SUNVERTICAL - Stump Jump Disc Ploughs  (1935 - 1955)
SUNVINE - Mouldboard Ploughs  (c.1928 - c.1951)
SUNWEEDER - Cultivators  (c.1936 - c.1940)
SUNWELL - Pumpheads  (1925 - c.1940)
SUNWREST - Mouldboard Ploughs  (c.1920 - c.1935)

In addition to these derivative brandnames, the "Sunshine" brand was used to represent the firm's entire product range from around 1905 to 1955, and was applied to a number of specific product lines that had no other specific brandnames, including: Boom Sprayers, Dusting & Spraying Equipment, Petrol & Kerosene Engines, Farm Gates , Feed Mills, Grain Bins, Grease Guns, Hay Balers, Hay Mowers, Milking Machines, Orchard Sprayers, Reaper-Binders, Saw Benches, Seed Drills, Spray Guns and some Cultivators & Scarifiers.

Following the full takeover of McKay's Australian operations by Massey-Harris-Ferguson, of Toronto, in 1955, the "Sunshine" brandname was dropped for all new harvester models built at the Sunshine Harvester Works. Most of the 'Sun' derivative brandnames were also abandoned over the following decade as production at Sunshine switched to newer products that were simply given un-emotive product numbers in the 'MF' series. One of the few product lines to be marketed under distinct brandnames during the Massey-Ferguson era were the Australian-designed cane harvesters built at Bundaberg, Queensland, sold as the 'Cane Captain' and 'Cane Commander'.

References:
1. F.J. Kendall, H.V. McKay: Pioneer Industrialist, Council of the Science Museum of Victoria, [1976?].
2. The Argus, 4 Sep 1889, p.11, 'The McKay Harvester'; The Advertiser,20 Feb 1891, p.3 'The McKay Harvester'.
3. Victorian Patent No.10720, 08 Aug 1893, 'Improvements in harvesters for stripping, winnowing, and bagging grain'; John Lack, 'McKay, Hugh Victor (1865 - 1926)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, vol. 10, Melbourne University Press, 1986, pp.291-294.
4. http://www.asap.unimelb.edu.au/bsparcs/aasmemoirs/menzies.htm, accessed 05/10/2011.
5. MM 050503, Photograph - H.V. McKay Factory Workers with 'La Australiana' Harvester, Argentina, circa 1903.
6. Australian Town & Country Journal, 23 Apr 1898, p.22, 'The Sunshine Harvester', http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article71285700.
7. HT 19940, Advertisement -'Keep Within the Radius of the Sunshine - use the Sun Series of Implements', Ballarat Courier, 5 Dec 1906.
8. TL 015181, Product Catalogue - H.V. McKay, 'Sunshine Harvester Works', Agricultural Implements, circa 1907.

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