"Pete's Pride" The Staghound Tractor
Peter Walker continued the advancement of broadacre farming by his need for a larger, more powerful tractor. He had previously worked a 4WD Ford Blitz to pull revelling harrows on his Bowenville property just after World War II.
The only tractors within Peter's price range were a 203 Massey and later a 44k Massey.
At a war surplus auction in Brisbane, Peter purchased a World War II Staghound - a heavy armoured car used with little success in New Guinea. Their weight proved a severe disadvantage in the wet soils. Ron Wickson, a veteran of New Guinea, said that the small Japanese tanks and Bren Carriers had similar problems, although the Bren Carriers, a track mounted light armoured car, was more successful.
Staghounds were on 24" tyres and powered by two General Motors Corporation 6 cylinder petrol engines at the rear of the vehicle. Transmissions were fluid drive and unsuitable for pulling and other farm work.
Peter removed the engines and replaced them with 2 Leyland diesels at about 300 combined horsepower and lower gearing. This was unsuccessful as the gearing was too high and fuel efficiency was poor.
After the purchase of two Dennis Trucks from Western Transport in Toowoomba, he used one for farm work and the other became the power plant and transmission for the Staghound. By using two transfer cases to achieve the lower gearing, Peter had a wonderful 4WD tractor. This was around 1953, long before larger 4WD tractors were commercially available in Australia.
He used the Staghound to pull 30ft of Graham Holme chisel ploughs and 3 Horwood Bagshaw combines. This wonderful achievement of Peter Walker makes his Staghound the first farmer-built, 4WD tractor on the Darling Downs.
This historic tractor is now on display at Highfields Pioneer Village and is in the process of restoration. Anyone who has any photographs or information on the Staghounds used in World War II, could they please contact Ray Ashford at the Village, so that we can add to the history of this heritage.