16 April 1999

OLD PARTS, NEW LIFE…

Got an old David Brown or Case on its last legs, and the cost of a low-hour replacement

tractor holds little appeal? Then why not opt for refurbishment. Geoff Ashcroft caught up

with a Worcestershire firm refurbishing components for Case and David Brown tractors

OLD tractors never die, they just need a few major parts every now and then to keep them from reaching the scrap heap, reckons Barcley Williams who runs a David Brown and Case parts refurbishment and supply service.

From his workshop at Honeybourne, near Evesham, Worcs, Mr Williams specialises in parts for David Brown and Case tractors built between 1970 and 1986, up until the last of Cases 94-series rolled off the production line.

His specialised approach to one tractor marque was a result of a former tractor/plant hire business, which saw Mr Williams and his family operate a fleet of over 70 David Brown tractors on long term hire. When the business changed policy, he needed an outlet for the surplus tractors.

"It seemed logical to dismantle the tractors for parts and eventually, this led to refurbishing entire models," he says.

But more recently, whole tractor refurbishment has been replaced solely with the supply of refurbished spares.

"The cost of refurbishing the entire tractor started to outweigh its market value," he says, adding 95% of his business is now mail order throughout the UK.

Parts steam cleaned

Tractors are stripped, parts are steam-cleaned via an industrial strength parts washer, then waxed to prevent corrosion, part-numbered and stored. In addition to the main workshop and stores, four 40ft containers hold parts too. And all stock is cross-referenced on computer, which lets Mr Williams know if the part is still available ex-factory or if it has to be specially machined.

"We keep most things in stock," he explains. "Many parts are sourced directly from Case, but where items are too expensive or no longer available, I use local engineering firms to machine new parts."

In a far corner of the workshop is a surgically-clean, brightly-lit room, and this is where the painstaking task of re-assembly takes place. Short engines, oil pumps, transmissions, spool valves and power steering units being some of the most common rebuilds.

Most components are service exchange, which doesnt eat into Mr Williams stock. But by far his most complex task is rebuilding then setting up four-speed Hydrashift transmissions – a transmission Mr Williams reckons is the starting point for many of todays powershift designs.

"Its not the problematic box people think it is," he says. "The biggest problem in its day was oil filtration and inaccurate gear change settings."

His enthusiasm for the Hydrashift box has seen Mr Williams design and build his own test bench in the workshop, where he can run-up the transmission, checking and adjusting its operation after a rebuild.

"Todays improved engineering techniques mean our refurbished components are built to fine tolerances," he says. "And with proper maintenance, should last at least as long as they did originally."

Mr Williams reckons there is much that can be done with worn out parts before they need throwing on the scrap heap.

"Take a crankshaft for example, its only junk if its snapped – bent cranks can be straightened, worn journals can be built up then reground to the required size," he says. "There are thousands of these older tractors still working, and they owe their owners virtually nothing.

"Why throw them out when they finally give up, particularly as a replacement tractor could cost five times that of a refurbished engine or transmission?"