Best of British: Dowdeswell Engineering

Many of the best machinery ideas come from farmers, and Roger Dowdeswell’s contribution was a linkage for mounting ploughs on the back of crawler tractors.

Crawlers were a popular choice on farms with difficult soil in the 1960s. Roger Dowdeswell used tracks on his boulder clay farm near Southam, Warkwickshire, but good ploughing was difficult because ploughs had to be pulled on a drawbar.

In 1968 he built a prototype linkage, enabling a tracklayer to pull a mounted plough. It worked so well that neighbours asked him to make them a similar linkage.

The next stage was to design a fully-mounted offset plough to work with the linkage, a project begun in 1969 and completed the following year. Again, there was an enthusiastic response from neighbours and from Track Marshall, then Britain’s biggest crawler tractor manufacturer, which hoped the linkage and plough would increase its tracklayer sales.

Dowdeswell Engineering was formed in 1971 and the DPI mounted plough and linkage arrived on the market in small numbers using Ransomes mouldboards.

Ploughs for wheeled tractors soon followed. The DP5 conventional plough arrived in 1973 and, with numerous updates, was available until 2004. Versions of the DP7 reversible were built from 1974 until last year, and a new factory opened in 1975 to meet the demand.

Many of the best machinery ideas come from farmers, and Roger Dowdeswell’s contribution was a linkage for mounting ploughs on the back of crawler tractors.

Crawlers were a popular choice on farms with difficult soil in the 1960s. Roger Dowdeswell used tracks on his boulder clay farm near Southam, Warkwickshire, but good ploughing was difficult because ploughs had to be pulled on a drawbar.

In 1968 he built a prototype linkage, enabling a tracklayer to pull a mounted plough. It worked so well that neighbours asked him to make them a similar linkage.

The next stage was to design a fully-mounted offset plough to work with the linkage, a project begun in 1969 and completed the following year. Again, there was an enthusiastic response from neighbours and from Track Marshall, then Britain’s biggest crawler tractor manufacturer, which hoped the linkage and plough would increase its tracklayer sales.

Dowdeswell Engineering was formed in 1971 and the DPI mounted plough and linkage arrived on the market in small numbers using Ransomes mouldboards.

Ploughs for wheeled tractors soon followed. The DP5 conventional plough arrived in 1973 and, with numerous updates, was available until 2004. Versions of the DP7 reversible were built from 1974 until last year, and a new factory opened in 1975 to meet the demand.

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