OT John Shearer ploughs

Submitted: Saturday, May 24, 2008 at 21:37
ThreadID: 57962 Views:21104 Replies:6 FollowUps:9
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There has to be some old cockies out there that cleared their scrub with a Shearer plough. I am asking is the name of the plough mainly used for stump pulling.
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Reply By: Stu & "Bob" - Saturday, May 24, 2008 at 21:58

Saturday, May 24, 2008 at 21:58
Ijust used to use a ripper tyne behind an old cable blade D6. What a PITA that setup was. Pilot motor start and all.....
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Reply By: Bob Y. - Qld - Saturday, May 24, 2008 at 22:07

Saturday, May 24, 2008 at 22:07

Don't think a plough would have been much good for clearing land.

The "stump-jump" plough was invented by someone, in Australia???, to easily negotiate any stumps that hadn't been grubbed out of the field. When the plough hit a hard object in the ground, it would "jump" over it. This saved numerous breakages of harness, stress on the horse, or tractor, and heated words by the farmer.

Think the early methods of land clearing involved a lot of axe work, grubbing out stumps and burning the fruits of this labour. Weren't too many beer guts back in those days either. The burning would give an initial boost to any crops because of the ash left behind.

If you want to clear scrub these days, you can beat 2 CAT D8's or 9's, hooked together with a humungus big chain!

Seen it all, Done it all.
Can't remember most of it.

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Follow Up By: Member - Mal and Di (SA) - Saturday, May 24, 2008 at 22:16

Saturday, May 24, 2008 at 22:16
I agree you can't clear scrub with a plough but use it to pull the stumps afterward. Sorry if I was bit vague on that point but it was three quarter time at Subiaco and my team was ( and did) getting a hiding. Anyway I think the name I was looking for was a Majestic.
If anyone has a photo it would be great.
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Follow Up By: Member - Dennis P (Scotland) - Saturday, May 24, 2008 at 22:45

Saturday, May 24, 2008 at 22:45
Thats it, Mal!
Jogged my memory for me.
Shearer Majestic Stump Jump Plough.
The country we cleared was Mallee, it was chained first, left for a while, then used big Petherick Wake Rakes to row it up. That was then pushed into heaps and burnt, then came the Majestic ploughs, followed by scarifiers, then planted to first crop.

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Follow Up By: Member - Mal and Di (SA) - Saturday, May 24, 2008 at 22:49

Saturday, May 24, 2008 at 22:49
With the price of mallee stumps in the woodyards today I think we burnt about a million dollars worth give or take a couple of hundred grand!
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Follow Up By: Member - JohnR (Vic)&Kath - Sunday, May 25, 2008 at 08:33

Sunday, May 25, 2008 at 08:33
I guess you guys are thinking of the disc plough where as some of the early ones were mouldboard ploughs like this one at the museum A lot before my time.

I seem to remember my neighbour talking about the Sun Vertical too as well as the Shearer Majestic. Pretty good in the Peppermint stumps, pretty much like the Mallee stumps, though I don't think they had the heat in the fire reputed of the Mallees
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Follow Up By: The Geriatric Gypsies - Sunday, May 25, 2008 at 08:40

Sunday, May 25, 2008 at 08:40
goodday john
thats a good picture but where did you buy the hat ????
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Follow Up By: Member - JohnR (Vic)&Kath - Sunday, May 25, 2008 at 08:40

Sunday, May 25, 2008 at 08:40
Have seen a couple of these hooked up
Later model John Shearer
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Follow Up By: Member - JohnR (Vic)&Kath - Sunday, May 25, 2008 at 09:15

Sunday, May 25, 2008 at 09:15
Steve, I got a hat with one tractor a few years ago. Lucy actually got hold of it for a story back in March as well as my budgie smugglers.

Neither was as early a model as that pic, and nor am I. ;-))) LOL. I have only ever driven rubber tyres tractors, steel wheeled ploughs though some times thirty years ago.
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Reply By: Member - Dennis P (Scotland) - Saturday, May 24, 2008 at 22:38

Saturday, May 24, 2008 at 22:38
Worked for a mob based in Keith, years ago.
We pulled one behind a D4.
Simply called a 'Stump Jump Plough' and was invented by Shearer.
Googling wouldn't give me anymore than that either.

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Reply By: ads_gu - Sunday, May 25, 2008 at 05:36

Sunday, May 25, 2008 at 05:36
My father in law used to work for John Shearer in Naracoorte many years ago.. He may have some pics
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Reply By: Member - Doug T (FNQ) - Sunday, May 25, 2008 at 10:51

Sunday, May 25, 2008 at 10:51
David shearer, a Mannum blacksmith turned-farm equipment manufacturer, was responsible for Australia's first steam car; the prototype, now fully restored, can be seen at the National Motor Museum at Birdwood'
He made the Farm machinery at his factory at Mannum SA.

SHEARER, JOHN (1845-1932) and DAVID (1850-1936), agricultural machinery manufacturers and inventors, were two of the five sons of Peter Shearer, stonemason and blacksmith, and his wife Mary, née Kirkness. John was born on 9 September 1845 and David on 7 November 1850 in the Orkney Islands, Scotland. The family migrated to South Australia in 1852, living in Port Adelaide, Robe and, later, Clare where the brothers were educated.
After an apprenticeship with Hanlon & Co., blacksmiths, John started a blacksmith's business at Mount Torrens. There, on 15 July 1871, he married 15-year-old Mary Jane Watkins. Later he joined J. G. Ramsay & Co., agricultural implement-makers, Mount Barker, and in 1876 started a smithing business at Mannum on the River Murray, repairing paddle-steamers and farmers' implements and shoeing horses.
At 14 David attended Joseph Cole's Stanley Grammar School for a year, paying his fees with wages saved from two years as a farm-hand. In 1865-67 he helped his brother William, a blacksmith at Leasingham, then spent two years as an improver at James Ramsay's Clare branch; later he worked for Adamson & Co., Auburn, at wagonbuilding. After eighteen months in John's business at Mount Torrens, he was with Strike & Short, wagonbuilders and blacksmiths, Rice Creek, a firm which he bought in 1874. In 1877 David joined John in partnership at Mannum. On 28 February 1883 in Adelaide David married Mary Elizabeth Williams.
Farmland covered with mallee and native pine had to be cleared; farmers needed tough, durable equipment and supported the Shearers who made grubbing machines and fixed ploughs, scarifiers, harrows and strippers. In 1883 importers, other South Australian farm-implement manufacturers, and steamboat owners tried to prevent the Shearers from using up-river transport; the brothers were forced to subsidize the steamers to retain their fair share of river trade. This encouraged them to find markets further afield. In 1887 Shearers' advertised a 'Patent Fourfarrow Light Stump Jump Plough … Foremost in S.J.P. design since 1878'. In 1888 John invented wrought-steel ploughshares, which were patented throughout Australasia; these were an improvement on the brittle cast-iron shares in general use. In 1897 he visited the Meadows Steel Co. in England to consult them about the production of a resilient steel—this was known as Resilflex and 'became the backbone of all future Shearer implements'. By 1902 a lighter, stronger stripper, with a wider cut, and farm wagons were being manufactured.
To escape the heavy transport costs from Mannum to Adelaide, the firm opened a branch at Kilkenny in 1904; John and his three sons ran it, the eldest son John Albert being manager. This factory started with twelve men who produced three ploughs a week. The Mannum partnership ended in 1910, David and his two sons remaining there and John retaining the Kilkenny branch, adding tillage implements to production of ploughs. In 1923 John, chairman of directors, and his sons (directors) converted their partnership into a limited company.
John Shearer died on 9 August 1932 at his Kilkenny home, survived by his wife, four daughters and three sons. He was buried in Mitcham cemetery and his estate was sworn for probate at £15,980. A stocky, red-bearded, gruff man, he believed that 'soil is wealth, neither to be hoarded nor squandered. Land worked wisely is what we need', and he adhered to his motto, 'Work is life and idleness is death'. In 1952 the Shearer organization became a public company which was taken over by Arrowcrest Group Pty Ltd in 1987.
In 1904 the Mannum factory concentrated on strippers, wagons, harrows and ploughshares; 1910 saw the completion of another large factory. In World War I David Shearer & Co. made military equipment—munition wagons, stirrups and hames. By 1927 new additions, to accommodate assembling and painting, were added; the firm placed the Header Harvester on the market.
With Harley Tarrant and Herbert Thomson, David Shearer made a major contribution to the independent development of the motor car in Australia. About 1882 he adapted the principle of the differential to a hand-tricycle. About 1885, as a hobby, he began to work on manufacture of a steam-carriage, basing transmission of power from engine to wheels on the stripper-harvester and steering on a principle used for the stump-jump plough. By 1897 he was driving his steam-car round Mannum where most of the mechanism had been manufactured; it would last for trips of 100 miles (161 km) and travel at 15 miles an hour. In 1900 he was allowed to drive it round Adelaide. The restored car is now at the Birdwood Mill Museum.
Regarded as 'Mannum's Grand Old Man' David, thickset, with a mop of sandy hair, was a dreamer with a scientific mind. He joined the New South Wales branch of the British Astronomical Association in 1907 and built his own observatory and telescope. A student of phrenology, he also painted and drew. His religion was Unitarian. He died on 15 October 1936 and was buried in West Terrace cemetery. His estate was sworn for probate at £1858. In 1972 David Shearer Ltd (a limited company since 1922) was taken over by Horwood Bagshaw Ltd.
John and David Shearer had sat on the Mannum District Council for many years, including periods as chairman. In the 1960s at Mannum the John Shearer Memorial Gates were erected and the David Shearer Sports Park opened.


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Follow Up By: Shaker - Sunday, May 25, 2008 at 11:49

Sunday, May 25, 2008 at 11:49
The plot thickens!

The Smith Brothers, Richard Bowyer and Clarence Herbert, were some of the most important people associated with the improvements of South Australian agriculture. Until the invention of the Stump Jump Plough by Richard in 1876, and the later development and perfection by Clarence, South Australian farmers in the mallee lands had a soul destroying and almost impossible task to clear their land and make a living from wheat growing.

Most farmers still ploughed the land in the English manner with deep and complete turned furrows. This was done to kill the weeds which grew furiously in that damp climate. This practice was impossible in Australia and particularly on Yorke Peninsula which was heavily timbered with mallee.

Richard, born in London in 1837, arrived with his parents, Owen and Mary Ann, aboard the Trusty in Port Adelaide on 15 May 1838. During the 1850s the Smith family followed the many thousands of South Australians to the Victorian goldfields where Clarence was born on 9 August 1855. The Smith family had twelve children but only six survived childhood.

After their return to South Australia Richard started work, as an apprentice, for James Gardner Ramsey at Mount Barker where he eventually rose to the position of foreman. Richard later opened a blacksmith and carpenter's shop at Port Wakefield where his younger brother Clarence started as his apprentice in 1872. While at Port Wakefield, Richard invested in some land at Kalkabury and started farming while still working part time for his old boss at Mount Barker.

While attempting to clear his land it was that Richard got the idea of a stump jump plough which would ride over the stumps rather than be stuck in or behind them. In 1876 he had produced a three-furrow model but it proved too heavy. Improvements were made by Clarence and the next year it was demonstrated at the Moonta Agricultural Show with much better results. Both their single and triple ploughs won first prizes. Although most farmers at the show, and later, could or would not see the benefits of such a machine, history proved him right as it made grubbing a thing of the past.

When Clarence had completed his apprenticeship, he continued farming at Kalkabury and even bought some of his brother's land. For the next four years he tried to improve the plough and when finally convinced that he had it right he bought some land in Ardrossan and built a factory and a house for his wife, Emma Sarah Beck and daughter Beatrice. Production was started in 1880, with credit provided by G.P.Harris, Scarfe and Company, and by the end of the year gave employment to twenty men eventually growing to more than a hundred. Richard was awarded a five hundred Pound bonus for his invention by the South Australian government in 1882.

At the 1883 Maitland Show, Clarence and his machines took first place once again. Richard moved to Western Australia in 1884 set up a manufacturing plant at Beverly and retired when he was 74. He died in 1919, aged 81 years.

Slowly the Ardrossan works expanded as orders started to come in from all over Australia. In 1900, when everything looked so well, doctors told Clarence, who had now six children, that he only had a year to live. Clarence prepared his sons Clarence Glen, born at Ardrossan in 1882, and Alma, O.Smith, born in 1885, to take over his factory and when he died on 15 July 1901 they were ready to face the tasks of running a huge business. A marble plaque to honour Clarence Herbert Smith was later placed in the Ardrossan Institute.

Both Glen and Alma lived up to their father's expectation. Despite their youth, they, with the help of their mother, successfully managed and even expanded the range of products and the business. Those mallee roots which were such a problem to the farmers were used to advantage by Glen and Alma. In 1905 the economic conditions were good enough for Glen to get married to Hilda Nankivell of Minlaton. In 1906 the brothers decided to solve the water shortage problem for their steam boiler, which supplied the power supply of the factory, by using the mallee roots to generate gas which in turn operated electric generators. They built a new power house opposite the factory and installed underground cables to the plant.

In the Cyclopedia of South Australia, it was stated that 'it would be difficult for any resident to conceive an idea of the town existing without the factory. In 1906 such extensive alterations and additions were made to the plant and buildings that the factory is now one of the largest and best equipped in the Commonwealth'.

A nine furrow stump jumping, cultivating plough with a seed and fertilizer drill was developed which would plough, manure and seed in one operation. It once again took many first prizes at the Adelaide and country shows.

Unfortunately the brothers were not able to cope with the downturn in the Australian, and world wide, depression of the 1930s. They struggled on bravely but as many of their customers were unable to pay and some suppliers unwilling to give credit, C.H. Smith Limited ceased operations in 1934.

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Reply By: Member - Mal and Di (SA) - Sunday, May 25, 2008 at 16:58

Sunday, May 25, 2008 at 16:58
Thank you all for your input, I new there were some old farmers out there in EO land. It certainly made a change from the usual "what tyres should I use" or "I spotted a sticker yesterday".
And Doug I new I could trust you to come up with the goods.
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Follow Up By: Member - John A (SA) - Wednesday, May 28, 2008 at 21:18

Wednesday, May 28, 2008 at 21:18
Regarding the Shearer ploughs for land clearing. These units were made by Shearer of Kilkenny as differentiated from Shearer of Mannum who were into grain harvesting machinery in the main.
I had a few years jackerooing at Bordertown in the mid 1960's when the "90 mile Desert" was being transformed from mallee scrub into lucerne grazing country.
The clearing process went something like this
1. flatten the scrub with a heavy anchor chain dragged between two dozers; a bloke by the name of Clarrie Hutchens from Tintinara had an Allis Chalmers HD44 and a D7 from memory. (This same bloke bought a racing E Type Jaguar from Bob Jane if my memory serves me correctly and initially raced it with a bloke named Kennedy. When it retired from racing, I recall seeing it being driven across ploughed paddocks; its limited slip differential made it better than average in sand! It frequeently lost it's exhaust so it could be heard from a long way off!)
2. The scrub was left to dry out & then burnt; sometimes it was pushed up into windrows or heaps prior by a D6 with a stick rake in lieu of the blade.
3. Then the country was blade ploughed with a "Rome " or "Fewings of Findon" unit towed by the Allis or D7. This was designed to cut off all the roots ~ 500mm below ground level & loosen up the stumps.
4. then the country was ploughed by a Shearer "Majestic" disc plough having discs of ~ 900mm diameter. This was from memory only a 6 or 8 disc unit & required a D7 size tractor to tow it.
5. The mallee stumps were then windrowed by a Horwood Bagshaw wake stump rake or a Pederick unit towed by a D6 or similar.
This succeeded also in levelling out the roughness left by the majestic plough.
The windrowed stumps were then pushed into heaps & burnt or by the labour of we jackeroos, hand picked onto a trailer & carted to a dump point where we had to unload them by hand!!
6. The next operation was to either scarify the ground with a Shearer 21 tyne scarifyer drawn by a Chamberlain 9G tractor equipped with bomber tyres to get flotation over the sand dunes.
Any stumps so raised were hand picked or windrowed as per before and disposed of.
7. On the clay flats between the sand hills the ground was ploughed by a Shearer Sovereign disc plough having discs of ~ 600mm diameter.
The country was then sown with innoculated lucerne (Hunter River variety), clover / medic legumes, a liberal dose of superphosphate & trace elements and a cover crop of rye to protect the sandy soil from wind. This was generally effected by Shearer 28row combine seeders towed by the 9G Chamberlain tractors. Vic Schrieber from Keith was the contractor who undertook this phase. Always had a bag man on the combine to keep topping up the seed & super boxes so that there was less down time at the truck re-filling with seed and super.
8. Overall the Shearer machinery was chosen for its availability, its robust construction, its local manufacture base and their willingness to adapt / design for the task in robust conditions.

Hope you find this of interest: I have enjoyed the reminiscing!


John A

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