Used Equip­ment Test: Al­lis Chalmers DD model graders

Ron Horner came across a re­ally old Al­lis-Chalmers DD Model grader sit­ting in a pad­dock and couldn’t re­sist check­ing it out

Earthmovers & Excavators - - Contents -

The num­ber and types of blokes we meet who are in­volved in the earth­mov­ing in­dus­try never ceases to amaze me.

Re­cently, I was on one of Ron­nie’s Road Trips when I came across a re­ally old Al­lis-Chalmers DD Model grader sit­ting in a pad­dock. Not to be de­terred, I opened the un­locked gate and drove di­rectly to the farm­house lo­cated about 500 me­tres on top of the fur­thest hill.

I was greeted by a ‘hippy’-look­ing fel­low, grey­ing braids and beard, laidback, cool as they come, and a face that ex­pressed a per­ma­nent big smile.

Hippy by name and hippy by na­ture as it turned out … lovely bloke. As we sat down and ex­changed yarns and a cuppa, my con­ver­sa­tion turned to the old grader sit­ting across the flat in the other pad­dock.

“Well, that be­longs to a mate of mine,” hippy said. “He came here and cleaned up my roads be­fore the floods came in and bug­gered it up again but he can’t get back for a while yet … he is hav­ing an ex­tended hol­i­day at the ex­pense of Her Majesty.”

Clas­sic bush come­back if ever I heard one. No ques­tions asked from me but we both gave each other a ‘nod and a wink’ and left the rest of the morn­ing to yarn about other things.

With the cuppa and bis­cuits all gone, we turned our at­ten­tion to the old grader. What a clas­sic era of earth­mov­ing machinery. How­ever, I wouldn’t swap it for any­thing we have around to­day be­cause you would need to be a grader driver tragic to con­tem­plate mak­ing any big money out of this old girl.


Hippy could not tell me much about the pre­vi­ous own­ers of the ma­chine other than his mate bought it many years ago, did a bit of ru­ral road con­tract­ing and clean-up work but some­how got on the wrong side of the law and is now en­joy­ing his stint – al­beit with a striped sun­tan.

Hippy could tell me that the ma­chine was go­ing and op­er­a­tional when his mate parked it up but, af­ter a bit of a closer look at it … well, maybe not in the last few years any­way! Ex­po­sure to the weather cer­tainly takes its toll up here in Queens­land al­though, through the en­gine bay cov­ers, one could see that it had in­deed been run­ning as there were a few old oil leaks that were still quite prom­i­nent from the en­gine it­self.

Sur­pris­ingly, the wasps had yet to take over the se­cured cover of the en­gine cowl­ing and, due to the lack of a cab and be­ing com­pletely ex­posed to the el­e­ments, there was lit­tle other cov­ered ar­eas for the pests to get a hold of.

Al­though we may be lim­ited on the his­tory of the lit­tle grader, we are not lim­ited on the his­tory of Al­lis-Chalmers or Tutt Bryant, the deal­ers and dis­trib­u­tors in Aus­tralia of the Al­lis-Chalmers earth­mov­ing brand.

Al­lis-Chalmers trac­tors and their pre­de­ces­sor, Monarch Trac­tor Co., were rep­re­sented in Aus­tralia since the 1920s but had lit­tle im­pact un­til Tutts took over and pushed the mar­ket – es­pe­cially af­ter World War II.

It was when Leo Tutt took over in 1938 by im­port­ing crawler trac­tors, and then the W Model speed pa­trol grader, that things started to change in the af­fir­ma­tive. How­ever, when the larger AD3 and AD4 Graders pre­ceded the medium and very pop­u­lar D Model Graders in 1947, that’s when it kicked into gear.

Af­ter World War II, Tutt Bryant retrieved Cater­pil­lar, Buck­eye and Al­lis-Chalmers equip­ment from the Amer­i­can Armed Forces in New Guinea by load­ing them onto the ship ‘Reynella’ and trans­port­ing them back to Aus­tralia for re­fit, re­furb and re­sale.

The Amer­i­can Sol­diers armed with the task of sell­ing and mov­ing the war ex­cess machinery were over­run with cig­a­rettes of which they freely gave to the Aussies in­volved in the machinery pur­chases. Know­ing full well that con­tra­band was il­le­gal, and in true Aussie spirit, a few of the boys de­cided to run the risk with a quick ‘grab for cash’ by smug­gling 100 car­tons of cig­a­rettes into the tube of a Buck­eye Scraper. Fully re­paired, and the scraper clearly marked with chalk for easy iden­ti­fi­ca­tion, the boys sat back and only had to wait un­til the machinery ar­rived in Aus­tralia to ‘make a killing’.

How­ever, on the re­turn voy­age, the cap­tain of the boat (al­though fully un­aware of the ‘dirty deeds done dirt cheap’ scheme) de­cided to char­ter him­self through the reef only to run aground, dec­i­mat­ing the front hold of the ship, and de­stroy­ing the cargo and all of the con­tra­band. Bug­ger!


The diesel D mo­tor grader is a small and com­pact lit­tle grader in com­par­i­son to to­day’s graders and was rep­re­sented in Aus­tralia in two mod­els; the D be­ing the petrol ver­sion and the DD be­ing the diesel ver­sion.

As one would ex­pect, there are a few signs that tell us that some se­ri­ous weld­ing main­te­nance has been done on the grader over 50 years of heavy work. One area in par­tic­u­lar is the front tubu­larde­signed steel cross mem­ber.

It has a unique fea­ture be­ing the 10-inch di­am­e­ter by three-quar­ter-inch thick tubu­lar-de­signed steel cross mem­ber to strengthen the fork in the chas­sis at the base of the cab. When this di­men­sional tubu­lar frame was not avail­able in Aus­tralia,

Tutts re­designed the frame with a solid 10-inch square steel billet in­stead; this gave more strength and weight over the blade, which proved re­ally ad­van­ta­geous to the de­sign and per­for­mance.

The lo­cal Aussie mar­ket took to the lit­tle grader so much that some in­no­va­tive de­sign was re­quired to keep up de­mand.

The D Model was de­signed to have a five-foot­di­am­e­ter cir­cle made of cast steel seg­ments – how­ever, it was found that lo­cal man­u­fac­turer Com­steel made tyres of the same di­am­e­ter us­ing rolled steel for rolling stock. The lo­cal graders there­fore picked up the out­ers left from the man­u­fac­ture of these wheels. Cost ef­fec­tive, strong and lo­cally avail­able ... win-win-win.

It wasn’t the first or last of the lo­cally de­signed im­prove­ments pushed into the D Model and credit goes to Don Nu­gent, the en­gi­neers and oth­ers that con­tin­u­ally searched for im­prove­ment dur­ing this time.

This lit­tle grader, al­though not used for some time, would (be­lieve it or not) fire up quite eas­ily with a new bat­tery and half a day’s per­sis­tence. It cer­tainly ap­pears all there and com­plete, minus an op­er­a­tor’s seat and bat­tery, as even the keys are still in the ig­ni­tion.

The D Model Grader was on sale here in Aus­tralia from 1952 to 1974.


Need­less to say there is no cab but you would be putting in a big day op­er­at­ing one of these in the Queens­land sun with­out cover of some sort. But that’s how it was done in those days and the boys never thought a thing of it.

Plenty of all-round vi­sion here. A pos­si­ble prob­lem is if you were stand­ing op­er­at­ing and hit a log or rock you may ac­tu­ally ‘go overboard’. There is no op­er­a­tor pro­tec­tion or cold com­forts here.

Op­er­a­tion of the rig was quite sim­ple and ef­fec­tive for its day but un­der­pow­ered in to­day’s mar­ket.

The 50hp diesel en­gine slot­ted into the mar­ket and be­came very pop­u­lar in its time, push­ing the grader through a man­ual gear­box with a max­i­mum speed of 35mph (af­ter mod­i­fi­ca­tion).

The mould­board con­trols were on the out­side and right of the con­sole; back­ward to lift and for­ward to lower; the six-tyne scar­i­fier was the third lever and again back to lift and for­ward to lower; wheel lean was left-hand lever; and again back­ward to right and for­ward to left wheel lean. As with all graders, you will have to en­sure that the mould­board and the scar­i­fier po­si­tion­ing does not clash when ad­just­ing. The con­trols are all hy­draulic and tell­tale signs are ev­i­dent that most of the hoses have been re­placed many times over the years.

The dash­board is a sim­ple as it can get with hand throt­tle, sparse gauges, stop lever and lights all po­si­tioned down­ward and to the right side of the op­er­a­tor’s seat­ing; clutch and brake are floor mounted and foot con­trolled; and lights are fit­ted on top of the frame but either non-ex­is­tent or bro­ken off if there were ever any for­ward of the cabin and lower in the main frame.


The en­gine bay is firmly se­cured by two large swing­ing doors that keep out a lot of the day-to­day crap that’s just wait­ing for a free ride dur­ing the day’s work. There is noth­ing worse than hav­ing either an oil or diesel-leak­ing en­gine and find­ing the en­gine bay is filled with dust, leaves and branches

It would ap­pear in to­day’s so­ci­ety that this lit­tle grader would be a di­nosaur but in fact it still holds the same prin­ci­ples of graders of to­day.

so those cov­ers are a god­send and be­lieve it or not still in good nick. The 50hp, six-cylin­der nat­u­rally as­pi­rated diesel en­gine pushes out about 50hp and is lo­cated over the rear wheels for good bal­ance and weight dis­tri­bu­tion, and was a very pop­u­lar grader of choice in its day.

It would ap­pear in to­day’s so­ci­ety that this lit­tle grader would be a di­nosaur but in fact it still holds the same prin­ci­ples of graders of to­day. Tech­nol­ogy has over­run us at all points as­so­ci­ated with earth­mov­ing equip­ment but the prin­ci­ples are still the same, merely be­com­ing more fine-tuned as the years wear on.

I love the old girl as most of the old machinery

I get to be in­volved with, either by op­er­at­ing and reliving my past ex­pe­ri­ences or liv­ing new ones, has a place in our his­tory and should be pre­served – if not phys­i­cally, at least by guys writ­ing about their his­tory and how they evolved and per­formed in their day. This one is another clas­sic ex­am­ple.

1. En­gine bay and the 6 cylin­der diesel en­gine 2. Nice op­er­a­tor con­di­tions with full air-con­di­tion­ing 2


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