The Roadless Traction Company was started many years ago back in 1919 when Philip Henry Johnson started developing tracks for use in the First World War. This lead to use of tracks on tractors in 1925 in a half and full-track configurations mainly based on Fordson tractors. Roadless became more of a common name in agriculture as the very small company grew in size.
Experimenting with more conventional tractor designs as time went on, it was 1956 when the first true four-wheel drive axle was fitted to a Fordson Major. As kits were then produced and fitted to the Super Dexta and Super Major before the Ploughmaster 6/4 was revealed in 1962. Using a Ford six-cylinder engine and Super Major transmission, it was a heavy-duty machine.
After supplying four-wheel drive kits to the likes of International Harvester to fit to their B450 and later the 634, Roadless began fitting four-wheel drive to the new 6X range. Launched in 1965, these compact yet powerful machines became one of the company's biggest sellers. The Roadless 115 was one of the first equal-wheel models to be launched in 1968 and became competition for the likes of County's 1124 Super Six at a similar power. The equal-wheeled 120 followed and smaller front wheeled 118 which are all now popular with collectors. Roadless was also well-known for its Logmaster which sold well into UK woodlands. Though after 7915 axle kits fitted in total, the company hit hard times and went into liquidation in 1983.
The name lived on under the ownership L.F. Jewell Ltd from Somerset who continued the production of equal-wheel tractors, producing the Jewelltrac 102, 116 and 120 tractors. After going into liquidation Roadless went into liquidation again and was bought by Roger Haynes and operated under the Agrosave title. The brand was sold recently in 2007 to Cheshire-based John Bownes Ltd who now operate the company under Roadless Tractors Ltd. (www.roadless.co.uk) They hold all the records, hold a comprehensive list of parts and have brought Roadless into the new millennium.
This website is aimed at collating all the Roadless tractors that are in preservation or still being used for work in one place. It is important to keep a tab on what is left after many have been broken for spares or turned back into Ford skid units. Working with John Bownes Ltd we hope we can provide a comprehensive list for anyone to access.
If you own or run a Roadless we would love to hear from you. We hope to feature as many models with serial numbers as possible and make this the definitive place to find Roadless tractors. We are happy for you to remain anonymous, please use the 'Your Tractor' button for more information. If you have spotted a tractor at a show or out and about, please add it to the list as well, the more the better!
We look forward to your help in compiling this comprehensive list.
Latest Update - 1st November 2013
This year saw the first Blue Force working event for Ford conversions since the specialist club started. After the success of the previous Roadless 90 event where David Leech gathered 93 Roadless tractors from across the country to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the legendary Company, David teamed with the recently established Blue Force club organised another working day for Ford conversions. Held on the 29th and 30th September on land near David Leech’s farm between Sleaford and Lincoln, the event attracted 174 tractors and 1200 spectators on the second day to watch a variety of rare machines on show or at work on individual manufacturer ploughing plots. The Saturday saw a local road run around the surrounding areas and Lincolnshire lanes which had 45 participants and many reported a good a route. Sunday saw the timing of the main ploughing staggered so spectators could watch one manufacturer before moving to another without missing any of the action as the site was fairly spread out over the 500 acre site and 320 acres were eventually ploughed throughout the day. The day was finished-off with an entertaining speed plouging session where a tractor from each manufacturer would go head-to-head against the others in order to finish their plot as quick and cleanly as possible.
Tractors both original and restored could be seen on the static display being put through their paces. Out in the Roadless field Tony Gerrard was at the wheel of John Bownes’ last Roadless Ploughmaster 78 which was used in the field for the first time. The tractor was teamed to a four-furrow IH plough and certainly looked the part. Other freshly restored tractors were a late Jewelltrac owned by P T Johnson of Lincoln which appeared to have no expense spared on its restoration and only recently finished. It was joined by 116 models from Malcolm Cooke from Belfast and Richard Fenton of Leicestershire who brought his example complete with drainer attached which proved to be an interesting machine. Phil Moston brought across a selection of Frank Lythgoe’s finest machines including the late and rare 7804, and 9804 models. They also displayed a number of Half-Track and Full-Track Fordson crawlers which were also put to work by the North-West-based team.
For further details and application forms for the Blue Force Club e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org