Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Meet David Brown.

Yesterday, I went for a walk down memory lane. Actually, I took Vinodog 2 for a walk along the Napa River, but on the way home I did stop off at the Napa Valley College (NVC) student vineyard to pay a quick visit to an old friend: a David Brown Selectamatic 990 tractor.  And, I must say, old DB looked quite fabulous and just like his old self.
During the time that I was studying for my A.S. in Viticulture at NVC, I cannot recall a single instance when upon bringing the old DB out for a little student hands-on instructional tractor time that Dr. Krebs did not comment to my classmates and me, "You know, the electrical system on this thing is terrible".  I didn't take it personally, being English and all.
David Brown Engineering Ltd., is an English company that was founded in 1860 by, of course, David Brown.  The first tractor produced by the company was a joint venture with Henry Ferguson (perhaps better known for Massey Ferguson tractors) in 1936.  Business boomed after World War II and the company became one of the biggest tractor manufacturers in the UK. (The company also made gears for Spitfires - so cool.)
I simply love this tractor, it is just so utilitarian and that appeals to me.  I just wish that I could have a conversation with the Selectamatic 990 and ask it a few questions like; How's your wiring harness feeling?  How did you end up in the Napa Valley?  And now that you are here, do you like the weather?  Just wondering.
Oh, and happy summer solstice!


Thomas said...

I love the utilitrarian nature of old tractors. Mine is an Oliver built in the 1960s, and still kicking up dirt around here.

For Oliver's history: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oliver_Farm_Equipment_Company

Dennis Tsiorbas said...

VG: Again (I'm a broken 78, 45, LP), fabulous writing here; the apropos "How's your wiring harness feeling?", and the linkage of the gears for the British ace Spitfires (I'm not forgetting Vinodog-2 too); my father was in Britain with the Army air-corps during the war; this is the plane he loved:

Thomas: my cousin and her husband live in rural VT, and they love tractors, he rebuilds them, so I sent them your Wiki-link on FB with VG's. :)

Thomas said...


Your father was in Britain with the Army Air Corps! You might like the latest book my wife and I edited. Her father was on the Stars and Stripes newspaper team that covered the air corps in Britain. He went up a few times in bombers to be up close to the story. He and his wife wrote about 800 letters during the war, which is what carries the book:


Dennis Tsiorbas said...

Thomas: Thx! Wow! Five Star reviews!

Thud said...

David Brown saved Aston Martin...nuff said kidda!

Thomas said...


My father-in-law's story is even more interesting than I said above. Toward the end of the war, he wound up on Eisenhower's staff and was the only reporter in the room when the general and the Germans negotiated surrender terms. His Stars and Stripes report of that incident was picked up all over the world and remains THE historical record of the event...and he wrote his feelings about it in letters home.

We are producing a stage version of the book--a reading of the letters by two actors.

Dennis Tsiorbas said...

Thomas: How wonderful! Getting so deep into this extremely important subject must have been a maturing endeavor. I see that Prometheus Books has a FB site dedicated to the book, and Tom Brokaw comments on its relevance.
I was surprised that William Lawrence Shirer didn't mention Charles Kiley in The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, but then again an author can't cover everyone, especially since he had so much to cover.

Thomas said...


I believe Shirer shows up in one or two of the letters.

Andy Rooney and Charles met during the war (and roomed together at Normandy). They remained close friends for the rest of their lives. Charles shows up in Rooney's book about the Stars and Stripes, and Rooney makes a number of appearances in Charles' and his wife's letters. Charles also got photographic as well as printed mention in the second edition of Brokaw's book, The Greatest Generation. Finally, Charles' historical account of the surrender was cited by British historian Sir Martin Gilbert in his book, The Day The War Ended.

After the war, Charles was on the NY Herald Tribune until that paper folded. The rest of his life was spent as editor at the NY Law Journal.

Vinogirl said...

Tomasso: I love old Olivers too.

Great reviews for the book, congrats.

NHW: Who doesn't love the Mustang?

Thud: That company has some great history.