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Farming & Fisheries

Military precision in the Roadless Ploughmaster 75

September 14th, 2023 10:05 PM

By Southern Star Team

Military precision in the Roadless Ploughmaster 75 Image
A Roadless Ploughmaster 75 on display at the DeCourcey Vintage working day in August.

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Roadless Ploughmaster 75




Ford 4.2l

Years of manufacture



Hounslow in Middlesex was the home to Roadless Traction which was founded by Philip Johnson in 1919. A long serving British army engineer, Johnson had reached the rank of lieutenant colonel by the time he had retired. More interestingly, he had been heavily involved in tank development during the First World War and using this knowledge and patents, specialised in track conversions, including crawlers and half-tracks for the agricultural sector, before producing 4wd conventional tractors.

No stranger to 4wd with the success of the Roadless Ploughmaster 65, Roadless replaced the ‘pre-force’ model with a the Ploughmaster 75 in 1968. In the same year, Roadless also made the bold move of releasing its first equal wheel 4wd tractor, the 115, which was a direct challenge to the other two major British specialist 4wd equal wheel manufacturers – Muir-Hill and County.

The Roadless Ploughmaster 75 is based around a Ford Force 5000 skid unit. Employing Ford’s new 4.2l engine in its standard guise of 75hp, 8 speed dual power constant mesh gearbox through a 12inch single plate clutch, the PM75 weighs in just shy of three tons.

While much attention was being given to equal wheel four-wheel drive, the unequal wheel concept was proving less popular at the time.  Nonetheless, it was less power hungry to drive, lighter, a better turning circle, and reduced need for heavily engineered front axle cv joints and hubs.

Typical of the ingenuity of the Roadless engineers, surplus GMC axles were used as a 4wd unit for the Ploughmaster 75. Using a sandwich transfer box housed between the gearbox and rear axle, drive is provided to the front axle via a propeller shaft on the left hand side of the tractor. Power steering was fitted as standard.Cosmetically, the tractor has a large red ‘75’ on the grill above the headlights, and a weight block cast with ‘Roadless’. The Ploughmaster 75 came as standard with a Duncan all-weather canvas-clad cab or could also be specified with the Duncan Supercab. The Supercab had its own bulkhead and flat floor along with extra fuel tanks, significantly boosting the tractors fuel capacity.

The Ploughmaster 75 proved a strong performer and also a strong seller. As mainstream manufacturers realised the potential of four-wheel drive and designed their own systems, companies such as Roadless began to struggle in the early 80s, with the company ceasing trading in 1983.

• Contact Peter at [email protected] or see Instagram @flashphotoscork

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