Torque Talk

Torque Talk


FORMER farmer Rod Ash has been appointed branch manager at Perkins Farm Machinery Centre, Northam.

Cummins national sales director Michael Hickling (left) and Allison Heavy Automatics national sales manager Garth Ryan at the recent Goldacres 40th anniversary celebrations in Ballarat ... a match made in heaven. No, not Michael and Garth, the engine and the transmission.

Cummins national sales director Michael Hickling (left) and Allison Heavy Automatics national sales manager Garth Ryan at the recent Goldacres 40th anniversary celebrations in Ballarat ... a match made in heaven. No, not Michael and Garth, the engine and the transmission.

FORMER farmer Rod Ash has been appointed branch manager at Perkins Farm Machinery Centre, Northam.

Another new addition is former Quairading bank manager Cathy Cousins, who becomes administration manager.

Rod, who has been involved in crop, sheep and cattle at Toodyay and Kulja (south of Kalannie), since the early 2000s, has reset his career, while retaining his farming holdings.

He officially started his new job two weeks ago, on his 60th birthday.

“I’m looking forward to helping a great business get even better,” Roy said.

“We have a diverse product range to cater for small, medium and large broadacre farming as well as horticulture and life-stylers and we have a great team to boot.”

Last week Rod had finishing “PD-ing” a G8 Goldacres self-propelled boomsprayer for delivery to a Mukinbudin farmer.

“It’s the latest model and it’s Australian-made, which is something I really like,” he said.

Rod is a machinery aficionado and in his earlier days imported F250 and F350 trucks into WA and has also been involved in a Honda dealership.

That association saw him start an annual motocross “Pony Express relay” on his Toodyay property involving motorcycles older than 1997.

The four-hour duration race is still going strong and attracts about 50 competitors of all shapes and sizes.

And in his spare time, Rod is busy keeping his 1968 V8 Pontiac convertible in top shape.

His first foray into cool cars was the purchase of a Torana L34 – the first V8 Torana to race in the Bathurst 1000.

“I had it for 20 years but I sold it because I needed the money at the time and it commanded a great price,” he said.

Rod is focusing on getting his Pontiac well tuned for next month’s annual Northam Flying 50 and Hill Climb festival.

The two-day event is scheduled for Saturday, April 7 and Sunday, April 8, with the Lindsay Monk Memorial Hill climb at Mt Ommaney on the Saturday.

This will be followed by the Minson Motorkhana at Bernard Park where all the vintage cars will be exhibited.

The Northam Flying 50 will be held on the Sunday with regular events around the street circuit in the Northam CBD.

Watch out for the Ponty with the Perkins Farm Machinery Centre logo on the side.

Didn’t you know Geoff? You’re sponsoring Rod.

Joe plays his part

MCINTOSH & Son’s Geraldton parts manager Joe Cukela is indeed the sum of all parts.

Pardon Torque’s pun, but it’s true.

During his life, the quietly spoken Joe has had a range of experiences which, collectively, make him one of the most experienced parts managers in WA machinery dealerships.

Born in Bruce Rock, his dad shortly after sold the farm and moved the family to east Merredin, where young Joe learnt all the tools of the trade, including shearing.

The latter became his passion and he was soon running his own team in the Merredin district, after learning the craft in sheds throughout the State.

When the Merredin farm was sold, a “26 or 27” year-old Joe headed to west Manjimup and supplemented his shearing with a market garden, which exported cauliflowers.

Ten years on he dropped out of full-time shearing, sold the market garden and headed for Morawa, buying a wheat and sheep farm north of the town.

He enjoyed that life for seven years by which time retirement was looking like a good option.

But when then-machinery dealer Hal Walton set up a branch in the town, Joe decided to join the parts division and that set him on a new career pathway.

Then when his wife Sandy decided she wanted to return to nursing in Geraldton, things changed.

After a period which saw Sandy making trips from Morawa to Geraldton on a frequent basis, Joe decided to head west permanently.

A chance meeting with the then McIntosh & Son Geraldton branch manager Bob Symington and his son Brad “on some Saturday arvo’, saw Joe behind the parts counter “pretty quick”.

He has been parts manager for the past 10 of his 15 years with the company and is the ‘go-to’ man for younger staff members and, of course, his customers.

As a member of the Geraldton Bowling Club he is a club representative and was a member of Geraldton’s team which won the Country Week fours title “about three or four years ago”.

He lives north of the town at Waggrakine on a 4ha (10 acre) block where he keeps alpacas “for fun” and oversees a vegie patch fertilised with water from an aquaponics tank in which he grows silver perch (“good eating”).

The alpacas are shorn in September or October and Joe leaves that job to “a mate in Perenjori”.

“I’ve got no intention of going back to shearing,” he said.

“I love what I’m doing and dealing with people and I’m healthy and fit.”

But he does have a project he is planning.

“I want to restore a Holden FX,” he said.

“And I know where to get the parts.”

Match made in heaven

LINK a Cummins engine with an Allison transmission and you’ve got a match made in heaven.

The combination is arguably the most recognised and adopted engine-transmission in the ag industry.

The reason we’re talking about it here, is that Torque caught up with Cummins national sales director Michael Hickling and Allison Heavy Automatic national sales manager Garth Ryan at the recent Goldacres 40th anniversary celebrations in Ballarat.

There’s a QSB 4.5 litre Cummins engine in the Goldacres G4 self-propelled boomsprayer and QSB 6.7L power plants in the G6 and G8, all boasting Allison mechanical drive transmissions.

The advantages of this combination, according to Michael and Garth, are significant fuel savings, reliability and less maintenance, compared to a CVT transmission or hydrostatic drive and reliability.

Which, says Garth, is why most OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) have steered towards Allison as a full automatic system.

The same applies to the Cummins and many old timers will tell you, the early models just kept going, whether they were operating in a Steiger, Versatile or J I Case 4WD tractor.

“Goldacres’ first SP is still going and has logged more than 20,000 hours and we haven’t replaced the engine or transmission,” Michael said.

Interestingly, both companies are steeped in history.

Allison began in 1915 when James A. Allison, along with three business partners, helped found and build the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, establishing an Allison racing team in that year and quickly gaining a reputation for his work on race cars and automotive technology in general.

Cummins will celebrate its 100th year next year, growing to become the world’s largest independent diesel manufacturer – last year the company built more than one million engines.

The company was founded in 1919 by Clessie Cummins who was one of the first to take advantage of the ground-breaking technology developed by German engineer Rudolf Diesel in the late 1800s.

There’s insufficient space for Torque to continue with the story of Allison and Cummins, but this tidbit will see you on a Google search.

In 1980, Allison produced its first X1100 production unit (for the M1A1 Abrams tank) which it delivered to the United States Army.

By 1987, more than 5000 of these units were manufactured with the four-speed X1100 transmission allowing the 65-tonne Abrams tank to accelerate from zero to 32 kilometres an hour in seven seconds, a feat that had never been accomplished by any other vehicle in this weight class.

That’s enough for diesel snorters.

PFG expands to the US

POWER Farming Holdings Limited (PFG), has completed an agreement with SDF Italia to become the exclusive distributor of Deutz-Fahr tractors in the US.

PFG executive chairman Geoff Maber said the deal represented an ambitious expansion for the family- owned company, but it followed a successful period of growth with Deutz-Fahr in Australia and New Zealand.

“It’s a logical next step in the company’s evolution,” Geoff said.

“We believe we can replicate our past success in the biggest market of them all and we have the people, resources, systems and recipe to really take Deutz-Fahr to the next level in that market.

“Furthermore, the German pedigree of Deutz-Fahr tractors and the company’s focus on quality and innovation over recent years has resulted in a remarkable transformation.

“That is also a big factor in our decision to extend beyond Australasia.”

PFG America will be headquartered in Atlanta, with satellite operations in California.

The new business is headed by Craig Maber, who has already relocated to Atlanta with his family.

He has assembled a quality team of industry professionals and the first major delivery of tractors has just arrived.

“These are exciting times,” he said.

Maybe Craig will get an invite to join in the next ‘Let’s celebrate Australia’ festival in Los Angeles.


Goldacres boomsprayer founder John Richards was scratching his head after reading Torque’s column last week.

Torque named him as John Griffiths, who actually is WA Croplands manager.

Sorry John.

Torque did get a spray.


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