Albone, Daniel

Albone, Daniel
b. c.1860 Biggleswade, Bedfordshire, England
d. 1906 England
English engineer who developed and manufactured the first commercially successful lightweight tractor.
The son of a market gardener, Albone's interest lay in mechanics, and by 1880 he had established his own business as a cycle maker and repairer. His inventive mind led to a number of patents relating to bicycle design, but his commercial success was particularly assisted by his achievements in cycle racing. From this early start he diversified his business, designing and supplying, amongst other things, axle bearings for the Great Northern Railway, and also building motor cycles and several cars. It is possible that he began working on tractors as early as 1896. Certainly by 1902 he had built his first prototype, to the three-wheeled design that was to remain in later production models. Weighing only 30 cwt, yet capable of pulling two binders or a two-furrow plough, Albone's Ivel tractor was ahead of anything in its time, and its power-to-weight ratio was to be unrivalled for almost a decade. Albone's commercial success was not entirely due to the mechanical tractor's superiority, but owed a considerable amount to his ability as a showman and demonstrator. He held two working demonstrations a month in the village of Biggleswade in Bedfordshire, where the tractors were made. The tractor was named after the river Ivel, which flowed through the village. The Ivel tractor gained twenty-six gold and silver medals at agricultural shows between 1902 and 1906, and was a significant contributor to Britain's position as the world's largest exporter of tractors between 1904 and 1914. Albone tried other forms of his tractor to increase its sales. He built a fire engine, and also an armoured vehicle, but failed to impress the War Office with its potential.
Albone died at the age of 46. His tractor continued in production but remained essentially unimproved, and the company finally lost its sales to other designs, particularly those of American origin.
Further Reading
Detailed contemporary accounts of tractor development occur in the British periodical Implement and Machinery Review. Accounts of the Ivel appear in "The Trials of Agricultural Motors", Journal of the Royal Agricultural Society of England (1910), pp. 179–99. A series of general histories by Michael Williams have been published by Blandfords, of which Classic Farm Tractors (1984) includes an entry on the Ivel.

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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