6th December 2020
Roadless Traction, founded by Lt. Col. Philip Johnson in 1919, was involved in the development of army tanks during World War One. This experience was used to design track conversions for steam wagons and later for farm tractors.
By the early 1930s, Roadless was making rubber-jointed full track conversions for the Fordson Model N and other tractors of the day. They also made rubber jointed tracks for Bristol and Ransomes MG crawlers.
During World War Two, Roadless developed the DG (Driven Girder) half-track while making full-track and halftrack conversions for Fordson and Case tractors. The DG half-tracks were rst used on the Fordson Model N in 1944.
The half-track design with a steel track wrapped around the driving wheel and a smaller idler wheel gave a large footprint area equivalent to a twenty foot diameter wheel, giving increased the tractive efficiency compared with a standard wheeled tractor.
Roadless DG half-tracks were available for the Fordson E27N shortly after the tractor was launched in 1945. The half-tracks were also made for David Brown, Field Marshall, Massey Harris, Nu eld and several other makes of tractor well into the 1950s.
Roadless also produced a full track conversion kit for the Fordson E27N, and in 1954 the rst Roadless J17 crawler tractors, based on the Fordson EA1 Major were built at Hounslow. However, with a growing demand for four-wheel drive tractors, Roadless imported four-wheel conversion kits for the Fordson Major from Selene in Italy. The Manuel-Roadless four wheel-drive was launched in 1956.
The four-wheel drive concept soon became popular with farmers and before long Roadless added conversion kits for the Fordson Dexta and the International B 450. Launched in 1962 the six cylinder Plowmaster 6/4, initially with green and yellow paintwork, was the first of many Roadless four wheel-drive tractors.
By the late 1970s, time was running out for Roadless as most tractor makers were building their own four-wheel drive models and by the early 1980s they were reduced to a limited a range of specialist articulated models for forestry work.
The company went into liquidation in 1983 and the business was bought by Ford tractor dealer, L.E. Jewell Ltd. at Bridgewater in Somerset