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Some of the Sears may have been made by Simplicity, but simplicity was a stand alone company. The old simplicity was some of the best built garden and lawn tractors ever made, including being a pioneer in the hydrostat field. they made rigs for Homelite, Allis Chalmers, and I don't know what others. simplicity is owned by Briggs and Stratton now, and while they are still pretty god rigs, they are not the quality and level of engineering they used to be.
"The Constitution is not an instrument for the government
to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the
government lest it come to dominate our lives and interests." Patrick Henry
Boy can you ever get an education/re-education in some of the most esoteric threads.....
From what I understood the Suburban line from Simplicity was marketed by Sears. After more reading it dawned on me that Simplicity is part of the Allis Chalmers family. David Bradley made a Suburban line for Sears. John was correct, David Bradley even produced the Suburbans .. which confused me as I understood that Suburban was a marque by Simplicity. Sears also sold Murray's after 1976. And they also sell MTD products but from what I can see from the units available here the majority are probably built by AYP such as the old Roper and Pulan lines as well as Husqvarna it seems. I stumbled across the Vintage Sears Garden Tractors pages. And another interesting site - Handiman Garden Tractors
Roper (I still have my Roper 12.5 Deluxe Craftman 38" Lawn Tractor), produced a lot of the Sears stuff (picked mine up in Bangor btw.. but was identical to the stuff sold here aside from the Made In USA sticker). Here is some of the information I found when searching for Roper Lawn Tractors:
There is more information at : Husqvarna Detailed Time Line AYP also builds parts for many brands including Rally, Roper and others.
The last garden tractor to carry the David Bradley name was in 1963, from '63 to '67 they were Sears. After that, no more walking tractors.
Tractors are made to work!
"A Cub will do as much as a team of horses,.. More in hot weather!" - C. W. Spradlin 1909-1994
To DB collectors this kind of saw unit is known as the "Saw from Hell". There were two styles, one was huge similar to the picture, and used a z or ZZ briggs engine, they were mounted on a 16" wheel just like the garden tractor used. There was no power to the wheels. One could fell a tree and then turn the head and buck it up. There was also a saw table that you could attach to the front, that worked like a buzz saw. The other saw used a small 12" wheel made of solid rubber. These had a model 6 or 8 briggs, and a lot smaller saw head, but worked the same as the bigger units. You could get a power drive system for them to become self propelled. There were also other attachments that fit on the smaller units, like a gen-set, a weed cutter, and a mower deck. I dont beleive the one pictured is a DB as the wheels look wrong, but the rest of it looks right. There were also units similar to this sold by Monkey Wards and another company that i cant find the name of right now. One model came with a post auger that replaced the saw head. Most of these saw units show up in the 50's Sears catalogs. All were made long before Roper came into the DB picture.
On the time line of Sears/DB. Sears was sued by the Feds in the late 59' for anti-trust. The gov claimed they had an unfair advantage over others because they owned the DB line and factory. In 1962 to settle this Sears sold DB to Newark Ohio, (a holding company also owned partly by Sears), who made small riding and walk behind lawn mowers. In 1964, DB was again sold to Roper(who was also partly owned by Sears), and Roper started the line of tractors called Customs, along with the orginal DB riders. The DB suburban line was stopped at the end of the 1965 model yr. In 1966 all tractors were now of the Roper design, using a foot clutch. In 1967 Roper got full owner ship of the DB plant and went on the build the complete Suburban line for Sears there until about 1984 when a huge labor strike shut down the plant. Unable or unwilling to settle it, Roper closed the plant, and moved there equipment somewhere out east.In 1986 a fire destoryed most of the orginal DB factory, and the city of Bradley took over the property. I believe the new line of tractors was then built by Electrolux, then by AYP, then went back to Electorlux and then to MTD???. I only collect the tractors before 1966, so i dont know all the details past a certain point.
The first part of a Sears model number (in front of the dot) indicates who the manufacturer was. Sometimes this can help when searching for information or parts. Here is the most complete list I know of. It doesn't list anything for Simplicity or David Bradley. If anyone has those prefixes, he'd probably add them to the list.
The list posted has been around since about the start of the internet. It really only reflects the vendors Sears used in the later yrs. If you look close you will see that Roper shows up 3 to 4 times. Roper started out as a maker of stoves back in the late 1800's, they never built any type of garden equipment until 1964. I would enter these numbers as makers of products for DB.
917. This is the orginal Sears code for the David Bradley line. . Any product built in the Bradley plant would carry this number.
231. This is Dunbar-Kapple, they are the makers of the hauling carts, both steel and wooden. For the IH Cubs they are the builders of metal cart.
223. This is electic wheel, of Quincy,IL, they were the makers of the 4 wheeled wagon running gears
411. This company, who i dont have the name handy for, built the first models of seeder units for the DB tractors.
454. This is Cole manufacturing, the makers of the field planters for the walk-behinds
597. This is Danville Manfacturing, the maker of the seeders from about 1953 to the end in the 70's. they also built the fert units for the seeders.
127. this is Continental motors, makers of the au7,au8, au85 engines.
There are several others, id have to look up, makers of the spraying equipment, the blitz foggers, gensets, mowers for the later suburbans made by haben, and items like that. I'd like to see a list from say the 50's, as its going to be completely differnt than this one.
From all I can find in the Husqvarna Detailed Time Line - Husqvarna is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Electrolux. AYP is a wholly-owned subsidary of Husqvarna and has been since it was acquired in 1988 and at somepoint thereafter the name of the company was changed to AYP. One of the reasons I am curious about this .. especially AYP is that I have a 1990 era 12.5 38" Roper style Lawn Tractor that I want to restore. It was my workhorse for years until I got Ellie-Mae.
AYP is one of the very few Lawn and Garden units not owned by MTD. Nice that there is still a choice.
I think JD is one of the few who still have their own product line that they produce themselves. JD also has the Sabre line as well as a series that is built by Yanmar I think that produces some of the L&G equipment. Used to be a few years ago that if you bought a L&G unit from a JD Dealership it was a JD unit. Big Box units were substantially different - and I think they were sub-contract units. There was a significant price difference from Home Depot to Signature our local dealer at the time.
One of the problem with researching the history of companies is, like after a war the victor tells the story. If you look into Ropers history they claimed to have built the Db suburban from the beginning. When they were still alive we got to talk with the orginal factory engineers of DB and got the true story. One of the DB guys even has some tape recorded interviews he made with these men. What one needs to find is something that was writen at the time a company accually was building the items. I had at one time a lot of info on Newark Ohio, from people who worked there, and the city records. I wasnt smart enough at the time to store it in more than one place, and now its locked up inside my old computer, that we havent been able to get running and retrive the files.
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