Brush National Rally 11-15 April

Published on 25 February 2016

The Loddon Valley is the location of choice for Australia’s first-ever Brush National Rally.

Planned for 11-15 April and based at Wedderburn, the event will showcase a little-known, but highly distinctive, veteran car which originated in the US in the first decade of the 20th Century.

The tour follows on from the 2016 National Single and Twin Rally, a get-together staged every two years in the different states for owners of one and two-cylinder veteran vehicles.

This year, the location for that event is the Gippsland area, focused around Traralgon and Morwell.

Co-organiser Frances McDougall said there was a Brush owners’ association in America, but only an internet-based register in this country.

“There’s certainly been no rally planned before in Australia solely for Brush vehicles,” Mrs McDougall said.

“We have around 30 owners on our list, living in all states of Australia.

“People have taken their Brush vehicles to one and two-cylinder rallies in the past, but the most we’ve had present at any one such event has been seven or eight.

“The Loddon Valley is a part of Victoria we’ve not yet actually visited on a rally, but we have 15 entries so far, with owners coming from all six states.

“Local communities will have the opportunity to see the cars when we’re out and about – particularly in Wedderburn, St Arnaud and Inglewood.”

Mrs McDougall said Brushes were “surprisingly easy to drive and very comfortable”.

“That’s so, despite the fact that they have wooden wheels, wooden axles and chassis,” she said.

“We don’t have a hood, so we’re pretty exposed, but the engine noise isn’t bad.

“They run along at about 35-45km/h, but that would be top speed given they are a one-cylinder car.”

The rally opens on 11 April with a 100km run on a circuit encompassing Kooyoora State Park and Melville Caves, where participants will take part in a hill climb.

After a drive to Moliagul, the group will return to Wedderburn via Logan.

The next day sees a 94km run to St Arnaud and return, at the end of which will be a visit to Hard Hill Reserve in Wedderburn, while Wednesday has the group in Inglewood.

On the Thursday, it’s a shorter morning run to Korong Vale and return, a tour of the Wedderburn machinery shed and museum and a final dinner.

On the closing day, participants prepare for their trips home.

The Brush Motor Car Company (1907-1909), later the Brush Runabout Company (1909-1913), was based in Detroit, Michigan.

It was founded by Alanson Partridge Brush, who designed a light car with a wooden chassis, friction drive transmission and “underslung” coil springs.

Although there were many makes of small runabouts of similar size and one to four cylinders at this time (before the Model T Ford dominated the low-price market), the Brush has many unusual design details.

Power came from a large single-cylinder, water-cooled engine, two gas-powered headlamps provided light and the frame, axles, and wheels were made of oak, hickory or maple.

In 1912, Sid Ferguson drove a Brush Runabout with the great cycling expeditioner Francis Birtles as navigator, and their dog, Rex, becoming the first persons to drive across the Australian continent from west to east.

In 2012, five Brushes took part in a re-enactment of that trip, driving from Perth to Sydney.