During Word War I, Mr. Lucien Pictet founded the weapons factory "La Précision", located in Geneva, Switzerland. Mr. Pictet was the managing director of the company Piccard & Pictet, manufacturers of Pic-Pic cars. Around 1918 the vacant factory buildings were used by two Geneva engineers Mr. Robert Fäsch and Mr. De Saugy, to build several large three-wheeled protoypes of Bodenfräsen after Konrad von Meyenburg's patents. The tractor was fitted with a 25 hp 4 cylinder engine from Rochet-Schneider, France. It had 3 forward and 1 reverse gears, the tiller attachment was 200 cm wide. Despite a positive review from a professional jury at a ploughing contest, serial production was not possible.
They also made a walk behind model, for which they obtained a sublicense from A. Grunder & Co. It was powered by a Motosacoche (later MAG) twin cylinder V-engine, watercooled and with 12 hp output. Several of these tillers are known to have survived in England. Although serial production could almost be started, these heavy, unwieldy machines nearly ruined the company "La Précision". To make matters even worse, both leading engineers Fäsch and De Saugy died shortly one after another around 1920.
Management of "La Précision" was taken over by Mr. Léon Dufour, former technical and managing director of the Piccard & Pictet car company. The company name, which reminded of weapons production, was no longer considered appropriate to recommend the new agricultural products. Léon Dufour firstly pended the new company name Société Industrielle de Machines Agricoles Rotatives SA (Industrial company for rotatative agricultural machinery), in short SIMAR SA, located in Geneva.
The new company ceased the development of the heavy and expensive tiller tractors, and turned towards wieldier and cheaper machines. They started researching the needs of the future buyers, before producing anything. During the summer of 1922 production was moved to the Chemin de Lancy, still in Geneva.
Neither pains nor expense were spared to develope a small walk behind tiller which would draw a large number of customers. The target could be reached by means of the construction of small two stroke engines ("Grunder-system"), cooled by a fan on the flywheel. These finally gave the sought-after results. From 1927 till 1931 over 2500 SIMAR C2 tillers were delivered, and even 3000 during 1932 and 1933.
The German company Siemens-Schuckert obtained the manufacturing rights and also placed a large order for finished SIMAR-tillers. These were sold in Germany under the Siemens brand, while they made the larger model theirselves. Because Siemens later sold their tillers department to Bungartz of Munich, SIMAR stopped their exports to Germany half way the 1930's. Bungartz made their own tillers, the Bungartz L3 was specially meant to replace the SIMAR.
SIMAR No. 10, with an 8 hp two stroke petrol engine. An identical tiller was sold in Germany by Siemens as their S8 or Plantagenfräse, it is not known if both companies made their own tillers.
A SIMAR No. 10 was on display at the Museum Historische Landbouwtechniek in Wageningen, Holland until it had to close down. It was restored by the Dutch importers Brinkman&Niemeyer before it was donated. Since 2008, the tiller has been added to the SIMAR collection of Diego Verschuere of Belgium.
From 1927 Mr. René Moser started factory dealerships for the SIMAR tillers in England, Italy, Australia, South Africa and the USA. His efficient marketing strategies reactivated the decreased sales in the USA, and an impressive dealer network could be formed under the Rototiller brand name. It is reported that around 1930, 28 SIMAR 8 hp tillers were used in the public gardens and parcs in New York City. SIMAR tillers were also produced under license in England (by Geo. Monro Ltd.) and the USA (by C.W. Kelsey's Rototiller company).
Against 1933 very active foreign representative René Moser returned to Geneva and aquired a stock majority of the company SIMAR SA. All patent rights remained property of Léon Dufour.
Despite the succes of the walk behind tillers, both engineers Dufour and Moser still were eager to experiment with drive-on tractors. From 1936 they made several constructions to convert a walk behind tractor into a tractor. The entire engine-gearbox-tiller part could rotate around the rear wheel axle in order to raise and sink the tiller attachment. After many different prototypes, 160 SIMAR tractors of models T100A and T100B could be made till 1955. Main problem was maintaining the correct working depth in uneven land. It would take a completely new lifting construction to solve this problem, but as the Ferguson patents would soon elapse, this seemed not worthwile. The complete history of SIMAR tractors, with many photos of the various prototypes, is described in the book Schweizer Traktorenbau, Band 3.
SIMAR kept developing and making garden tractors in many different models till 1978, over 50,000 tillers left the Geneva works.For more details on SIMAR, see Donald A. Jones' website. I have a letter dated 24 June 1985, in which a company Mégevet-SIMAR SA located in Carouge/Geneva profiles itself as a metallurgic factory specialized in surface finishing, from protoype till serial production, common mechanics, sheet metal, welding, painting, mechanical engineering, pressing jobs and gear cutting.
Source among others: "Schweizer Traktorenbau" Band 3, Manuel Gemperle and Hermann Wyss, pages 346-347.
French website with lots of information on SIMAR machinery
Thought you might like these pictures of a SIMAR Type 4 Rototiller all complete recently been found. Amazingly all the parts are free except for the engine valves. After doing much research, it’s the one that appears in the 1938 Fruit Grower advert. It is now owned by The Hall & Duck Trust, as it belonged to a larger collection of Lawn mowers which the Hall & Duck Trust now own.
Andrew Hall Trustee
David Muster from Switserland has this SIMAR M10 no. 2069, made in 1928, in his tiller collection.
David Muster also owns this SIMAR M11 no. 3083, from 1930.
Charlie Moore recovered the remains of an English SIMAR Type 4, nr. 72, originally supplied by Piccard-Pictet & Co. (London) Ltd. Engine nr. 18155 is stamped into the engine. Probably from 1919.
Charlie Moore, secretary of the VHGMC, spotted this ancient tiller in the Science Museum site at Wroughton, near Swindon, England in 2007. This is the overflow store for the exhibits awaiting preservation and those that they do not have room to exhibit at the London site. Propably also a SIMAR Type 4.
Geo. Monro Ltd. sold the SIMAR tillers in England under the name Rototiller.
Ad from magazine "The Fruit-Grower", November 24, 1938. Collection of Charlie Moore.
Charlie Moore, England, 2004. The machine with the water cooled V twin has the radiator behind the engine and fuel tank above and is in very poor state, magneto and carburettor both missing. It looks similar to the very early 1919 machine featured in Donald Jones’ book or more likely the SIMAR featured on the SIMAR history page.
Charlie Moore, England, 2004. The large single cylinder water cooled machine is a SIMAR M11, having the air cleaner in front of the radiator and the exhaust muffler at the left side of the engine. The cultivator is currently under restauration.
Jim Readings, England, 1985. SIMAR M7, nr. 514, the engine is a MAG 2C 20 9VM 57344, year of manufacture is 1930 (according to a SIMAR official). But 1920 would be more likely.
F&HEC Jan./Feb. 1995: sale at Vince Collection, Royal Norfolk Showground, Norwich, 15 Oct. 1994. This Swiss-built SIMAR rotary cultivator made GBP 300. Complete with spare tines.
Museum Historische Landbouwtechniek, Wageningen, Netherlands, 1996. SIMAR M10, no. 1636 from 1925. It was restored by Boeke Heesters (the Dutch SIMAR importers) and then donated to the museum.
As the museum has closed down, Diego Verschuere from Belgium, could add this machine to his collection of SIMAR cultivators in 2008.
Fa. Van der Waal, Rijsoord, Netherlands. SIMAR M10 ?
SIMAR M10 no. 1135, made in 1923. The owner is Brian Sherlock, Australia. He is looking for space and money in order to restore it...