The late 1940s and early 1950s saw unprecedented growth in earthmoving projects worldwide with demand for new machinery at an all-time high. Some manufacturers were well prepared while others had to improvise as best they could. By RICHARD CAMPBELL.
International-Harvester was a large manufacturer of track type tractors with a good reputation in the construction and agricultural fields. However, there were some ‘holes’ in its product range and one of these quite glaring examples was the fact it did not have a motor scraper of any kind. It was not entirely alone in this predicament as one of its bigger rivals, Allis-Chalmers, was also in the same boat.
With the signing of the Federal Highways Act, which pumped ‘billions’ of dollars into the construction of an interstate highway network, International was faced with a difficult decision – to spend vast amounts of capital into the development of its own motor scraper or acquire a company that already produced one.
Fortunately for International, one of its attachment suppliers, Heil (see Contractor December 2012), had developed its own motor scraper range which had been reasonably well-accepted by the contracting marketplace.
Heil’s problem was that it was quite a diverse manufacturer and didn’t really have the funds to push development of its scraper beyond what it had already achieved.
This proved to be an ideal scenario for International-Harvester which purchased all the patents, jigs and finished stock that Heil had accumulated including its two types of motor scraper, and its entire towed scraper line as well.
International paid over one million dollars for Heil’s scrapers in December 1953, and quickly shifted Heil’s production line from Milwaukee, Wisconsin to Melrose Park, Illinois.
International’s PayScraper division would stay there until IH exited the scraper business entirely in 1982.
Most manufacturers of the period had a trade name for their machines and Heil was no exception calling its motor scrapers “Heiliners”.
When International got hold of the range it re-christened the line ‘PayScrapers’
Much to International’s annoyance, people still referred to International’s scrapers as Heiliners well into the 1970s! Amazing how some names just stick.
Originally known as the Heil model MS13 (and later 2C500), the newly renamed 2T-55 was the smaller of the two scrapers.
It was powered by a Cummins HRB-600, 6-cylinder diesel engine rated at 172 flywheel horsepower and carried 10 cubic yards struck and 14 cubic yards heaped.
Transmission was a 5-speed manual Fuller 5A1120 which allowed a top speed of approximately 23 miles per hour.
The machine was equipped with 21.00 x 25 tyres and weighed just over 19 tons empty.
Apart from steering, all functions were cable controlled.
Steering was an area in which the machine was deficient.
While most of its competitors were capable of 90 degree turns, the 2T-55 could only manage 60 degrees due to steering geometry. Also, the machine was nose heavy so turns had to be taken carefully.
This shortcoming was never rectified during the machine’s lifetime.
While the initial International-manufactured motor scrapers were pretty much identical to Heil produced machines, it became obvious to IH engineers that some changes needed to be made.
Chiefly, these concerned the bowl.
Heil’s original design pivoted the bowl at the top and very back of the unit.
During loading, the rear wheels could easily be lifted off the ground by a push tractor which not only affected machine controllability, but also the cutting depth, and placed an undue stress on the cables.
The machine’s rear push block was curved and could damage push tractor blades if they were not adequately reinforced.
Also, the cable routing ran quite close to the operator’s head across the bowl’s spreader bar.
International’s engineers redesigned the bowl, rear push block and lift arms to eliminate the bad geometry but due to the way the machine’s cable control system worked, not a lot could be done to re-route the cable runs.
The improved design was released in late 1955 with no change to the machine’s model designation.
However, the changes allowed a small increase in bowl capacity to 15 cubic yards stuck and a slight rise from 172 to 175 flywheel horsepower.
Larger of the two Heil scrapers, and originally known as the Heil model MS18 or 2C800, the International 2T-75 was powered by a Cummins NHB600 turbocharged diesel rated at 220 flywheel horsepower and had the same Fuller 5A1120 manual transmission as the 2T-55.
This allowed a top speed of almost 25 miles per hour on 24.00 x 29 tyres.
Bowl capacity was 14 cubic yards stuck and 18 cubic yards heaped.
Alas, the 2T-75 also had the same shortcomings as its smaller sibling and was suitably redesigned by International featuring the same modifications as those that were made to the 2T-55.
The improved 2T-75 was introduced in 1956 and featured a more powerful 262 horsepower Cummins diesel plus a struck capacity increase to 15 cubic yards.
International Harvester manufactured both the 2T-55 and 2T-75 with few further changes although they were not really state-of-the-art compared to their competitors.
Not including those machines previously produced by Heil, International manufactured around 550 model 2T-55 scapers of both versions and 490 2T-75s.
While these are not amazing sales numbers, the type was exported worldwide and provided a good foot in the door to the scraper market for IH.
The New Zealand connection
Many New Zealand contractors used both the 2T-55 and 2T-75 PayScraper.
The type was used on all the early hydroelectric dam jobs as well as Rongotai and Mangere airports, plus the earliest stages of the Wellington and Auckland motorway projects.
They were also engaged in overburden removal for coal extraction by W Stevenson & Son and Drydens.
Several of these machines are still left, notably in Northland where four reside.
However, these are in a very poor state and crying out for preservation.
For the model collector
Well, well, collectors, you are in luck.
The International 2T-75 is available in 1:50 scale manufactured by EMD Models and is a little beauty.
EMD’s model represents an early version with the original rear-pivoted Heil bowl and low mounted headlights.
However, it is painfully expensive at US$525 plus postage.
If you’re still keen, EMD also manufactures the genuine Heil 2C800 article to the same scale (and regrettably same price).
But wait, there is another!
For your sandpit, there is a pressed steel 1:16 scale model of a 2C800 Heiliner manufactured in the early 1950s by Chas Doepke.
Actually looking like what it is meant to represent, unlike modern sandpit toys, a good example will set you back between US$150 to US$200.
The model is fully workable and hours of fun!