Following its buy out of LaPlant-Choate in 1952, Allis-Chalmers proceeded to improve and enhance its products. One of the first machines to receive attention was the TS-300 motor scraper. By Richard Campbell
The LaPlant-Choate TS-300 was the subject of our feature in the May issue of Contractor and this month’s feature serves to complete the story of the machine and its evolution under the guiding hand of Allis-Chalmers.
When Allis-Chalmers bought LaPlant-Choate, it inherited a range of effective but ageing machines and just exactly what to do with them was priority number one.
America was entering a period of rapid growth and a major expanding of its infrastructure was underway with the Federal Interstate Highway building program.
One of the principal reasons that Allis-Chalmers bought LaPlant-Choate was to obtain its motor scraper technology, as at the time of purchase in 1952, Allis-Chalmers did not manufacture any scrapers of its own and that left a glaring hole of opportunity in Allis-Chalmers’ product range.
The cost to design, produce a prototype, test and then put a machine into production cost millions of dollars, so the acquisition of an existing range of machines made good economical sense.
The ‘bones’ of LaPlant-Choate’s TS-300 were sound enough but Allis-Chalmers decided that it could do with a bit of refinement and more importantly, to be able to offer the machine to the market as a truly “Allis-Chalmers” product.
A great deal of effort was taken to redesign the sheet metal work of the tractor unit and to clean up the operator’s compartment (the original LaPlant-Choate TS-300 had a very austere operator’s area with little if any concessions towards operator comfort).
This redesign resulted in quite a smart looking, more modern appearing machine with a slightly wider tractor unit than the original TS-300 possessed.
One thing that Allis-Chalmers did not touch was the bowl. This held 15 cubic yards struck capacity and was carried over from the LaPlant-Choate TS-300’s as-is and would stay that way until the early-1960s.
Weighing in at 24½ tons empty, Allis-Chalmers called its new creation the TS-360 and it was released for general sale in January 1955.
Allis-Chalmers utilised the same Buda (now re-badged Allis-Chalmers) TDS-844 6-cylinder diesel which had been used in the previous LaPlant-Choate TS-300 along with the same 17” dry plate clutch and manual 4-speed transmission.
The final drive was of bull gear and pinion design and this arrangement did not alter during the machine’s entire production life.
Another item retained was the hydraulic steering system which only allowed 60 degrees of turning to either side of centre. This last shortcoming was not to be rectified until 1958.
As mentioned earlier, one thing that Allis-Chalmers really did improve on was the operator’s station. The large unrestricted opening between operator and engine was sealed off with steel panels and the dash layout was refined. Allis-Chalmers also installed a much better quality seat for the operator.
In order to remain competitive in the motor scraper market, Allis-Chalmers undertook a major redesign of the TS-360 during 1958. Improvements included a new engine, the 340 horsepower Allis-Chalmers model 21000 6-cylinder diesel, a new 15’ double plate dry clutch and a 5-speed Fuller manual transmission. Throughout its entire production life, the TS-360 was never offered with a powershift transmission, only a manual.
Allis-Chalmers also undertook a major cosmetic restyling of the TS-360 tractor’s panelwork to improve upon what had previously been a bit of a structurally weak spot and to provide increased protection for the machine’s radiator.
The steering system was also redesigned to allow 90 degree turns to either side of centre. Next on the list was the scraper itself which was a totally new design with a struck capacity of 22 cubic yards. The previous TS-300 scraper bowl had been all cable controlled and was only capable of holding 20 cubic yards maximum.
Allis-Chalmers used twin straddle-mounted, double-acting hydraulic cylinders to raise and lower the bowl plus two more to move the ejector. However, the apron was still cable-controlled albeit by a single acting hydraulic cylinder and was closed by gravity. I
It is worth noting at this point that the TS-360 never had a proper all-hydraulic power closing apron other than the last 30-odd machines off the production line. Why this is so is for reasons unknown to your author.
The finished product, while still designated a TS-360 by Allis-Chalmers, was about 25% larger than the previous iteration of the machine and now weighed some 32 tons in empty condition.
In 1961, Allis-Chalmers had a change of colour scheme. Prior to 1961, Allis-Chalmers products had been painted a deep orange colour called “Persian Orange”. While this colour was quite distinctive in identifying Allis-Chalmers products, it didn’t really weather very well and oxidized badly in some climates, so Allis-Chalmers management made the decision to go with the universally popular “Hi-Way Yellow” colour which most of its competitors (other than Euclid) also used.
Unsold stock was not repainted prior to leaving the factory but any new machines off the production line were painted in the new colour. Allis-Chalmers’ machines would stay this colour until Fiat bought them out in 1974.
Options for the TS-360
Along with the standard trailed scraper, Allis-Chalmers also offered a 26 cubic yard bottom dump (available only on pre-1959 model TS-360s), a forced ejection dump body manufactured by C&D Movall (also only available for pre-1959 machines) and a 35-ton quarry dumper body which was hydraulically controlled.
The Hancock elevating scraper option was never offered for the TS-360 (although it was available for the smaller TS-260). A front windshield and wiper was standard on all models and this could be replaced by a fully insulated cab with heater/demister for colder climates.
As the machine was out of production well before the introduction of ROPS by the Federal Government, this attachment never appeared on production TS-360s Standard tyres offered on the early TS-360s were 24.00×20 24 ply E3s, but by 1959 these had been replaced by the 29.5×35 radial type which gave better flotation and traction.
1962 was the last year of manufacture for the TS-360 which was replaced on the assembly line by the slightly larger model TS-460. In total, Allis-Chalmers built 1,176 TS-360s of all types.
The New Zealand connection
There were several Allis-Chalmers TS-360s sold into the New Zealand marketplace by franchise holder Cable Price Corporation. Users included Paton & Sons and C.L.Young & Son but by far the largest operator of the type were Downer & Co, who not only used the scraper version but also utilized the tractor units of several to haul C&D Movall cable-controlled forced ejection dumpers at their Kimihia and Weavers Crossing opencast coal mine sites. It would appear that none have survived intact in NZ.
For the model collector
Unfortunately, there are no models currently (or previously) available of the Allis-Chalmers TS-360 in any scale. Given the limited market penetration achieved by the actual TS-360, maybe this lack of a miniature can be understood. However, other machines with far smaller production runs seem to exist in model form so maybe someday a manufacturer will realise this oversight and produce an example.
Brief Specifications 1959 Allis-Chalmers TS-360
Engine: Allis-Chalmers model 21000, 6-cylinder, inline, turbocharged diesel rated at 340 flywheel horsepower at 2100 rpm
Clutch: 15” double plate dry type Borg & Beck with ceramic wear buttons
Transmission: Fuller 5-speed, constant mesh manual type
Top Speed: 26½ mph
Brakes: Air activated, cam operated expanding shoe type on all wheels
Tyres: 29.5×35, 24-ply E3
Steering: Full hydraulic with small multiplier linkage, 90 degrees each way
Turn Circle: 35’ 8”
Capacity: 22½ cubic yards struck, 30 cubic yards heaped
Operation: Hydraulic, with hydraulic/cable apron, lowered by gravity
Length: 40’ 11”