Classic Machines Loaders

Classic Machines: The Hewco LD3 Scoopmobile

This rather interesting piece of machinery can trace it’s origins through three decades and three countries: the USA, Australia and New Zealand.   By Richard Campbell

Originally designed by Mixermobile Inc in the USA, the original machine was marketed as the Scoopmobile model LD3 and was powered by a General Motors 3-71, 3-cylinder diesel. It first appeared in 1959 and carried a one cubic yard bucket.

Mixermobile also offered a very unusual three wheeled loader, the Scoopmobile model HP, which still holds the record of being in continuous production, virtually unchanged, longer than any other wheel loader in the world – an astounding 30 years.

Scoopmobile was an innovator and actually offered the first articulated steer wheel loader in the industry, the model LD5, in 1953, years ahead of the competition.

The Scoopmobile range of wheel loaders was acquired by Westinghouse Air Brake Co (Wabco) in 1968 and their designs were marketed as Wabco models from then on.

Wabco had had several attempts at manufacturing wheel loaders with varying degrees of success however the acquisition of Scoopmobile gave them an established and proven line of machines without all the associated research and development costs, plus a dealer network in which to market them.

Prior to the Wabco buy out, Scoopmobile had been in negotiation with Moore Equipment of Australia and had sold Moore the rights to manufacture certain models in the Scoopmobile range in that country, notably the model LD3 and model LD5 wheel loaders.

Moore also had associations with the Huntly Engineering & Welding Co (Hewco) of New Zealand.

Hewco already manufactured several Moore products under licence, notably several models of pneumatic and steel wheeled road rollers, which were steady sellers for the company, particularly to local councils who were on limited budgets.

Hewco also produced the indigenously designed “Twin-Six” motor scraper which was based around two Fordson tractor units and a Heil bowl assembly.

Arrangements were finalized on the manufacture of the LD3 Scoopmobile in New Zealand in 1964 and production commenced at Huntly in late 1965.

Some 23 machines were manufactured and sold through Hewco’s distributor, Clyde Engineering, who marketed them as the Moore-Hewco LD3 Scoopmobile.

Most were sold into the domestic New Zealand market but a couple were also exported to Fiji.

The LD3 described

Despite the fact that the original US manufactured LD3 Scoopmobile had been powered by a General Motors diesel, the New Zealand machines were all fitted with a Perkins model 4.270D, four-cylinder naturally aspirated diesel rated at 62 flywheel horsepower. This was mated to a Clark powershift transmission which in turn drove a pair of Clark axles.

Unlike all other articulated steer wheel loaders which usually use a trunnion mounted rear axle to provide oscillation, the LD3 oscillated at the articulation point which was highly unusual. The driveline passed through the centre of the joint (which had a universal in its middle) and the steering cylinders were attached to either side. These were unusual in themselves in that they were single acting rather than the normal double acting variety.

Scoopmobile referred to this entire setup as its ‘pow-r-flex’ coupling.

Most machines were delivered on the standard 13.00×24 tyre.

A rudimentary instrument panel contained engine and transmission operation gauges and a hydraulic oil temperature gauge.

Transmission shifting was via two levers on the left of the steering column, one for range and the other for forward or reverse. Bucket raise and dump levers were located to the operator’s right and directly connected to the operating valves.

Unlike most wheel loaders of the day, the bucket lift arms were straight and were raised by a single hoist cylinder. A single hydraulic cylinder also controlled bucket dumping. This cylinder was set in a partial horseshoe shaped harness, similar to small Hough and Michigan loaders of the period.

Another Scoopmobile innovation was the bucket attachment point that allowed implements to be changed over very quickly. While not a true quick hitch it was the basic beginnings of the idea.

Most machines were delivered with the optional cab, which was locally manufactured and a very primitive affair indeed. It vibrated dreadfully and transmitted all the noise possible to the operator’s eardrums!

However, all joking aside, the LD3 was actually a very ‘clean’ design with ready access to maintenance points and an easy to enter operator’s environment.

Visibility, minus the cab, was very good indeed to all quarters and the operator had a very good view of the work implements.

One of the key selling features of the LD3 was the range of optional attachments that could be fitted. These included the standard 1.25 cubic yard bucket, Drott 4-in-1 bucket, log forks with top clamp, a backfilling blade, crane hook and boom, rippers and an actual forklift mast and forks.

All these items made the LD3 an attractive item for the price minded contractor who needed maximum versatility from his investment. Very few loaders were offered with rippers in the 1960s.

Prior to the introduction of the LD3 in 1965, New Zealand had two other wheel loaders that were built locally, the Hough 30 and Michigan 35.

The manufacture of machinery locally was made in an effort to stimulate manufacturing growth within the country and limit the amount of money spent overseas. Import licences were required for most types of construction machinery and stiff tariffs were applied to any machinery which had to be imported and was of a type which was produced locally, even though that machine may have been a better designed and more efficient tool. Thus the door was shut on a great deal of competitive machines as it made them way too expensive

Competitively, the Hough 30 and Michigan 35 loaders were both rear wheel steer types so the highly manoeuverable articulated steer LD3 Scoopmobile was an attractive option and the first articulated steer machine to be manufactured in New Zealand.

The LD3 Scoopmobile was produced by Hewco up until 1968 when manufacture ceased. This may have had something to do with Wabco’s acquisition of Mixermobile Inc, as Moore in Australia also quit production around the same time.

Operational LD3 Scoopmobiles are today a rarity. The author has not seen a mobile example in at least 10 years and would be interested to know if any of our readers have a working unit left, tucked away somewhere.

For the Modeller

No models have ever been produced of the LD3 Scoopmobile. There is however a kitset of one of Wabco’s larger Scoopmobiles, the model 1200 manufactured by US kitset supplier Lindberg to 1:43 scale. This kitset is an easy build but has been out of production for a few years.

Examples can be acquired by searching ebay.com as the occasional unbuilt item often surfaces there.

Basic Specifications – Moore-Hewco LD3 Scoopmobile

Engine:          Perkins 4.270D, four-cylinder inline diesel rated at 62 fwhp

Transmission: Clark two-speed powershift with hi-lo shuttle

Top Speed:   20 mph

Brakes:          Shoe type on all wheels, hydraulically operated with vacuum boost

Steering:        Full hydraulic, twin single acting cylinders with flow reverser

Turning Circle: 18’

Std.Tyres:      13.00×24, 10-ply

Operation:     Full hydraulic pantograph.

Capacity (std. bucket): 1.25 cubic yard general purpose

Length:          18’ 9”

Width:             6’ 4”

Height:           8’ 10”

Operating Weight: 6.5 tons (with optional cab and GP bucket)

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