Classic Machines

Industry’s most successful small elevating scraper

Caterpillar’s 613 is the most successful small elevating scraper ever built, exceeding by a handsome margin any other 11-yard scraper manufacturer in terms of total unit sales. By Richard Campbell.

The Caterpillar 613 first appeared in 1969 and along with product upgrades and improvements, was in continuous production up to 2010 over five different iterations.

In the late 1960s, the 11-cubic yard scraper market (which included landscapers, highways departments, plus small and large contractors) was very competitive with several manufacturers vying for the top supplier position.

Contenders included Wabco, Hancock, Clark-Michigan, International-Harvester, Terex, and John-Deere and all had been selling into this size category for a number of years.

One of the prerequisites in this class was ‘versatility’ and the ability to be shifted easily from job to job, while being legally roadable from site-to-site was a distinct bonus.

Caterpillar, (which was a latecomer to this size market) wanted a share of the business as well.

Now, it may come as a surprise to you, but the original version of what was to become the Caterpillar 613 was not actually designed, or even built, by Caterpillar, but by Johnson Manufacturing of Lubbock, Texas (using Caterpillar components).

Johnson has been associated with Caterpillar for a number of years, and had previously built the model J619 elevating scraper (1964), and subsequent J621 elevating scraper (1966-1971), plus the model 615 elevating scraper for Caterpillar.

While Johnson Manufacturing continues to build farm tillage equipment, it is unclear whether it still has an association with Caterpillar.

The initial production model 613 (71M series) was powered by a “self-detonating” 150 horsepower Caterpillar model 3160 V8 diesel.

This motor, which had been originally developed for Ford for use in its ‘Louisville’ city delivery trucks (and that is probably where it should have stayed), did not feature replaceable cylinder liners, was temperamental, and tended to let go at the most unpredictable times.

It was replaced by the far more dependable Caterpillar model 3208 with the same horsepower rating, connected to a four-speed powershift transmission.

With revisions to the hitch and draft frame bushes, and the addition of a two-speed elevator – the 613 continued in production with no change to the 71M serial number prefix. Ready for the road, a 613 weighed about 14 tons empty.

The 613 turned out to be very popular and sold well, with over 2500 produced over an eight-year period, and establishing a niche amongst the competition. So, it came as no surprise when Caterpillar announced a ‘B’ model in 1976.

Featuring a completely restyled tractor unit with a tilting hood to allow much better access to the engine, and other vital components, the new model 613B (38W series) was an immediate success, further cementing Caterpillar’s presence in the 11-cubic yard elevating scraper market.

Other improvements included a rubber-mounted dedicated ROPS cab (which could be tilted sideways, further increasing access to internal components), and operating controls that were connected to the hydraulic control bank via cables. The hydraulic valve bank was also relocated to remove some heat from the operator’s area.

Apart from all the changes mentioned, the engine, output and power train remained exactly the same as for the previous model.

Caterpillar did a good job with all the changes, as empty weight still remained around the 14 ton mark.

Like the previous 613, the 613B sold very well, and it was not until 1984 that the next version of the machine, the 613C, appeared.

The 613C

Changes from the previous 613B included an uprated 175 horsepower, turbocharged Caterpillar model 3208T V8 engine, and a new six-speed powershift transmission.

Other upgrades included a bigger hydraulic pump (for faster elevator speeds) and a beefed-up scraper hitch assembly that had previously been a high-wearing area of the machine.

Empty weight increased slightly, up to 14.7 tons, but one thing that did not change was the bowl capacity, which remained at 11-cubic yards.

The 613C-II

During 1993, Caterpillar introduced a further refinement to its 613 in the form of the 613C-II.

This machine featured a whole lot of changes including an all-new engine – the Caterpillar 3116T, a six-cylinder, inline turbocharged diesel with an output of 175 flywheel horsepower.

It was also fitted with a brand new, completely redesigned operator’s compartment, which was one of the best fitted to a 613 so far.

In fact, the 613C-II was so different to the previous 613C, one wonders why Caterpillar did not call the machine the 613D! All these changes resulted in a weight increase, now up to 15.3 tons empty.

Last of the line, the 613G

In 2008, Caterpillar introduced what was to become the last of the 613 series, the 613G that was only manufactured for a scant two years before being discontinued in 2010, “due to declining sales”.

A world recession at the time was probably a highly mitigating factor in Caterpillar’s decision.

The 613G was the most powerful of all the 613 models and featured yet another new engine, this time the 181 horsepower six-cylinder Caterpillar model C6.6ATAAC.

It also had further changes to the cab with air conditioning now a standard feature (previously an option). It was also the heaviest of all the 613s, weighing in at 16.6 tons empty.


When Caterpillar discontinued the 613G, it was the last major manufacturer to exit the 11-cubic yard elevating scraper market, as all of the competition had gone out of business, or withdrawn from manufacturing scrapers.

It is to be hoped that at some point in the future, Caterpillar will see fit to reintroduce a machine of this type – as small elevating scrapers are very useful pieces of equipment.

For the model collector

The Caterpillar 613 has been very poorly represented in model form, despite the number and popularity of actual machines sold.

At the time of writing there are only two models of the machine available, a rather clumsy 1:64 scale offering of a 613C from ERTL and a considerably better example of a 613G in 1:50 scale from Norscott.

Both models are still readily available and the Norscott 613G looks really good in a line-up of contemporary scraper models.


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