When the military goes shopping for equipment, it often has specific requirements which must be met. The Terex TS-8 was one of those machines, but it shed its olive drab paint and ventured into civilian life as well. By Richard Campbell.
Designed to a British Army Engineers’ requirement for an air transportable motor scraper that could fit into the cargo bay of an RAF C-130K Hercules, the Terex TS-8 prototype first ventured into the light of day in 1975.
It was intended for airfield and road construction and the building of various defence works as needed.
Another requirement was parts commonality, and to this end Terex utilised the Bedford 330 diesel and Allison MT650 transmission which were already in widespread use in British Army vehicles.
As one can imagine, there were major constraints on width, height and floor loading that the machine had to strictly adhere to as well as being able to carry a useful payload.
Terex engineers burnt a lot of midnight oil on this design getting the dimensions right and when the first prototype was delivered to Boscombe Down for testing it was found that they had done a pretty good job.
The major issue was weight, as neither axle could exceed 7500 kilograms or it would be too heavy for the floor of the Hercules.
In order to fit the machine into the Hercules, no major disassembly was required.
The little that had to be done to the machine was restricted to reversing the exhaust stacks and equipping the cutting edge with some load spreading wheels as, obviously, the scraper’s cutting edge could potentially damage the aircraft’s floor in turbulence or heavy landings and the extra wheels distributed the machine’s weight even further.
They also allowed for easier loading and unloading of the machine.
All the weight saving measures also had another side benefit as the machine was legally roadable just about anywhere, even on Class 2 paved surfaces.
It was this second benefit that motivated the Terex marketing department into offering the TS-8 commercially to small contractors.
Terex was successful with its efforts and the British Army awarded it a contract to supply 20 machines in 1977.
Terex (UK) eventually supplied 35 TS-8s to the British Army, three to the NZ Army, plus the prototype for a total of 39 machines manufactured.
The British Army used them up until around 1992 when the surviving units were sold at auction.
Approximately eight of the British Army machines were lost during the Falklands War and went to the bottom of the sea inside the ‘Atlantic Conveyer’ where they remain to this day.
The TS-8 was not particularly popular from all accounts, being a little bit light for the work intended of it – the result of the compromises required for air transportability.
However, for the most part it was a reliable machine and the engine and transmission were proven units that could be overhauled reasonably cheaply once you removed the considerable guarding that surrounded them.
All TS-8s were constructed at the Terex (UK) plant in Motherwell, Scotland and production ceased for good in 1988.
Terex TS-8 described
For a “special purpose” machine, the Terex TS-8 was surprisingly conventional in layout consisting of a powered tractor unit and scraper with all wheel drive, fully hydraulically controlled.
As mentioned previously, in order to retain some commonality with other Army field machines, the TS-8 was powered by two 92 horsepower Bedford 330 diesels, one in the tractor and the other in the scraper.
These were connected to matching Allison MT650 4-speed powershift transmissions giving the unit a top speed of around 28 miles per hour.
The Allison MT650 was replaced during later production by a 5-speed Allison MT653, which allowed for more flexible operating speed ranges and an approximate 30 miles per hour top speed.
Brakes were hydraulically activated dry caliper disc type on all four wheels and the usual tyre fit-out was normally 23.5×25 E2 type with a higher ply rating E3 option available.
Where the TS-8 did differ from other scrapers was the low positioning of the operator’s compartment.
This did hamper visibility to a certain degree but was necessary to maintain a low shipping profile.
All the operator’s controls were the same as on a conventional twin-powered scraper and almost all of the TS-8s manufactured were fitted with a heavy duty cab.
There were additional body panels added to the machine to prevent damage to the radiator and engine compartments, presumably to protect these components from small arms fire!
All these additional bits did nothing to improve service access however, which was limited due to the compact design.
The scraper unit held eight cubic yards struck and 11.6 cubic yards heaped with all functions being hydraulically controlled.
A four-section reversible cutting edge was fitted just as on larger Terex motor scrapers.
Bowl lift cylinders were reverse mounted to give the ram spears some protection from the dirt and the apron’s two cylinders were also guarded.
Ejection was by the usual Terex roll-out method.
A solid push block was fitted to the rear of the scraper’s frame to permit push loading where available.
The New Zealand connection
A total of eight Terex TS-8s came to this country.
Three machines were imported new by Terex NZ dealer Clyde Engineering for the NZ Army in 1983 and were based at Linton.
These saw limited service before being disposed of through the NZ Government Stores Board, some with as low as 400 hours!
The other five were ex-British Army machines imported used from the UK by TransDiesel and sold to commercial contractors, some eventually having their original Bedford engines replaced by Isuzu diesels.
New Zealand operators of the type (outside of the NZ Army) included McGlinchey Earthmoving, Roadstone Construction, Geoff Linton, Burgess Contractors, Elwyn Fryer and Gulf Harbour Views.
Serial numbers of the NZ imports were B21037, B21041, B23370, B23373, B23375, B23645, B23646 and B23647.
The last chapter of the Terex TS-8 in New Zealand is yet to be written as several of the machines are still operational.
(My sincere thanks to Alister McLaughlin of TransDiesel for sharing his memories of the TS-8s career in NZ with me.)
For the model collector
Nothing at all I’m afraid, not even a toy representation.
This interesting machine would make for a great little model however.
Hopefully, sometime down the haul-road, someone will wade through all the bullshit concerning trademark rights and produce a model of one.
Brief specifications – Terex TS-8 (NZ Army Specs)
Engine: (2) GM Bedford model 330, 6-cylinder, inline diesels each rated at 92 horsepower at 2600 rpm
Transmission: (2) Allison MT653 5-speed full powershift transmissions
Top speed: Approx 30 mph
Brakes: Hydraulic dry caliper disc on all wheels
Tyres: 23.5×25 16PR, E2
Steering: Full hydraulic, 90° to either side of center
Turn circle: 32′
Capacity: 8 cubic yards struck, 11.6 cubic yards heaped
Height: 8′ 7″
Op weight: 17.35 tons (empty), 29.5 tons (loaded)