The Wabco 229 Series – End of a long lineage

wabco 229

In a successful attempt to keep up with the competition, Wabco finally incorporated full hydraulic controls into the Model C Tournapull. By Richard Campbell.

Starting way back in 1939 with the original Model C Tournapull, LeTourneau (later LeTourneau-Westinghouse and finally Wabco) had traditionally used cable control systems on its motor scrapers, firstly mechanically controlled via a power control unit (PCU) and at the beginning of the 1950s, with electrically operated winches.

At the time, these control methods were perfectly satisfactory, but technology rarely stands still. When the 1960s rolled around, hydraulic control had matured to a point where it was considered a viable and reliable control system for operating scrapers.

A watershed year was 1962 when Caterpillar introduced a full range of its new “600” series motor scrapers, all of which incorporated hydraulic controls.

Wabco, however, steadfastly resisted the trend and instead went out on a bit of a limb with its C-500 motor scraper (see Contractor, Dec 2014) which was quite innovative, but still cable-controlled and not a commercial success.

In order to maintain market share, something had to be done.

Wabco designers took a standard electric steer Model C Tournapull from the production line and completely re-engineered it to incorporate hydraulic steering.

This also required an all-new vertical hitch and kingpost structure.

The basic “tub” of the tractor unit was still a C Tournapull but everything above it was changed or refined, including for the first time on a Wabco scraper, integral fenders on the tractor unit.

It was then the turn of the scraper to undergo a makeover.

Very quickly, the Wabco engineers realised that the existing Model C scraper was unsuitable for conversion to hydraulic control and so an entirely new design was formulated.

This looked nothing like previous Wabco scraper bowls having an inside supported rear axle and a fully hydraulic apron which drew its influence in no small fashion from that of Caterpillar’s.

The end result was the Wabco C229F motor scraper, Wabco retaining the “C” in the designation for a couple of years as homage to the previous C Tournapull and also for customer recognition as to where the model sat within the product range. The “C” was later dropped from the designation.

Introduced to the contracting world in 1967, the C229F was a worthy successor to the earlier C Tournapull and sales of the new machine were steady.

It was also put into production at Wabco’s Rydalmere, Australia, and Campinas, Brazil facilities the following year.

Weighing 24 tons empty and carrying 15 cubic yards struck, and 21 cubic yards heaped, the Wabco 229 retained the GM 8V-71 powerplant of the former C Tournapull with its output being increased from 290 to 318 flywheel horsepower.

An Allison CLBT4460 powershift transmission was standard and no manual transmission options were offered.

However clean and modern the 229 appeared, there was no mistaking the lineage of the machine. It was pure LeTourneau.

Manufacture of the 229 ceased in Australia at the end of 1971 but continued in Peoria, USA and Brazil.

Following on the success of the 229F, an updated 229G was offered from early 1971.

Cosmetically little different from the 229F, the 229G incorporated integral ROPS mountings and rear scraper fenders (both required by US law) and a muffler on the 8V-71 engine which was now turbocharged and producing 333 horsepower.

It also featured the six-speed Allison CLBT4465 transmission with integral retarder.

Bowl capacity remained the same as the 229F but empty weight had risen to 25½ tons

The final production version of the 229 was the 229H which first appeared in 1977.

It differed from the 229G in having a permanent ROPS structure, a cleaning up of the tractor panelwork which made for easier manufacture and further engine and transmission modifications.

Still powered by the reliable GM 8V-71T, this now produced 350 horsepower and was mated to Allison’s state-of-the-art CLBT750 five-speed powershift transmission.

Empty weight was now 26½ tons.

Interestingly, the Wabco 229H was the last motor scraper offered by any manufacturer to be still equipped with a bull gear and pinion final drive, everyone else having switched to planetary drive by the early 1970s.

The 229H continued in production until Wabco’s unfortunate demise in 1984 when it became part of Dresser Industries.

The very last 229H came out of the Campinas, Brazil plant in 1986.

Dresser now owned the complete Wabco Construction & Mining Division’s assets including motor graders, off-highway trucks and motor scrapers plus its manufacturing facilities.

The only money-making segment of Wabco’s range at the time of Dresser’s takeover was Wabco’s dump trucks which Dresser marketed under its own name for a few years until it sold the dump truck business to Komatsu (which continues to do very well out of the technology).

Dresser didn’t need motor graders – it already owned Galion (also later sold to Komatsu) and had a motor scraper line acquired from the collapse of International Harvester’s Construction Division so didn’t really need another one of those either.

So, the pioneer of motor scrapers faded into obscurity, a very sad tale indeed.

The Wabco 229 was a contemporary of the Caterpillar 631, Allis-Chalmers TS-260, Euclid S-24, International 270 and Michigan 210.


Why Dresser didn’t pass on Wabco’s scrapers to Komatsu along with the dump trucks is a mystery.

Komatsu did manufacture scrapers of its own design but they weren’t very good (and they knew it), and were not particularly reliable or well liked.

Wabco’s scrapers were a far better design and I’m sure the whizz-kid designers at Komatsu could have improved and evolved upon the designs as they did with the Wabco dump trucks. We will never know.

The New Zealand connection

As far as the author is aware, no Wabco 229 scrapers have ever been imported into New Zealand.

There are plenty of the elevating scrapers, 222F, 222G, 222H and 252FT but the open bowl 229 appears to have been completely overlooked by local contractors, despite its success across the Tasman with Australian earthmoving companies.

For the model collector

Lindberg’s Wabco 333FT kit

The Wabco 229 has been completely ignored by model manufacturers.

While there is a ridiculously expensive limited edition of its larger sibling, the 339, available in 1:50 scale, there are no examples of the 229 available in any scale.

For the enterprising modeller, one could scratch build an example using the old Lindberg 1:60 scale Wabco 333FT tractor unit as a starting point as the tractor scales out to 1:50 when reduced down to a 222F, the author having successfully performed this conversion.

However, the bowl would have to be entirely built from scratch.

Brief Specifications – Wabco 229F (the most common version produced)

Engine:                   General Motors 8V-71 naturally aspirated V8 diesel producing 318 flywheel horsepower at 2100 rpm
Transmission:         Allison model CLBT4460 6-speed powershift transmission with two loading ranges and an integral retarder
Differential:           Power transfer no-spin type
Top speed:             28 mph (40 km/h)
Brakes:                   Shoe type, air over hydraulic wedge
Tyres:                     29.5-25, 22-ply E3 (other options available)
Steering:                 Full hydraulic, 90° each direction
Turn circle:             30′ 9″
Capacity:                15 cubic yards struck, 21 cubic yards heaped
Operation:              All hydraulic with bulldozer ejection
Length:                  40′ 5″
Width:                    11′ 4″
Height:                   11′ 7″
Op weight:             24 tons (empty), 50 tons (loaded)

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