Reliability in what can be a very harsh environment – the Euclid R-15 delivered this in spades along with extremely rugged construction and basic ease of operation. What more could you want in a quarry dumper? By Richard Campbell
Prior to 1934, transportation of extracted rock in quarries was a duty assigned to modified on-highway trucks, which, due to the nature of the job, had a very short life and needed constant repairs. Some brands fared better than others, notably Mack and Autocar, but the fact remains that they were doing a job that was not envisaged for them when they were designed.
The Euclid Road Machinery Co. based in Ohio, recognized this obvious hole in the industry and in January 1934, introduced the first dedicated off-highway dump truck in the world, the Model 2ZW, powered by a 100 horsepower Waukesha gasoline engine and rated at 10 tons. It was called the “Trak-Truc” by Euclid due to its drive wheels which were specially developed for poor underfoot conditions (specialised off-road tyres did not make an appearance until 1937). The Euclid R-15 owes its origins to this ground breaking vehicle.
Introduced in 1936, the R-15 rear dump probably holds the record for the longest continuous production run of any Euclid product apart from the TS-14 motor scraper.
Purposely manufactured for hard work, the R-15 could, and did, absorb a tremendous amount of punishment and still come back for more. Two body styles could be fitted depending on the machines intended application; standard (with parallel side sheets) and quarry (with tapered side sheets and added external and internal reinforcing). Both were rated at 15 tons capacity and held approximately 12 cubic yards.
The customer had a choice of engines, Cummins or Detroit Diesel with a manual Fuller 5-speed transmission standard (I did say it was very basic). These machines were manufactured in Cleveland, Ohio and found immediate acceptance amongst the entire industry – earthmoving, quarrying and mining, and over a thousand units had been shipped of the basic variants before WWII put a hold on proceedings.
Following the War, there was much need for reconstruction and in order to supply the massive need for modern machinery. So, to relieve some pressure on their US-based manufacturing facilities, Euclid Great Britain was established in 1951 to manufacture select models of the Euclid off-highway truck range up to 30-ton capacity for sale to various European countries and members of the British Commonwealth (New Zealand included).
One of the major differences between American and British built machines was the amount of local British content incorporated into the various builds. This was a British Government requirement and affected mostly the type of engines fitted and the electrical system which were used. To distinguish the English manufactured product from the American, the different models had a unique serial number prefix prefixed with a ‘B’ for British built. These did not duplicate the American issued series numbers and were unique to British-built product.
The majority of R-15s imported into New Zealand (and Australia) were of British origin although prior to Euclid GB coming on-stream, a number of American assembled machines were imported. American examples were the 49FD and 82FD models, both powered by a GM 6-71 diesel. Imported British built R-15s included the B3FD (with a Rolls-Royce C6NFL), the B6FD (powered by a Leyland AU680) and the rare B7FD (powered by a GM 6-71). There were also other R-15s (including trucks powered by AEC and Cummins) but none of these made it to New Zealand.
The Euclid R-15 described
Key to the success and longevity of the Euclid R-15 was its tremendously strong frame which consisted of two deep, parallel “I” beams tied together at the front by a massive bumper and at the rear by a torque tube. This allowed the frame to be very strong and yet flexible at the same time to absorb abuse. Frame problems, while not non-existent, were very rare. The engine, transmission and driveline to the rear differential were all nestled within the frame providing a high level of protection. Another of the machine’s features was the Euclid designed and built drive axle which were of the planetary type, distributing the torque forces evenly in rough going.
The dump box was an all-welded steel structure with external stiffeners and was raised by a single three-stage double acting hydraulic ram. Body heating was not offered.
As far as ‘creature comforts’ were concerned, an operator of today would have nightmares! Although the cab was solid and roomy, it resonated with the sound of whatever engine was installed and the machine required strong arms to steer it despite the Vickers steering booster. A well-padded bucket seat was provided for the operator with a suspension snubber. Some R-15s had a bench seat for trainee operators to ‘learn the ropes’, but a set of lifting weights to gain arm strength would probably have been more useful! Most of the R-15s imported were supplied from the factory with a three-section front window although some later examples had the two-window type. These are quite rare.
Manufacture of the R-15 ran into the thousands (of all sub types) and the model was discontinued in the USA in 1958 (replaced by the R-18) but continued in production in the UK until 1967 when it was supplanted by the R-17.
The New Zealand connection
Clyde Engineering, the Euclid distributor for New Zealand during the time the R-15 was manufactured, imported 124 Euclid R-15s in five different model types – 49FD, 82FD, B3FD, B6FD and B7FD, with the Leyland powered B6FD type being the most numerous. Older 49FD and 82FD models were progressively pensioned off in the late 1960s with the British-built examples following a little later. The vast majority of these trucks immediately found a second life in mines, quarries and commercial construction sites with some being converted to water carts and at least one example being converted to a mobile crane!
Some of these machines can still be found in operating condition, and at nearly 80 years on from when the first examples hit New Zealand shores, this surely must be some sort of record not only to the type but its durability.
For the model collector
For those of you who collect machinery replicas there are two models of the R-15 available. Dinky Toys from the UK used to offer a 1:43 scale example which was released many times over the years and produced in the hundreds of thousands. Considering how long ago it was released, it still isn’t too bad a model but doesn’t really sit comfortably in 1:50 scale collections due to the odd scale. The other R-15 is produced by EMD and is an absolute gem, beautifully detailed and accurate but is not easy to acquire and certainly not inexpensive. So, if you’re not hung up on scale, the Dinky toy example will suffice and can still be had easily. If its detail you want, the EMD model should satisfy even the most fussy collector.
Brief specifications – Euclid R-15
Engine: Rolls-Royce C6NFL, 6-cylinder inline naturally aspirated diesel rated at 184 flywheel horsepower at 2100 rpm – or –
Leyland AU680, 6-cylinder inline naturally aspirated diesel rated at 170 flywheel horsepower at 2000 rpm – or –
General Motors 6-71, 6-cylinder inline naturally aspirated diesel rated at 186 flywheel horsepower at 2100 rpm
Clutch: 17” single plate Borg & Beck or Lipe-Rollway, manually operated
Transmission: Fuller 5A1220 five-speed constant mesh, manual transmission
Top Speed: 25 mph
Brakes: Expanding shoe, air operated
Std. Tyres: 12.00 × 24 front, 14.00 × 24 drive axle
Steering: Manual cam and roller with Vickers hydraulic booster
Turn Circle: 60’
Capacity: 15 tons
Length: 23’ 2”
Width: 8’ 10”
Height: 10’ 10”
Operating Weight: 14.5 tons (empty) 29.5 tons (loaded)