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The towed scraper another legendary piece of kit

Digger Blogger | 20:14, Tue February 28 2012

Long before high speed motor scrapers appeared on the scene, the towed scraper was regarded as the ultimate earthmoving machine. In this post, I delve back into my archives to take a look some examples from yesteryear and to the future with some latest models.

Back in the early days, the towed scraper was nothing more than a simple pan arrangement which would be dragged behind a couple of horses, and when full would need to be emptied at the tipping point by hand!  In this shot, you can see an early pan type scraper, manufactured by the Holt Tractor Co and branded the Land Leveller, being pulled behind an early Holt track type tractor. It was of course Holt and Best who went on to form the Caterpillar tractor company.

One of the most famous early developers of modern earthmoving equipment and techniques was Robert Le Tourneau, who designed and manufactured the first truly practical towed scrapers which were to be branded “Carryalls” in 1923. These often crude looking rope controlled machines were at their most popular in the mid to late 1940’s and as such many manufacturers joined the race to produce new models.

In this shot, we see an International TD18 pulling an unidentified scraper model, on a Taylor Woodrow opencast coal site in the UK.

This classic photo shows a number of tractor & box combinations serenely going about their business, although not as fast as the later motor scrapers, the track type tractor and box machines could easily keep going during bad weather and as long as the hauling distances weren’t too far could be just as economical.

This photo features Caterpillar tractor and box combinations at work for John Laings at the Whitley Bay Golf Course opencast coal site in the North East of England in 1953.

Here we see a different combination with a Euclid C6 tractor towing a Caterpillar scraper and being push loaded by another Euclid C6 dozer. The Euclid C6 was the forerunner to the Terex 82-30 of later years. The machines in this photo were working on the Stewarts & Lloyds steelworks site at Corby, Northamptonshire around the late 1950’s early 1960’s.

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I used to watch D8H’s and 463 boxes in action during the construction of the M27 South Coast Motorway when I used to go to work with my father at the weekends in the early 70’s this one was owned by M.C Peirce Earthmoving.

Moving on many years now and we see a Caterpillar D8K track type tractor discharging its load from a Cat 463G scraper box, working for Pryors at the Stansted airport site in 1989. This is a classic scraper and tractor combination with many examples still at work in the UK and around the world today.


Another of Pryors machines now with a high drive style D8L tractor and a fully hydraulic scraper box.

Towed scrapers are seeing something of a revival around the globe, especially when pulled by high speed wheeled tractor units that are available today. In this video we can see some of the latest offerings from Caterpillar.

The modern trend has been to pair up hydraulic excavators with articulated dumptrucks especially in the UK, but it is often said that towed scrapers in the hands of top operators can compete admirably, all be it over short distances, and can do so much more as a unit including digging, hauling, spreading the material and also compacting it at the discharge point. These are machines I love to watch in action and I am sure many of our readers do too.   


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