|A rare heavy haulage
Typically bodied as tankers or tippers, Leyland Hippos were a common sight in Ireland of the sixties. CIEs MZI-227 however was destined for something much more serious.
|Hippo, the name used by Leyland on several generations of highly successful six-wheeled goods models during a period of more than forty years, is carried by two dissimilar vehicles in the Transport Museum collection.
The museums BP aircraft refueller is described earlier in this publication and is very different in frontal appearance from our second Hippo, a former CIE heavy haulage tractor.
The latter dates from the sixties, when there were about five standard Hippo variants with various wheelbases and specifications, including a choice of 9.8-litre or 11.1-litre engines respectively, the celebrated O.600 or O.680.
These usually carried the Vista-Vue steel cab, better known to haulage people as the LAD, because it was a development of a design introduced in 1958 on Leyland, Albion and Dodge chassis.
Intended to operate with twelve-ton payloads and gross at 20-tons, Hippos used in Ireland were usually the basis of tankers or tippers. This CIE one was, however, absolutely unique. It was a rarity in being a ballast or drawbar tractor of a type not usually encountered in heavy haulage, and that was only one of its noteworthy features.
Based on the 20H.16R chassis with O.680 engine and a wheelbase of 3.8m (12' 6"), it was manufactured in November 1966 to a special CIE order. Before delivery, MZI 227 was sent from Leyland to Pennine Coachcraft where the cab was extended, acquiring a row of seats behind the driver to accommodate the extra men needed on heavy haulage work. A particularly neat crew cab resulted, blending seamlessly with the front section and looking as if it was a regular option.
Numbered LHT1 by CIE, this Hippo became a familiar sight throughout the country for over twenty years, handling numerous loads that were beyond the range of conventional lorries but not quite requiring the services of a large Scammell.
In the course of its career it performed several tramcar removal operations for the Transport Museum, several of these being well recorded on slides and movie film.
On many of these occasions the drivers were often co-incidentally members of the Transport Museum Society, the two best-known being Ted Yeomans (now retired) and Dan Maher, who is today in charge of an Irish Rail ERF. The late Inspector Billy Smith, familiar to people who had heavy equipment moved by CIE, planned many of those museum movements.
By the time CIE was split into three operating companies in 1987, a diminution in the type of work handled by the Hippo coincided with changes in the way heavy haulage is undertaken and, more significantly, the end of the vehicle's normal lifespan.
It was relegated to shunting and after a time, found its way into the scrapyard where it was inevitably robbed of some parts. Luckily, Joe Allidine of Irish Rail was aware of its importance and circumstances and alerted the Museum. As a result, this historic tractor was rescued and is currently in storage awaiting restoration.
In the course of its career MZI 227 performed several tramcar removal operations for the Transport Museum (above at Castleruddery) before being relegated to shunting duties with CIE and almost slipping into oblivion.