Information Essie the heavy

Designed to operate at a gross train weight of 132-tons, Essie — the former CIE 6x4 Constructor — is still well able to handle very heavy loads.

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Scammell three-wheeled articulated tractors like the Townsman — and nicknamed the Mechanical Horse — were the smallest vehicles made by that illustrious manufacturer. The Watford factory was building artics as early as 1922 — and also turned out rigid two, three and four axled models with an enviable reputation. The company was taken over by Leyland in 1955, but retained its individuality until the early seventies: the longevity of its products is well illustrated by eight-leggers still to be encountered trundling to and from construction sites.

Just as the Mechanical Horse ousted animals in collection and delivery services, in heavy haulage Scammells of a different type effected another major change, replacing many of the steam traction engines which had previously dominated in this work.

As early as 1929, a 100-ton tractor was built; this ran on solid tyres and had a 7-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, later replaced by a Gardner 8.4-litre diesel. A second similar tractor was completed in 1931 and, happily, both vehicles survive in preservation.

Another line of Scammell development which also began in 1929 was called the Pioneer. This was a military six-wheeler with a patented rear bogie capable of negotiating the must difficult terrain, and which became famous as a prime mover of tank transporters.

From 1934, special oilfield tractors appeared — typical of the specialist niches which Scammell vehicles occupied so well. After the Second World War, several new models appeared and these, together with the many military vehicles sold off, further hastened the demise of the traction engine.

In Ireland, heavy Scammells found customers in transport concerns, public utilities — and among showmen: circuses and amusement caterers. The ESB have had several Scammells over the years; Ulster Transport was another user and an Explorer which was previously with Fossett's Circus later went to O'S Coaches in Hospital, Co. Limerick.

In 1964, CIE bought a Constructor 6x4, intended to operate at a gross train weight of 132 tons. This tractor has a Leyland 11.1-litre O.680 six-cylinder engine and twelve forward speeds. Its tare weight is 28.5 tons and it can handle bigger loads when used with one or two other tractors working together: a procedure calling for the utmost co-ordination between the various drivers.

This Scammell has a crew cab and can accommodate five people in addition to the driver. Registered HZH 933, it received the fleet number SC1, the quick pronunciation of the letters giving it the name by which it is universally known - Essie.
Heavy haulage tractors in a small country like Ireland would obviously not find constant employment, but when Essie was bought CIE were obliged to handle any traffic offered - including large indivisible loads. In the past, these often incorporated heavy castings that today would be fabricated in sections for assembly on site. Moreover, thirty years ago, automatic transmissions for heavy commercial vehicles were in the future. As a result, many heavy haulage duties can now be handled by one tractor, and even if two are needed, radios and mobile phones make for easy communication between the drivers.

When CIE was divided into three operating companies in 1987, Essie was placed under the care of the Transport Museum Society, but is maintained in working order in case its services are ever needed. Meanwhile, it stands as a tribute to a wonderful blend of engineering excellence and the operating skills taken so much for granted in the haulage industry.

The Townsman three-wheeler was the
smallest vehicle made by Scammell
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