Where it all began

Where it all began

'A taste of the green iron' is what was usually said of contractors or individuals who purchased Euclid or Terex machine. Not your ordinary garden green, they were a bright, almost Kermit the Frog lime-like 'Hi-Lite Green' easily recognisable from the yellow variety operating in the field.

Purchased by General Motors in 1953 for USD20m, GM likely held high hopes that their Euclid division would become the next Caterpillar however, faced with antitrust lawsuits and economic headwinds, innovation at times proved as difficult as sales at the larger end of town. Following an agreement with the Department of Justice, GM disbanded Euclid and created 'Terex' in 1968, a name derived from the Latin words terra, meaning earth, and rex, meaning king.

As was so often the case for the earthmovers of the time, GM determined that size was the order of the day, with trends suggesting the expansion of large scale open pit and surface mines. Having copped a bloody nose from their stoush with the US Government, GM (rather Terex) was determined to display their engineering might and once again become the leader in the haul truck field.

Regularly challenged by its competitors that included Unit Rig, WABCO Haulpack and the Dart Truck Company, Terex concluded that a haul truck with a payload capacity in the realms of 250 tons was the way to go. Albeit capable of producing such large machines, the absence of appropriately sized engines and tires continued to prove the biggest hurdle and impediment to rapid product development. Nonetheless, in 1974 the 33-19 Titan was born when it was formally launched at the American Mining Congress in (where else, of course) Las Vegas.

With much fanfare and five GM cars fastened into its bed, the three-axle Titan was the star of the event. Measuring 66 feet long and 25 feet 7 inches wide, it weighed 236 tonnes and 554 tonnes when fully loaded. Relative to its nearest rival, the WABCO Haulpak 3200, this truck was 16 feet longer and was the world's largest dump truck.

Pulled down after the mining show and sent to an iron ore mine in Southern California's Riverside Country, the truck was handed over to site in 1975, where it operated for three years. Powered by a 169.5 liter GM EMD Model 16-645E4 diesel locomotive engine rated at 3,300 gross horsepower, it was a true gas guzzler burning an average 2082 liters every eight hours.

Despite this burn and the global oil embargos, it (commendably) held its own throughout this time. Succeeding multiple mine owners, the Titan was transferred to British Columbia where it worked until 1991 when it was retired from active service. Removed from site and established as a tourist attraction in Sparwood, Canada it stands testament to the engineering feats of the day.

Always a prototype and never a mainstream truck, the Titan's lack of success was more to do with world economics and sadly, less with how the truck performed; a manufacturing marvel of its time.

This article was originally published by the Components Only team in the April 2021 issue of "@ The Coal Face" magazine.

Published 13 April, 2021
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