Eimco tractors: a company review by Richard Campbell
Established in the 1880s, Eimco designed and built underground mining equipment. In a surprising move, it decided to go above ground and enter the track type tractor market. By Richard Campbell.
Eimco (Eastern Iron and Machinery Co), was not a widely known name in the track tractor industry.
The reason being that the period in which they manufactured and offered track tractors and loaders was quite brief, from 1952 through to 1965.
However, the tractors they built were advanced for their day and did not resemble any other contemporary manufacturers machines. There was no mistaking an Eimco for anything else.
Eimco’s tractor manufacturing facility was located in Salt Lake City, Utah and it was the sole production centre for track type tractors and loaders.
At the beginning of tractor production, Eimco numbered all of their dozers with odd numbers (103, 105 etc) and the track loader range received even numbers, 106, 136 and so on.
Later, this numbering system was changed so that it was not possible to identify an Eimco machine just by its designator, and one had to do a visual check!
In this article we are having a look solely at their range of bulldozers
As Eimco didn’t manufacture their own engines, they relied on General Motors and Cummins for powerplants, with the majority of their machines being powered by GM.
A unique feature of most Eimco tractors was the use of two transmissions, (usually Allison), driven by a splitter box off the engine’s flywheel.
This allowed both tracks to be powered all the time and did away with the need for large steering clutches and final drives.
The machine could be put into a gradual turn by having one transmission in ‘hi’ range and the opposite side in ‘lo’, or a spot turn could be made by having one side in forward and the other in reverse.
This was a similar arrangement to that used in the Euclid TC-12 (although the TC-12 also used two engines) but the concept actually preceded that of the big Euclid.
Eimco’s first offering into the tractor market was the Model 105, a 15 ton machine powered by a 138 horsepower GM 4-71 diesel, which was introduced in late 1952.
As mentioned previously, visually it was like no other track type tractor.
For starters, the operator sat right up front behind a dash panel that was sloped sharply downwards. He also sat high, with a good view of the work area.
The engine, transmission and cooling system were located behind the operator under a narrow and rakish bonnet. This allowed for a very compact drive train and excellent protection for the radiator.
The entire under chassis was built from a U-shaped tub and was reinforced underneath to protect it from rocks and stumps, ensuring a very strong and rigid structure to mount the drive train.
A cutout halfway along the machine accommodated the equalizer bar and each track was pivoted off its own final drive.
The Model 105 was the longest-lived of all of Eimco’s bulldozers, lasting in production from 1952 through to 1962. However, total production of the Model 105 was only 1279 machines.
Eimco did not manufacture its own attachments and purchased what it needed from outside suppliers, typically International-Harvester/Bucyrus-Erie, GarWood and Ateco, which were then re-branded.
The first Model 105 machines offered for sale were typically equipped with a Bucyrus angle blade operated by an IH/Superior double drum cable control unit (PCU).
While coming across an Eimco dozer would be something of a rarity among a contractor’s spread in the 1950s and 1960s, Eimco had a great deal of success supplying the US Military with equipment and it was in this market that the company had its best sales success.
An awful lot of Eimco tractors and dozers were used in the Korean and Vietnam wars where they gained a bit of an unsavoury reputation as ‘mine hunters’, as running over a land mine pretty much a guaranteed trip to the hospital, if you survived the blast, due to the up front position of the operators compartment.
Eimco’s next machine, the Model 103, was introduced in1958 and this was basically a scaled-down version of the Model 105 weighing only 9½ tons.
It was also offered as a front end loader, known as the Model 106.
Powered by a GM 4-53 diesel, the 103 had a top speed of almost 6mph. Manufactured up until 1960, Eimco sold 286 of its 103 model.
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