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HeavyTorque Issue Two: Scammell Contractor MKII



One look at the launch issue of HeavyTorque – specifically a story about the movement of a regenerator for an oil refinery in Cheshire – was enough to prompt a telephone call from Willson and Wilding Ltd, now the proud owners of one of the vehicles that appeared in that feature. The Scammell Contractor MKII – produced in the late 1970s – has led a eventful life, being involved in a number of jobs such as the oil refinery one. Today, it spends most of the time in its own warehouse in Pontypool, occasionally venturing out to commercial vehicle shows.

One of its next appointments will be on 27 March where the iconic vehicle will make an appearance at The Heavies. Ahead of that, and by way of an introduction to the MKII that many people will see in the metal at Bruntingthorpe, it is only right to fill in some of the back story.

Robert Willson, owner and managing director of Willson and Wilding – a company set up in 1977 and now running an ATF and concerned with commercial fleet repairs and maintenance – is a big fan of Scammells. Having owned many in his time, when ‘RWO 73R’ came up for sale in 2000, it was too good an opportunity to pass up. “Econofreight/ Brambles wanted a lot of money for it and, at the time, it was in a bit of a state,” admits Willson. But it was running, so we paid the money and ended up with the goods.”

Leaving the Watford factory before its first revenue-earning run from Stafford to Manchester in 1977, 540 tonnes all up!

“One of the engineers at Econofreight knew John Wynn and his association with Scammells in Newport, so he was keen to help us out to get it back to this part of the world,” Willson recalls. “The only thing I asked for was for any records or paperwork for the vehicle to be left in the cab. When it was delivered to a friend of mine in Berwick, there were boxes and boxes of documentation from day one, even the original paperwork, and details of every little job that had been done with the MKII.”

At this point, Willson used ‘RWO’ for a few jobs and went to a few rallies, but the cab was in a bad way, not helped by the fact that is was a wooden construction. “We made the decision to get it refurbished, which took about eight years – albeit not full-time because we had a business to run,” says Willson, whose company took on all of the work themselves. “We re-built the doors, the cab frame, all of the aluminium parts. It was a complete re-work of the cab, as well as the ballast body.

“The only thing we didn’t touch – other than a few tweaks – was the engine, which was in pretty good order,” says Willson. “The gearbox wasn’t quite so happy, so we made a few adjustments. The auxiliary gearbox was in a poor way; but the main drive on the back was OK. It had all-new brake chambers and pipes, and all the wheels came off, and the hubs were stripped and re-packed.” Willson says the wheels caused a bit of bother because two of them were badly damaged through a tough working life, but the guys worked around that to get them fixed, and had new centres made.

With about six weeks to go before a show in Abergavenny, the vehicle was still in lots of pieces, but Willson’s wife, who ran the show, said she wanted it there. “This was actually a good thing because it gave us a deadline to work to,” he explains. “Otherwise, it wouldn’t have happened, and we might never have finished the project.” As it was the restoration of the Scammell Contractor MKII was completed in May 2011. What makes it even more special – and valuable – is the fact that it is the only one left in the UK, as far as Willson is aware.


You might think that is the end of the story, but far from it. “The original design engineer – John Fadelle – came to have a look at the finished article with Glynne Rees, the Scammell salesman, in 2013,” says Willson. “Rees knew I had it, and wanted to come and have a closer look. They spent a day here, took lots of photographs, and Fadelle told me that he had never had so many headaches with a vehicle. It was the first time anyone had used the KT Cummins engine in anything in this country, the first time ZF steering and an Allison automatic gearbox had been put in a heavy haulage Scammell.”

Willson says Fadelle told him that the biggest problem he had with the vehicle was the cooling system as Fadelle wanted a higher radiator and huge fan to cool the big engine and the torque converter, but the chief engineer decreed that they could only raise the top of the radiator by seven inches. This, in turn meant that the bonnet and the cab were also raised by the same height, which led to a problem, and the chief engineer told Fadelle to go away and not come back until he’d solved it. “Fortunately Fadelle had a meeting that evening at Airscrew (in Weybridge, Surrey) and came up with an old, but very efficient, cast aluminium fan which moved the amount of air needed,” explains Willson. Airscrew had made wooden propellers for WW2 aircraft so had plenty of experience in this field.

HeavyTorque Issue Two: Scammell Contractor MKII
HeavyTorque Issue Two: Scammell Contractor MKII
HeavyTorque Issue Two: Scammell Contractor MKII
HeavyTorque Issue Two: Scammell Contractor MKII


Now into almost permanent retirement, the journey that this MKII has been on cannot be underestimated. Even though he has only had the vehicle for a relatively small amount of its life, Willson knows all about its history. “The trucks chassis got broken in half once – that’s how we knew we’d got the right one!” he explains.

“Wynns had a very well-known welder – Mr Bryn Lavender – whose welding was like handwriting. He told me the story many years ago, where something happened on a weigh bridge and the chassis got broken through, just behind the cab. Lavender was sent to repair it, and had a day to fix it – and he managed it, which was unbelievable. I think a bit of extra work has been done since, but he repaired it in a day. If you look at the wing on one side, it is slightly shorter – the same with the steps going onto the back body. When I made the new wings, I made them the same as before.”

Something to look out for if you see it at The Heavies. Either that, or just marvel at the vehicle itself and the life it has led…

HeavyTorque Issue Two: Scammell Contractor MKII
The Scammells auxiliary gearbox offered the MKII improved performance
HeavyTorque Issue Two: Scammell Contractor MKII
As documented, the fan/radiator were the vehicle’s most critical area
HeavyTorque Issue Two: Scammell Contractor MKII
The Scammells driving position and the Spicer


A selection of articles from recent issues of HeavyTorque. Simply click on the image or title to read the article.

You can find articles from every issue of HeavyTorque by going to the Magazine section of the website. Issues are listed by date of publication. Or you can use the search facility at the top of the page to find articles on specific subjects.

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HeavyTorque is a quarterly magazine that brings you news, in-depth features and comment from experts in the sector. The HeavyTorque website gives you access to the main articles from every issue of the magazine. You can choose to read individual articles online, or download them, with a charge for premium content. Or you can subscribe to the magazine to get unlimited access to all the content. The website also brings you all the latest news from the abnormal transport and heavy lifting sectors, updated daily. And you can find out more about the industry’s prestigious annual awards, The Heavies – including previous winners, award categories and how to enter next year’s awards.

From the well written articles to the exceptional photos, Heavy Torque is a market leader in our industry. At Van der Vlist we love keeping up to date with the latest news and projects, even making our own appearance in 2016. We could not recommend this magazine enough.

James White, Commercial and Business Development

Van der Vlist Group

HeavyTorque is an essential read magazine for decision makers within the heavy haulage and specialist transport industry and provides a great opportunity for manufacturers to make their mark. The adverts are well produced, editorials exceptionally informative and the staff’s support has always been excellent. Promoting our products in HeavyTorque magazine is one of the best marketing decisions we have made.

Martin Pickering

Marketing Communications Manager

Kelsa choose to advertise in HeavyTorque because its content is clearly for serious players in the haulage industry, with a wide range of informative articles. We know that it reaches the right people and covers aspects of trucking most others do not, offering information on changes within the industry as well as new products and services. As a designer I’m also aware of the extremely high quality of the photographic content and print. We are really happy with the service we receive and have no hesitate in recommending HeavyTorque to truckers everywhere.

Frank Seddon

Kelsa Truck Products Ltd

I certainly enjoy reading HeavyTorque - and whilst we do not operate any heavy haulage ourselves - we do so on a sub-contract basis. Therefore, it’s good to see what equipment is being used by both suppliers, and the industry operators alike. The content and photographic quality is always first rate. Keep up the great work!

Duncan Rogers, Managing Director

Projector Lifting Service Ltd

HeavyTorque magazine is a class apart. Its orientation illustrates our sector on a different level. The general look is really unique and we value the highly informative content. The magazine is an ideal communication platform and partner for the Faymonville Group – who offer the complete transport solution for payloads from 15t to 15,000t… and beyond.

Alain Faymonville, President

Faymonville Group

HeavyTorque is the magazine for the heavy haulage industry. The Magazine offers a very high standard of ads and editorial and the design and content is always exceptional. Advertising in HeavyTorque has been a great decision for us.

Katie Marshall, Marketing Manager

RUD Chains

HeavyTorque has set a new standard in specialist print and on-line journalism. Not only is it attractive and appealing with great photography and layout, but the features provide in depth and incisive insight into this highly specialised sector of the road transport industry.

Phil Moon, Marketing Manager

DAF Trucks Ltd

From the drivers’ viewpoint, HeavyTorque is a must-read for those interested or associated with the heavy haulage industry. The title is very informative on a wide range of projects - not only in the UK - but worldwide. On another note, it was a personal privilege (as a driver) to be invited to the industry awards evening, The Heavies… but to then be awarded 'The Heavies Hero' in 2017 was an amazing achievement. May I say a massive thank you to my fellow peers for their continued support and nominations!

Kevin Brookes, Driver (and Heavies Hero 2017)!

Ascroft Transport

We have been more than impressed with the professional production of HeavyTorque. It’s been a pleasure to deal with the team across all elements of the process from advertising, design and editorial content. A first class approach to the management and most importantly the quality of content makes HeavyTorque an obvious choice for us.

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Galt Transport

HeavyTorque is a “must read” for renowned decision makers of the heavy haulage industry and therefore a great opportunity to make one’s mark. The ads look fabulous, editorials are exceptionally informative and the staff’s support has always been great. Advertising in HeavyTorque Magazine is one of the best marketing choices we have made.

Mrs Brunhilde Rauscher-Doll, Director

DOLL Fahrzeugbau GmbH

Heavy Torque has quickly established itself on the market. An interesting magazine peppered with facts and information around the heavy transport industry. An unusual format, superb images and good articles are the key to your success. Congratulations! Keep it up!

Erich Traub, Marketing Manager

Goldhofer Aktiengesellschaft