There is or was a heavy haulage Company in Melbourne that had, and maybe still uses a Leyland Contractor. I last saw it in the 1980's, parked in the middle, yes, the middle of the road with traffic passing each side, while waiting for railway electricians to lift the electricity wires at the level crossing in Heatherton Road, so it's overheight load could cross. It was painted white and looked very well kept. A Policeman was standing by and I chatted to him for a minute or two. I said "You would complain if I parked in the middle of the road like that" He said "It depends what you were driving" I said a 1929 Chevrolet and thought of taking it the 200 metres from home to the Contractor but realised I had let the registration lapse.
The Australian Army had a reputation for buying rubbish. At least 40 years ago I was talking to a mate who was a radio "Ham" (shortwave two-way radio enthusiast) and a couple of his Ex Army radio mates. They were talking about several Ex Army radios. I think they were known as Mark 3's or Mark 4's that were coming up for auction. They all agreed that they were no good and had never worked properly from new. I asked why had the Army bought them, and was told that they were probably designed by a senior Officer and so the Army bought them.
I have my shoulder to the wheel,
my nose to the grindstone,
I've put my best foot forward,
I've put my back into it,
I'm gritting my teeth,
I notice the standard transmission was the 915 roadranger .....and the oz army must have specified the semiauto......far as I know the tranny was the main cause of breakdowns,supposedly because drivers didnt build up sufficient air pressure for the tranny to work properly,before driving off...there was also an issue with mismatched components in the air cylinders causing slow band engagement.......Anyway ,most of the ones I knew about had Roadrangers put in them............wasnt a cheap conversion either ,because the motors had a huge flywheel and housing,something like a #000 SAE,much bigger than a standard #1 SAE.
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Leyland at Rocklea was a funny place ,lots of stuff used to go missing from there ....One of the winches off a Scammel went missing,and as the trucks came in for repair or service,they kept swapping winches ,hoping the missing winch woulkd be found........One time BP imported a Guy prime mover from UK,with a very short wheelbase for the lots of little hole in the wall service stations that were around then.......the TWU black banned it ,and it went back to Leyland at Rocklea to see if it could be lengthened .....anyway ,it sat there for over a year,then it went missing.Leyand claimed BP had taken it back,BP said they didnt have it.
Looks like I will have to retract my "orphan" assumption.
They were certainly a specialist small volume truck but it looks like the Army was not too far out on a limb buying them for a specific targeted use. As for reliability I can not comment because you can not test stuff bought straight off the shelf and must rely on the brochure and find out after you have bought them.
I assume they did OK on Army low mileage work and it looks like at least one operator with that beaut white Contractor above has kept a machine going well into its geriatric years. Maybe a bit like grandad's axe but still there.
As seen on TV the Andrews heavy haulage outfit still keeps one to back up the 700hp Volvos, not for highway but for the tricky stuff and for a drive bogie that can take all the weight without a converter dolly.
The first army ones had a lot of axle failures caused by oil seals in the hubs blowing....took the Oz army years to figure out the cause was the specially specified breathers for the axles were getting blocked up by tiny wasps ......The standard trucks never had a problem.