Warner Swasey Hopto 300

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HOPTO 300 Log Loader

Hopto is known for making excavators. Here is a log loader. I suspect it was an aftermarket conversion. Machines similar to this as excavators have been common in municipal fleets for road repairs. This was profoundly the case before light tracked excavators became common. You could drive this beast to the job. The truck part was a dedicated crane carrier. It had a really heavy frame, but light axles and a smallish continental gas engine to drive the truck. It had a 5 speed transmission followed by a transfer case that really slowed it down---and also gave it power enough to pull itself on the hills, though barely moving.

The 'conversion' such as it was mostly changed the bucket for a heel rack and grapple and added some guards. The grapple was a shortwood grapple, and overall the machine was suitable for small logs in short lengths, but bigger logs or long logs were not its thing. It was far too light a machine for larger items.

It had a Detroit Diesel 353 engine up for the upper unit and had manual hydraulic controls. I"m not sure of the age, but the house was hooked on via 'hook rolls' dating it to the 1960's probably. The Detroit Diesel 353 suggests it isn't older than that, and the hook rolls suggest it isn't newer than that. By the 1970's most machines had started using "Rotek bearings" or giant ball bearings for the house rotation instead of hook rolls (steel wheels running in a channel iron). If the Hook rolls (really just a hook with a steel wheel on the end of it running in a channel iron) broke, then the House could simply tip and fall off the carrier. Needless to say there were legends in the industry of hooks breaking and the house taking a dump. This wasn't a Hopto specific issue--- all rotating house machines until the Rotek came along used some version of hook rolls from the days of the steamshovel.

I think the load loader modifications consisted mostly of a couple extra outriggers (in the middle of the truck) --- I think the excavator only had outriggers on the back. Additionally, the bucket cylinder was moved to the bottom of the arm, and additional hydraulic functions were added for the grapple rotate, and open/close. The outriggers were controlled by the 'oiler' working from the ground beside the truck. (FYI on a crane the assistant is called the "oiler"). As you can see there was no elevated cab making it difficult to see the top of a load of logs.

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