Nelson Wheel Loaders
From the lost and found file comes this very obscure Nelson wheel loader recently photographed by M.E. Folsom. Please enjoy his writeup of this unique brand.
This machine was found near Gorham, New York in the Fingerlakes region. This is a Model 250D of the rigid frame design with unique hydraulic underarm lift-arms to raise the 2.62 cubic yard bucket. This design layout was similar to the early Trojan Wheel loader line of Batavia New York and the early International Hough machines produced in the 1950’s. For its power plant a GM “Jimmy” 4-53 was used coupled to a full reversing 3 speed Allison powershift transmission. All Nelson wheel loaders utilized Rockwell planetary drive axles; these were 4 wheel drive machines that steered with the rear axle. The general overall construction of Nelson loaders were quite stout, liberal amounts of thick steel plating were used on the main frame and loader arms. Almost all of the machines system components were sourced as “off the shelf” items (i.e.) brakes, hydraulics and electrical. Nothing but the frames were produced in house. Even the sheet-metal (i.e.) fuel tank, engine hood, and cab were sourced from outside vendors.
The N.P. Nelson Iron Works of Clifton New Jersey started out producing various styles of track and wheeled snow loaders in the 1930’s marketed to urban municipalities throughout the northeast. These machines had a front auger that fed snow to a rear discharging conveyor belt into waiting dump trucks. The firm also made various municipality associated road maintenance items.
In 1957 the company launched its wheel loader line starting with the Model 150 rated at 1.75 cubic yards featuring a choice of Hercules gasoline or diesel engines. The 150 was followed up in 1959 by the Model 200 rated at 2.25 cubic yards powered by a Continental gasoline engine rated at 117 hp or a GM Detroit Diesel rated at 107 hp. The year 1961 saw the introduction of the above Model 250. Finally in 1967 the large 4 cubic yard Model 400 was introduced. This model’s lift arm design was a major departure from the previous three models. The pivot points for the arms were now placed out in front of the operator’s station. This was in response to the US National Safety Council request’s to redesign wheel loaders due to accidents associated with operator’s arms being in precarious positions. Not many of these Model 400’s were produced but the smaller and mid-size models did see a much use by municipalities, particularly in the northeast and Canada. For a time he Oliver Tractor Company took on the Nelson wheel loader line as a distributor for the machines. Unfortunately the brand did not prosper and the Nelson line faded into obscurity by the beginning of the 1970’s. Speculation might suggest obsolesce as a result of the brands steering design. Articulated loaders were now by this time a common site and were favored greatly over the antiquated rigid type.