Tractor Talk – 1961 Case W5 Terraload’r

1961 Case W5 Terraload’r

By Jim Allen

In the mid 1950s, ongoing market research at J.I. Case determined they needed a line of wheel loaders to round out their industrial equipment line. Wheel loaders were just starting their rise to popularity and entering that market proved to be a wise move. Case called them Terraload’r and, yeah, the apostrophe is kind of gimmicky.

nsive to produce.

We found this 1961 W5A at the 2021 Tristate Portland show where Case tractors and equipment was being celebrated. There was no sign on it and nobody we asked knew the owner. Had we been able to ask questions, we would have asked about the color. Every Case expert we have consulted states these all came in an industrial yellow color, so this red is a mystery. We know it was possible to get them painted a custom color, such as though bought for highway departments in orange, but we just don’t know the back story on this one.

The first to appear late in 1957 was the W9, a big four-wheel drive unit with a gas or diesel six cylinder, a manual trans with a torque converter and shuttle shift. By 1959, they had a four unit lineup, the W5, W9, W10 and W12. All but the W5 had four wheel drive. For ‘61, the line was joined by the W7, which became the smallest four-wheel drive unit. They were all rigid frame machines, with steerable rear axles.

The W-Series Terraload’r lineup from the early ‘60s. To the far left is the little W5. Next is a W9 4×4 with the optional dozer blade. A bucket-equipped W9 is to the right of it.  To the right of the W9s are a W10 and a W12… all much bigger units. Missing is the W7, which debuted in ‘61, so that would date this image to before then. A little tractor-related tidbit is that the famous Case 1200 Traction King, Case’s first mega-tractor that debuted in ‘66, was built on the W12 Terraload’r platform, turned around to put the engine in front.

The subject of our story today is this W5, which uses a 1 cubic yard bucket. Only 176 inches long with a 60 inch wheelbase, it was designed for tight spaces. For it’s first year,1959, it came only with a 164 cubic inch gas four. For 1960, Case had introduced a 188 cubic inch, direct injected diesel and it immediately was used in a variety of Case machinery, including the W5. A 188 cubic inch gas four was also developed, replacing the 164 for those that preferred gassers.

The “cockpit” (and, yeah, doesn’t it look like an old biplane cockpit?) is fairly tight but well laid out.

The 188D was mated to a 4-speed gearbox and transaxle (often described as the final drive of a Case 300 utility tractor facing backwards) that used a torque converter in place of a clutch. It had a shuttle shift apparatus, essential for any efficient loader design. The bucket carried one cubic yard and the W5 could carry 3,000 pounds on the move or lift 4,500 pounds stationary. The maximum dump height was 96 inches. All in all it was a versatile machine in the days before skid loaders and articulated wheel loaders. Case W5 literature listed such venues as foundries, coal plants, fertilizer plants, as well as snow removal and excavation work. There were some optional buckets available and Case also offered a cab.

The W5 line evolved a little for 1966 and the model designation and trade name were changed to 500 Wheel King. This name change occurred at the same time as other Case equipment was redesignated with such names as Traction King, Construction King, and Comfort King, so the Wheel King fit in with all the other monarchs. Very little changed in the unit, though the engine power and torque was rated higher than the early W5.

The rear was built with a lot of cast iron to counterbalance a loaded bucket. One of the complaints of this unit is that the rear tires were too narrow for soft ground and sunk in too easily. Note the similar lighting front and rear. Loaders back up a lot so need good backup lighting.

The 500 line carried on to 1968, after which the articulated W-Line began to take over. It was a gradual change to the articulated units but we could not get a clear picture of how that happened from available materials. The W7 rigid unit stayed on for a year or so at least, covering the lower capacity end while the larger articulated units debuted first. It doesn’t appear that Case offered another 4×2 wheel loader. Eventually, the articulated W11 with a 1-cubic yard bucket took over the spot held by the W5.

The 188D four-cylinder diesel engine was new when it first appeared in the W5 for 1960. Simultaneously, it appeared in the 430 and 530 tractors and other equipment. Displacing 188ci and delivering 50 flywheel hp and 138 lbs-ft, the 188D would become one of J.I. Cases most versatile and commonly seen small engines from the ‘60s on, and live into the ‘90s. A couple of similar gas engines were also built. Spec sheets for the 500 Load King show it was later rated at 57 hp and 150 lbs-ft. It would evolve into a larger 207 ci, enlarged via a larger bore and longer stroke. All were wet-sleeve, five-main, direct injected engines and in the era of the ‘61 W5, used a Roosa-Master injection pump. It also had four glow plugs in the intake for cold starting.

While not a “tractor,” the Case W5 was often seen on farms and used many tractor components. It’s definitely got a unique look but even if it’s not as maneuverable as and articulated wheel loader or a skid steer, many of these are still working all over the country.

Here is a W5 at work in the early 1960s. It was a handy unit and one of the better small wheel loaders of it’s day.

1961 Case W5A 

Engine: 4-cyl. diesel, DI, Case 188D
Displacement: 188 ci
Bore & Stroke: 3.81 x 4.12 in.
Flywheel Power: 50 hp @ 2100 rpm
Rated Torque: 1 138 @ 1400 rpm
Compression Ratio: 17.5:1
Transmission: 4-speed, 2.16:1 converter ratio
Weight: 9,100 lbs
Wheelbase: 60 in.
LxWxH: 176 x 68.5 x 70 in.
Fuel Capacity: 18 gal.
Tires: front-13.00 x 24
rear- 7.50-16
Top Speed: 18 mph forward, 23 mph reverse


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