The founder of the factory
for tractor was
Ernst Meili (born in 1900 in Oberandwil, Canton of Thurgau, died in 1975 in Schaffhausen, Switzerland) created his company in 1932 : Meili, Traktorenfabrik, Shaffahousen. His wife, Erika, deeply involved in the operation of the company for several decades, died in 2001 at age 84.
Meili came out in 1934 his first agricultural and industrial use made self-tractor from used cars). These highly reinforced tractors, equipped with large American V8, could also be equipped with retractable grip spikes, similar to those of TR Latil tractors in the same time.
During World War II, from 1942 to 1945, he continued to build industrial tractors, usually enclosed cab, whose sales will last until the 50s. Some were fitted with recovery iron wheels for lack of rubber.
From 1946, modern agricultural tractors were offered for sale, a product that will last till the mid-70s. Meanwhile, a competition launched by the Swiss Army in 1958 prompted Ernst Meili to file a patent in 1957 of a 6x6 vehicle with a hydraulic control system. So he built a 6x6 pitch articulated revolutionary tractor, the Metrac, whose concept will make some noise in the western world of all-terrain vehicle. Its articulated design with positive pitch control by hydraulic cylinders allowed it to cross the vertical walls of nearly one meter, making 'V' or 'big back', supports the progression on rough terrain. The front wheels were steering, but with brakes, it could turn in place, in СVТ position. From a central axle containing the locking differential output 4 arms operated by hydraulic cylinders and containing chains of transmission to the wheels. The system also allowed riding horizontally on hillside).
Ernst Meili, circa 1959-60, neither had the time (he had been chosen as vice-president of the Association of Cable Car ski resort of Celerina) nor room enough in Schaffhausen to launch mass production of this vehicle. In addition, customers of agricultural tractors were becoming more demanding putting a risk to leaving the company. He only wanted to sell his patents, which he did.
The manufactured units of Flex-Trac at Shaffahousen, had 3 sizes (picture 9) : the largest was a Chevrolet engine, through a Porche engine and smaller, a VW engine. In 1960, a comfortable cabin was installed on the Flex-Trac sold with Ford diesel engine 108 hp for a payload of 3 tons, a mass of 4.5 T and a speed 65 km / h. Meili sold the patent to J.C. Bamford, Rocester, who presented for sale to the Geneva Motor Show in 1960.
The patents also sold to Kassbohrer Gelanderfarhzeug AG, Ulm-Donau, served to build the Flexmobil prototyp in 1960 almost identical to Meili Flex-Trac with a few modifications and a Ford V8 engine of 91 hp. The name of Flexmobil, taken by Kassbohrer for later tracked vehicles, still exists. Mr. Haug, head of R & D of Kassbohrer, still in office in the 80s, had helped Ernst Meili to build the first Metrac.
At the ski resort of Celerina, they did not buy groomer Ratrac (become Rolba in the 70s), importer of Bombardier and Thiohol groomers. E. Meili, Jr., the son of E. Meili, therefore created in the mid-60s, modeled on the wheeled Flex-Trac, the Snow Flex (photos 15 and 16), controlled articulated tracked vehicle for transportation on snow and trail grooming. The two models, the first for the season 1966/67, proved excellent, but there were also quite expensive and they returned to more traditional systems of tracked groomers (very wide). The Multi-Cat (photo 17), personnel carrier, opened the way for a series of tracked models manufactured to customer needs.
From 1969, the factory produced articulated milling snow, 4x4 wheeled or tracked. A milling salt prototype crawler was built that same year, but weight problems could not be overcome.
In 1975, the succession of Ernst Meili was provided by Erika Meili and her 3 son but as soon as 1974, Viktor Meili, the youngest brother, disagree with his brothers, had already established his own business : the manufacture of tracked mowers from 1970 for maintenance of wetlands in the Zurich area by E Meili AG was taken over by the company of Viktor Meili, Meili AG, become manufacturer of special communal machines and construction, wheeled or tracked. Among them, we could see the heavy 6x6 truck VM 9000 7 t payload, maximum 2 m wide, for transportation in the mountains, the tracked carrier was the first tracked vehicle manufactured by Viktor Meili and called today 'Carrier VM-1500'.
Ernst Meili Jr. and his company E. Meili AG were on verge of bankruptcy in 1984 but his brother Viktor Meili managed to save it. Today, the company V. Meili AG, Schubelbach, manufactures road gears, wheeled or tracked, as the Combi-Model 2010 currently in catalogue of V. Meili, snow-grooming machines, milling machines, snow maintenance equipment of swampy areas, small municipal vehicles and even amphibious vehicles, upon request of the customer if necessary. 80% of its turnover comes from sales to local governments.
Specialists from the U.S. Army, working tirelessly at that time (1960) for maximum ground mobility were very impressed by the Metrac, especially since it really innovated in this area. They tested it at Aberdeen in 1961 as an improved version, the Flex-Trac, but still under the name Metrac. This confirmed their initial impressions and they decided to build the Clark Equipment Company, Battle Creek, Michigan, who bought the patents, 2 copies (one 1 T and the other 2 T), amphibians,'Flex-Trac' with a Jeep engine, a little weak with 72 HP on a vehicle of 1500 kg payload and 2500 kg empty mass. A copy was sent to Fort Knox for testing.
The tests were so conclusive that it was decided to build by Chance Vought Corp., Dallas, Texas, Division of Ling-Temco-Vaught, Inc. (LTV) since 1962, a articulated 6x6 but without hydraulic system and thus without positive pitch control. Chance Vought, aircraft manufacturer, diversified, like all manufacturers of that time in all-terrain vehicles.
Roger L. Gamaunt (1921-1987), had the idea in 1947 to an articulated 6x6 and filed a patent for the Gama-Goat in April 1960. Articulated in pitch and roll with the addition of a spring suspension on each wheel, unlike Meili Flex-Trac articulated only in pitch whose longitudinal arms absorbed roll in addition to their work of suspension, the first prototype was completed shortly after . William (Bill) Janowski also contributed to the project until 1966. After many tests, including two in Thailand in 1962 and 1965 , the vehicle took its final form in 1963 whose the U.S. Army ordered two other prototypes in early 1963 as the XM561, and 14 others. Equipped with amphibious capabilities in calm water with an aluminum body, mass of 3350 kg, payload of 1,300 kg, speed of 90 km / h, its Detroit Diesel 3-cylinder 103 HP, unfortunately very noisy because behind the passengers, made it unpopular despite its great crossing capabilities. Driving with the rear steering additional wheels asked some familiarity. Its price of $ 8000, high at the time, made it replace by the HUMMER in 1985 after producing more than 15000 copies between 1968 and 1972 by Condec, Consolidated Diesel Electric Corp., Charlotte, NC.
From there it will settle in Schaffhausen and it starts with the production of agricultural tractors.
In 1964 the company moved from Schaffhausen to Schubelbach or she produces vehicles until 1982, with 70 employees .
1975 E. Meili is founder victim of a fatal accident. E. Meili widow and three son continue with the company.
1974 Viktor Meili founded V. Meili SA for construction and special vehicles.
In 1984 the company E. Meili SA construction vehicles Schubelbach had to close its doors and sell the property for financial reasons .
2001 home V. Meili SA areussie through how to work tirelessly to redeem the property of the founder. So it is again in possession of the Viktor Meili family.