Trailer Magazine

In the swing of things

  • From the May 2019 issue.
In the swing of things

Difficult to access customer sites and hard to reach machinery have met their match with The Drake Group’s innovative new rear steering 3x8 Swingwing. As Gear Shift Heavy Haulage attests, the new model combines the trailer manufacturer’s proven reliability in the legendary Swingwing, with greatly enhanced manoeuvrability.

The latest iteration of Drake’s hallmark widening low loader, the Swingwing, this new rear steering model is enabling transport operators to access sites that many other heavy haulage trailers of its size cannot, opening the doors to a far greater scope of work.

To date, only a handful of these trailers are out on the road, with one of the first delivered to Gear Shift Heavy Haulage in Sydney’s southwest in February.

Along with its increased manoeuvrability, the rear steering capabilities help to reduce tyre and component wear. Currently in operation in 3x8 models, this rear steering feature will also be extended to Drake’s 4x8 and 5x8 Swingwings and the Swingwide range.

The rear steering Swingwing is available with both a remote steering rear axles; along with manual rear steering axles, which is important for customers who are operating in Victoria in a combination over 30 metres long. For night travel, the rear steering Swingwing closes to 2.5 metres wide.

“For a 3x8 trailer to be able to steer so well makes a huge difference with our work. It is all remote steer as well. We had a job recently where we needed to get into a tight yard and had to back the trailer in, so the remote steering rear axle came in very handy. It meant we could get the trailer where it needed to be. Because it has better manoeuvrability, it allows us to be able to pick up a bigger range of machines,” explains Kyle Bunning, Transport Manager at Gear Shift.

“This trailer has made a significant difference to the fleet,” adds Rick Sookee, Gear Shift’s Heavy Haulage Supervisor. “It gives us another trailer option so we can send the best trailer out for the job. We operate another 3x8 trailer in the fleet but you need to have your wits about you when towing it around with all of those rows of tyres. That isn’t an issue with our new Drake trailer.”

Starting out as a civil construction business, Gear Shift was founded in 2013 by Managing Director, Lee Fahey. It began with one float and a tilt tray, but increasing customer demand led to rapid growth. “It doesn’t matter how good a service you think you can provide, with one truck your offering is very limited. Having more trucks opens so many more doors to attract new customers. Around 18 months ago, we made a decision to increase the size of the business to where it is today. We primarily run Drake trailers because they are Australian made and we regard them as the best on the market,” adds Kyle.

The fleet now includes four Drake trailers and a Drake dolly, which are used to transport all manner of machinery locally and interstate.

The rear steer Swingwing joins a steerable 4x4 widener with remote steer option and two deck 4x4 wideners, all manufactured by Drake.

As Kyle reveals, the rear steer Swingwing has provided the fleet with added flexibility. “It’s potentially opened doors to send that particular unit where it once might not have been able to go. The remote-controlled steerable rear axle is accessed by flicking on a sensor on the trailer. The driver has a remote in the cab and can turn the axle the way it needs to go. In a tight yard, it is really easy to guide the rear of the trailer in.”

Though the Gear Shift business is still young, Lee has spent decades in the heavy haulage industry and has been purchasing trailers from Drake for over 20 years.

According to Kyle, there are several factors that set a Drake trailer apart – the quality, the finish and the reliability. “When you are in the market for a new trailer, one of the things you are shopping for is reliability. And that goes for the truck too – reliability is paramount. When you have equipment that is constantly breaking down or having issues, it’s not just the downtime costs, but it can also impact on driver satisfaction and our ability to meet the needs of our customers. Being able to keep our customers happy relies heavily on the reliability of our equipment – and that’s why we continue to use Drake. You can’t keep your customers happy if your equipment isn’t reliable; and if you’ve got no customers, you’ve got no work,” he says.

“The finish on a Drake is second to none. You can see the quality on every aspect of the trailer, even underneath. Already, the new Swingwing has done a fairly extensive range of local and interstate work and it has been brilliant. We service all of our trailers regularly, and all the Drakes ever really need is a bit of grease – with a Drake, it really is effortless.”

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