Trailer Magazine

New and improved

  • From the August 2018 issue.
New and improved

Following extensive field trials in Western Australia, V.Orlandi has unveiled two of its toughest tow couplings yet. Working closely with bulk haulage company, Cropline, the manufacturer has incorporated several design improvements that have resulted in significantly reduced wear and longer service life.

Formed in 2006, through the amalgamation of Sutherland Transport and Milross Grains, Cropline operates throughout Western Australia. It is based in Welshpool, with depots also located in Bridgetown and Katanning. The business specialises in carting grain, fertilisers and lithium.

A fourth site, operating under the banner of Bulkline, is located at Port Hedland, carting iron ore.

The Cropline division operates 60 trailer combinations, which are predominantly road trains. In Port Hedland, there are a further 12 trailer combinations ranging from quad trailers up to mega quads.

Benji Spencer, Workshop Manager at Cropline, says the business has been using V.Orlandi’s EH524 tip-over axle for several years across the fleet of road trains, as up until the launch of the EH500, it was the best option available. Though as he reveals, the difficult environment the trailers were required to operate in meant that certain components were wearing out quicker than expected. “The main problems we had with the EH524 were the articulation pin and bush wearing out and not holding grease; and not having the flexible decline pivot we needed. When the trailer goes over a hill, the A-frame of the dolly would pull the hitch down and either bend or wear out the hitch, in which case it made it difficult for the driver to hook up and unhook. So to combat that we began making our own modifications – cutting the platforms off and welding our own on there to hold the coupling up. We were also getting our own polyurethane bushes made up from a place nearby,” Benji says.

“The EH524 was our problem-child. We began dealing directly with the team at V.Orlandi one or two years ago. When they came in one day to catch up, we told them what we had been doing and we have been working closely with them ever since to help develop the new EH500.”

After discussing the problems Cropline had encountered, engineers at V.Orlandi worked on creating a solution. It came in the form a trial hitch, the EH500, which Benji says is a lot stronger and more heavy-duty than the EH524.

Among the improvements is greater articulation, with an upwards articulation angle of 47°, as well as downwards articulation of up to 20°. Other features include deeper grease grooves in the articulation steel bush, heat treatment on the entire surface of the articulation pin, thicker bronze bushes inside the fitting flange, a completely redesigned front flange and higher performance gas struts.

“The EH500 has been beefed up in a way that holds its grease,” Benji says. “It has two spring-loaded bullets that allow it to go on the inclines of hills by suppressing the springs and then releasing them back to its square position. The hitch is lot more agile.”

At the end of the trial period, the EH500 had done 113,000km without any issues with the articulation pin and bushes.

“On the same trailer combination we trialled the new coupling on, the EH524 only reached 50,000km before the articulation pin and bush wore out,” he says. “Once the bush starts to wear out, you can get a lot of backlash when taking off and stopping. With this newer coupling, there wasn’t much wear at all, which tells us that the pin and bush has been substantially improved,” according to Benji, who now has plans to implement the EH500 across the board on all of Cropline’s tip over applications.

Benji was also impressed with the overall improvements of the E551 50mm tow coupling design.

“It performed really well but the big benefit with this new coupling is that it is easier to maintain,” he says. “The way the E551 has been designed, it is very easy to put a pin and bush kit through it when it wears out. With the one we trialled, when it was checked by our mechanic, he put a new kit through it and even though he had never used that coupling before, it was so quick and easy.”

(Image: V.Orlandi EH500 tow coupling.)

Fast Fact
Cropline began trialling the new tip over axle EH500 series coupling and the E551 Pacific 50mm coupling in September 2017. After eight months of arduous testing of both prototypes, the company reported back to V.Orlandi in May 2018 – and the results were very positive, with the service life of some of the key wearing components more than doubling when compared to their predecessors. The new EH500 coupling will be released to the market in September 2018.

(Image: V.Orlandi E551 tow coupling.)

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