Trailer Magazine

Turning heads and steering axles

  • From the May 2019 issue.
Turning heads and steering axles

Logging contractor, Burgundy Heights, is set to take delivery of its second Tuff trailer featuring revolutionary powered steer axles. Having realised the multiple advantages of the system fitted to its initial Tuff trailer, the company is adamant this will be standard equipment on all subsequent units.

Nestled in the foothills of the Great Dividing Range at Bonville near Coffs Harbour, the aptly named Burgundy Heights logging outfit has carved an enviable reputation as a supplier of high-quality lumber from sustainably managed plantation forests on the lush north coast of New South Wales.

The company also does contract heavy haulage and a cursory glance at the impeccably presented fleet of Kenworth conventional prime movers gives the first clue that Burgundy Heights is a company that doesn’t do things by halves.

Shifting gaze to the heavy haulage trailers and dollies reveals the same attention to detail with the Tuff 6x8 platform unit looking resplendent in its burgundy livery set off by a dazzling display from the full complement of polished Alcoa wheels.

The platform trailer is soon to be joined by a Tuff quad-axle two-piece deck spreader with full powered steer on all four of the BPW axles working in both forward and reverse directions. It will be fronted by a 2x4 dolly. 

According to Jarrod Smith of Burgundy Heights, the full powered steer BPW axles are a massive improvement over the self-tracking variety of steer axle they effectively supersede.

“The self-tracking axles have been around for ever and are helpful for reducing tyre scrub on turns but they do have their limitations,” he explains. “If you’re travelling on a heavily cambered road you need to lock them up, otherwise you’ll find the trailer drifting off towards the table drain. And, of course, they need to be locked up to reverse the trailer.

“In contrast, the Tuff platform unit we have with full powered steer is unreal in reverse – you can back it into places you wouldn’t even attempt putting a self-steer or fixed-axle unit.

“We’re expecting similar manoeuvrability when reversing into tight confines with the new quad-widener unit when it arrives,” he says, adding that all four BPW axles steer at different angles which enables the trailer to track in a similar arc to the dolly and prime mover with negligible tyre scrub.

“The front axle steers in the same direction as the turn and the following three steer in the opposite direction at varying angles,” Jarrod explains. “The steering angles are determined by tierods and it’s actually quite a surprisingly simple system which makes it user-friendly and low maintenance.
“Now that we’ve experienced the benefits of full powered steering, in terms of our low-loaders we wouldn’t have one without it,” Jarrod confirms. “Everywhere we travel things seem to get tighter as time goes on so we definitely have an advantage over those who don’t have it.”

While the powered steer equipment obviously adds a premium to the cost of the unit, Jarrod says the benefits are more than worth it.

“With every machine and truck or trailer we buy we’re always willing to pay a bit extra for superior quality and technology that helps us do our job in the safest and most efficient manner,” he attests. “I think in the long run the benefits far outweigh the extra cost.”

Burgundy Heights uses its trucks and trailers to haul its own logging machinery and also does contract heavy haulage.

According to Jarrod, the extra weight of modern logging machinery compared to earlier gear is another reason why the powered steer BPW axles are so effective in improving tyre life and manoeuvrability.

“Back in the day a 25-tonne machine was pretty normal but these days they average around 40 tonnes,” he says. “With a 40-tonne machine on our current quad trailer and dolly, any tight turns are really hard on the tyres.
“We’re looking forward to seeing a big difference in that respect with the new Tuff unit with its full powered steer BPW axles.”

As for other special features of the new unit, Jarrod has specified hydraulic landing legs, hydraulic suspension and a two-piece deck which means each end of the deck can be widened and narrowed independently.

“This allows us to widen both ends for loading then close the rear section which means there’s less outswing at the rear of the trailer during turns and especially when negotiating tight bush tracks.

“We’ve also requested a 100mm drop section in the deck between the wheel arch and gooseneck to give us better clearance of overhead wires when carrying tall machinery. The team at Tuff Trailers has been more than happy to build the unit exactly the way we want it.”

Interestingly, Jarrod’s introduction to Tuff Trailers came after he saw a story on one of the company’s 8x8 platform units in Trailer Magazine.
“I liked what I saw and started to talk to Tuff about building something for us,” he says.

“They have a lot of different options and very unique ways of looking at things that are outside the box, so to speak.
“Our Tuff 6x8 platform is four years old now and we have been super impressed with it so when we decided to upgrade to a new quad float I was pretty keen to have Tuff build it using similar features like the full powered steer BPW axles.”

Fast Fact
The full powered steer axles on Tuff Trailers such as the quad float ordered by Burgundy Heights provide unmatched manoeuvrability and dramatically reduced tyre wear.

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