Prime Mover Magazine


J. Smith & Sons’ innovative low loader

  • Posted on Thursday 26th, May 2011.

J Smith & Sons has been exhibiting at the Brisbane Truck Show since 1989, making the 2011 edition the company’s 11th consecutive show. It is no surprise that the 11th show in 111 years saw a world premier to mark the special occasion. After an extensive development period, the company unveiled the Spread Quad-Axle Axle-Widening Low Loader.

The full axle-widening, tip-over axle, independent axle lift, steerable hydraulic suspension Low Loader with remote control winch and hoist operation is J Smith’s new flagship, custom designed to carry a railway tamping and maintenance machine. Based on J Smith’s tried and tested Low Loader series, it took the Gympie based company half a year to develop the new gooseneck variety.

“The trailer was developed and evolved around the very unique payload,” says Gustav Du Plessis, the engineer who designed the massive construction. “The intended haul, a Rail Switch Tamper, has an extreme low approach angle that required a new method of loading. In the end, a dynamic load scenario was used where the trailer is hoisted as a large cantilever, aiding in dramatically reducing the extended ramp reach needed to elevate the Tamper to its final loaded position. The final design incorporates a tri-folding ramp that offers less than 3 degrees approach angle.”

Also new to the Smith stable is the axle widening hydraulic suspension that offers individual wheel lift for improved economy and easy wheel maintenance. “The new Low Loader dramatically reduced human resource requirements, eliminating the need of cranes and crane operators,” says Ned Gellie, who embraced the opportunity to inspect the new piece of equipment in person. “Normally, you have to use a crane to lift railway equipment onto a road transport vehicle. Now we are able winch the tamping unit straight onto the Low Loader by simply adjusting the trailer width to the railway and lifting the front end to create a ramp. Basically, it works like a tow truck.”

According to J Smith & Sons, the Quad Axle Low Loader is the first of a kind in Australia. Using a hydraulic suspension unit, the vehicle is able to accommodate a steerable BPW axle to allow precise manoeuvrability.

“It’s a piece of art,” says Ned, who is placing value on hands-on experience. “That’s why I like J Smith and Sons. John Smith, a blacksmith by trade, founded the company in 1880, and it’s tied to its origin to the present day.” Yet time has passed since “Jack” Smith won the gold medal for the best horse drawn vehicle manufactured by a Gympie Native at the 1898 Gympie Agricultural Show, and J Smith has since incorporated a formal engineering structure and finite element analysis to the company’s design capability.

Presently, the Engineering Department has been expanded to a staff of seven. The company is continually expanding, increasing turnover and now employing in excess of seventy people.

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