Victorian logging contractor and heavy haulage operator, Blair & Campbell, has purchased a Drake 4×4 Deck Widener featuring the ability to widen and narrow the rear section of the deck independently of the front section.
The unit, which widens to 3.5 metres, was specifically designed for operation on the tight, winding mountain roads and forestry trails that are commonly used for transporting tree harvesting machinery to and from jobs.
According to Blair & Campbell Managing Director, Adam Campbell, having the split deck enables the rear section to be narrowed after the machine is loaded. This means the one-piece ramps don’t contact overhanging tree branches on the forestry trails that lead to the worksites.
“It is about four tonnes lighter than our old float and with the 2×4 dolly attached we can legally carry a 50-tonne payload,” said Campbell.
In addition to the split deck widening ability, it has twin BPW Transpec self-steerable axles at the rear which enable the trailer to track more closely in line with the prime mover during turns. These axles are also hydraulic command steered in reverse using remote control which helps when backing into tight confines.
The locking and steering of the axles can be controlled either by the remote or switches in the cab, and according to Campbell the BPW Transpec steerable axles are a real asset on the snaking Great Alpine Road between Bruthen and Omeo.
“If you don’t have the steer axles the rubber literally peels off on the winding bitumen roads we travel on,” said Campbell. “I reckon it reduces tyre wear by around 30 per cent having the rear steerers.”
He said it’s important to lock them in the straight-ahead position on gravel roads to prevent the trailer from ‘wandering’ towards the side on steeply cambered surfaces.
Other features of the trailer include hydraulic landing legs and a remote start Honda powerpack mounted in the gooseneck to keep it clear of the dust and dirt.
The new float is towed by a Kenworth T909 with six-rod mechanical suspension which Campbell describes as a must for the tricky terrain that needs to be negotiated with the logging work.
Also helping in this regard is the Air CTI onboard tyre inflation system that enables the drive tyre pressures to be lowered and raised on the go for increased traction.
“The drivers drop the pressures to 60psi when off the bitumen and as low as 30psi if conditions get really hairy such as in snow,” said Campbell.
The company owns 11 Kenworth conventionals including nine T909s, a C509 and an almost 20-year-old T950 that has been around the clock a time or three.
“We bought it for my father to drive in 2001 and he passed away in 2002, so it’s a bit of a family heirloom,” said Campbell.
“I’d hate to think how many kilometres it’s done – it recently had the third rebuild of the second engine and the original engine had four rebuilds.
“The Kenworth dealer at Bairnsdale, Gippsland Truck Centre, has been really good to us,” he added. “Kenworth trucks have served us very well and we’re expecting the same from the Drake trailer.”