Becketts Widens the Options

In Aussie Angles, Mack, September 20219 MinutesBy Howard ShanksOctober 11, 2021

Becketts Heavy Haulage looks to Drake’s steering and widening technology to enhance customer peace of mind.

Until a few years ago, the tiny hamlet of Derby in northeast Tasmania was nothing more than an old derelict mining town. It had a smattering of run-down houses and a couple of pubs that relied on passing tourists to keep their doors open. So, it certainly was never a town on anyone’s go-to destination list. But the relatively recent introduction of some worldclass mountain bike trails through disused mining and forestry tracks certainly changed the sleepy hamlet into a bucket-list destination.

Consequently, demand for housing and accommodation in the town is high. So high that property prices jumped tenfold in less than 12 months after introducing the mountain bike trails. As a result, construction of new infrastructure and buildings is booming, with some builders claiming they’re booked out solid for the next three years.

For Otta Excavations, based in nearby Scottsdale, the boom in construction is welcome news. General manager Graeme Viney praises the local Dorset council for investing in and building the mountain bike trails in Derby. “The bike trails have certainly created a lot of employment and are really helping local businesses survive, especially during these hard economic times. But importantly, it is creating good jobs for the youth in the area,” he adds. “Now young people can get trades in a wide variety of careers from hospitality through to building and construction without having to move away from home.

Low-loader deck width extends from 2.5m to 3m.

“We’ve had our mobile crushing plant working at the old quarry here in Derby for almost 12 months,” Graeme explains. “Before the construction boom in town, this quarry site was all but an abandoned old tin mine site… Anyway, enough small talk, we’d better get this crusher loaded.”

A distinct advantage of the Terex Pegson XR400 mobile crusher is its ability to be shifted from site to site relativity quickly with minimal setup time. The XR400 Crusher transforms into a comparably compact unit for transportation, given the nature of the machine. It has a transport dimension width of 2.8m and a length of 15.4m with a height of 3.2m and an all-weight of 45 tonnes.

One of the shortcomings with a full deck widener low-loader is the excessive scrubbing of the trailer tyres on turns, primarily due to the far wider track of the axles when the unit is in the fully extended position. However, on the plus side, the wider track of the axles allows for increased trailer stability when carrying wide heavy equipment.

Drake’s 4×4 steering widener low-loader is most suited to transporting machines such as the Terex Pegson XR400 mobile crusher because the deck quickly widens to suit the track width of the machine. Furthermore, the trailing two-axle groups remain in the standard position like the deck widener model. In contrast, the leading two axle groups extend outwards with the deck to provide increased stability when carrying the larger machines.

45-tonne mobile crusher on the move.

Including self-tracking BPW axles makes manoeuvring around tight bends and twists a lot easier on the trailer and improves tyre wear compared with fixed-axle units. Additionally, there is minimal impact on the road surface.

“We have a lot of narrow winding, twisting roads in Tasmania,” Graeme explains. “The fact that the steering widener low-loader has one group of axles that extend to the set deck width for optimum stability, and that the trailing axles run at a narrower track, means that when the lowloader is required to move to the left to pass oncoming traffic, the trailing axle group remains on the hard bitumen surface, which adds to the vehicle’s stability.

These Drake steering widener low-loaders boast an extensive list of standard features, including stainless steel hydraulic tubing, which has proved trouble-free for decades. The complete trailer is grit-blasted and painted in two-pack paint to the customer’s requirements. Lighting is all LED, while the braking is electronic EBS with ABS and roll stability. The sliding skid plate means that achieving optimum axle weights is easy for the operator, regardless of the load dimensions or machine on the low-loader or whether a dolly is combined.

A push point is located at the rear of the low-loader, used when a pusher unit gets connected to the combination.

The ramps are hydraulically controlled and use the same onboard 6.5hp hydraulic power pack to operate the deck widening system and raise or lower the gooseneck. There are two spare-wheel carriers located on the gooseneck, an alloy water tank, and a dunnage tray. There are dual lockable toolboxes down either side of the trailer.

One option added by Becketts to its Drake steering widener low-loader is the gooseneck mounted winch, used when recovering machines that cannot move under their own power.

“That winch on that float is certainly a handy asset,” Graeme volunteers. “When one of our wheel loaders broke down, they were able to pull it onto the low-loader without any trouble and deliver the machine to the dealer to get repaired.

“The fact that the centre section of the low-loader drops a few inches is certainly a blessing when we’re shifting machines like this crusher or our large power screens,” he says. “Sometimes, that couple of inches is all we need to come in under height, so the machine meets the legal transport height.

“One of the main reasons we engage Becketts to shift our larger machinery is the fact that they have this great Drake steering widener lowloader,” Graeme explains. “That XR400 crusher is the backbone of our crushing operation. When we transport it, we need the utmost care taken of our machine, and Becketts certainly does that. The fact that the deck widens to the width of our machine gives me peace of mind that our crusher is secure on the trailer, especially when it’s heading down some of the steep winding roads we have here.

“I also like the fact the two rear trailing axles on the trailer are self-steering, which means that when we are going on to our customer’s site, we’re not tearing up their driveway or road with our large, heavy machine.”

Specification wise, the 4×4 Drake steering widener lowloader has a 50-tonne capacity, and the deck extends from its standard travelling width of 2.5m to 3.5m. The trailer has a 13m deck length with 3m-long ramps.

The Mack Titan towing the Drake 2×4 dolly and 4×4 steering widener low-loader is a 2007 model, powered by a Caterpillar C-16 600hp engine, coupled to a Mack T2000 triple countershaft 18-speed.

“I really like the sound of that C-16 under the hood of that Mack when it’s working hard on the big climbs,” Graeme says.