Drake delivers its new custom steerable platform

The Drake Group has once again stunned the transport industry with its quality equipment. The new 8x8 Low Height Semi Modular Steerable trailer was built just for Mactrans Heavy Haulage, with several custom and unique additions added to suit the transport company’s operations.

Mactrans Heavy Haulage is a Queensland-based transport company specialising in the movement of heavy and over-dimensional plant throughout Australia.

Mactrans’ fleet of floats, flat decks, drop decks and dollies can carry a variety of weights and sizes ranging from 20 tonnes to 250 tonnes.

The company was established in 2000 by the Deen family, who already had a well-known background in the transport industry.

Mactrans turned to The Drake Group for their recent purchase, an 8×8 Low Height Semi Modular Steerable platform. The vehicle houses an eight-ram steering system, with some of its important features including a hydraulic-driven air compressor, auto greaser, low height centre spine for carrying over dimensional items, BPW axles, double-acting suspension rams and a return to ride height valve.
Sales Manager, Sam Drake, says the steering system is one of the vehicle’s most important features.

“Unlike most of our general low-height steerables that only have a six-ram steering system, we’ve got this one fitted with an eight-ram steering system,” he says.

“The eight-ram steering system is probably the most important feature because it enables the operator to be able to configure the steering in the best configuration for the trailer size. There’s no welded axle, which means you can move your fixed axle to whatever position you prefer, which again, builds the best configuration for however many axle lines that you’re trying to build.

“Also, the eight-ram steering system makes it a more versatile trailer in terms of its manual steering function, you can split steer the trailer and you can crab walk the trailer into different positions.

It’s also fitted with a steering response bar which helps to soften the ‘steering aggressiveness’ depending on what configuration the driver is in and/or when a trailer is extended or retracted.

The steering platform saw the implementation of a very exciting custom feature – a horn mounted above the fifth wheel. Sam explains that it was a feature requested by Mactrans which doesn’t usually appear on Drake’s trailers.

“When the operator gets in a position where he’s 100 millimetres from hitting full lock, the horn will sound,” Sam says. “That gives the driver the ability to either straighten up and get out of trouble before it hits full lock or hang on. The horn sounds when you are just about to hit the stops on the steering head. It’s just letting the operator know how much steering he’s got left.”

The vehicle was built with several factors in mind to make the jobs of operators at Mactrans much easier. Sam explains that the heavy haulage company requested a lower height centre section to allow them to carry higher loads.

“We’ve built the trailer by request of Mactrans with a lower height centre section,” he says. “The purpose of this is for reducing overall height when carrying oversize loads by utilising that space between the decks better by lowering the centre spine height, for example, wind tower sections or excavator booms. So, it’s all about trying to get the height down so you can get that machine arm all the way down, so you’re reducing your overall height.”

The vehicle’s return to ride height function is also a handy feature, which allows the operator to drop the whole trailer down with a push of a button, load, and then lift it back up to its designated ride height. The feature also self-levels the trailer.

The trailer is completed with a Mactrans fully customised paint job, including custom tri stripe coamings and custom-coloured ramps. It is also finished in true Mactrans style with stainless steel backing plates on every cross member and mud flap.

The trailer has stainless steel washers on every suspension unit knee joint pivot pin as well as stainless steel lids on every door. Finishing the trailer is the unique pin striping, scrolls and signwriting, including a Slikazz coating on the coamings to protect the paint work. It is fair to say that Mactrans not only care about practicality and usability, but that they also want to look the part.

Sam says that Drake’s relationship with Mactrans goes far beyond its establishment in 2000, as both families had a substantial history together before that date.

“Mactrans themselves have been going for around for 20 plus years, but our relationship goes beyond that with the Deen family,” he says. “Chris Deen’s father and uncles have always been in the transport industry. There’s been a long affiliation with the Deen family and the Drake family, doing business together for over 40 years.”

Fast fact
The 8×8 Low Height Semi Modular Steerable is fitted with a Groeneveld automatic greasing system, which is hard-plumbed to the gooseneck’s canister for quick-filling availability.

Fast fact
The steerable platform features a unique horn mounted to the fifth wheel, which lets the driver know how much steering is left before full lock.