Jumat, 08 Maret 2013

Driving Africa's longest road train

The longest road trains in Africa are 42 metres and weigh 60 tons when empty.
A Western Star with Cummins ISX 565 linked to a 7-speed, 14-ratio
Allison auto box which gives non-stop power to the Isus axles,
pulls four side-tipper trailers designed by Afrit and Unitrans Mining.
As reported on sister blog TheDriverDigest, the longest road train in Africa operates at Richardsbay Minerals in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.
Operated 24/7 by Unitrans, these road trains are driven on average for 19 hours day by a relay team of four drivers per train.
Each train has a Western Star with a Cummins ISX 565 straight six pulling four Afrit wagons.
Empty the rig weighs 60 tons, which equates to one tone each for the 60 wheels at the back.
With so many wheels, drivers expected the rig to trammel like the devil himself, but a healthy dollop of  science and a little voodoo magic from the Afrit toolbox has ensured that each of the axles under the road trains tracks true.

The now "short" roadtrains still running at Richardsbay
Minerals in South Africa average 19-hour working days.

This means drivers no longer have to plan for a tail-whipping over-reaction on the last wagon after any  steering correction up front.
An Allison gearbox with 14 forward ratios ensure continuous power delivery to the three heavy-duty Sisu axles from Finland.
The elite group of drivers controlling these rigs say the true tracking and continuous power delivery makes  driving these 42,15 metre monsters "almost easy", compared to the older, tail-happy three axle road trains.
"Almost", for turning a 42 metre rig tomorrow requires from the driver to have started planning that turn last week. Once committed to a radius, no corrections can be made to the decreasing corners cut by the 30 rear axles.

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