Better By Half


Designed from scratch, the Renault drawbar combination from RH & AJ Bateman Ltd proves more than a match for Dorset tipper work
By Martin Phippard

Although drawbar combinations or ‘wagons and drags’ have been around since the early days of road transport and are employed in all types of haulage operation from livestock to tanker work, one application in which they have never been used in any number is tipper work – at least not in the UK.

Interestingly, they are employed extensively in New Zealand, which has a road network and transport legislation not entirely unlike our own. And in Scandinavia and North America, drawbar tipper combinations are to be found in a variety of different configurations. Back home in the UK, however, it would appear tippers are either six- or eight-wheel rigids, or six-axle artics. It’s pretty hard to find anyone operating drawbar tippers.

The Bateman operation has been underway for about 10 years and the fleet currently comprises eight rigid six and eight-wheeler tippers, one 7.5- tonner, and the new Renault drawbar outfit. Apart from one Volvo, all the heavy trucks are from Renault – most equipped with an automated gearbox.

better by half

Drawing board

Designing a vehicle from scratch with no template was a challenge. Russell Bateman, director at RH and AJ Bateman Ltd, admits one of the toughest tasks was choosing which truck and engine would best suit requirements. “Generally speaking, we have been happy with the performance of our Renaults, so naturally that was the first place we looked. We already had six-wheelers, so we did at least have a base specification to work from.

“The most difficult bit was deciding which engine to go for. The decision was made for us to some extent, because the biggest engine Renault offers in the Lander six-wheeler is the 460.”

Choosing the best engine for a vehicle which will spend most of its time running at 44 tonnes, but will sometimes operate as a rigid six-wheeler at 26 tonnes, is a delicate business. The temptation was to opt for a 500 bhp powerplant, since this would have been ideal for shifting a 44-tonner through the undulating Dorset countryside at a fairly constant 40 mph. But of course, a 500 bhp diesel in a rigid six-wheeler, providing a power-to-weight ratio of almost 20 bhp per tonne, makes very little sense at all!

coverRead the rest of this feature in the August issue of Trucking. Buy the magazine here