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THE PHANTOM RIDES AGAIN | Company Profile-GE Hughes Construction Company

There’s an inbuilt tribute in the latest Tilt Tray for GE Hughes Construction Company- Images by John Kruger

 

Transport, civil, commercial and domestic construction company GE Hughes, based in Lobethal in South Australia, has taken delivery of a unique Scania 10×4/6 tilt tray with a lifting lazy axle to be used across the group to move machinery, bulky construction materials and containers.

The group operates a fleet of Scania rigid tipper and dog combinations across South Australia. The arrival of the new tilt-tray body Scania provided the company with a unique opportunity to commemorate the company’s founder and arch Phantom fan, the late Garry Hughes.

The specification is certainly impressive, with the driveline featuring Scania’s 620 hp V8 16-litre engine matched to the Scania Opticruise automated manual transmission. Maximum power of 456 kW (620 hp) is produced at 1900 rpm, with peak torque of 3000 Nm rated at 950-1400 rpm. The 10×4*6 chassis features a 7100 mm wheelbase and a GVM of 38,200 kg.

The rearmost axle is a steerable tag shod with a super-single tyre, to the same dimensions as the four steers up front. The tag can be raised when running on light loads or empty. The driven wheels are fitted with a tyre air-pressure inflation monitoring system (TPMS) that allows traction to be enhanced on rough or broken surfaces onsite.

Vehicles working in high-density traffic areas for vehicle and equipment recovery provide an ideal platform for incorporating every available safety feature, both for active and passive safety, ensuring the maximum protection both for the vehicle and its operator.

This Scania tilt tray comes with a comprehensive array of active safety packages, comprising advanced emergency braking, electronic stability control, lane-departure warning and adaptive cruise control. Lighting is LED from headlights to taillights. Scania’s hill holder is also fitted to prevent rollback when starting on inclines.

As with all New Truck Generation Scanias, the truck also features side curtain rollover protection airbags and a steering wheel-mounted airbag to protect the driver in a front or front offset collision.

The 9.1 m tray can carry 14-tonne of payload, and loading is backed up by a 13600 kg winch. There’s also a container-pusher cylinder for assisting the demounting of boxes, required due to the high-friction coating applied to the tray top.

A pair of stabiliser legs fitted behind the rear axle and slightly inboard of the wheels provide a stable platform for the tilting and loading operation. Adjustable air suspension on the front and rear axles ensures maximum stability when loading and unloading in potentially uneven conditions, in particular with damaged vehicles or those with a low ride height.

The tray was designed and fabricated by Ahrns Handling Equipment (AHE) in South Australia and dimensionally it is one of the largest produced by the company. As part of what AHE calls tailored engineering, its construction included the fabrication of custom-made hydraulic cylinders able to provide the lift angle required and for the length of the slide, in order to clear the third axle, due to the longer-than-usual distance between the pivot points.

The tilt tray features low gates around its perimeter, and the tilt and slide movement are remotely radio-controlled. A two-speed gearbox allows the tray to be quickly manoeuvred or move more slowly for delicate operations where a crawl-speed is required. There’s also a custom towing package as the truck will often be pulling a weighty trailer.

AHE was so impressed with the capability of the GE Hughes specification truck, the company has ordered its own Scania chassis to build a similar – albeit 8×4 – version as a demonstrator unit.

The tilt tray sits on a Scania XT chassis with a 150 mm protruding steel bumper, a front under-run bash plate as well as guards for the headlamps. The cab is from Scania’s R-series and provides a day-cab design that features a low roof height.

Despite its length, the adoption of the twin-steer front axle provides the advantage of a tighter than expected turning circle as well as providing for extra weight over the front axle. The added benefit of this design is that when running on a multi-drop delivery the last load on the front of the deck can stay in place until it reaches its destination.

After six months on the road the XT has been to the far corners of the GE Hughes empire as well as to Port Augusta, and Goulburn in New South Wales, and has racked up 15,000 km, often laden with gear and pulling a trailer.

“As a family business, I have had a tilt tray on the wish list for the last four to five years, but second-hand tilt trays are hard to find, especially to suit GE Hughes Construction Co. requirements,” Duane Hughes said.

“Paul Riddell, Scania Adelaide’s New Truck Account Manager and I started to specify a truck which could carry the majority of our plant, such as nine-metre steel reinforcing and structural steel, shift containers, have a Ringfeder coupling, serve as a mechanical recovery truck, and look extremely tough while doing all of this.

“This is how we arrived at the design of the Phantom, with my youngest brother Luke ensuring the most important part: that it had a V8, so we live in the right lane and not the left.

“Paul suggested the grey metallic paint and specified the truck as required to give it a ‘wow’ factor,” he added.

The vehicle was dedicated to the memory of the founder of the business, Garry Hughes, who passed away suddenly in 2019.

Garry Hughes was a fan of the Phantom cartoon character. In his memory, his son Duane who now runs the business, commissioned local artist Paul Duff to festoon the vehicle with Phantom-inspired icons as well as emblazoning an image of his late father on the side of the cab as the Phantom character.

“The graphics mean a lot to our family and the Hughes Group, as every sticker has a meaning, even down to the 10 tigers down each side of the body. In this way, my late father, Garry, will always be watching what we are all up to,” Duane said.

“To say we are proud of the truck is an understatement as it’s a crowd stopper wherever it goes. Paul did a fantastic job.”

“I was very excited to build this truck for Duane, Garry and Luke Hughes,” said Paul Riddell.

“It is the biggest tilt tray I have built, and it has come up really well. The lifting lazy axle helps to increase the payload and the 8×4 configuration is well proven within Scania as an efficient way to cope with diminishing load issues.

“The V8 engine puts out 3000 Nm of torque so whatever is on the back will be moved with ease, irrespective of the terrain, such as when hauling construction equipment up the Adelaide Hills with a fully-loaded trailer on the back.

“This vehicle was the last one Garry Hughes ordered before he passed away and we were delighted we could present it with this livery to the Hughes family in time for their corporate Christmas event last year,” Paul said.

The GE Hughes Construction Company is committed to the provision of high-quality construction services, driven by the “one-stop source” principle. The company is a closely related series of divisions which operate extremely flexibly in various configurations to provide a total holistic service to clients, removing much of the risk, expense and time wasting involved in dealing with multiple entities.

The concept of a company with a “family” of client divisions, provides an insight into the culture of “Building on Tradition”, which is key to the 45 years-plus of the GE Hughes journey and an endorsement of the ability of its founder, Garry Hughes.

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