Timber Aweigh!

The Elphinstone story is one of continuing innovation in trailer design and on-board weighing systems.

The resurgence in the Tasmanian logging industry, with a focus on the renewable aspect of plantation timber, enabled TrailerTorque to take a close look recently at the very unique designs of specialist timber hauling equipment.

Graeme Elphinstone, the founder and managing director of Elphinstone Weighing Systems and Elphinstone Engineering, grew up in Highclere in Northern Tasmania.

Originally a farmer, he moved to Triabunna in 1971 where he worked for McCulloch Logging as a log faller. After 13 months he became a logging inspector with Tasmanian Pulp and Forrest Holdings. Whilst working as a faller, Graeme repaired chainsaws and this sideline blossomed into the Elphinstone Saw Centre in 1972.

In 1976 Graeme imported the first on-board weighing system into Australia and had it fitted into a log truck. The following year he designed and built the first Elphinstone folding pole timber jinker.

Elphinstone on-vehicle scales have been fitted to almost every type of transport vehicle used in Australia, and have found particular application in the agricultural, timber, mining, transport and waste industries.

Vehicle applications that have been fitted with on-board scale systems include log trucks, tippers, fixed-body trucks, semitrailers, bulk feed tankers, explosive batching trucks, feed wagons, garbage compactors and hook-lift rigid trucks. The fitment of weighing systems for stationary installations include semi-portable weighbridges, silos and tanks.

Initially imported from the USA, Elphinstone started developing and building its own electronic control systems in 1988 and added loadcells to its product range in 2001.

Elphinstone Easyweigh loadcells are mounted to load bearing points on the chassis of the truck to give accurate readings of the weight of the body. In applications such as front loaders in the waste industry this helps the operator to stay within legal load limits whilst carrying the maximum amount by easy monitoring of the payload as each round is collected on daily runs. The on-board weighing system can tell the driver the weight in real time on a dash-mounted display.

The application of loadcell technology extends to a much broader customer base than simply with vehicles. Elphinstone also designs and installs methods of weighing at waste transfer stations by utilising a number of options tailored to the precise needs of the client. These options extend from on-board weighing systems and air transducers wirelessly displaying on a scoreboard, to weighbridges and loadcells mounted in strategic locations to monitor load weights and keep within legal limits.

Elphinstone Engineering built its first logging trailer in 1977, and since then has revolutionised the logging transport industry with many unique designs and efficiency gains for the industry. While most development has been with logging transport, there have been some specialised trailers built for carrying zinc, and special trailers for Antarctica.

In 1981, the company built the first Elphinstone folding tri-axle jinker, subsequently designing the “Tri-beam” suspension and expanding the fitment of onboard weighing systems to include tankers and explosives trucks.

In 1986, Elphinstone manufactured the world’s first folding skeletal trailer, the Fold-A-Skel, following this achievement some two years later by producing the company’s B-double timber jinker. This was the first in Australia with a tandem bogie lead and tri-axle rear trailer.

In 1994, the company produced its first hydraulic folding skel’, incorporating air suspension into the design of all trailers in 1995. The first Easyloader™ tri-tri B-double followed in 1997, with the release of the first tandem/tandem Easyloader™ B-double 12 months later in 1998.

This decade also saw the export of B-Doubles and the introduction of on-vehicle weighing to South Africa, the introduction of air suspensions to trailers for the Australian market, and the introduction of tandem and tri-axle jinkers to the rear of Easyloader™.

Further innovation were released in 2005 with the introduction of the world’s first Easyloader™ self-loading B-triple, the self-loading road train and the Long Logger B-double, capable of carting 19 m loads in a single length. The company also designed and built a range of pole trailers from single axle up to three-axle self-steering, including an extendable pole trailer for multiple length poles.

Elphinstone continues to be at the forefront of innovative design with the Easysteer™ suspension, which will increase payload and deck length and provide very accurate on-vehicle weighing.

Elphinstone weighing systems and logging trailers are designed and manufactured in Australia, with company locations in Triabunna in Tasmania, Sunshine West in Victoria, Manjimup in Western Australia and Hervey Bay in Queensland.

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