Powerful newcomer means business in trailers and containers
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by R. D. Cater • With the setting up of a container and semi-trailer manufacturing plant at Dukinfield, Cheshire, the multi-million-pound Acrow engineering group looks as though it intends to get in on the container boom in a big way. The factory in which the new plant has been installed is at the former boilermaking works of Adamson (now Adamson and Hatchett Ltd.), famed for its attention to accuracy. And, nothing is being spared to ensure that the production facilities of the new plant can churn out both trailers and containers at speeds more in keeping with car production lines.
The industry may well see the biggest revolution in trailer business since the entry of Fruehauf in the middle '50s.
Already something like £250,000 has been spent laying down jigs and fixtures, testing rigs and machinery, and in cleaning up and decorating the interior of the old plant. This last point registers in my mind the determination of Adamson and Hatchett to secure really high production figures while at the same time continuing with an excellent record of labour relations.
When I visited the company recently, although work was still in progress on the conversion of the factory, there was enough to be seen to show what the future holds. Containers were already rolling off the line, part of an order from a Swedish shipping company for 27. Prototype skeletal and bodied semi-trailers had already been manufactured and for some weeks been in use by various interested operators. Although these units looked to be on the heavy side there was also ample evidence that what have proved to be weak points on many production units of other makes were well taken care of in this range.
When I commented to Mr. N. F. L. Eyers, sales manager, trailer and container division, that the vehicles looked heavy, he agreed. He considered that this was the way to start rather than build light and then beef up. The ailers would now be evaluated and value igineered to make sure that the final designs roved to be light enough to carry profitable ayloads, robust enough to stand everyday tar and tear, and priced to meet what the ompany recognizes as extremely tough ompetition.
Fabricated I-beams 19in. deep and having in. by 0.375in. flanges are used to form the lain frames. Substantial cross-members race these apart but I was disturbed to see iat some of the outriggers intended to upport the intermediate sizes of container rere merely mounted on to the outsides of le main frames. When under load, the main mme at these points would be placed under uite severe torsional stress. Rubery Owen arming gear will be used exclusively throughut the range of trailers to be produced.
Although the standard trailer range has nd will be designed at Dukinfield, the vanodied types will be of the American Great >ane design, popular in the United States for le last 15 years, and modified to suit British 4oT regulations. The Great Dane aluminium nd stainless steel vans are designed for hard Kirk. Although they are attractive, the first equirement of the designers was to produce . rugged wrack-free unit which would stand he everyday rough and tumble for many 'ears without sagging in the middle or twistlig to such an extent that side and rear doors 'annot be closed.
Some features of this range are: the :orners front and rear are made up by subtantial alloy castings instead of a pure joint isually employed in UK-built vans. The cant ail is of unusual design in that the actual oof panel is set in by some 0.75in. from the iutside edge of the body. This is to provide rotection from overhanging trees and the ike.
The roof panels are riveted in situ and are re-stressed by a patented design of roof bow ind fitting system. This design, which is also ised for the roof of the Adamson Great Dane :ontainers, is based on a special pressing which produces the effect of a very stiff ipring. The assembly jig springs the bows lown straight while the roof panels are being iveted.
With the riveting operation completed, he jig releases the bows which spring back .owards their original arc, placing the roof iheets in tension and stopping drumming sad flexing which leads inevitably to fractures Ind leaks. Heavy section rubbing rails or ;cuffers as Americans call them, surround the front panel and corner posts and tie these and the front crossmember together. The front panel is made up by eight closely spaced 2in. Z-section posts, riveted to /035in. stainless steel sheets.
A heavy sectioned-steel rear frame picks up on the rear corner castings and forms a recessed door opening. Hinges, locking handles and lighting fittings are all contained within the extremity of this frame, protecting them from accidental damage.
The floor of the Great Dane is supported by 4in. I-section beams which, according to the model, can be of high tensile steel or aluminium. These are double riveted to the side-members. Two stabilizing channels, one in the roof and one under the floor, complete an almost completely wrack-proof assembly to which, in the UK, Rubery Owen running gear will be added.
Electrics are carried in plastics conduit on the outsides of the body making for 'simple replacement. Panelling, which is optional in stainless steel or light alloy, is fitted in 24in.wide strips to facilitate replacement after accident damage.
Aluminium extrusions run the full length of the inside body tying the sideposts together and retaining plywood panels forming the interior lining. Where required, units can be supplied either refrigerated or insulated.
Many of the constructional details of the van bodies are retained in the containers being made at Dukinfield, except that these will be in steel only. Close inspection of the Adamson and Hatchett units shows that these are among the best. The same principle of recessed door furnishings is used and I was interested to see that the doors were locked by twin double-cam locks.
The group of containers going through the works during my visit was equipped with extremely heavy fork-lift tunnels which are an optional extra. Adamson and Hatchett is marketing its containers at very attractive prices. A 20ft x 8ft x 8ft ISO unit, lined with plywood and supplied as a one off, costing only £400.