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4th September 1997
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Page 29, 4th September 1997 — HEAVY METAL
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Which of the following most accurately describes the problem?

If you know exactly what you want, Foden will build it for you. This 8x4 mates four hundred horsepower to a substantial chassis and cab— is it just the job, or too much of a good thing?

There are basically two routes to specifying an eight-wheeler these days. You can talk to a manufacturer that builds every part of the truck, and let them match engine ratings with gearbox and final drive ratios, or you can opt for a chassis builder who offers more freedom of choice in the major componentry.

When customers go to Foden for a tipper they are very definitely taking the second route. You can pick from Cummins, Perkins and Caterpillar engines, a choice of gearboxes and a variety of aides and suspension systems. The truck can be specifically tailored to your exact application and requirements.

And you can put two cabs on the options list too, with the smaller 3000 Series cab saving a little bit of weight while the larger, fullwidth 4000 Series offers more mom for the driver to work in.

Opt for a high-horsepower engine with a bomb-proof gearbox and axles, heavy-duty rubber suspension and the bigger cab and you'll probably end up with something pretty similar to our tit vehicle.

The truck belongs to Kent-based Wilton Contracts and has clearly been designed with heavy-duty muckaway and waste management work in mind. Add a heavy steel body to the 4000 Series chassis and we are talking about a pretty hefty eight-wheeler.

We put it around the Commercial Motor tipper test route to assess its performance.


The Foden 4405 was born from an options list and it is based on the more popular 4380. But with the wonders of modern technology, Cummins and Foden can plug a computer into the Celect engine management system and wind the power rating up from 380 to 405hp (a true 399 horsepower) in a matter of minutes.

This has the added bonus of lifting peak torque from an already healthy 1,3461bft to an impressive 1,4751bft at just 1,200rpm. One thing the 4,405 is not short of is low-down pulling power!

Wilton has specified the Eaton 13-speed constant-mesh box, but while it may be unbreakable it can also be obstructive and difficult to use. Get the revs right and the box will swap cogs as sweetly as a synchromesh, but get out of time and, if the gear will go in at all, it will be accompanied by a crunch.

While there must be plenty of drivers out there who happily work their way through this box on a daily basis, and continued use obviously makes for improvement, the crash box in this Foden was hard work. When there are so many good gearboxes out there which anyone can get in and work with straight away, you have to question the future of such dated technology.

One item that was welcome was the fitting of a Jacobs engine brake. This two-stage retarder replaces the less effective exhaust brake and offers considerable stopping power if you get the revs up high. On the test track it was almost possible to stop the truck on a 1in-4 descent just by using the Jake.

On the road it is best to leave the Jake switched to its automatic position, which means that seconds after you lift off the throttle it will start to retard the vehicle. But it is better to switch it off in stop-start situations where you just want to roll forward on a trailing throttle.

A bonus that comes as part of Cummins Celect engine control is standard cruise control, operated by switches in the dash to the left of the driver. This certainly makes motorway driving easier as you can just flick it on and sit back.

You can accelerate in lmph increments by briefly touching the bottom of the switch or slowly, lmph at a time, by tapping the set switch at the top. For any driver travelling a good distance on dual carriageways or motorways it really is essential equipment.

The Foden 4000 Series runs on a strong, nononsense steel chassis with steel parabolic springs at the front and rubber suspension at the rear. It provides a reasonably comfortable ride, though there was some jiggling of the steering wheel on anything but the smoothest surfaces This could be due in part to Wilton's fitting of Michelin XZY tyres all round, which though undoubtedly long-lasting for arduous site applications, do not always give the smoothest ride on the road.

• PRODUCTIVITY Going for the biggest cab, with a strong chassis, and then putting a steel muckaway body on its back, is hardly a recipe for a low tare weight. Wilton's truck tips the scales at 12,390kg unladen, which will win it few friends among aggregates hauliers.

But muckaway contractors have other considerations. This truck is going to be put through some severe conditions and it has to work hard for a living. Exactly how much you can put in the back is often less important Foden's 4380 works well enough with 380hp, so how will it cope with a higher output? It could have gone one of two ways. Either the additional power means the engine doesn't work as hard, and fuel consumption is improved. Or the potential under the throttle pedal makes for faster driving but a higher cost at the pumps.

In the case of the 4405 it's a bit of both. On the motorway the Foden managed one of the best consumption figures we've seen from an eight-wheeler, recording an impressive 9.09mpg. But on the harder A-road route it suffered, and dropped to 7.06mpg, well below the competition. This gives a two-day overall figure of 7.72mpg.

Part of the problem has to be down to gearing. The gearbox and axle ratios are designed to work with a 380hp engine. Upping the output to 405hp Foden could possibly have opted for a revised differential ratio.

This is most noticeable on the motorway. The big 4405 will reach the limited 90km/h maximum in the top three gears, the only difference being that the revs drop with each additional ratio to an admirably low 1,400rpm in top.

This also means that it is not really viable to get into 13th when driving on single-carriageway A-roads, as the revs fall off rapidly on even the slightest upgrade. A revised final drive ratio could make a big difference to fuel consumption.

If, however, you need to climb big hills on a regular basis there really is no substitute for that extra horsepower. On the crippling Edge Hill, which climbs at its steepest at 16% for more than 1.1km, the big Foden simply shrugged off the climb and shot effortlessly to the top in 2min 10sec. Impressive stuff.

• ON THE ROAD The Eaton gearbox, which is a 12-speed plus crawler, uses a four-speed gate with a range change and split gears on the top four ratios.

The lever is the same as for a Twin-Splitter, with the second position working the range change and the top position the split gears.

Crawler gear aside, it was possible to move off laden in the first or second gear positions, block shifting up to the third or fourth and into the upper ratios. The splitter is rarely used below the top two whole gears and you have to remind yourself to change up into the top split when rolling.

The handling is a bit on the bouncy side at the front end and the steering is heavy at lower speeds. But the big Foden is stable and surefooted through the bends, and can be pushed along swiftly on that tidal wave of torque.

The brakes are strong, with little effort required to slow the truck down, and the pedal is reassuringly firm. To make the best of the jake brake you have to come down at least two gears to get the revs up, which is a little bit at odds with today's low-revs, high-torque driving style.

Other trucks that we have tried with the Cummins Mll engine have responded well to this low-rev, early-gear-change approach, but the big Foden was happier with a few more rpm on the clock, despite its power advantage.

• CAB COMFORT Foden's 3000 Series cab offers more than enough for most tipper drivers, yet Wilton has opted for the full monty and chosen the larger 4000 Series. This not only provides a wider cab but plenty of headroom too.

There is plenty of space in the cab, but it's not the most luxuriously trimmed. This, too, points to its intended use as a hard-working muckaway tipper. Hard plastic abounds in the dash and trim, which is easy to keep clean but not as comfortable as some others on the market_ The driver's scat is comfortable and sup

portive and there is good visibility all round from large windows and well-placed mirrors.

It was not easy to get the steering wheel, which is adjustable, just where we wanted it and still see all the dials on the dash. To get a good view of the top of the clocks we had to have the wheel a little further forward, and more upright than we would have liked.

The dash is angled round to put the Jacobs brake and cruise control switches within easy reach of the driver's left hand, though our tester prefers stalk-mounted cruise controls.


Foden's 4405 is a very hard one to call. It won't be to everyone's taste, and this particular truck will probably suit very few tipper operators. But that is the whole point, isn't it? This truck suits Wilton Contracts down to the ground. lithe company had wanted the same as everyone else it could have bought a Volvo or Scania off the peg.

Wilton wanted the big 4000 Series cab, the strong if heavy chassis, the long-lasting con

stant-mesh box and most of all, 405hp to pull it all around.

This sort of individual specification doesn't come cheap. All up with the Jacobs brake, the metallic paint and the air horns the Foden chassis has a list price on the frightening side of L82,500. Even if list prices aren't what people actually end up paying, you have to get _them interested first.

Most tipper operators would opt for the lighter and more manoeuvrable 3000 Series Foden, and probably make do with a little less power. But with a 25hp hike in output just a few computer strokes away, it must be hard to resist. Whether the engine remains perfectly matched to the rest of the driveline after this boost is debatable.

Kxlens 4405 is not the best eight-wheeler tipper in the world, though for some applications it mild easily be the right choice. The beauty of it is that if this one doesn't meet your needs, you can talk to Foden and they'll build you one that does.

El try Dan Gilkes Price (chassis cab only) £82,519 including options (ex-VAT). Engine: 11.0 litres, 399hp (298kW).

GVVV: 32.0 tonnes. Body/payload allowance: 22.98 tonnes. Average speed: 63.0km/h. Fuel consumption: 7.72 mpg (36.6 lit/100km).


errna Foden 4405 Design GVW: 32,000 kg Plated GVW: 32,000 kg.

Mantrfacturer: Faden Trucks, Moss Lane, Sondbath, Cheshire


gIMMi Cummins, MI I 405E fouestroke kirhocharged and

charge-cooled diesel.

Cylinders: Six, in-line.

Bore and stoke: 125 x 147mm.

Capacity: 10 8 likes.

Max net power 3991ip 298kW) at 1,900rpm.

Max net torque: 1,475Ib fi 12,000Nnil at I ,200rpm.

IHEREMEI Foton RIO 15613, canslanhrnesh I 3ed.

Final drive Rockwell RT52, Clutch: Spicer, single dry plate.

CEEMEMANal Deal-circuit full air incorporating load sellsing Parking: 5pring brakes on second steer and rearmost axles. Exhaust broke; ri/o.

Retarder: Optional Jacobs broke heed

MEM Recircukaing hail with hydrnulx assistance

HEM Fully balled llhchonnel Immo Dimensions: 273x89x9 5inm Suspension: Front, toper Tool steel parabolic springs with double-acting telescopic shock absorbers. Rear Foden FF20 maintenance-hoc rubber suspension.

Wheelbase: 6 fm Didier axles.

Axle design weights: Front bogie 14,200Ikg; rear bogie 23,000Icg.

Wheels and tyres: Front, 8.25x22.5 wheels with X.ZY type 1 2Rx22.5 radial lyres, mur, 8.25x72.5 wheels with X7Y type 12R22,5 rodial tyres ITIMERRIMEN 24v negative earth Generator:55A MI Charlton 8 McGovern riplite Groundhog Gear Eribro DX16, Front-end.

BEEMEEMENgi 12 months bumper to bumper, Two years engine and gearbox.

DEALERS AND SERVICE POINTS: 16 main dealers with 6.4 dealer


Kerbweight, chassis cab 9.02 tonnes As tested with tank of fuel 32.00 tonnes Tare weight 12.39 tonnes

Net payload 19.61 tonnes

km/h sec

0-32 11.2 0-48 20.0 0-64 32.4 0-80 49.2 48-80 26.4 64-85 24.9


Motorway (105Akm/65.5miles): Average speed: 76.7km/h (477mph). Fuel consumption: 9.09mpg (31.114/100km).

A-roads (157.2km/97.7miles): Average speed: 577km/h (35.8mph). Fuel consumption: 7.06mpg (40.0 ii/100km).

Overall (262.6km/) 63.2miles): Average speed: 63.0m/h (39.1mph). Fuel consumption: 7.72mpg (36.6lit/100km)

A Foden driver, an ERF man and a Volvo driver who had never driven a Foden tried this powerful beast. Verdicts included: "not a bad bit of kit"; "nice to have this level ofrower" and "extra grunt is just what you need".

Ivan Hooper was the first of three ownerdrivers whom we invited to try this powerful Foden eight-wheeler. We met up with him at Redland's Tarmac plant at Radler at the end of his shift. Hooper normally drives on E-reg Foden eight-wheeler with a smaller Cummins L10 325 engine. The view is 100% better to the front and sides compared to the older ones," he observed as he settled in, "but I would lower this driver's side mirror to improve the three-quarter view? As we pulled out on to the main road he told us: "The foot pedals feel a bit lower down, which is better than on mine, but this dutch is sharp. I've always had Fodens so I am used to the constant-mesh box. This one is quite precise, although gear lever movement is still stiff. The power is unbelievable," he added, as he moved into a higher gear while dimbing a steepish hill. It's got bogs of torque at low revs and that extra grunt is just what you need on site. On the road you don't need to use every gear in turn; it's very easy to block change. 1 think the brakes are better on this truck than mine but I am not used to the engine brake yet. It would take me a while to get the best out of it. This has a smaller steering wheel than I am used to which I am not so sine about, but the lock is good. I don't think it's any quieter than mine but I could drive her all day—no problem. I like the grey trim," he said. Mat Keoghan has owned his ERF 8x4 with a Cummins 265 engine since 1990. He adjusted the steering column OK but the seat would not move far enough back for him, even though there was space behind. When asked how tall he is he replied: "I'm about six foot and I don't think my legs are that long, but I feel uncomfortably close to the pedals and the steering wheel." After driving for a few minutes he said: "The gearbox feels very new. I am used to cable linkage. It makes the lever feel a bit sloppy but gear selection is stiff. The truck rides very well and holds the rood without much cab roll. The brakes on my ERF pull up a lot better than this, but then I keep them adjusted right up. Noise levels are quite good, you wouldn't know it was loaded to 32

KeryriuriThe truck ride., very vr, tonnes. it's nice to have this level of power. You just

keep going on the hills and with fewer gear changes it must be saving on fuel. The way this engine pulls you really only need an eight-speed _gearbox. Generally there is plenty of space inside the cab and it's got a comfortable seat. The steering wheel covers the speedo so I would like the dash to be a bit higher. The trim looks quite good to keep dean, even on this type of work."

Tony Connell has a Volvo FL10 320 and had never driven a Foden before. 'The cab seems nice and comfortable, everything is close to hand and there is plenty of visibility,' he said, settling in behind the steering wheel. "Not much thought has been given to the PTO control. It is right in front of my left knee. it sticks out, so ifs not the safest place. It needs to be on the right of the steering column so that _you can operate it easily while looking back at the load through the driver's door window or while standing alongside the truck? Unused to the transmission, he selected third which caused him to remark: "I needed to give her plenty of gun to get away? It was clear that he was going to experience some difficulty. "The gate is very wide," he added in justification as he realised his mistake. "The linkage feels loose but the gears are stiff and heavy," he said. 'There is loads of power, though. I doubt if you would ever have to change clown on the motorway. Mine is a lot quieter than this. The ride is a bit bumpy but the brakes seem OK and the Jake brake is very good." As we pulled back into the yard he told us: "My ninespeed box is a lot easier. This is hard work—a waste of time. I would need a couple of hours to get used to it. There is no need for gear changing to be this difficult. Otherwise ifs not a bad bit of kit?

Hooper The power k unbelievable."

iviLiuvo Connell: -The ride is a bit bumpy but the brakes seem OK."


Locations: Kent

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