Tech Talk

Game-changing fifth wheel

Beggs Bulk, based in Mildura, hauls stock feed from Victoria and South Australia to cattle feedlots in Queensland and beyond.

Ken Beggs’ operation runs regular round trips of up to nearly 3000km and he has made a career of staying ahead of the competition by investing in leading-edge road transport equipment. 

About 12 months ago he purchased a road train set of Titan Thinwall walking floor trailers which were imported from Canada, now with another two on order. 

Supporting these assets to the business, Beggs has also invested in the latest fifth wheel from SAF-Holland to be fitted to his road train dolly. This kingpin feature SAF-Holland’s Eli-te (Electronic Lock Inspection – technology enhanced) Fifth Wheel Coupling Assistant, as the name implies, assists the driver with managing the coupling procedure via modern dash mounted systems.

“When I first turn the ignition on, I can see a red light which is mounted on the front right-hand side of the dolly,” Beggs said – adding there are another two red lights mounted under the turntable, one on each side. 

“If it is flashing red then I know the pin has been released. If it is not flashing then I have some reassurance that the pin is still locked. However, this doesn’t stop me from checking the locking clamps up close. 

“When the switch for the air operated lever is activated, the red light will flash giving a visual indication that it is ready to pull the dolly out from under the tag trailer.”

The Eli-te Fifth Wheel Coupling Assistant, according to Beggs, helps to eliminate muscle strain as the simple act of flicking switch negates the need to use brute force to pull the lever to release the pin.

“I’m in my late 60s now and I’m just not as strong as I once was,” Beggs said. “It also eliminates the need to get back in the truck and reverse back into the trailer to release pressure that sometimes prevents you from pulling the lever. 

“It is such a simple system. It is just an air operated ram that pushes on the release arm.”

As for challenges associated with coupling connections and preventing trailer drops, SAF-Holland’s innovation provides another level of reassurance for the operator that the pin has been locked in place.

“The jaws on the turntable are illuminated by a bright white LED which helps you see that the jaws are locked around the pin,” he says. “I had an experience once where I had done the usual couple of tug tests, made the visual check to see that the jaws were locked in, yet the trailer came unhooked. If the red light is not flashing then you can be sure that the jaws have completely locked around the pin.”

So impressed with his experience with the latest SAF-Holland fifth wheel set-up, Beggs is preparing a similar combination for his son who recently joined the business.

“I am more than impressed with the reassurance the lights give you that the pin is safely locked in,” Beggs said. 

“The simple process of turning a switch instead of lugging on the lever has taken all the strain off my arm and shoulder. I’m so impressed with the system that I am fitting it to a new prime mover and dolly which will soon be in operation.”

For more information, contact 1300 131 613 or visit

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