Tatra’s latest import, the thoroughly ripped 62t GVM 10×10 Phoenix dump truck, is opening eyes on mining sites where it is comprehensively outperforming articulated dump-trucks.
The positives are plentiful, especially as the Phoenix, which promises to be a standout attraction in Brisbane, is a road-legal truck that can move itself between sites without the need for a heavy-haulage rig with a float.
Presently, that’s only possible in WA, where the expanded limit of 12-tonnes for the front twin-steers has been a boon.
Tatra’s greatest technical asset is of course its chassis design, which is why operators can mix and match drive, steer and lazy axles in any configuration. All the wheels drive, through Tatra’s modular swing-arm set-up, mounted on the unique tubular chassis pipe.
At the front, there’s air-bellows suspension with telescopic shocks, plus dis-engageable front drive and hub reduction. The rear bogie has leaf springs instead of air, with its own diff locks and hub reduction. The pusher axle has air bellows, and steers as well, helping – just a little – with the turning circle.
The result is the smoothest off-road ride of any heavy-duty truck by far, especially on broken surfaces with undulating and uneven terrain.
Each sub-axle handles the road surface independently of its mates on the other side, in front, and behind.
Truck bodies on Tatra’s experience minimal twisting moments when off-road, or indeed on some of Australia’s bitumen nightmares. That’s also the secret to its traction capability, and the reason Tatras are pretty much unstoppable.
Jason Hooper has personal experience with the new Tatra configuration. He owns WA-based Manage Mi Operations and has three of the new trucks, with another two on order.
Hooper first experienced Tatra before launching Manage Mi, when Chevron used some Tatras on Barrow Island for the tasks other trucks couldn’t handle.
He got to know OffRoad Trucks Australia owner, the late Larry Gill who brought Tatra to Australia, and they developed the idea of the 10×10 tipper together.
He is on his way to building a fleet of the 10×10 configuration as his business grows. The Phoenix has worked in cycle with 8x4s, 6x4s, semi-tippers, 6×4 with dog and 40t articulated dump trucks (ADTs) in soft sand and limestone.
Hooper has frequently jumped the queue at the loader when other trucks have traction problems.
“I get more loads than other tippers on site as this thing takes six buckets of material versus the four buckets on 8x8s. It does five times the volume of the 6x6s,” said Hooper.
The truck is imported with a tipping body by VS-Mont, also a Czech company well experienced in heavy-duty off-road applications. The cable operated tailgate saves on hydraulics and servicing.
Hooper hardly uses the service brakes on-site, as the engine brake and Allison’s retarder do most of the work. Tyres are another economy. They cost between $1200 and $1500 each, a lot less than the several thousand dollars for a loader tyre. Tyres on typical mine site plant are not designed for long transits at speed, and this is where the Phoenix cruises comfortably between loading and drop-off.
Fuel is a major saving – between 8-14l/hour, around half the rate of an ADT. It also helps the equation that the up-front cost of a dump truck can probably fund close to two Phoenix 10x10s.
Tatra’s distributor, OffRoad Trucks Australia, keeps parts for every component on the ground in Perth, so he’s never had an issue with service delays.
The Phoenix model range has been a huge boost for Tatra in Australia.
Tatra’s standard eastern European styled cab, which is still available on certain models, is what you might call “functional,” although even that’s a little kind.
Phoenix’s DAF-sourced cab on the other hand brings the latest European digital trimmings, as well as the PACCAR MX-13 530hp 2600Nm turbo diesel six, with an Allison 4700 7-speed auto transmission bolted on the back.
The drive transits through Tatra’s own auxiliary gearbox which delivers two ratios and up to 1.435 reduction.