The Phantom Rides Again
GE Hughes Construction Co. has taken delivery of a very special tilt tray, a Scania 10x4*6, dedicated to the company’s founder and arch Phantom fan, the late Garry Hughes.
Transport, civil, commercial and domestic construction company GE Hughes based in Lobethal, South Australia, has taken delivery of a unique Scania 10x4*6 tilt tray to be used across the group to move machinery, bulky construction materials and containers.
The group operates a fleet of Scania tipper and dog sets across South Australia and it was therefore a natural choice to turn to Scania for the basis of this exceptional vehicle.
For a hard-working multi-purpose truck, Scania’s 620 hp V8 16-litre engine driving through the Scania Opticruise automated gear changing system provides the ideal powertrain. The driven wheels are fitted with an air pressure inflation monitoring system that allows traction to be enhanced on rough or broken surfaces onsite.
This 10x4*6 Scania chassis has a majestic 7100 mm wheelbase and 38,200 kg capable GVM (well in excess of the current national GVM regulations).
The rearmost axle is a steerable tag shod with a super single tyre; the same tyre fitted to the four steers up front. The tag can be raised when running on light loads or empty.
Scania places a huge emphasis on driver safety and applies all of its latest active and passive safety systems to its V8 range. Thus, the tilt tray truck comes with a comprehensive array of active safety packages, comprising Advanced Emergency Braking, Electronic Stability Control, Lane Departure Warning and Adaptive Cruise Control. Lighting is LED from headlights to taillights. The Scania Hill Holder is also fitted to prevent rollback when starting off on inclines.
As with all New Truck Generation Scanias, the truck also features side curtain rollover protection airbags and a steering wheel-mounted airbag to protect the driver in a front or front offset collision.
The 9.1 m tray can carry 14-tonnes of payload, and a 30,000 lb winch is used for pulling loads onto the back of the truck. There’s also a container-pusher cylinder for assisting the demounting of boxes, required due to the high friction coating applied to the tray top.
A pair of stabiliser legs are also fitted behind the rear axle and slightly inboard of the wheels to provide a stable platform for the tilting and loading operation. Also assisting stability for loading and unloading in uneven conditions is the fitment of adjustable air suspension on front and rear axles.
The tray was designed and fabricated by Ahrns Handling Equipment in South Australia. It is one of the biggest the company produces and this application required a good deal of tailored engineering. For example, custom hydraulic cylinders were fabricated to be able to provide the lift angle required and for the length of the slide, in order to clear the third axle, as there’s a longer than usual distance between the pivot points.
The tilt tray features low gates around its perimeter, and the tilt and slide movement is radio-controlled to allow the operator full roaming range around the vehicle while the tray is in motion. A two-speed gearbox allows the tray to be quickly manoeuvred, or more slowly for delicate operations where a crawl-speed is required. There’s also a custom towing package as the truck will often be pulling a weighty trailer.
AHE was so impressed with the capability of the GE Hughes specification truck, the company has ordered its own Scania chassis to build a similar – albeit 8x4 – version as a demonstrator unit.
The tilt tray sits on a Scania XT chassis with a stout, 150 mm protruding steel bumper, front underrun bash plate as well as guards for the headlamps, ideal for protecting it in harsh working environments typically found in construction and bulk materials handling.
The cab is from Scania’s R-series: a Day Cab with a low roof height. The wide and spacious cab allows the driver and passenger plenty of safety and convenience features as well as a quiet and comfortable working environment.
Despite its length, the adoption of the twin-steer front axle shrinks the turning circle as well as providing for extra weight over the front, which means on a multi-drop delivery the last load to be removed can stay in place until it reaches its destination.
After six months on the road the XT has been to the far corners of the GE Hughes empire as well as to Port Augusta, and Goulburn in New South Wales, and has racked up 15,000 km often laden with gear and pulling a trailer.
“As a family business, I have had a tilt tray on the wish list for the last 4 to 5 years but second-hand tilt trays are hard to find especially to suit GE Hughes Construction Co. requirements,” Duane Hughes said.
“So Paul Riddell from Scania and I started to specify a truck which could carry a majority of our plant, 9 m steel reinforcing and structural steel, shift containers, have a ring feeder, serve as a mechanical recovery truck, and look extremely tough while doing all of this.
“This is how we derived at the design of the Phantom, with my youngest brother, Luke, ensuring the most important part: that it had a V8, so we live in the right lane and not the left. “Paul suggested the grey metallic paint and specified the truck as required to give it a ‘Wow’ factor.
The vehicle was dedicated to the memory of the founder of the business, Garry Hughes, who passed away suddenly in 2019. He was a fan of the Phantom cartoon character so in his memory, his son Duane who now runs the business, commissioned a local artist, Paul Duff, to festoon the vehicle with Phantom-inspired icons as well as emblazoning an image of his late father on the side of the cab as the phantom character.
“The graphics mean a lot to our family and the Hughes Group, as every sticker has a meaning, even down to the 10 tigers down each side of the body, and this way, my late father, Garry, will always be watching what we are all up to,” Duane said.
“To say we are proud of the truck is an understatement as it’s a crowd stopper wherever it goes. Paul did a fantastic job.”
“I was very excited to build this truck for Duane, Garry and Luke Hughes,” said Scania Adelaide New Truck Account Manager, Paul Riddell.
“It is the biggest tilt tray I have built, and it has come up really well. The lifting lazy axle helps to increase the payload and the 8x4 configuration is well proven within Scania as an efficient way to cope with diminishing load issues.
“The V8 engine puts out 3000 Nm of torque so whatever is on the back will be able to be moved with ease, irrespective of the terrain, for example hauling construction equipment up the Adelaide Hills with a fully-loaded trailer on the back,” Paul said.
“This vehicle was the last one Garry Hughes ordered before he passed away, and we were delighted we could present it with this livery to the Hughes family in time for their corporate Christmas event last year,” Paul said.
GE Hughes is committed to the provision of high-quality construction services, driven by the ‘one stop source’ principle. The company is a closely related series of divisions which operate extremely flexibly in various configurations to provide a total ‘holistic’ service to clients, removing much of the risk, expense and time wasting involved in dealing with multiple entities. The concept of a company with a ‘family’ of client divisions, provides an insight into the culture of ‘Building on Tradition’, which is key to the 45 years plus of the GE Hughes journey.