Freighter were trying to apply the KISS principle for trailers when bringing out a new curtain sider trailer, which only has six buckles down each side, compared to the normal 22. The T-Liner Mark II is a step-change evolution to the curtain sided trailer, featuring less than a third as many buckles while maintaining the same equivalent vertical curtain tension.
The new design was developed using the techniques developed when Freighter was designing the EziLiner, but with a simpler securing system. For many, the question would be, why didn’t Freighter think of it before?
“We released the EziLiner back in 2008,” said Mario Colosimo, Freighter General Manager. “It was revolutionary and is very successful. It’s something we have a patent on. By having a rope running through those arcs, it distributes the downforce on the ropes across the curtain, therefore you only need six points pulled down. The rope distributes the downforce across the whole curtain.”
Currently, about 25 per cent of trailers made by Freighter are EziLiners, using this principle. It works well for a big group of clients, but it doesn’t suit all operators.
“Whether it’s right or wrong, the market has an aversion to anything which is automatic,” said Mario. “Most operators still like simple manual things. They can see how it works and can get it fixed on the side of the road, by almost anybody.
“We wanted to come up with something different. It’s a no-brainer when you look at the Mark ll and you find yourself thinking this should have been done years ago. We looked at it and thought, why can’t we make a manual version. We are still using the rope through the arcs and looked for a way of doing it with a buckle.”
It’s probably necessary to point out, the T-Liner Mark ll was not designed to replace the EziLiner, but was designed to be an alternative to the conventional 22 buckle curtain sider. EziLiner will continue to sell in those tasks where every single minute is precious, on high turnover loading.
The trick to the arcs is how the system has to create a certain level of downforce for the curtain to work properly. It’s important for keeping the roof down on the post, as well as keeping the curtain tight.
“What we needed with the Mark ll was to have the same total downforce with six buckles, as you have with 22,” says Mario. “So, we worked on the buckle design to give us more downforce per buckle. Part of the way of achieving the increased force is by wrapping the strap underneath the tie rail. Whatever force the buckle is generating is doubled by pulling down on the rope.
“The other thing we wanted to do, at the same time, was create a buckle which won’t go loose. The reason other buckles go loose is because of vibration and the slipperiness of the actual buckle. Our new design includes an integrated clamp into the buckle to hold the strap in place and ensure it doesn’t loosen over a long journey.
“Most of the development work went into the buckle and not the curtain. We already knew the curtain would work with the rope. In the end, for us, it was a very low risk development. You look at it and say, why wasn’t this done before.”
The buckle was built from scratch. It provides more force and has an anti-slip feature designed into it. It is the first time a strap clamp has been included in a buckle and Freighter have patented the idea.
Over time, it looks like the Mark ll design will be fitted on a big proportion of Freighter curtain siders. This may take some time as many in the Australian trucking industry like to see a technology well proven before dipping their toe in the water.