It doesn’t take much for things to go sour in the fickle game of road transport, which is what Matty Winterfield of Mount Gambier based Winterfields Float Hire, experienced several years ago when two of his major clients went under in quick succession, both owing him a lot of money.
“We were in a lot of trouble and at the time I couldn’t see a way out so I started preparing to sell up and cut our losses,” says Matty. “I approached a good client who agreed to buy one of the combinations and organised for the other to be sold to someone else.
“As it happened, the good client paid us straight away for the gear then day-hired it back to us so we could continue to do their work for a couple of months. Meanwhile, the prospective buyer of the other truck and float eventually pulled out of the sale which meant we were able to keep operating that unit also.
“It was touch and go for a few months, but we managed to keep our heads above water and get back on our feet again, which I was really happy about because I love doing this sort of work,” recalls Matty.
One of the keys to the subsequent success of Winterfields Float Hire is diversity, with Matty describing the company’s mantra as ‘you name it, we haul it’. This includes everything from grape harvesters to rock crushing plants, wood-chippers, tree harvesters, dozers, earthmoving machinery and agricultural equipment.
“We have some really good clients around the Mount who are very loyal to us,” says Matty. “We do a fair bit of truck recovery work for the likes of Cummins, Daimler Trucks and O. G. Roberts, it’s probably easier to tell you who we don’t work for.”
Hybrid of a different kind
When you are in the fickle game of road transport and own a heavy haulage business, being able to quickly and efficiently adapt to a wide variety of haulage tasks is definitely the key to success. This is a prime reason Matty reckons the hybrid 4×4 float is the best thing since sliced bread.
So much so that this is actually his third hybrid steering widener, featuring a uniquely designed and engineered platform that Matty says combines the stability of a full widener with the manoeuvrability and reduced tyre wear, thanks to twin steerable BPW axles, of a deck widener.
According to Matty, after owning three of these revolutionary units there’s no way he’d go back to either a full widener or a deck widener, such is his belief in having the best features of both without the inherent drawbacks.
For example, the well-documented ‘Achilles Heel’ of full wideners is the excessive scrubbing of the tyres on turns when the unit is fully widened. However, the upside is that the wide track of the wheels provides ultimate stability of the trailer when carrying wide and heavy loads.
On the other hand, the deck widener has a standard wheel track width which means when the deck is widened, the outer extremities of the deck protrude well beyond the wheel track, making the unit much less stable compared with the full widener.
Enter the hybrid steering widener, a design that effectively negates the aforementioned drawbacks of each design by combining the positive attributes of both. In short, the best of both worlds.
The hybrid, for stability, has the forward two axles that widen with the deck as per a full widener, while the rear pair of axles remain fixed in deck widener fashion.
However, the real secret weapon with the rear tandem set is its steerability, with all four duals either self-tracking when travelling forwards or command-steerable when reversing into tight confines.