Used Equip­ment Test: Doosan DA40 dump truck

Never one to shy away from climb­ing be­hind the wheel of any type of truck, Matt Wood heads off the roads he knows so well to take a look at the Doosan DA40 ar­tic­u­lated dump truck

Earthmovers & Excavators - - News -

The op­por­tu­nity arose re­cently for me to trade my log­book and bad high­way at­ti­tude for some dirt road desert haul­ing and have a closer look at life be­hind the wheel on the other side of the chain link fence.

So I headed to Kal­go­or­lie and spent some time in a gold mine with a six-wheel drive Doosan DA40 dump truck. As you can see from the pics, it’s not a brand-spanker – this ex­am­ple is a part of ADT’s WA hire fleet. ADT is the West Aus­tralian agent for Doosan ar­tics, so as a re­sult they sell, hire and ser­vice these off-road bangers.

The DA40 has been up­dated a lit­tle since this truck hit the hire fleet. Driv­e­line ra­tios have been re­vised, re­sult­ing in taller gear­ing for sav­ing fuel.

The truck you see here is do­ing 1821rpm at 50km/h. The up­dated truck drops that down to 1572rpm. Also, the new DA40s also get a gra­di­ent me­ter on the dig­i­tal dis­play to help driv­ers keep an eye on sta­bil­ity when tip­ping.

I quickly learnt that out here there are no log books, no speed cam­eras and no driver-fac­ing cam­eras. There are, how­ever, rules, plenty of rules and in­duc­tions – and a breathal­yser.

As I went through the in­duc­tion, I re­alised I looked a bit silly wear­ing my crisp new hi-vis and shiny white hard hat. My boots lacked the red dirt stain of a lo­cal and my face lacked the thou­sand­yard squint of some­one who spends hours driv­ing un­der the hard desert sun.

I was ad­vised that many in the earth­mov­ing in­dus­try call this type of truck a Moxy, which is a throw­back to a brand bought by Doosan in the noughties. The trucks might be Ko­mat­sus, Cater­pil­lars or other brand of ar­tic­u­lated dump trucks, but ‘Mox­ies’ they re­main.

THE WALKAROUND

Un­der the bon­net of the DA40 is a 500hp, 13-litre Sca­nia which puts out a pretty hefty 2370Nm of torque. All that grunt is fed into an 8-speed (eight for­ward and four re­verse) ZF torque con­verter au­to­matic which then pow­ers all six wheels.

The front diff is a ZF plan­e­tary drive while the rear uses one cen­trally mounted diff that pow­ers both rear axles.

The rear end of the DA40 is a sim­i­lar setup to a grader, with one diff driv­ing all the wheels through a set of out­board gear wheels. It’s like hub re­duc­tion writ large.

Pay­load is 40 tonnes while the ma­chine it­self weighs in at about 30 tonnes. In gross weight

terms, this truck grosses about the same as a road-go­ing PBS B-dou­ble, but only on six wheels.

To help with steer­ing in the muck, the big unit has a rear-drive torque bias so it won’t pull it­self off the road in slip­pery con­di­tions.

A ba­sic dig­i­tal screen read-out dis­plays all the vi­tal in­for­ma­tion that a driver needs once the key is flicked. The DA40 uses hy­draulic rather than pneu­matic brakes and the park brake is an elec­tric switch on the con­sole. In fact, sur­pris­ingly, the Doosan doesn’t have any air sys­tems at all.

TRAIN­ING RUN

On the day of our test, the truck was em­ployed on a job build­ing a wall for the gold mine’s tail­ings dam.

The boss was on the dig­ger load­ing up the dump trucks as they filed along the dam wall. The loaded trucks then pro­gressed along the top of the dam wall to where a D8 dozer was wait­ing to flat­ten the fill into the top of the wall. It was a round trip of only 3km or so.

I did a cou­ple of fa­mil­iari­sa­tion laps with a Kiwi fella by the name of Don, who’s been liv­ing and work­ing in Kal for the last 10 years.

“It’s all about work­ing hard and sav­ing a dol­lar,” he says. “Hope­fully in a few years I’ll have enough to­gether to build a place back home and live the quiet life.”

The ini­tial strik­ing char­ac­ter­is­tic of the DA40 on the haul road was com­fort. While Don was seated on a sus­pen­sion seat, my butt was planted on a flip-down jump seat with lit­tle pad­ding.

The Doosan was pretty darned com­fort­able.

The front sus­pen­sion uses ni­tro­gen-charged shock ab­sorbers which do a great job of soak­ing up the bumps.

As I said, there’s no par­tic­u­lar speed limit on this site, it’s pretty much down to com­mon sense and com­fort. You don’t want to spill your cof­fee af­ter all.

We rolled to a stop on the dam wall and wait as the dig­ger dropped ex­cess fill from the wall into the bucket.

Once loaded, we pro­ceeded at a mod­est pace down the road to dump. I’ve got to say that this thing was pretty darned quiet as well.

ON THE JOB

Then it was my turn to go for a spin, and I climbed up into the cab look­ing every bit like the sev­enth mem­ber of the Vil­lage Peo­ple. Thun­der rum­bled omi­nously in the dis­tance, echo­ing over the top of the scraggy eu­ca­lypts.

Then the heav­ens opened up, which in this part of the world means the day’s work can be cut short at any time. The red West Aus­tralian dirt quickly be­came greasy red clay mud. I’d al­ready grown a cou­ple of inches while walk­ing to­wards the truck.

Driv­ing heavy ma­chin­ery in these con­di­tions can quickly get treach­er­ous but I found that, as an of­froad ma­chine, the DA40 does a pretty good job of keep­ing all its feet on the ground.

Un­like other ar­tic ma­chines, the Doosan’s os­cil­la­tion point is in front of the ar­tic­u­la­tion point. This dis­trib­utes load across the front wheels a lot more evenly when turn­ing in the muck. With­out want­ing to re­sort to wanky sports car lan­guage, it re­sults in flat­ter cor­ner­ing.

With about 32 tonnes of dirt in the tip­per body, the truck feels sta­ble enough. The chas­sis has a 7-de­gree slope up from the ar­tic­u­la­tion point, which gives the big orange beast a pretty low cen­tre of grav­ity when loaded.

The rear-axle group piv­ots up and down on a cen­tral axis, which also makes for some pretty gnarly off-road abil­ity. The rear-axle group alone has a 15-de­gree ap­proach an­gle and a 25-de­gree de­par­ture an­gle. And the front sus­pen­sion has 16 de­grees of wheel travel.

This was the first time I’d driven a ve­hi­cle with an off-high­way-spec Sca­nia en­gine. And I loved it.

Apart from hav­ing a rep­u­ta­tion for be­ing pretty tough and fuel ef­fi­cient in in­dus­trial ap­pli­ca­tions, the 13-litre donk has plenty of grunt on tap – it performs like a loud, hairy-chested cousin of its more sub­dued on-high­way sta­ble­mates.

There’s even a bit of cheeky turbo whis­tle.

As I rolled through the site, the rain kept on com­ing and re­ally started to make things greasy un­der the wheels. There was a bit of side­ways ac­tion in places as all six wheels at­tempted to re­gain their pur­chase.

Tip­ping off was a piece of cake. Just pull back a lever to raise the body, and roll for­ward when empty; no tail­gate switch and no air bags to dump. I could get used to this!

Af­ter a bit it was clear that the weather was go­ing to bring the day to an early halt. Every ve­hi­cle on site soon ground to a halt be­fore some­one slid off the wall or the haul road.

But that was ok … I’d had my fun.

THE BOT­TOM LINE

There’s a lot to like about the Doosan DA40 ar­tic­u­lated dump truck, and most of that can be ap­pre­ci­ated from the driver’s seat.

It’s a com­fort­able and al­most cos­set­ing beast. In fact, it rides bet­ter than quite a few road-go­ing trucks I’ve driven. It’s also quite sure-footed off the haul road and in the muck.

Haul­ing dirt and ore ap­peals to the big kid in me. Big ma­chines, roar­ing en­gines, mud and dust. But it’s just a lit­tle too far from an espresso ma­chine.

I mean where am I go­ing to get a pic­colo latte out here? And can you even get sin­gle ori­gin beans this far from civil­i­sa­tion? Maybe I’ll have to stick to the black­top.

1

1. Haul­ing dirt in the desert made for a change of scene for re­viewer

Matt Wood

2. As you may have guessed, the 40 in DA-40 refers to the truck’s 40-tonne pay­load

3. The Doosan DA40 ar­tic­u­lated dump truck is pretty awe­some off road 2

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The cab is sim­ple but ef­fec­tive

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