Fleet Fo­cus

New Zealand Truck & Driver - - Contents -

Hadlee & Brun­ton has al­ways, in the 111-year his­tory of the com­pany, been a plumber. It’s just that the scale of its plumb­ing and drain­lay­ing op­er­a­tion is some­what out of the or­di­nary – ne­ces­si­tat­ing a fleet of heavy-duty trucks to sup­port its core ac­tiv­i­ties

On the move to another job, Hadlee & Brun­ton’s big di­rec­tional drill calls for a four-axle trans­porter and 8x4 trac­tor unit.

e Fuso be­hind is tow­ing an equal­ly­large drilling mud recla­ma­tion unit

RUB­BING SHOUL­DERS WITH OTHER KIWI Freight­liner cus­tomers at a re­cent func­tion hosted by Mercedes-Benz New Zealand, Ti­maru’s Ross Brun­ton was asked by another guest what he did – mean­ing what branch of the trans­port in­dus­try he was in.

“Ac­tu­ally, I’m a plumber,” he replied. “That floored him a bit,” he re­calls with a laugh. The re­ac­tion was en­tirely un­der­stand­able: The mix of plumber and Ar­gosy is cer­tainly not your usual.

And yet….Ross’ an­swer was quite ac­cu­rate: At the start of his ca­reer he com­pleted a plumb­ing and drain­lay­ing ap­pren­tice­ship, and it’s the sec­tor that, as man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Hadlee & Brun­ton, he’s still work­ing in.

The com­pany has, in fact, al­ways had plumb­ing as one of the main­stays of its work – dat­ing all the way back to 1906...when it was founded as Hadlee & Clough – “Plum­bers, Gas­fit­ters and Bell­hang­ers.”

While there’s been a se­vere de­cline in bell­hang­ing jobs since, con­ven­tional plumb­ing and drain­lay­ing still make up a high pro­por­tion of the com­pany’s work.

It’s just that the new Ar­gosy 8x4 – which earned Ross the in­vite to the Freight­liner func­tion – is ac­tu­ally in­volved in the di­rec­tional drilling work that H&B has also car­ried out over the past 20 years.

It is, in fact, just one of a dozen heavy trucks (and just as many or more associated trail­ers) run by the com­pany as trans­port sup­port – back­ing-up that the com­pany’s core work.

On a ma­jor pro­ject, the drills them­selves are just the cen­tre­piece of a se­ries of ac­tiv­i­ties, most of which in­volve trucks to a greater or lesser ex­tent – pro­vid­ing and mix­ing drilling mud, cart­ing away drilling spoil, car­ry­ing drilling pipe and cran­ing it to the pri­mary units, act­ing as sup­port plat­forms for hy­drovac units, hooked to spin­ner trail­ers that dis­pense smaller-di­am­e­ter pipes and con­duits and a myr­iad of other tasks.

And when a ma­jor pro­ject is be­ing set up, the di­verse range of equip­ment has to be taken to the job – and when it’s com­pleted, has to be trans­ported back to base. Both jour­neys call for pi­loted, heavy-per­mit con­voys – trav­el­ling up and down the coun­try.

The up­shot is that this plumb­ing and drain­lay­ing com­pany from a re­gional city of just over 35,000

peo­ple has a fleet that – while not huge – has a re­mark­able di­ver­sity and level of cus­tomi­sa­tion.

Ross Brun­ton says that out-there ma­chin­ery was def­i­nitely not com­mon when he started with the then Hadlee & Wil­liams as an ap­pren­tice in 1964: “At that time all we had by way of trucks was a 1955 Bed­ford Type A....the rest of the work was done with pick and shovel.”

This old-guard ap­proach could be partly down to the com­pany’s long stand­ing in the com­mu­nity, hav­ing been set up in 1906 as a part­ner­ship be­tween plum­bers Ge­orge Hadlee and Frank Clough. When Ge­orge re­tired in 1946 his two sons, Vic­tor and Ge­orge, took over his share­hold­ing. The same year, Frank Clough’s share was bought by Lloyd Wil­liams and the com­pany name changed to Hadlee & Wil­liams.

Af­ter gain­ing his plumb­ing and drain­lay­ing qual­i­fi­ca­tions, Ross Brun­ton rose to be­come com­pany fore­man be­fore leav­ing to work in Aus­tralia for a year. On his re­turn in 1975 he and his wife Shirley bought Lloyd Wil­liams’ share and the name changed again, to Hadlee & Brun­ton. Two years later the cou­ple at­tained sole own­er­ship af­ter the Hadlee broth­ers re­tired and sold their hold­ing.

The in­tro­duc­tion of the next Brun­ton gen­er­a­tion came in 1996 when Ross and Shirley’s son An­drew joined the busi­ness and be­gan his qual­i­fi­ca­tion as a crafts­man plumber, drain­layer and gas­fit­ter. Older brother David had mean­while gained a Bach­e­lor of Con­struc­tion (ma­jor­ing in quan­tity sur­vey­ing), and spent a decade in NZ and over­seas work­ing as a con­sul­tant pro­ject man­ager and quan­tity sur­veyor be­fore also join­ing the fam­ily firm, in 2005.

In 2007 the two boys be­came share­hold­ers in the com­pany and to­day share its day-to-day run­ning with their par­ents: When it comes to the spe­cialised as­pects of the di­rec­tional drilling in par­tic­u­lar, David con­cen­trates more on fea­si­bil­ity stud­ies and on­site man­age­ment, while An­drew’s forte lies in han­dling the drills and their associated equip­ment.

The first steps in the evo­lu­tion from pick and shovel to to­day’s lineup of ad­vanced tech­nol­ogy were mod­est, re­calls Ross: “In 1975, af­ter I bought into the busi­ness we bought this wee Fer­gu­son trac­tor, fit­ted it with a front-end bucket, and went from wheel­bar­rows to mech­a­nised load­ing!”

Re­fur­bished, the trac­tor cur­rently sits in the en­try area of the com­pany’s new head­quar­ters, along with a replica of the Ford Model T truck that was the first mo­tor ve­hi­cle used by Hadlee & Clough a cen­tury ago. The dis­play changes in­ter­mit­tently – Ross has sev­eral restora­tion projects on the go, re­lated to ve­hi­cles that have been associated with the com­pany’s his­tory.

Fords were the trucks of choice in the 1970s and ‘80s. One of the first af­ter Ross bought into the firm was a sec­ond­hand short-wheel­base D-Se­ries tip­per. Not long af­ter that came the first new truck, an N1317, which was used to cart the com­pany’s first back­hoe on a two-axle trans­porter trailer, in ad­di­tion to its tip­per du­ties. To cope with in­creas­ingly big­ger ma­chin­ery, a three-axle trailer was brought into ser­vice.

As the drainage side of the busi­ness ex­panded, so too did the num­bers of small Ford tip­pers (Traders and N-Se­ries) in its fleet. The com­pany still has an N-Se­ries from late in that era, with a swap

body that en­ables it oc­ca­sion­ally to do duty as a trac­tor unit for the smaller semi-trail­ers.

Another old­ster still with the fleet is a Ford N1521, bought new in 1991 and with only 89,000km up. Orig­i­nally set up as a trac­tor unit to tow a tip­u­la­tor or a trans­porter trailer for a three-tonne dig­ger, more re­cently it’s been fit­ted with a Palfin­ger crane, and a swap tip­per body which is oc­ca­sion­ally re­placed with a spin­ner unit to carry flex­i­ble pip­ing.

As Ross points out, just driv­ing around the city on in­fra­struc­ture projects means that the trucks do very low mileages, so the N-Se­ries is not out of the or­di­nary.

The in­ex­orable move to big­ger gear has seen the drainage projects now sup­ported by 6x4 tip­pers, with Isuzu be­ing a pop­u­lar choice. Since 2010 Hadlee & Brun­ton has dealt with Steve Hoyne of CAL Isuzu, and over the years has bought sev­eral new trucks from CAL, which Ross speaks highly of.

Another ma­jor as­so­ci­a­tion, go­ing back over 30 years, is with Rus­sell Marr of Pres­tige Com­mer­cial Ve­hi­cles, and is re­flected in the Mercedes Benz, Freight­liner and Fuso mod­els that are well rep­re­sented in the fleet

There’s around 13 12-tonnes-plus units that re­quire at least a Class 4 li­cence, with sev­eral of them ded­i­cated to sup­port­ing the di­rec­tional drilling op­er­a­tions.

The pro­gres­sion from clas­sic plumb­ing and drain­lay­ing to the high-tech­nol­ogy sphere has been grad­ual, and stems back to the mid to late 1990s, says Ross: “I’ve al­ways been keen on do­ing things smarter and sharper with bet­ter gear, and we have been do­ing in­fra­struc­ture work for the Ti­maru District Coun­cil and sim­i­lar bodies in the Can­ter­bury area for many years. The Ti­maru Coun­cil engi­neers have been bril­liant, be­cause they em­braced the con­cept early on and have given us the op­por­tu­nity to prove the vi­a­bil­ity of us­ing this sort of ma­chin­ery on some of their projects.

“But where I took it to a cer­tain level, David and An­drew have looked even fur­ther and have pro­gressed to another level yet again. The com­pany has al­ways worked on the prin­ci­ple of do­ing it once and do­ing it re­ally right.”

Ross bought his first di­rec­tional drill in 1996. It was ca­pa­ble of around half a tonne of pull­back and thrust and could drill ap­prox­i­mately a 50m length at 200mm di­am­e­ter. Over the years the drilling fleet has in­creased, as has the size and ca­pa­bil­ity of the equip­ment. The big­gest of the five cur­rent di­rec­tional drill rigs op­er­ated by Hadlee & Brun­ton, a Ger­man-built Her­renknecht HK175CK, was added to the lineup in 2014. The maxi rig can drill over a kilo­me­tre in length and in­stall pipes over a me­tre in di­am­e­ter.

It is far from the largest equip­ment Her­renknecht builds – the com­pany also spe­cialises in tun­nel­bor­ing ma­chines, and pro­vided the rig that re­cently did Auck­land’s Water­view Pro­ject mo­tor­way tun­nels.

On a di­rec­tional drilling pro­ject, the rig will ini­tially bore a pi­lot hole. When it breaks sur­face at the far end, the drill head is re­placed by a larger reamer unit which is drawn back through the hole – the process be­ing re­peated as needed with larger ream­ers un­til the re­quired di­am­e­ter is achieved. At this point the pre­fab­ri­cated fi­nal pipe is drawn back through the length of the hole.

All this nat­u­rally calls for a bit of mus­cle. When drilling, the Hadlee & Brun­ton rig can pro­duce a ro­ta­tional torque through the drill rods of some 70,000Nm and also ex­ert a pull­back or thrust force equiv­a­lent to 175-tonnes. Pri­mary power for the hy­draulics that pro­duce this grunt comes from a CAT C-13 en­gine.

The Hadlee & Brun­ton HK175 is ac­tu­ally cus­tombuilt – based on the HK250 that is one of the pri­mary mod­els from Her­renknecht, but with a

Pre­par­ing to pull a length of pipe through an al­ready-drilled hole. Be­cause it min­imises sur­face dis­rup­tion, di­rec­tional drilling works well in ur­ban en­vi­ron­ments

short­ened chas­sis and drill rod seg­ments to give it greater ma­noeu­vra­bil­ity for use in ur­ban con­fines, as op­posed to the open spa­ces that are the more nat­u­ral range of rigs of this size.

Ross Brun­ton ex­plains: “We al­ready had two medi­um­sized Amer­i­can Ditch Witch di­rec­tional drills when the Christchurch earthquake oc­curred, but it was ob­vi­ous there’d be a need for even big­ger gear to han­dle the ma­jor in­fra­struc­ture re­pairs that would be nec­es­sary.

“Shirley and I trav­elled to a big ma­chin­ery show in Mu­nich and talked to sev­eral com­pa­nies, fi­nally set­tling on Her­renknecht. They were fully ac­com­mo­dat­ing in our need for a more di­men­sion­ally-com­pact ma­chine than the stan­dard de­sign, but still one with the abil­ity to han­dle the big-di­am­e­ter, long-run jobs.”

On top of the city-en­vi­ron­ment con­sid­er­a­tions, the Brun­tons wanted to be able to carry the rig – set up in crawler con­fig­u­ra­tion so it could work on the widest range of sur­faces – on a sin­gle trans­porter, fit­ting inside the 50MAX reg­u­la­tions. To this end a four-axle trailer was built, and be­cause of weight is­sues an 8x4 trac­tor unit was also re­quired.

The model cho­sen for the task was a 620hp Freight­liner Ar­gosy, which of­fered the re­quired nec­es­sary com­bi­na­tion of power, tare weight and, most crit­i­cally, axle spac­ing. Even so, it was a close-run thing. Dur­ing op­er­a­tions, the op­er­a­tor cab on the big HK rig is set up apart from the ma­chine it­self, the op­er­a­tor view­ing var­i­ous as­pects of the drilling op­er­a­tion on screens show­ing feeds from cam­eras mounted on the rig and its sup­port­ing equip­ment, and guid­ing it via other

touch-screens. With most maxi rig ap­pli­ca­tions, the cabin is in­te­grated in a 10ft or 20ft con­tainer, trans­ported separately from the rig, but with the Hadlee & Brun­ton ma­chine, its mak­ers de­signed the cab and el­e­vat­ing frame to be mounted di­rectly on the drill chas­sis for tran­sit, elim­i­nat­ing the need for an ad­di­tional trans­porter.

Con­se­quently, set­ting up a trac­tor unit and trailer to take the drill is su­per-crit­i­cal as far as axle weights go, says Ross: “Half an inch in the ma­chine’s place­ment on the trailer can see the weights go­ing over. Orig­i­nally, with a 6x4 trac­tor unit, we had to carry the drill con­trol cabin and some of the drill com­po­nents on one of the other trucks, but now, with the Freight­liner, we can carry the whole unit in one.

“When we were set­ting it up the lo­cal CVIU helped us with mea­sur­ing the axle weights, and en­sur­ing they were within lim­its. We had a cou­ple of days of run­ning the truck and trailer over their scales. With­out that help, get­ting it just right would have been a lot more dif­fi­cult.”

And be­cause sev­eral ma­jor sub-as­sem­blies on the drill are move­able, like the head car­riage and gear­boxes, all have to be in their cor­rect po­si­tions to get the axle load­ings right, ex­plains An­drew Brun­ton: “To make sure we don’t muck it up, we’ve taken pho­tos of the pre­cise po­si­tions of the com­po­nents when the weights are cor­rect, and th­ese are used as vis­ual tem­plates ev­ery time the com­bi­na­tion goes on the road.”

The Brun­tons are also very ap­pre­cia­tive of the sup­port from lo­cal com­pany Hilton Haulage, which pro­vided them with a driver and Freight­liner Coron­ado for a day to com­pare it with the Ar­gosy when they were close to mak­ing a de­ci­sion on what truck to buy for the job.

But set­ting up a truck and trailer com­bi­na­tion to cart a big di­rec­tional drill like the Her­renknecht or one of the two larger Ditch Witch mod­els to and from projects is merely the be­gin­ning. While work­ing, the drills are the cen­tre­piece of a range of sup­port func­tions, the ma­jor­ity re­quir­ing trucks.

Take the drilling rods – each seg­ment be­tween six

and nine me­tres long. Th­ese have to be carted to site and loaded onto the rigs. The load­ing’s car­ried out by a crane truck – the one run by Hadlee & Brun­ton be­ing a se­ri­ous piece of kit in­deed.

It’s an 8x8 MAN, fit­ted with a HIAB XS544 E-8 Hipro crane that – with a jib ex­ten­sion fit­ted – has a reach of 35m. Orig­i­nally set up by an Aus­tralian com­pany for a trans­mis­sion line pro­ject in the North Is­land, the truck came to Hadlee & Brun­ton with a smaller crane, which fell a bit short of the com­pany’s needs.

The big HIAB not only eases the task of sup­ply­ing drill rod to the rigs with­out get­ting in the way, but has proved in­valu­able on the roofing work that is another seg­ment of the com­pany’s port­fo­lio, and on one-off projects like cell-tower in­stal­la­tion.

Crane trucks are no­to­ri­ous for get­ting stuck of­froad, so the MAN’s all-wheel-drive – while at first sight look­ing like a touch of overkill – of­fers a real ben­e­fit.

Then there’s the ben­tonite-based mud that’s in­te­gral to any drilling pro­ject – used as a lu­bri­cant and coolant at the drill or auger head, and to flush the ex­trac­tion ma­te­rial back out of the hole. It comes dry, and is mixed on­site with wa­ter, the process re­quir­ing a truck that can both trans­port the ma­te­rial and has the nec­es­sary mix­ing unit fit­ted. For the big­ger projects, this task is car­ried out by a 480hp Fo­den 8x4 trac­tor unit hitched to a three-axle semi.

Wa­ter tanks and the pump for a mixer unit are fit­ted to the truck’s chas­sis ahead of the turntable, while another mixer unit is car­ried in the cur­tain­sider trailer.

When drilling, the mud is ex­ten­sively re­cy­cled, the job be­ing car­ried out by an Amer­i­can Augers MPR-6000, built in­te­grally on a three-axle semi. Pri­mary power is pro­vided by a 475hp CAT C-15, driv­ing dual shaker/fil­ter screen units through a 10-speed Road­ranger gear­box. A 114kW/480V CAT genset looks af­ter the three high-ca­pac­ity fluid pumps. The shale and silt ab­stracted from the mud is trans­ferred di­rectly to tip­pers via a cus­tombuilt auger sys­tem and used for clean fill.

In tran­sit, the MPR-6000 is hooked to a 470hp Fuso 6x4 trac­tor unit, re­cently added to the fleet. On­site, the weight of the fluid and drill ma­te­rial it’s car­ry­ing at any one time would be too much for the chas­sis to han­dle, so with the trac­tor unit un­hitched, hydraulic legs lower the MPR-6000, al­low­ing its for­ward sec­tion to sit di­rectly on the ground.

When a big pro­ject is be­ing set up or re­turned to base, the trans­port lo­gis­tics can be huge – usu­ally in­volv­ing a dozen ve­hi­cles, of which two must be pi­loted. A re­cent job that en­tailed thread­ing a new gas main 700m un­der the Manawatu River at Fox­ton of­fered an added chal­lenge – in the shape of the earthquake-blocked SH1 up the Can­ter­bury coast.

Even­tu­ally, the call was made to avoid the fraught al­ter­na­tive through the Lewis Pass and SH7 in favour of coastal ship­ping ex-Lyt­tel­ton to Welling­ton. This meant the rel­e­vant units could be trans­ferred the 160kms from Ti­maru to the port in

smaller con­voys, over three days – with only the HK drill and the MPR recla­ma­tion unit need­ing the full pi­lot treat­ment.

With less pres­sure time-wise, the re­turn trip was done over two days by Cook Strait ferry and the SH7 road route. David Brun­ton, who drove the Fuso/ MPR com­bi­na­tion, says the jour­ney was chal­leng­ing but en­joy­able, and the big con­voy at­tracted a lot of in­ter­est from other truck­ers when it overnighted at the River­lands truck stop just out of Blen­heim.

Away from the drilling sup­port func­tions, the trucks in the Hadlee & Brun­ton fleet are pretty much what you’d ex­pect in a firm whose reg­u­lar work in­cludes ma­jor drainage projects – a range of 6x4 and 4x2 tip­pers and 4x2 site ser­vice ve­hi­cles. Isuzu is the most prom­i­nent brand, with smaller num­bers of Fu­sos and some UDs.

The com­pany also runs sev­eral truck-mounted hy­dro and air ex­ca­va­tion units that use high­pres­sure wa­ter or air to cut the ground and then vac­uum the slurry or frac­tured spoil into the truck for cart­ing away. The ben­e­fit with this tech­nol­ogy is that it cuts into the ground with­out the risk of dam­ag­ing ex­ist­ing un­der­ground ser­vices or tree roots as could be the case with a me­chan­i­cal dig­ger. The big­gest of the lineup, fit­ted to a 430hp Fuso 8x4, has a an 8000-litre ca­pac­ity. When full the unit is close to the weight limit for its lay­out.

Two truck-mounted cher­ryp­ick­ers – the larger one able to reach up to 27m high – are kept busy on a va­ri­ety of hire jobs.

As well as the four-axle unit de­signed for the Her­renknecht drill, trail­ers in­clude a three-axle semi trans­porter and a three-axle pull trans­porter, both pri­mar­ily used to carry the com­pany’s dig­gers and load­ers, while a 15m trom­bone unit carts roofing ma­te­rial and the longer lengths of drill pipe. Over the years Adams and Cur­rie has supplied

nu­mer­ous pur­pose­built trail­ers and truck decks to suit the com­pany’s spe­cific re­quire­ments. A fouraxle cur­tain­sider bought from Temuka Trans­port has been re­fur­bished and fit­ted with new cur­tains and car­ries sup­port equip­ment for the di­rec­tional drills. It’s usu­ally linked with the MAN on big jobs.

That trailer, says Ross, has proved to be very ver­sa­tile: “It not only car­ries the drilling gear, but also acts as an all-weather site shed as well. We used to have a ded­i­cated cur­tain­sider truck to do a sim­i­lar job, but once it got the gear to a site it wasn’t able to be put to any other work. That is why we’ve set up the trucks now to tow trail­ers when needed, but to be able to han­dle other work as well.”

Two trailer-mounted car­a­vans, used as site of­fices, mud lab­o­ra­to­ries or site en­gi­neer of­fices, have a less than lin­ear his­tory. They orig­i­nally ar­rived in the coun­try in a batch of fac­tory Isuzus set up for ap­pli­ca­tions like food trucks. They weren’t sell­ing fast, so the dis­trib­u­tor took the bodies off and sold the trucks as cab/chas­sis.... giv­ing Hadlee & Brun­ton the chance to pick up just what it needed.

Reg­u­lar ser­vic­ing on the trucks is han­dled by the com­pany’s me­chan­i­cal work­shop, across the road from its new head­quar­ters in what was pre­vi­ously the Ti­maru Mitre 10 store. More ex­ten­sive work is han­dled by an in­de­pen­dent work­shop in Washdyke.

Ross Brun­ton points out that the com­pany does not have spe­cialised driv­ers: “All our guys are plum­bers and drain­lay­ers at base. When they’re com­ing through from Class 1 we help them out in get­ting a Class 2.

“We don’t take them on for truck driv­ing as such. When they start with us, even if they have their eye on the driv­ing, we tell them they’re just as likely to be needed on a pick and shovel or to drive a cher­ryp­icker. The ma­jor­ity of our fleet can be han­dled with a Class 2...and we have enough peo­ple on hand to take on the heav­ier units when they’re needed.”

In other words, con­ven­tional plumb­ing and drain­lay­ing re­main the core of the busi­ness... as they have been for the past 111 years The evo­lu­tion of tech­nol­ogy in that time – from picks and shov­els and wheel­bar­rows through con­verted trac­tors to me­chan­i­cal dig­gers and trenchers.... to you-beaut kit like the Her­renknecht maxi drill, and from Model T Fords to Freight­liner Ar­gosys – has been un­de­ni­ably spec­tac­u­lar....

But, as David Brun­ton points out “...the ma­jor­ity of our work is still fix­ing leak­ing taps and un­block­ing drains.

“The big­ger stuff is just to test our pain thresh­old!” T &D

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