WHAT TOM SUNTER ACHIEVED WITH THE MOVEMENT OF 238-TONNE BOILERS FOR THE BRADWELL POWER STATION HAS BECOME FOLKLORE IN THE HEAVY HAULAGE INDUSTRY. AS BOB TUCK RECALLS, THE OCCASION SHOWED HOW THE SUNTER BROS TEAM PROVED THEY WERE A FORCE TO BE RECKONED WITH.
Ever since the days of moving those plinths of rock to Stonehenge, the heavy haulage world has regularly achieved what normal mortals have thought was downright impossible. Although when it came to Bradwell Power Station, even some of the specialists shook their heads at what Tom Sunter was contemplating.
If details of the job arrived on the desk today, any heavy haulier worth their salt could have given a quote almost off the top of their head. True, they’d need to be capable of handling a concentrated 235 tons mass, but with two – three at best – 250 tonne eight wheelers in the arsenal, then the weight isn’t much to get excited about.
With load dimensions of 92ft-long and 22ft in diameter, you’d also need to push some modular axles under the load and, of course, probably set the trailer up at 3-file wide for added stability. But again, many could say, “been there – done that”, plus there’s always the self-propelled technology to use if needed.
Moving these masses – 12 of them in total, stretched out over an 18-month period – involved a 263-mile journey by road. As the manufacturer was on Teesside and the delivery point on the Essex coast at Bradwell, the Highway Authorities would have probably dictated a maritime involvement down the North Sea coast.
These days, such a job is just a walk in the park to an industry that can call on cranes to lift almost anything, anywhere. The assistance of Ro-Ro shipping/barges means that a few phone calls would tie the job together quicker than it would take to type out its mission statement.
The trouble is this job query didn’t land on the desk today, it was around 60 years ago. Back in the mid-1950s, the ro-ro shipping pioneers of Aberthaw and Kingsnorth Fisher were still to be formed, while the mobile crane world thought that a 20-tonne lifter was massive. And anyway, who, on earth, can move close to 300 tonnes, from a standing start, up a 1:10 incline? Fortunately, back then, someone had a plan.