One of the UK’s longest established and respected heavy transport companies, John Somerscales Limited, has recently taken delivery of two high-specification Volvo FH-540 6×4 tractor units, both incorporating some of the latest technology available for specialist applications.
Founded in 1900, the Lincolnshire-based company have been Volvo customers for more than four decades and have operated virtually every generation of heavy-duty tractor unit, starting with the F88 range.
The Volvo D13K 13-litre engines produce 540hp and deliver 2600Nm of torque and are combined with I-Shift Crawler automated mechanical transmissions, with two low ratio gears and bespoke software. Auxiliary braking is provided by a combination of Volvo Engine Brake (VEB) and a gearbox retarder. The rear bogie is equipped with Volvo’s innovative Tandem Axle Lift, which enables the drive to the rearmost axle to be disengaged and lifted clear of the ground, reducing both fuel consumption and tyre wear.
The new Volvos, plated for operation at up to 150-tonnes gross combination weight under Special Types Regulations, were carefully specified to meet the operator’s exact requirements.
Supplied by David Emsley, Area Sales Manager of Crossroads Truck and Bus Limited in Stallingborough, the 3,400mm wheelbase chassis come with Globetrotter XL cabs, ten-tonne steel-suspended front axles and rear air-suspension with hub reduction tandem drive axles. Each of the latter units is rated at 15-tonnes, whilst using a reduced road speed.
Company head John Somerscales, great grandson of the founder, explained the thinking behind these innovative vehicles. “We require flexibility from many of the vehicles we operate, particularly with three-axle tractor units. Often as not, we might have a number of heavy loads to move, followed by some lighter work. It is rarely either practical or economic to use our heaviest vehicles at lower weights.”
John continues, “As a result, we were looking for vehicles that have the capability of working up to 150-tonnes if required but are still capable of operating at lighter weights with reasonable operating costs. The combination of the I-Shift Crawler transmission and rear air suspension with Tandem Axle Lift meets this requirement; the truck has the power, gearing and traction for heavier work and the ability to turn the truck into a 6×2 when running empty, helps to reduce fuel consumption and other running costs.”
He explains, “We have a long-standing relationship with both Volvo and our local dealer, Crossroads Truck and Bus Limited. We have enjoyed very good service from both the products and organisation. Many of the staff have been there for years, I suppose you could say that we have grown up together!”