Perfect test conditions
With an icy blast in the air we set out to Lockwell Hill near Farnsfield to see what happens when we add snow and ice to an already trick off road course. Luckily we had the experience of three of the finest Off Road Driving instructors ever to come out of the Land Rover Experience. They put the clinic into positions she was likely to face in her chosen “No Road” situation and what we saw was totally amazing as not only did the combination perform better than we had even imagined it actually benefited the towing vehicle with more grip and more stopping power from its two extra axles. Here is the video of the days testing, see for yourself.
The first Tests
Here are a series of test which we designed to indicate the stability of both tractor and trailer on a modest Off road test track. We didn’t want to push the boundaries to far as there was lots of data to be gathered from these small experimental test. The unusual data is wrapped around how the coupling operated in both transverse and longitudinal plane simultaneously.
The first test was tractor climbing and trailer level
As you can see from the images the Off Road Clinic past these test with flying colours
The second test was climbing trailer level tractor
Again as the images prove there was a satisfactory outcome to the test. As you can see the test are quite modest as we are asking much more from an off road articulated vehicle of this type than has ever been asked before.
Finally the on road stability test
In order to get from start to destination it has to conform to the rules of the Road which is does with alarming easy, but also it has to conform to the laws of physics which in this case are counteracted by the centre of gravity being so high in the trailer (due to the ground clearance. The test proved conclusively that it was safe and stable under heavy acceleration and breaking. Cornering and straight line stability were where the high centre of gravity showed but not so much as to be of any concern to the test driver. The standard power plant was more than enough for the unit and pull happily though the gears. All in all a brilliant test result.
The body work is complete
From nothing but a pile of wood the Vipex boys have…
Created a pattern …
And a mould …
And finally the real article the nose itself …
A very important component as it channels the air thrown up by the tractor past the trailer and reduces drag.
Legs, doors and lights.
This is a view that would never be see in normal times as the nose cone would cover all of this. It shows the areas for fitting generators AC units and tool storage behind a small internal door
The Landing legs are totally custom due to thier requiement for an extremely long extension.
Rear right hand view showing entrance door
Nose mould complete.
The black part is the “Plug or pattern” in its highly polished state ready to be parted from the mould
Keeping the shape constant and being able to withstand the heat in the curing process requires the fabrication of a frame work
The Plastic Surgeons go to work
The clinics outer and inner skin are bonded to the sub frame, which gives a smooth gloss white finish to the outside of the clinic and simultaneously offers a wipe clean gloss white to the internal walls and insulating in between.
The nose has yet to be moulded but the pattern for making the aerodynamic front end is getting its twelfth coat of primer filler so the deep shine necessary for the mould and nose cone to part company. The nose will hide all the clever structure which allows the unique ground clearances that the Offroad conditions demand.
The Off road clinic finds its feet (wheels)
A momentous day in the life of the offroad clinic as the prototype unit finds its way into the open air, resting on its own wheels. It has yet to have its braking system and road lights applied but this does not stop the builders allowing it a couple of rays.Here we see the clinic going through its primary clearance test making sure that all four clearance dimensions are satisfactory.
The chassis is completed and works starts on the Nose Pattern
This mass of twisted wood and steel is not, as might be perceived on first impression, a car crash. It is actually the very clever chassis of the offroad clinic. The large panels that seem to clad the front of the chassis are the base panels for the pattern, which in turn will make the aerodynamic nose in which all the clinic’s backup power and climate control systems will be housed.
Here we see the chassis being prepared for paint. It will get several coats of shiny black chassis paint which will protect it from all the harsh environments it is likely to come across. Here you can plainly see the pivoting nose which is one of the unique features of this highly innovative chassis. The other ace up its sleeve is the removal of almost all the structural capabilities from under the floor and placing them above to offer up much healthier ground clearances.
Here are the offroad suspension units along with the Land Rover wheels and tyres, meaning that the whole combination need only have one spare wheel and tyre. You can see how much ground clearance there is.
The Trailer Nose design is complete
Here is the very first design which majored on clearing the Tractor unit when it was traversing obstacles. The process of making the pattern to form the mould begins in earnest, it is a labour intensive process which involves a sculpture of the nose of the trailer which in turn has the mould build around it. The mould then is the vessel for all the production front end. It is the skillful manipulation of the materials which make up this pattern which have a massive impact on how the combination performs.
The second draft featured internal space as well as clearances as the nose was designed to take power generators and climate control gubbins. The internal frame work of the chassis also has to be taken into account as it is this unique design of neck which gives the combination its strength without weight. Now all we have to deal with are the aesthetics and the aerodynamics.
Tractor vehicle completed.
The first of the Land Rover defender crew cabs is with the physical vehicle builder It has had its rear body removed and has been fitted with a rear sub frame which carries the lightweight fifth wheel coupling. A new rear body tub has been designed to cope with the extra clearances that are necessary for travelling on rough ground. Within this body space are two new air tanks which supply the compressed air to the power brakes on the trailer. These tanks are fed by an air compressor which is again housed under the new rear body.She now carries the builder’s livery, as they are funding it – I thought it was only right to let them! It has a fresh new coat of shiny black paint, which is all looking rather impressive.
The chassis is laid down
The chassis members have been cut and pressed into shape and the team are busy fabricating them into a structure which will create the most illusive of components which is strength without mass or weight. Simplicity is the key but to achieve it we have had to employ nearly eighty years of combined experience. Right through from concept to detailed design and into fabrication the thoughts are out of the box but well within the reality of the functions this small but tough semi-trailer has to achieve.