An innovative and highly commercial Dutch company has produced a highly versatile machine for rail maintenance contractors.
The company VHS, short for Vissers Heftruck Services, has introduced a specially designed version of the Manitou MRT 1742, 360 degree telescopic handler for a Dutch rail maintenance contractor which they have christened the ManiRail. Vissers are primarily a Manitou dealer in the Netherlands, based in Bladel but has also built up a solid reputation for producing customised versions of Manitou products.
The MRT unit has been modified to work as a normal telehandler for duties around a rail depot and for road travel, while also having the capability to carry out a wide range of duties on rails or simply to use the rail tracks to reach a part of the network not accessible by road.
The unit has been designed as a “Hi Ride” unit with hydrostatic drive to the rail wheels while the road wheels are lifted clear of the track. The rail wheel drive system uses the machines existing gear mounted pump combined with an extra pump segment in order to provide sufficient power to maintain the 40kph maximum travel speed and handle gradients while pulling a service wagon. Each axle features a calliper style disc brake in order ensure that the unit will stop even when carrying a full load. The front and rear rail bogies also incorporate a hydraulic side to side levelling system with up to 14 degrees of tilt, allowing the machine to be levelled by up to seven degrees either side of level to operate on banked track curves.
For longer periods of regular use on the road the two bogies can be removed with the pulling of six pins per end, thus returning the unit to a conventional telehandler.
In addition to simple road rail travel, the ManiRail has also been designed to operate within the permitted work envelope for open track applications, allowing adjacent lines to remain open while the unit is working.
The most significant change required to achieve this was a new rear end on the superstructure in order to reduce the tail swing by 60mm, keeping the counterweight from intruding into the air space of the parallel tracks, this change necessitates an increase in the counterweight form 1,800 to 3,000 kgs. In addition the machine is equipped with a working envelope restrictor, that when set, prevents the operator accidentally swinging the boom out over another track or into a restricted area, the device not only warns the operator but also includes a motion cut out.
One benefit of the heavier counterweight is that the unit gains 800 kgs of extra lift capacity, effectively becoming an MRT 1750 with up to 5,000kg lift capacity. It also gains when the unit is working free on rails; the load chart used is the same as a normal machine with outriggers half extended. Lift capacity on the 2.7metre jib is 4 tonnes on the 0.7m point and 1.2 tonnes at the full 2.7 metre length. The machines lift chart then dictates the maximum radius, for example the unit is limited to 700 kgs at 10 metres.
In addition to the regular forks, crane jib and other accessories, the unit carries a telescopic jib mounted 1,200 x 900mm 300kg fully remote controlled work platform with 180 degree platform rotation. This provides a maximum working height of 21.5 metres with up to 10.6 metres outreach.
The full range of Manitou boom mounted options are available. The idea is that the unit can leave the rail depot in the morning towing a wagon on which all of the machines attachments are carried. A superstructure mounted platform can also be included to carry additional work staff. To the working area..
In the event of a technical failure or loss of fuel, the unit is equipped with a full eclectically powered auxiliary system that provides sufficient power to completely stow the unit ready for towing off the track, the brake release and free flow for the drive motors takes between 10 and 15 minutes to activate.
Vissers say that it takes them around six to seven weeks to plan and build a ManiRail unit and that different track gauges and widths can be accommodated.
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