Truckie Steve has light bulb moment driving on highway
HAVE you ever been driving along minding your own business, with your mind wandering a little then you see something and you go, "Geez, I could do something with that"?
That's exactly what happened to Steve Lincoln as he cruised down the highway.
Steve is in the construction industry and had semi tippers.
He always felt there was an inherent problem with them as often they would be on uneven ground which gave them the propensity for tipping themselves, as well as their load.
So, this particular day Steve's driving along and in front of him is a Skel hauling containers.
He thinks to himself "I could build a side tipper using one of those Skel's".
And that is exactly what Steve did.
Not only did he make it happen, but had the first one on the road in a mere 12 months - and we'd reckon that'd have to be some kind of record, going from an idea to a finished product.
It's also worth mentioning here that Steve is not an engineer.
"I'm just a tinkerer," he said.
Leaving school, he followed his father into trucking - specifically earthmoving.
"I'd decided that I was going to go down the side tipper path and looked at them in America, but it was a bit of a job getting one out here. So I'm coming home one day cruising along and a truck goes past with a Skel on the back. I looked at it and where the container sits and I thought 'I know what I can do' and I did," he said.
"I went to the auctions and bought an air bag tri-axle Skel and took it back to the shed. The boys said 'What are we doing with that?' and I replied 'we're going to build a side tipper'.
"They asked 'How?' and I said that I didn't know but we'd work it out along the way."
Steve demonstrated the tippers in action. He could tip to the right, the left or both ways at the same time - all from the comfort of the truck cab.
The tippers have airlocks that lock one side down and that's the side it tips to.
There's no putting pins in or out of anything with the whole system air operated.
The system also incorporates a double row ball race that locks onto the trailer, so that when tipping the trailer chassis doesn't lift up off the fifth wheel and it spreads a weight of what's going on over the whole turntable instead of pulling up on the kingpin and pushing down on one side.
Steve has patents on the stabilising system and the side-tipping trailers.
"These are mainly for carting heavy loads such as rock and gravel," Steve said.
"They don't have the volume of the big aluminium trailers, but rock is heavy so you don't need the volume.
"With rocks, the traditional way with a normal tipper is that you have to get out and swing a tailgate to get them off. With these you don't.
"You just wheel her up, jack-knife it, tip out and drive off in about 25 seconds.
"With the old truck and dog you would be there for anywhere from two to five minutes. Time is money.
"By jack-knifing the truck it means that when you pull away, the trailer won't be pulled into the load should any rocks have rolled underneath.
"There have been people hurt with the tailgate system but not with this. With this you don't even get out of the truck. There's no clambering around in the mud either."
The trailers gross 64.5 ton and are made of super hardened material.
Certainly the ones on show, which have had plenty of use, looked brand new.
The manufacturing workmanship on them really is something to behold.
Every part, from the trailers themselves to the air rams to the plumbing is top notch.
It could be fairly described as a thing of beauty.
From start up, about six years ago, Lincoln Side Tipping Systems - as the business is called - has 18 on the road.
"They're all going very well and the purchasers love them," Steve said.
Not content with converting Skels to side tippers, Steve designed his product so that it was easily converted back to a Skel, to ensure diversification of his product.
"If you want to do some container work you can take these off and pop containers back on. Once upon a time the only thing a container trailer did was carry containers - no more," he said.
Steve is 67 this year and has no plans for retirement.
"I'm enjoying what I'm doing. We run a bit of earthmoving gear and have eight excavators and a new T909 which makes six trucks," he said.
The 2003 Kenworth T950 'Tradition' with C15 Cat power he had hooked up this day was an ex log truck out of Tasmania which he bought six years ago.
This truck not only does side tipper work but with minimal effort you can put a tipper body on it and it becomes a truck and dog. Steve is obviously a fan of multi-tasking.
"I have a couple of trucks set up this way. There are occasionally jobs where we can't use this type of set-up, but you can use a truck and dog. The more you can do with a truck, the more you can do."
Steve will provide the full shebang or fit the tipping system to anyone who may want to provide their own new or used Skel.
Based at Beveridge, an hour or so north of Melbourne, Steve has come up with a product that is really effective - safe to use, quick in unloading and beautifully built.
It's no surprise that he is attracting interest from overseas.
I mentioned that perhaps he could provide posts as well and convert the trailer into a log truck.
I could see Steve's mind working overtime on that one.
Steve can be found on the internet at lincolnsidetippingsystems.com.au or phone 0401 934 924.