b' 4WDHistoryPart 4Whats better than 4WD?Australias 8WD Government road traiFour Wheel Drive is older than we think86 years ago Australias first 8x8 road train went into service in Central Australia.Surprisingly it was built in Liverpool and while only three were ever constructed,one unique vehicle survived and is today on display in Alice Springs.Servicing the vast expanses of prime mover were two self-tracking in April 1934 where it underwentCentral Australia has been a problem trailers, also with eight wheels. extensive testing by the Australiangovernments have grappled with Construction and testing Army in tough terrain, including crosssince the 1870s. There was a The mighty truck was built by AEC country sand driving in the 90-milereluctance of successive Australian (Associated Equipment Company) of desert of South Australia. Upon arrivalgovernments to extend rail routes into Southall, Middelsex, and the trailers in Australia at Adelaide, a 15 tonneremote areas, which resulted in the by R.A. Dyson & Co. of Liverpool. The load of superphosphate was loadeddevelopment of the trackless multi- actual prime mover was built by for a 180-mile run to Bordertown. Theunit vehicle which has become a Hardy Motors, a subsidiary of AEC. route chosen was across unmadeunique part of Australias history - the The road train consisted of an eight- roads, similar to what might be foundroad train. wheel drive tractor and two trailers. in the Outback. The next test was aIn the 1930s the Federal government The first and last axles on the tractor delivery run to Alice Springs, thetook over from South Australia Northern steered in opposite directions giving 1,000-mile trip taking three weeks, butAustralia, and created the Northern good manoevrability. proving that the road train had theTerritory. Reluctant to expand the rail The tractor was one of only three such capability to carry huge loads acrossnetwork from Alice to Darwin, an vehicles manufactured, with the others challenging terrain.experiment was conceived in Britain sent to West Africa and the USSR. Australian Army Captain E.M Dollery.as a joint Australian and British Fully assembled the road train was an who at the time was in charge ofgovernment initiative resulting from impressive sight, being 21.5 metres in development of motor transport forthe Colonial Conference of 1927. The length and with a carrying capacity of the Army, was the driver of the road23 countries in attendance agreed to 15 tonnes - three on the prime mover train. The inaugural trip north had itsshare the cost of developing suitable and six tonnes on each trailer. The moments with numerous creek cross-transport for use in underdeveloped trailers were self tracking, in that the ings. The Finke, Palmer and Kurullaand remote regions of the British front and rear bogies also turned in river beds presented majorEmpire. Consequently the Overseas opposite directions. By these means challenges for the road train, withMechanical Transport Directing wheels on all twelve axles would matting used across the soft sand. OnCommittee was formed. Their solution follow each other in the same set of the final leg into Alice Springs thewas to build a trackless train, which wheel tracks.This improved the road road train followed the route of thecould pull a number of self-tracking trains off road ability, also enabling a Hugo River, which involved crossing ittrailers. To be an all terrain train, the right angle turn to be made through a some eleven times in 22 miles. TheCommittee determined that the prime ten-foot gate. road train had passed all tests withmover should have four axles, with flying colours and was duly handedeight driving wheels. Behind the The AEC road train arrived in Australia over to the Department of the Interior24 SEPTEMBER2020 TRACKWATCH'