Caterpillar Challenger modifications
A first for the Caister Lifeboat Organization, but now also 7 for the KNRM, and 1 for Southport Lifeboat Station. HABBEKE SHIPYARD modifies the Caterpillar Challenger Tractor that is used to launch the VALENTIJN class lifeboats from the beach. The extensive modifications among others include modifications to the cab, a new engine cowling, and the fitting of hydraulic controls required to operate the carriage.
Such a vehicles, are used to pull the Offshore Lifeboat ‚on its non-powered hydraulic HLRT-Valentijn 2000 trailer, across the soft sand beach to and from the sea.
The tractor has to cope with submersion in salt water during launch and lifeboat recovery which can corrode metal in double quick time. The tractor is fully stripped down and the bottom half transformed into what amounts to be a boat. By encasing the engine, transmission and other components inside a massive watertight jacket enables the tractor to operate submerged up to the base of the cab. The cab is located on 6 inch high mounts so that every nook and cranny can be pressure washed after each use.
The exhaust is of stainless steel as are the safety rails.
The air intakes can be sealed to deal with heavy launch and recovery swells. The rear window of the Tractor is thick and reinforced to protect the driver from the water pushed on to it by the Lifeboat Jets during launch.
When started in the shed exhaust fumes are extracted via retractable mechanically impelled flue which is pulled back from the outlet just before the tractor pulls out of the shed.
The tractor cab is fitted with local communication radio equipment so the driver can keep in touch with the crew both on and offshore.
The hydraulics that move the rams in the cradle which lift and secure the lifeboat are all controlled from the cab where the driver is able to turn his seat to face forward or backwards to enable maximum visibility and the safety of others.
Caterpillar Challenger 65E/75E/85E
Height: 570 cm
Width: 289 cm
Weight Approx.: 19000 kg
Engine output: 310/325/375hp (turbo diesel, 6 cylinder)
Speed 50 km/h
Tensile load: 15097 k