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