Turning the Tables

SAF-Holland’s most versatile fifth wheel – the tried and proven FW351 – has been made stronger and more durable with the latest upgrade known as FW351-E.

With more than 50 years of experience in the Australian market, SAF-Holland knows a thing or two about the considerable demands placed on fifth wheels in a variety of heavy-duty applications across the country.

Some of the more demanding vocations in the transport realm include heavy haulage, logging, mining, stock crate and various Performance-Based Standards (PBS) applications where high weights and long combinations add significantly to the stresses placed on the fifth wheel.

In answering this demand, SAF-Holland has developed the FW351-E with a D-rating upgraded to 210kN and with a 23-tonne vertical load capacity which, according to the company, perfectly matches the SAF-Holland 50mm kingpin of the same rating.

The company also points out that these ratings have been verified by comprehensive real-world testing of the product under the harshest of conditions, rather than being purely certified by Finite Element Analysis (FEA).

“The previous version was upgraded from a D-rating of 165kN to 190kN and constructed in a manner that provided extra strength with reduced tare weight,” says Nemanja Miletic, SAF-Holland Australia Engineering Manager. “However, that limited the number of applications in which it could be used.

“We knew we had to go with a product that was in line with what the Australian market and new combinations demand, so the decision was made to use a ‘beefed-up’ version of our European high strength casting and to have a one-size-fits- all solution, so it could be used in more demanding 50mm kingpin applications such as livestock and logging without dramatically increasing the tare weight.”

According to SAF-Holland, the new FW351-E incorporates the best of the tried and tested features of the previous series with a new enhanced ruggedness, thanks to the reinforced top plate casting. For instance, it still has the famous ‘trigger handle’ which enables single-handed operation while providing an additional safety measure for added peace of mind.

There’s also the unique butterfly jaw arrangement known as TwinLock which has been proven in harsh Australian operations for more than 50 years.

A particular merit of this system is that the lock will not open and release the king pin even if all other locking components are damaged due to some unforeseen reason.

It also features a large jaw contact area with the kingpin for reduced wear in ultra-demanding conditions.

Another important feature is the KTL coating for improved corrosion resistance. This means there’s no need to repaint the FW351-E fifth wheel as molecules of the protective material are embedded in the steel casting through electrophoretic deposition.

Vitally, this means the coating will not peel or chip off when hit or damaged in any way.

To ensure reduced wear, smooth operation and an extended service life, the top plate surface as well as the foot pin holes are machined, and the replaceable foot pocket inserts are made from either high strength polymer or a ductile iron option.

Mounting options include welded on or bolted on ISO feet and the top plate fits onto the exact same weld-on and bolt-on feet of the superseded model. FW351-E can be specified as either a fixed plate, ballrace, Kompensator or slider.

Other variations include an optional left-hand-side mounted release handle instead of the standard right-hand version and shorter handles tailored to B-double rollback lead trailer applications.

Individual top plates will be introduced to the market labelled as XA351EA for the standard trigger handle option and XA351EB for a B-double version.

Further options include an air-operated release and SAF-Holland Australia’s recently released ELI-te Fifth Wheel Coupling Assistant – an electronic lock inspection system providing convenient verification of a successful coupling.

Having undergone over a decade of development, ELI-te uses state-of-the-art components to ensure robust performance in harsh environments.

A long-life, application-specific electronic control module is mounted directly to the fifth wheel top plate, featuring electrical output capability to support connection with remote indicators.

When a trailer kingpin is properly coupled to an ELI-te equipped fifth wheel, four high-intensity white LED lights mounted within the fifth wheel automatically illuminate the lock jaws. This assists drivers with the visual safety inspection process by directing their attention to the critical connection between the lock jaws and kingpin.

If a coupling problem is detected, daytime-visible red LED lights begin flashing from both sides of the fifth wheel to alert the operator that the vehicle is not coupled correctly.

Industry-proven sensors and shatter-proof lamp modules are combined with the system’s sealed, one-piece electrical harness, which is a one-connector assembly that requires only a low-current connection to the vehicle’s electrical system.

For converter dolly applications, the electrical connection is designed to be compatible with ABS status signals. The complete system is intended to provide enhanced operational safety and efficiency in operation. It can be installed at the OEM or as an aftermarket retrofit.

So, with a significantly enhanced D-rating of 210kN coming from extra reinforcement in critical areas, SAF-Holland’s FW351-E fifth wheel promises robust and long-lasting performance for operators of heavy combinations in ultra heavy-duty applications.