How Does The World's Biggest Truck Work?

Do you want to move your house?

  Can you side the man on the left?
The title of "The biggest truck in the world" belongs to the new T 282 B, and it's made by Liebherr, a well-known name in the mining industry.

This baby can carry about 360 tonnes (400 tons) at 64 km/h, costs US$3 million, and it's used in the places where size matters, in fact, it's the most important thing, mines and quarries around the world.

It debuted to more than 400,000 attendees at the Bauma 2004 construction and mining equipment exhibit in Munich, Germany, and made its United States debut in Las Vegas at the MINExpo Show.

The truck can move enormous amounts of material under the most arduous conditions and have highly trained operators to do the driving.

How big is this truck, exactly ?

Well, empty it weighs in at 224 tons (203 tonnes), it's 24 foot 3 inches (7.4 metres) tall over the canopy, 47 feet 6 inches (14.5 metres) long with a wheelbase of 21 foot 6 inches (6.6 metres). And it can carry loads of 400 tons (365 tonnes). So that's an overall weight when loaded of 624 tons (568 tonnes).

Actually, it doesn't resemble much the 18-wheelers you can normally see on highways.

It's quite different from what you might expect. For a start there isn't one huge engine powering the wheels, as you would get in a regular truck. Instead, a 3650-horsepower (2723-kilowatt) diesel engine generates power for two electric motors in the rear axles. So it's more like a huge electric railroad locomotive than a conventional truck. Older giant trucks used a DC electrical drive system but this one uses AC, which is more efficient.

The cost?

In the US, $3 million. In the over-300-ton range there are probably 50 to 75 trucks sold each year worldwide. These big trucks end up used in coal mines in Wyoming and Australia, copper mines in Chile, in iron extraction in South Africa and in gold mines in Nevada.

I'm sure you're all imagining what's it like to drive this monster.

It's like driving a house. In fact, it's not hard to drive, it's basically like driving an automatic shift car, once you get used to the height.

You probably wouldn't believe it, but the biggest truck had the biggest technological problem to overcome: how do you stop it?

The truck has been fitted with an electric retarding, that can generate up to 6000 horsepower of retarding effort using the electric motors. And that's a primary speed control going down hill. In an emergency, there is a brake, similar to what you have on your car, only bigger. And you can overheat them and destroy them in a hurry.

Unfortunately, it can't be used around town, or to go to school or work, not only because the pavement could not support its weight - it would probably sink in it - but because you would run out of juice after crossing, in a straight line, your neighborhood.

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By    30 Mar 2007, 15:01 GMT