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November/December 2007
Running discs on air or springs
Howard Porter are major buyers of TMC axles: so much so that the Western Australian trailer builders spec this brand of axles for most disc brake applications, regardless of whether they are running air or mechanical suspension. 

Roy Lombardi from Howard Porter says the fact that TMC disc brake axles can be used on either air or spring is one of their strong selling points.
“We use TMC axles on the majority of our disc brake applications, whether they are running air or mechanical suspension,” Roy says. “About four years ago when we were looking around for a quality disc brake axle – when disc brakes were starting to become popular – we settled on TMC. We have used TMC ever since. It is an excellent product and we are very happy to fit it to our trailers.”
Roy adds that whilst Howard Porter predominately use the TMC axles on their light-weight semi-tippers, which are currently in very strong demand, they also use them on many dog trailer and plant trailer applications.
“We have even used them on side tippers for a few road trains in Western Australia,” Roy says, “so they have been used for fairly heavy-duty applications. They are a very reliable axle and the brake performance is extremely efficient, which is of course crucial in our WA environment with so many multi-trailer combinations.”
Available with either 10 stud 285 mm PCD or 10 stud 335 mm PCD steel hubs, the new generation of TMC disc brake axles feature the larger 430 mm rotors and Wabco PAN-22 disc brake calipers. As an optional extra, TMC disc brake axles can be specified with ConMet aluminium hubs and the well-proven ‘preset’ bearing system.
“Unlike many of our competitors with their unitised or sealed-for-life hub systems, the major benefit from TMC is that the hub can subsequently be serviced and worn components replaced,” says TMC Managing Director, Brendan Dullard.
“Providing the correct replacement parts are used and the relevant hub nut torque retained, the TMC preset bearing system on our ConMet hubs will provide many years of trouble free life as well as significantly reduced maintenance costs.”
Interestingly, Brendan adds that demand for TMC’s mechanical suspension kits has been on the increase in recent times, despite widespread belief within the industry that demand for spring suspension would be on the decline.
Brendan believes there are a couple of reasons for this renewed interest in mechanical suspension.
“Firstly, there was the approval given, or should I say, the exception granted to the ADR38 skid limit criteria, which now permits the use of disc brake axles fitted to a trailer with a mechanical suspension,” he says.
“Secondly, mechanical suspension has proven itself to be much more reliable in multi-trailer configurations, in road trains and in A-B Triples.”
Roy says that business for Howard Porter is going through the roof thanks to the ongoing mining and construction boom in the West.
“Over the past 12 months we have been concentrating on merging both the Howard Porter and SFM Engineering businesses into the one entity and consolidating our manufacturing base. This has proven to be quite difficult when considering the large volume of jobs we have at present. We have to do a lot of planning to ensure we don’t take on more work than we can handle. That’s how strong the boom is running in the West,” says Roy.
Apart from their extensive range of steel, aluminium and side tippers, Howard Porter also build low-loaders from 30 to 60 tonne capacity, flat tops, skels, extendables, and a large range of rigid truck bodies and mining equipment.