Talus tractor for AWB
The sea “disappears” to up to 1.25 miles out at low water, and so the roles of the launch and recovery vehicles are very important. There are numerous gulleys and sandbanks to be negotiated, so the towing vehicles need to be up to the job. The offshore boat is towed by the “Talus” tractor, manufactured especially for the RNLI by Biglands, Ltd, of Knighton, Powys. It is driven by hydraulic drives governed by computer-controlled electronics from a 3208t 280 SHP Caterpillar engine, which also drives the hydraulic winch. The vehicle is steered by a joystick, and can be driven from either direction, the seat rotating to face the joystick at either end of the cab. The tractor can tow the boat over the sands at about 10mph. The tractor can rotate 360° using a button on the joystick and turning the stick left or right. It has a towing capacity of up to 50 tonnes, and is watertight to the top of the cab. The new tractor T93 arrived on 16th January 2007. The new winch is a kevlar-core and sheathed braided outer cable, which is lighter than the steel wire and just as strong.
County Tractor for ILB
The normal method of launching the ILB is with the County Tractor. This is a marinised Ford 1184 agricultural tractor. Our station tractor TW05 has been returned from Biglands in April 2014, after a complete strip down, refit and refurbishment. (No new County tractors will be built, so this is the next best thing). The tyres are partially filled with water to prevent the tractor floating in deep gulleys. This tractor is usually used to launch the Atlantic B-class lifeboats, but due to the deep gulleys and soft sand, is the only vehicle capable of hauling the ILB and crew on Rhyl beach in all conditions. It is also used to tow the recovery skid trailer when the AWB is launched.
Landrover for ILB
This is a long-wheelbase LandRover 110 Defender TDi, callsign LR102. It is capable of carrying 7 persons, and is able to tow the ILB on the public highway. The LandRover is also used for carrying crew to the shore for the AWB, and also for patrolling the water’s edge when lifeguards are not on duty in high season (if required by the Coastguards). The Landrover was placed on station in February 2009, replacing the original LandRover donated by npower renewables in 2004. In February 2016, the LandRrover underwent a major refit at Hobson’s yard in Louth, Lincolnshire. This involved galvanising the chassis and updating the bodywork with checker-plate panels.
This trailer carries the nylon “skids” over which the AWB is pulled after beaching. 1 Of these is modified and double the thickness at each end, so the bilge keels will sit on these to keep the boat on an even keel, but with the stern lifted up, so the AWB carriage can be pushed up and the boat pulled on to the carriage. This trailer can be towed by any of the vehicles.