VIDEO: Bell B30E

By: Editor, Photography by: Dave Lorimar


The Ed spent some time a couple weeks back having a look at the latest Bell ADT, and was lucky enough to be the second person behind the steering wheel of the brand-new B30E...

The Bell E Series replaces the D Series in the 18- to 30-tonne Bell ADT class, while the D Series remains unchanged in the 35- to 50-tonne class.

Bell B30E

With a 2:1 heaped capacity of 17.5m3, the B30E has a rated payload of 28,000kg, which makes it the biggest brother in the Bell E Series family of four.

The forward end of the E Series features a semi-independent, leading A-frame supported by hydro/pneumatic, nitrogen/oil suspension struts. The rear end has been kept a bit simpler, with pivoting walking beams and laminated rubber suspension blocks, helping maintain that rear end strength.

Also noticeable at the front end is the sloped underside below the engine. This must be especially handy in avoiding planting the nose of the B30E into the ground when reaching the bottom of a steep decline.

Engine, transmission, and running gear

A German-American alliance is responsible for pushing the B30E along, with a Mercedes Benz OM926 LA engine providing 322hp (240kW) of power through an Allison 3500PR ORS six-speed electronic transmission. Helping get that power to the ground is all Bell's responsibility, with a Bell GR 10,000 transfer box and Bell 18T axles.

Braking system

Helping keep the machine under control on those steep descents, the braking system features dry disc brakes, with eight calipers — four in the front, two in the middle, and two at the rear. Being dry discs, I figure brake maintenance times must be reduced with this setup. Slowing the fully-laden ADT down is further helped with the addition of an automatic exhaust brake, engine valve brake, and a variable adjustable hydraulic retarder in the transmission, making service brake applications minimal.

The cab

Air-conditioned comfort and ROPS/FOPS cabs are the name of the game these days, and with a fully-adjustable air-suspension operator's seat, I'm pretty sure the B30E would not disappoint an operator on those long shifts. The interior seemed larger than what I expected. This could have been due to the full-length glass driver's door, giving visibility right to the ground on the left-hand side of the cab.

The bulk of the controls are situated in a sealed-switch module unit, which sits off to the right of the steering wheel. Being a completely sealed unit, grubby fingers and spilt food should be no match for it. A nifty grab handle sits alongside the module unit and helps keep the driver steady on those especially bumpy sites.

Getting information across to operator is done via an electronic 10-inch full-colour screen dash. It also converts to a full-display monitor when the optional reversing camera is fitted. Capable of a number of other things, the electronic dash also shows the pitch and roll sensor display, on-board weighing system, and maximum speed control to prevent on-site speeding. Cleverly, the weighing system can be set to sound the horn when the maximum payload is reached.

Exterior

On the cab exterior a simple but very effective design change comes in the form of the mirror arms that now allow the operator to walk under them (instead of around them) to get to the engine cover.

The drive

The operator controls felt quite intuitive to use and were placed in pretty much the right spot to easily find. The only exception to that was the positioning of the dashboard. Similar to most motor vehicles, it's located directly in front of the operator and sometimes required a bit of neck stretching to see past the steering wheel spokes.

Pulling to a stop under the waiting excavator, the park brake gets automatically set when the 'neutral' gear is selected. A few minutes later and fully loaded, I hit the 'D' button and plant the accelerator pedal. Partway down the fairly steep hill, I disengage the retarder by keeping a little pressure on the accelerator pedal, allowing the B30E to pick up speed, before taking my foot off the pedal to allow the retarder to do its thing. This quickly slows the loaded rig down to a near standstill. If I wanted, the retardation could have been adjusted to enable a consistent descent every time.

Plowing through more soft clay, we soon reach the tip area, and once again the park brake automatically engages as the 'neutral' button is depressed. I quickly follow this up by pressing the 'tip' button. The tipping body quickly raises (14.5 seconds, according to the specs), and to ensure all the clay has fallen out I keep the body in the 'up' position, before placing the B30E in 'drive' and moving slowly forward.

Verdict

I was very pleased with how the Bell B30E performed. The ADT was quiet, comfortable, had great visibility, performed well, and has features that would surely help the owner of such a rig to secure quality staff. The only niggles I had were the positioning of the dash and a question about having the tip controls as part of the sealed-switch module unit.

All-in-all, pretty minor gripes really. It's a nice machine — very nice.

For more information visit cableprice.co.nz.

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