Text: Mark Pearce
Photos: Mark Pearce, Drake Photos
Heavy haulage specialist Daniel Bower shared his vision with The Drake Group to create a low-height, semi-modular, steerable low loader – the first interchangeable Drake platform to run entirely on BPW axles.
Some kids played Matchbox cars after school, while others dabbled in sport. Daniel Bower’s childhood, however, was consumed with pottering amongst authentic cranes and life-sized low loaders. The family business, situated in Singleton, New South Wales, began in the late 1940’s with Daniel’s grandfather, John Bower. With an intergenerational respect for trucks and cranes, Daniel has continued the Bower’s heavy haulage heritage and strived to be the best in the business.
Now the managing director of Bower’s Heavy Haulage, Daniel recollects the simple childhood joy of tinkering with trucks which became his life’s work. “When the primary school bell rang at three o’clock, my grandmother used to wait outside the gate, pick me up and take me to work. And I couldn’t wait for that bell to ring! I’d run out of the school yard and be driven to the work yard where I was probably more in the way than helping – but I thought I was helping, and that made me what I am today,” Daniel recalls.
Largest heavy haulier in the southern hemisphere
Bower’s Heavy Haulage and Crane Service was established in 1949, when it opened as a towing and panel beating service. Under the rein of Daniel’s father, Robert, the business developed into a full-blown heavy haulage operation – the largest of its kind in the southern hemisphere at the time. “When the old man got out of the business, everyone in town asked me ‘what are you going to do?’ I told them ‘I’m going to buy a truck’ because heavy haulage is what I’ve known my whole life,” Daniel says.
Eventually Daniel’s father sold the business to Boom Logistics in 2004. In 2009, he and Chris Betts decided to kick-off ‘Betts Bower Haulage’. In 2015 when Chris left the company, Daniel went it alone – albeit with a heavy-duty fleet of 13 prime movers, 30 trailing units and a strong support team behind him, including his wife Michelle.
Daniel Bower, Managing Director, Bower’s Heavy Haulage, is proud of the the first interchangeable Drake platform which runs entirely on BPW axles.
Take it to the next level
Daniel pinpoints a few notable reasons why Bower’s has been able to push the envelope; he argues that nothing can be done without good old-fashioned hard work, however, the two key factors that help Bower’s turn nothing into something is investment and innovation. “In the towage and crane industry my grandfather and father managed to build their own tow trucks because the new trucks at the time didn’t suit their needs. They also built their own equipment to be a forerunner with cranes.”
Specially built for the company
When Bower’s refocused and chose to transport heavy loads in the 1970’s, many firsts were built for their business, including the 4×8 extendable float, the first hydraulic gooseneck float, the first steerable articulated jinker trailer, as well as the extendable low loader – innovations which are now standard on trailers. “The old man had visions of building trailers that weren’t thought of and I’ve tried to emulate that type of thinking over my time. It costs a little bit more to make it work, but it has always paid off,” Daniel claims.
An example of Bower’s investment and innovation is the Drake-built, 9-line low loader platform with 2×8 dolly, completely assembled on BPW axles. The project was planned around the utilisation of Bower’s existing platforms, which are fitted with other axle brands. The Drake design allows Bower’s to clip-on any other low-height, semi-modular, steerable axle, resulting in a fully interchangeable heavy haulage fleet system.
From L-R: Adrian Rowan (Bower’s Heavy Haulage), Bill Law (Drake Group), Shane Hoawerth (Bower’s Heavy Haulage), Sam Drake (Drake Group), Daniel Bower (Bower’s Heavy Haulage), Khali Lake (Drake Group)
Common history of pioneering ideas and designs
“We needed the trailer to configure with our other trailers like a Meccano set, and we know Drake stick behind their product” Daniel says. “My grandfather dealt with Sam’s [Drake] grandfather, my father dealt with his father and now I deal with Sam. In the early stages, I actually said to him: ‘I want the platform entirely on BPW’ and I wasn’t going to take no for an answer because I knew it would be a force to be reckoned with,” he states.
Sales manager of The Drake Group, Sam Drake, agrees. I had to guarantee that the new steerable and steerable attachments had complete interchangeability with his existing fleet and the standard low height York axle Steerable trailers. The project was fitting for both Bowers and Drake as we have an interesting history of pioneering ideas and designs together,” Sam explains. “Daniel has got much experience with BPW drum braked axles and he runs BPW on most of his general trailers and his Drake deck wideners. This was a first of its kind for us to run on BPW and make it work. Because Bower’s is a reputable customer and we have a strong relationship, we decided to make a commitment to trial the project and get it off-the-ground.” A loyal relationship, along with sophisticated and complex thinking, enabled Drake’s engineering team to confidently road test the combination as a 12-liner, which officially rolled-out onto the public road on 18th July, 2019.
Unbeknown to Daniel, Drake had previously been in conversation with BPW, as the BPW engineering team were looking closely into this type of project. Scott Merriman from the New South Wales BPW Transpec branch explains: “BPW have had the special short track axle to suit hydraulic and steering systems for some time. With Daniels preference for BPW equipment and Drake trailers, along with the experience and knowhow of both engineering Loved by maintenance guys departments, Bowers Heavy Haulage now have a fantastic piece of equipment to compliment their fleet”.