Talus MB-4H amphibious tractor

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Talus MB-4H
Talus MB-4H TW22-H Sheringham 30 March 2014 (2).JPG
Talus MB-4H RNLI Launch Vehicle
TypeLaunch vehicle
ManufacturerClayton Engineering Limited[1]
Length4.475 m (176.2 in)
Width2.66 m (105 in)
Height2.75 in (0.070 m)
Weight9.8 Tonnes
Propulsion4 wheel drive
Engine modelCaterpillar 3114,
4 cylinder, 4.4 litre, Turbo Diesel
Gross power105 hp (78 kW)
Drawbar pull5 Tonnes
Speed22 miles per hour (35 km/h)

Talus MB-4H is a four-wheel-drive launch tractor which was specifically designed for the RNLI, to launch and recover inshore lifeboats from beach launched lifeboat stations.[2] The Tractor is produced by the British company of Clayton Engineering Limited who are based in Knighton, Powys.[3] The tractor plays an important role within the operations required for saving lives at sea.

Design Brief[edit]

Until the development of this tractor the RNLI had been relying on the adaptation of commercially available tractors which proved to be inefficient and costly. Clayton engineering worked in close liaison with the RNLI on a design brief specifically aimed at the ILB launch requirements. This brief included to be totally waterproof with an excellent ground clearance and the best steering ability possible.

Design and Development[edit]

Clayton’s design team developed a prototype at their facilities in Knighton which was tried and tested at several lifeboat station locations around the country to evaluate its performance at as many different working environments as possible. Once these trials had been completed successfully the first tractor was sent to New Brighton on the Wirral, Merseyside. Arriving in November 1990 the tractor and its carriage were used to launch the stations new Atlantic 21 inshore lifeboat.[4]

Working protocols[edit]

The MB-4H has been designed to work over varying beach environments and can easily launch and recover inshore lifeboats via a A85 DoDo (drive-on, drive-off) launch cradle/carriage. It will comfortably work at full power into up to 2 metres (6.6 ft) of calm water.[2] The tractor is divided into two sections with the front section housing the power unit, hydraulic oil tank for the front axle, hydraulic pumps, cooling systems and the fuel tank. The rear section houses the rear axle, hydraulic winch with 100 meters of cable, the operator and his/her controls, batteries, electronic control panel, and the drive gear. The driver's seat within the cockpit can face forward or rear, with duplicated controls front and back, allowing the operator flexibility during deployment or retrieval of the DoDo trailer and payload.[5] This allows the combination to drive to the launch site and then reverse round to launch the lifeboat into the sea. The rear-facing controls have the addition of a third foot pedal which is the dead-man control for the winch. The MB-4H has an automatic hydrostatic transmission which gives the tractor an ever-variable ground speed which corresponds to engine speed and ground/sea-bed conditions. To give the tractor excellent handling ability, the vehicle has a pivot steer type with all electrical, mechanical and hydraulic links passing through central wire-reinforced hose. The design allows the tractor to have a steering articulation of 40 degrees to the left or right and results in a turning circle of only ten metres.


The tractor’s chassis and cockpit are water resistant and can be made water tight once the engine cooling side hatches have been closed on entering the water. The tractor will operate in broken water up to the depth of the air breather duct if required. The MB-4H’s engine compartment is completely water tight. In the event of the tractor becoming in-operable whilst in the water, The operator can leave the cockpit via a roof hatch and the tractor can then be battened down and left on the sea bed in up to a depth of 4.0 metres (13.1 ft). In this situation the cab is designed to allow entry of sea water to prevent the tractor from floating away and causing only minimal damage to the vehicle, such as the wiper motors, exterior work lights etc. The tractor has been designed with extensive corrosion protection to protect from the very aggressive working environment of the sea water and beach conditions the tractor has to endure. The tractor, in most instances, is fully street legal with headlights, sidelights, brake lights and indicators. Work lights, blue flashing lights and a klaxon are also installed.

RNLI Talus MB-4H Fleet[edit]

Op. No.[a] In service Station Reg No. Image Current Lifeboat Payload
TW 16H Mablethorpe H610 SUJ Atlantic 75 Joan Mary (B-778)
TW 17H Redcar
Atlantic College
H593 PUX[6] Launch of the lifeboat - geograph.org.uk - 702336.jpg Atlantic 21 Leicester Challenge II (B-580)
TW 18H         –2014
H710 RUX Flamborough MB-4H (TW-18H).jpg Atlantic 85 Spirit of West Norfolk (B-848)
TW 20H 1992–2002
J125 WUJ TW-20H Launch Tractor.jpg Atlantic 85 Richard Wake Burdon (B-864)
TW 21H Cullercoats[8] J495 XUJ Atlantic 85 Hylton Burdon (B-11)
TW 22H Sheringham K501 AUX Sheringham Lifeboat The Oddfellows 5 January 2014 (2).JPG Atlantic 85 The Oddfellows (B-818)
TW 23H 2002 Hunstanton K805 CUX Hunstanton Talus MB-4H (TW 23H).jpg Atlantic 85
TW 24H 1994–2005
K313 ENT
Talus MB-4H (TW 46H) Sheringham.jpg Atlantic 85 William Henry Liddington (B-834)
TW 25H Newquay L807 KNT Atlantic 85 Gladys Mildred (B-821)
TW 26H M423 OAW
TW 27H[11] Porthcawl[12] M741 RUX Launching Porthcawl lifeboat - geograph.org.uk - 440471.jpg Atlantic 85 Rose of the Shires (B-832)
TW 54H Rye Harbour DU02 WEJ Atlantic 85 Hello Herbie II (B-900)
TW 36H Penarth N805 XUJ Sea tractor (4479472074).jpg Atlantic 85 Maureen Lilian (B-839)
TW 37H Littlestone-on-Sea P898 CUX Atlantic 75 Fred Clarke (B-785)
TW 45H New Brighton[4] T249 JNT Atlantic 75 Charles Dibdin (Civil Service No. 51) (B-837)
TW 46H Aberystwyth V938 EAW Submersible tractor - Aberystwyth - geograph.org.uk - 1741092.jpg Atlantic 85 Spirit of Friendship (B-822)
TW 49H Whitstable
St Bees
W652 RNT Talus MB-4H (TW 49H).jpg Atlantic 85 Joy Morris MBE (B-831)
TW 50H Redcar W418 UUJ Atlantic 85 Leicester Challenge III (B-858)
TW 51H Cardigan X651 BUJ Atlantic 75 Tanni Grey (B-752)
TW 53H Staithes and Runswick DU51 FET Atlantic 75 Pride of Leicester (B-788)
TW 55H Staithes and Runswick[13] DU52 XGA[14] Atlantic 75 Pride of Leicester (B-788)
TW 56H Burnham-on-Sea DY52 EFR Atlantic 75 Staines Whitfield (B-795)
TW 58H Criccieth DX53 VRF Bad Achub Newydd Criccieth New Inshore Rescue Boat - geograph.org.uk - 610749.jpg Atlantic 85 Doris Joan (B-823)
TW 57H Looe DX03 UZF Atlantic 75 Alan and Margaret (B-793)
TW 59H Whitstable DU04 DVW Atlantic 75 Oxford Town & Gown (B-764)
TW 60H Clacton-on-Sea DX54 UYM Atlantic 85 David Porter (B-863)
TW 61H Blackpool DX09 LRZ Blackpool Talus MB-4 (TW61H).jpg Atlantic 75 Bickerstaffe (B-748)
TW 62H Relief ? DX59 LHZ
  1. ^ Op. No. is the RNLI's Operational Number of the tractor.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Clayton Engineering Ltd – Home Page". Home Page of Company web-site. Clayton Engineering Ltd. Retrieved 25 March 2014.
  2. ^ a b "Talus MB-4H Tractor". Description and details of the Model. Clayton Engineering Limited. Retrieved 25 March 2014.
  3. ^ OS Explorer Map 201 - Knighton and Presteigne Tref-y-clawdd a Dyffryn Elan, Author: Ordnance Survey. Publisher: Ordnance Survey. Work: Folded Map. ISBN 9780319237588
  4. ^ a b "New Brighton Lifeboat Station - RNLI". RNLI - Station Website – History – Reference to new tractor and lifeboat. RNLI. Retrieved 26 March 2014.
  5. ^ "A85 DO-DO Carriage – Clayton Engineering". Details of the Clayton DoDo launch carriage. Clayton Engineering Ltd. Retrieved 26 March 2014.
  6. ^ "RNLI stations West Wales and Southwest England – Talus Launch Tractor". Photograph of TW17H at Atlantic College. © 2009-2014 Irish Lifeboats. Retrieved 30 March 2014.
  7. ^ Hunstanton Lifeboats. Author: Leach, Nicholas. Publisher:Tempus Publishing, First edition,2008. Works: Page 63, Reference to the arrival of the new Talus (TW20H0) on station in 1992. ISBN 9 780752 447490
  8. ^ "Cullercoats Lifeboat Station – RNLI website". Home page of the Cullercoats station. RNLI © 2014. Retrieved 28 March 2014.
  9. ^ Sheringham Lifeboats: By Leach, Nicholas and Russell, Paul :Published by landmark Pub Ltd, 2009.Work: Page 85, reference to the arrival of TW24H in 1994. ISBN 978-1-84306-473-2
  10. ^ "Bundoran". Photograph of TW24H in the boathouse at Bundoran. © 2009-2014 Irish Lifeboats. Retrieved 30 March 2014.
  11. ^ "RNLI stations West Wales and Southwest England – Talus Launch Tractor". Photograph of TW27H. © 2009-2014 Irish Lifeboats. Retrieved 30 March 2014.
  12. ^ "Porthcawl Lifeboat Station". Home page of the Porthcawl station. RNLI © 2014. Retrieved 30 March 2014.
  13. ^ "Staithes and Runswick Lifeboat Station – RNLI website". Home page of the Staithes and Runswick station. RNLI © 2014. Retrieved 30 March 2014.
  14. ^ "Staithes Town - Staithes Inshore Lifeboat Equipment". Photos of the Talus MB-4H (TW55H). RNLI © 2014. Retrieved 28 March 2014.