At 30m³, or 6,600 gallons, Barry O’Connor, of Conor Engineering, Co. Clare, believes that the latest two tankers produced by the company could well be the biggest ever made in Ireland.

However, they are not for this country, but are instead destined for New Zealand where a large dairy farmer, with a couple of equally beefy tractors, awaits their arrival with keen anticipation.

Top spec tankers

Agriland caught up with the tankers on the eve of their dispatch by container flat-rack, a frame to which they will be securely fastened, allowing them to be moved and shipped by container handling equipment.

Barry O'Connor
Barry O’Connor was brought up in an engineering environment although he later qualified in business studies

It is not just the size that impresses; each tanker is fully kitted out to enable the swift loading and discharge of the slurry, maximising the efficiency of the spreading operation in doing so.

At the heart of every tanker lies the vacuum pump and on these machines they each have a capacity of 18,000L/min, with the fill cycle being aided by a centrifugal pump mounted on top of the fill boom.

Cone Engineering Vacuum pump
The high capacity vacuum pump requires added cooling while filling is aided by centrifugal pump on boom

Overheating is a very real problem with pumps of this size working hard in intense bursts, so they are fitted with air and water cooling systems, which accounts for the radiator mounted above the pump.

Fast filling

While still at the front end of the tank, the drawbars have spring damped hydraulic suspension and there is also a hand-operated jack which supports the drawbar and allows adjustment of its height when not connected to the tractor.

Conor Engineering slurry tanker
The direct fill system drops the suction hose straight into the tank. A hydraulic bleed valve drains the pipe when it is lifted out

The filling system differs slightly on each machine with one having its 8″ hose dropping directly into the slurry while the other has a boom that engages with a ground mounted hopper, other than that, they are identical.

The tank itself is mounted on three axles with forced steering to the front and rear units. This was tried out on local roads and found that it would navigate the tightest of turns with ease.

Fast fill slurry tanker
The ground hopper is carried under the tanker when not in use

A downhill kit is fitted which allows the operator to empty from the front of the tank when heading down slopes, switching back to the rear when on level ground.

Demountable boom

The 12m boom comes in four sections and opens sequentially, folding down from its transport position before opening out.

Boom demountable 12 metre
The boom mounts to a rear subframe to which a shallow disc cultivator can be fitted for incorporation if required

It is mounted on a 3-point linkage enabling it to be easily swapped out for a shallow disc cultivator which is an option the customer wished to retain, although Conor Engineering is not supplying that particular piece of equipment.

four section booms
The four section booms fold down before automatically folding outwards to cover a full 12m

Another option which is catered for is a control valve to vary the rate of application. This won’t be fitted presently, but the customer is keen to future-proof his investment of around €360,000 for the pair.

Conor Engineering growing in NZ

Building the two tankers took around three months and getting them half way round the world will take another 10 weeks.

Conor Engineering Co Clare
The new tankers impress from every angle

Barry is justifiably proud of the company’s achievement given the supply restraints and costs that have bedevilled manufacturing over the last two years, although he does see many of the issues now easing.

The tankers will be leaving for Dublin Port this week to start their journey down under. There are plenty of big dairy units in New Zealand and the dealer who made the sale is new to the company, Barry and the factory may well be building more in the future.