The RB44 Story

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The RB44 Story Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6

Researched by forum member Just Popped In

PART 4 The costs involved.

RB44 Army Light Vehicle From government papers


(Mr Tebbit) You have got one here which I agree is partly our fault but I will ask Sir Robert Walmsley to cover it in detail.

8. There we are, a hot pass, Sir Robert!
(Sir Robert Walmsley) It is not rocket science, Chairman, but it is an extremely complex interaction between suspension and the front axle and the effects of braking. I cannot explain why it is so hard to make trucks, whether medium or heavy, that brake in a straight line.

As to your specific question as to why did we keep on thinking we had fixed it and then find we had not, I think there is a clearer story. First of all, after the initial production vehicles came off the line we tested them. We asked for it to be fixed.

Because we had asked for a specific problem to be fixed we introduced extra tests and it was those extra tests which showed that there was still a problem. We then fixed that and put the vehicles into service; that was the first stage. Additional tests uncovered additional faults. The second stage was that in operation we discovered that the brakes required far too frequent adjustment in order to keep them up to scratch in terms of performance and it was not really a practical proposition for the Army to keep on doing this continual adjustment, so in some vehicles where they did not continually adjust the brakes the performance was not adequate, that is why we reverted to automatic break adjustment which had been in the original specification but which we had removed. The third problem is that a lot of these vehicles were kept in store.

As part of the defence cost studies we decided it was not sensible to go on maintaining everything we kept in store as though it was in operational use. What we missed?I cannot explain it?is that some seals on the brake cylinders, which anyone who has tried to fix their brakes will know, perish if they are kept in store. If we had not conducted the maintenance these vehicles would be brought back into service and the braking problems exhibited. So they are sensitive to not following maintenance. We did not and that is why there was a problem. We follow the maintenance now. The vehicles now brake properly.

9. I hear what you say. One has to say, however, that interactions between mechanical systems are the sort of problems that designers in the commercial vehicle industry solve all the time. As for storing vehicles, one often sees lots of vehicles stored in the open and they are sold afterwards and they are not expected to go wrong. I think we are going to find people coming back to this question because it seemed to me to be quite straightforward, as we discussed last time you were with us.
(Sir Robert Walmsley) And they were commercial vehicle manufacturers, Chairman. It was them who did not understand the effect of the bushes and it was them who did not understand they needed a tie rod between the axle and the structure of the vehicle.

10. It was your Department who set up the contract with them and you should have demanded that from them.
(Sir Robert Walmsley) We do not specify how to build vehicles, Chairman, we specify the performance we want and the performance was found to be inadequate.





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