Equipment focus: Vogele 1603-3 wheeled paver
Vögele’s new 1603-3 wheeled paver is an all-rounder with great mobility that’s impressing asphalt contractor James Craw, writes CAMERON OFFICER
Christchurch, New Zealand-based JCL Asphalt has recently added a third Vögele paver to its fleet. With huge reserves of power, impressive standard and optional features and the ability to pave to widths of over 5m out of the box, the 1603-3 already impresses director James Craw and his busy crew.
"The new 1603-3 joins a Vögele Super 600 footpath paver and a smaller 1303-2 we've been running for a couple of years now," Craw says. "When I find a brand I really like, I tend to stick with it and, as far as our frontline paving plant goes, Vögele makes a very good machine."
Craw spent some classroom time on an application trip to the Vögele factory in Germany last year, learning about the technology the 1603-3 and its siblings in the range feature. In addition to the robustness and power the machine offers, Craw says he also likes the intuitiveness of the controls – something that commonality across the paver fleet helps with.
In fact, he says that his team were running test paves with the machine within an hour of its arrival at JCL's yard. The Dash-3, supplied through Wirtgen New Zealand, was on a transporter and off to its first assignment the very next day.
JCL is running Vögele's AB 500 screed with extenders on the 1603-3, giving it a maximum paving width of 5.5m total (each extender adds 250mm). The bolt-on extensions do mean that the paver needs to be piloted between job sites, but Craw believes the extra coverage the extended screed gives the crew on jobs befitting the machine's capabilities is worth the extra logistical considerations required to transport it.
In fact Craw is going wider still, having recently ordered new 1250mm extensions for the paver, enabling a total width of 7.5m in order to complete a 7m-wide, 2.35km-long private race track the company is scheduled to build soon.
Perhaps the single biggest advantage the new machine carries with it for the JCL team, though, is the MultiPlex Ski.
This system consists of three sonic grade sensors arranged in a row which take individual reference points of the ground being traversed. Based on the values being picked up by the sensors, the system calculates a virtual reference and adjusts the screed level accordingly, meaning that irregularities are accurately levelled out over the pave length.
"The MultiPlex Ski is truly awesome. It was an additional investment, but well worth it," Craw says. "It's quite job-specific, but it's on the large-scale stuff that it comes into its own. And as a company that's where we're looking to play, so it's a vital tool for us. It's really impressive what sort of ride you can achieve with it; we've already had very positive feedback on work we've completed using the Ski.
Among the optional extras Craw ordered for the Vögele 1603-3 are heated side plates and a hydraulic crown.
"The elements under the side plates work really well when you're running against a cold join; that extra bit of heat just makes the join to the existing mat that much smoother," he says.
"This is also our first machine featuring a hydraulic crown. It's a feature that needs real finessing, but the Dash-3 control system makes that easer. It works on percentages, with each push of the button adding 0.1 percent. One touch per four or five seconds is usually enough, though, so you might've gone to one percent over 10 metres.
"You have to remember that's 10mm difference, so there's a risk that a motorist travelling over that at 50km/h or 80km/h will feel it."
Quiet but grunty
In addition to the optional extras, Craw says he's also impressed with just how quiet the machine is, thanks to Vögele's EcoPlus low-emissions software which also governs noise levels.
"I've walked past the Dash-3 a few times and have been fooled into thinking the operator isn't giving it enough power because it isn't revving hard. But in actual fact, with the machine in ECO mode it doesn't need to be screaming.
"If you're paving a car park to four or five meters at 30mm, you can keep the machine in ECO mode the entire time. To be honest, for the average job I really can't see a need to ever take it out of ECO mode; it still has plenty of grunt."
That grunt comes courtesy of a powerful Cummins diesel featuring high capacity liquid-cooling. The power pack offers up 116kW at an efficiently low 2000rpm, while still boasting a maximum laydown rate of up to 600 tonnes an hour.
Switching over to ECO mode governs the engine to 106kW at 1700rpm, which is more than adequate for most jobs, as Craw and his paving crew have discovered.
As to the ability of the fleet, Craw says that between the Super 600, 1303-2 and 1603-3, he's covered with a comprehensive line-up of equipment for any job.
"Our Vögele fleet now gives us complete coverage with regards to screed size and horsepower," he says. "The wee Super 600 is great for smaller jobs and trench work, the 1303-2 is in constant use for car parks, tennis courts and those sort of mid-size jobs, and the 1603-3 is already proving a worthy addition for roading and other large scale projects we're engaging in."
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