Mean Machines: Trucks - Friday March 16

mean machines: trucks (4/10) 19.30–20.00

Mean Machines is a show with a mission: to hunt down the most exciting mechanical beasts on the planet. Taking viewers inside the biggest, baddest, strongest and fastest machines around, the series provides the low-down on what truly makes a mean machine. In this evening’s episode, the focus is on trucks.

The first machines on show are the craziest trucks in the business. Designed for massive jumps and death-defying stunts, monster trucks trash anything that gets in their way. On tonight’s programme, two of these mighty specimens go head to head –the 1500 horsepower Gravedigger, driven by Dennis, and the awe-inspiring Maximum Destruction, driven by six-time World Champion Tom. The winner will be whoever races fastest and jumps furthest –and the contest is too close to call right up until the last moment.

Next, we encounter a true life-saver, the Cobra 2. This rapid-response fire and rescue engine comes into play when an aircraft crashes during take-off or landing. Unlike a regular engine, the Cobra transports its own water –10,000 litres of it. The water is fired from a roof-mounted cannon in a stream that is strong enough to knock a man over. Because a kerosene fire burns at such a high temperature, however, water alone can’t cool it down. This is no problem for the Cobra, whose unique onboard computer adds foam to the mix.

Meaner still is the Caterpillar 797B dumper. Designed for open-pit mining, this is the largest truck in the world, and can carry 380 tonnes in a single load. Everything on this machine is on a massive scale, including the four-metre-diameter wheels, which come with a huge price tag. “They’re worth more than $50,000 each,” confirms Alberta mine worker Rance. Female 797 driver Joella admits that she was intimidated by the truck to start with, but is now an old hand. “It’s quite easy to drive once you get to know how big you are on the road,” she insists.

Tonight’s next machine is like a regular truck, but on steroids. With enough technology on board to turn it into a fully armoured safety deposit box on wheels, it’s the Buffalo military personnel carrier. It can run through minefields without picking up a scratch and withstands bomb blasts that would shred a lesser vehicle. The Buffalo’s v-shaped hull is manufactured from a single strip of armoured sheet metal, which is what guarantees its amazing protective power. Another of its tricks is a remotely operated, camera-guided hydraulic arm. It might look like the world’s biggest backscratcher, but it can turn over suspicious packages and detonate roadside mines at a safe distance.

Finally tonight, a look at the fastest truck ever invented –the Shockwave. It accelerates at an incredible rate to velocities of over 480km per hour. At the front it is just a regular truck, but three diesel aircraft engines mounted on the back provide Shockwave with an amazing 36,000 horsepower of acceleration. The appropriately named Shockley brothers –both dedicated Shockwave drivers and the sons of its creator –explain the appeal of this unique machine.

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