Monday, November 15, 2010

Chinese Three Wheeled Trucks and Commercials

We saw plenty of odd vehicles in rural China. There were of course tricycle motorcycles with elaborate cabs that made them almost little trucks. They certainly were a step up from the basic trikes in the last post. These we mostly encountered in the south.

In the north especially we encountered hundreds of these blue three wheeled commercials. They came in a variety of forms from a variety of manufacturers (unfortunately it was all Chinese to me so I have no idea what they are called). In the north they absolutely dominate the roads.
This is a very small utility a small step up from the cabbed tricycles above.

Cheaper versions came without cabs.

Blue seemed to be the standard colour everywhere except around Guilin where there was a sudden rush of green.

The trucks came in a variety of sizes. Some were fully fledged trucks with dual cabs and tipping trays. They had very noisy engines. They sounded like they were two strokes, but it may have been that they just had very poor exhaust systems.

I believe these trucks are the descendants of the German Tempo Drierad (three wheeler). Vidal & Son of Bremen built three wheeled Tempo Hanseat trucks from the 1930s and the late 1950s. They were powered by either a single or twin cylinder two stroke engine. In 1957, Vidal & Son sold the production rights for the Tempo to the Indian Bajaj company (now Force Motors Limited Bajaj also built a licensed version of the Vespa). In India they became known as the Dukkar triporter or rickshaw. Force continued building the Hanseat, virtually unchanged from its original 1933 spec until 2000 - the longest production run of a motorised vehicle in the world - 67 years! The only real change they made was the replace the two stroke engine with a single cylinder diesel engine. Force replaced the old style Haseat with the newer styled three wheelers photographed above. These are still being built under license in China. Here is a link to an article about the Indian triporters.

A photo of a Dukkar triporter in India.

While the blue three wheelers dominated northern China, in the south the agricultural scene was dominated by these green machines. These machines are based on a design that is common across the old Communist world. Originating in Russia, they are absolutely basic in design and construction. In their most basic form they are little more than a trailer attached to an engine by a pivoting beam. The engine drives the front wheel by means of a belt transmission.

These Chinese versions offer a little more comfort and features than the basic models you sometimes see if eastern Europe. They came in four and three wheeled versions.

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