2020 winners follow up: Chris Ecob, Machinery Innovator of the Year

An agricultural engineer from Buckinghamshire has not only managed to design an all-new trailer concept for farmers, but has gone on to develop a specialist business after winning last year’s Machinery Innovator of the Year Award.

Chris Ecob, from Kingsley, hails from a farming background and has worked as a self-employed agricultural engineer for some time, as well as designing and welding smaller pieces of farm equipment.

About 10 years ago, he came up with the idea of reinventing the conventional silage/grain trailer to improve stability, safety and comfort and to offer a product which farmers actually want, rather than buying what has been on the market for decades.

He says: “Designs of trailers have rarely changed in years and I reckon 90 per cent of the trailers still run on suspension systems which were developed back in the first world war.

“Most of the trailers on the market are completely identical and cheaper components are being used too, so with tyres getting wider and larger, some of the trailers are probably not fit for the job and end up tipping over.

“Before I designed the new trailer, I made sure to ask plenty of my contractor and farming friends what would be the perfect trailer. Most of them said they wanted to be able to haul as much as possible, as fast as possible and as cheaply as possible, so I took on the challenge of trying to deliver this.”

After taking some time to secure finance for the project and securing various materials which came from as far a distance as Germany,  Chris setabout making a model version out of plywood so he could get a better idea of how to build the trailer.

His biggest challenge was trying to find flotation tyres which worked properly with a different suspension system.

He says: “I couldn’t afford to make mistakes along the way, so I knew it had to be right first time round.

“You will rarely see a farm trailer with all four tyres firmly on the ground, as they are usually bouncing all over the place. This is why you see so much wear and tear, as usually the tyres are doing all the work and the suspension is doing nothing.”

The build

Along with help from colleague Conor Ferguson and neighbouring farmer John Rixon, the 18-tonne, twin-axle trailer took about six  months to build, as only weekends and holidays could be dedicated to the project.

Chris says: “I had to create something entirely different to what was on the market, so I went for a wishbone suspension system, rather
than the typical leaf springs.

“One wishbone is used for each wheel, ensuring all tyres are completely flat on the ground as the load sways about, and I also developed a completely new chassis.

“I bought a pair of second-hand 18t BPW 10 stud axles, then cut them in half. I put a pivot on each end of the cut axle, then fabricated a similar piece to provide bracing and create the wishbone shape. The bracing is angled backwards to cope with the strains of heavy braking.

“The wishbones hang beneath a 300x300mm central spine chassis which is virtually the length of the trailer and is also much lower than that of conventional box-frame chassis designs. This also provides somewhere to route electrical wiring, plus air and hydraulic pipes.”

The trailer features a skeletal steel body lined with 20mm of thick, plastic sheet, which is UV-resistant and Tefloncoated, restricting friction and helping material slide out cleanly. This is also helped by high-density rubber blocks, which reduce noise too.

Chris says: “The trailer is about 50 per cent plastic and, believe it or not, it is actually stronger than steel. The other beauty is the noise is reduced when the trailer is moving, which is a huge benefit when farmers are driving through villages or built-up areas, as people always seem to be complaining about farmers making noise when hauling grain or silage.


“I wanted to be sure the trailer would be lighter than other 18t trailers so farmers could save on fuel when empty and have the option of carrying extra volumes of materials. The body of the trailer only weighs 2t.”

Chris has even managed to redesign the standard floor of a trailer by reprofiling the usual flat surface and creating a gulley in the centre.

This has helped increase the load volume by 1.5cu.m, but at the same time, has kept the load weight closer to the ground, resulting in improved stability.

Since its completion almost three years ago, Chris has hired out the trailer for free to local contractors, farmers and foresters. He says feedback has been positive, with the result being that the trailer is hardly ever being parked up now.

He says: “I have been really delighted with everyone’s comments and people have been really keen to try it out.

“Since it has been out on the road, it has been worked really hard. A lot of the contractors and farmers have been using it for carting silage and muck and there have been no effects whatsoever.

“In fact, the same 560/45 R22/5 BKT high speed flotation tyres are still on the cart three years on and they have only worn 4mm, meaning they have lasted about three times longer than the tyres would on ordinary trailers.”

After winning the Machinery Innovator of the Year Award at last year’s British Farming Awards, Chris set up his own specialist company, Goliath Moldings, which he runs in partnership with two others. They have plans to develop a range of products featuring new designs.

Chris says: “I was absolutely gobsmacked to be given the award for my trailer. I never usually win anything so it was nice to be recognised. Never did I believe this new trailer would open up so many avenues for me and bring about new opportunities.


“I think it is really important going forward for new innovations to be introduced into the machinery sector, as everything is becoming bigger and more advanced, so we have to be sure the machines we use are up to the task.”