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Jas P Wilson's custom built Launch Vehicle for Sidmouth Lifeboat station

Posted on: Tuesday 7th July 2015

Jas P Wilson's custom built Launch Vehicle for Sidmouth Lifeboat station

We have proudly worked with Sidmouth Lifeboat station to build a new launch vehicle for their lifeboat . Earlier in the month this custom marinised Valtra tractor was completed after many weeks of modification to ensure it met the tough requirements of the job.

 Prior to the delivery of this  machine, the team involved  in its build got an  opportunity  to be in the  regional news, a story which  highlighted this unique build  and the organisation it would  ultimately help. Seen here,  from left to right is Billy  Wilson, Michael Gibson, Paul  Whalen and Andrew  Kirkpatrick.

Also involved in  the build, however absent in  this image was John  Robertson, a staff member  at Wilson’s who is a member  of the local RNLI.

The build involved the following modifications:

  • Removal of complicated electric components, eg  complex wire loom changed for simplistic loom with overhead switches.
  • Stripped cab parts coated in Linex Load liner (a rust protector we apply to similar marine vehicle used by the RNLI)
  • Electrical equipment replaced with manual/mechanical options where possible, eg. Stop system.
  • Reverse drive system fitted, seat can be turned & tractor can be driven the opposite direction
  • Raised the level of all breathers for gearbox & transmission
  • Modification of lights, including the fitment of spot lights
  • Supply & fit stainless steel fuel tank on the rear of the cab, relocated from standard side position. Supply and fit stainless steel manifold
  • Special wheels & tyres fitted, Galvanised wheels & other removable parts, and larger tyres.
  • Waterproofing of internals including the addition of a waterproof seat
  • Rust protecting paint on base.
  • Air filter re-housed in cab & battery raised into same space
  • Marinisation: Valves fitted to intake & exhaust system
  • Marinisation: Seal clutch housing
  • Marinisation: Additional grease points across the vehicle


This new tractor was to replace an existing vehicle, to insure the reliability of Sidmouth's excellent service!

Sidmouth Lifeboat Station said: “Without a Tractor Driver the lifeboat cannot launch, and so their role is essential.  Prior to launch, the Tractor Driver is a critical part of the launch authorisation process, along with the Launch Authority and the Helm.  Once launch is agreed, the Tractor Driver takes the rig along the seafront and down to the waters edge, where the trailer is reversed into the sea until water depth allows the boat to float and exit the trailer.  During rough weather, the timing and direction of the Tractor Driver’s entry to the sea are critical to achieve a safe launch. Once the boat is at sea the driver and other shore crew rig the recovery net on the trailer, re-entering the water on the boat’s return to allow it to be driven into the trailer.  It’s then back up the beach and to the boathouse for refueling, extensive wash down and numerous checks ready for the next launch.” Excerpt from

Since delivering it last week, it has already been required, as the station had their 8th call out of the year at 16:30 on Sunday 5th July 2015.

Sidmouth Lifeboat Station said: “Sidmouth Lifeboat's new Launch Vehicle was in action today for it's first callout. The crew were paged by Solent Coastguard to respond to a windsurfer 1/4 miles off Sidmouth who was in difficulty with insufficient wind to make it to shore.
One of the Lifeboat crew who was surfing in the area at the time was able to paddle out to the windsurfer and made sure he was comfortable in his self recovery.
The crew proceeded to the launch site as the windsurfer was swimming alongside his board to shore, they stood by until he made it safely to shore.”

Photo Credit: Guy Russell

If you would like to see this incredible vehicle working at Sidmouth Beach,



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