Talus MB-4H - Bendy Mark 2



Talus MB-4H Mark 2 TW55H

Affectionately known as 'Bendy' at Burnham-On-Sea, the MB-4H is the first tractor to be specifically developed for the task of launching inflatable lifeboats. Previously, tractors had been adapted from commercial tractors but were becoming more and more difficult and expensive to adapt to RNLI specifications, mainly due to waterproofing necessity.

It was necessary to develop a suitable vehicle and this was contracted out to M.A.Bigland Ltd. (now known as Clayton Engineering). Development was undertaken at their company test facility at Knighton, Powys and the prototype tested at various RNLI stations with arduous launch conditions throughout the country. Trials were completed and the first MB-4H was stationed at New Brighton in November 1990.

Due to the boggy conditions at Burnham on Sea and the arrival in 2019 of our Atlantic 85, it was necessary to upgrade our Bendy to a Mark 2. It is basically the same from the outside except for the addition of LED lights all round and a hydraulic hitch. Due to the extra weight of the 85 DoDo carriage and the Atlantic 85, improvements have been made to the engine torque output and the traction mode. 


  • Output 50% more torque.
  •  Maximum speed unchanged.
  • No change to the engine.
  • Joystick steering in addition to the twin hydrostatic steering wheels.
  • No significant change to the vehicle structure.        
  • The drive system was completely re-worked with fixed axles being replaced with wheel motors, and a fluid diff lock valve was replaced with the Poclain "Twin-Lock" system. 
  • The engine speed control was previously by Bowden cable and is now "fly-by-wire". The mechanical control system on the existing diesel engine is operated by an electrical actuator.
  • The operator instrumentation and controls have been completely revised to provide a more ergonomic solution.
  • An HMI has been incorporated to provide a detailed level of on-board diagnostics.

In conditions where traction is poor the Mk2 machine has far superior performance to the original tractor, as the maximum torque can be developed at a much lower speed.

Technical Info

The driver's seat can face either way and steer so that the driver can pull the DoDo and Atlantic to the launch site and then turn round to launch the Atlantic into the sea. There is also a throttle pedal and brake pedal both ends. There is another pedal when facing back which is the deadman to control the winch. The fully automatic hydrostatic transmission gives an ever-variable ground speed corresponding to engine speed and ground conditions. There are two speeds (oil flow valves) and top speed is about 15 mph.

The cab is fully enclosed for the driver in case of bad weather launches and can operate in depths up to 2 metres in calm sea conditions. The hull is fully marinised due to the fact that we close engine cooling side hatches when we enter the water. In the event of a breakdown in the water, the driver who escapes from the cab via a roof hatch after battening down the MB-4H, then makes his way back to the beach. The MB-4H can be fully submerged by the tide and recovered at low tide. The cab is designed to flood to prevent the MB-4H from floating away and only minimal damage will have occurred, i.e. wiper motors and exterior work lights.

There is a winch on the back which is operated by a lever in the cab and a deadman pedal. This winch is designed to be used for self-recovery purposes, especially if we were to get stuck in the mud at Burnham-On-Sea. The DoDo trailer and Atlantic can be dumped so there is less load on the MB-4H. There is a 45 metre rope attached to the DoDo and MB-4H for such occasions, thus allowing the MB-4H to recover to firm ground so that the DoDo can be towed out.

The MB-4H is fully street legal with headlights, sidelights, brake lights and indicators. Work lights, blue flashing lights and a klaxon are also installed.






9.380 tonnes

Maximum Speed

15 mph

Engine Power

105 hp Cat Diesel Turbo

Drawbar Pull

5 - 6 tonnes

Winch Wire Pull

5 tonnes


4.475 metres


2.660 metres


2.750 metres (Hatch Down)