Known as ‘rail buggies’, utility vehicles are not new to the railway maintenance industry, but the development of the custom Polaris Rail Ranger presented an opportunity to innovate the design, including the introduction of technology and equipment which is normally reserved for bigger, more expensive plant equipment.
The custom Ranger was built by Fitzgerald Plant Services Ltd, an established provider of specialist services for the rail and construction industries, including repair work, maintenance, engineering and heavy haulage transport. Based in Cwmbran, South Wales, Fitzgerald Plant Services aims to provide a one-stop-shop for all of their customers’ requirements – including specialist solutions like the Polaris Ranger
Supported by their local Polaris dealer – Usk & Wye Valley ATV Ltd – who serve the Monmouth and Forest of Dean areas, the Polaris Ranger was selected because of its refined cab that offers the option to be fully enclosed with the addition of doors, a windshield, rear panel and roof, alongside its class-leading capabilities and durability.
Initially building a prototype with a Polaris Ranger Diesel, Fitzgerald Plant Services will have delivered four Polaris Ranger vehicles to operate across UK rail lines by the end of this year, with many more custom builds planned for 2021.
“These machines are very versatile and can be utilised in a number of different ways,” said Clayton Greenman, Fitzgerald Plant Services Ltd Engineering Manager. “That’s one reason why they’re so suited to working on the rails because it depends a lot on what kind of maintenance work the contractors are undertaking. Transporting personnel, towing trailers with tools and equipment, weed spraying, leaf clearance, track inspections – the Rail Ranger is the ideal vehicle to do it all.”
New For 2019
Celebrating Twenty Years of the Ranger.
The story behind the Ranger,
It’s been two decades since the RANGER® 6×6 vehicle was introduced and revolutionised the side-by-side category in 1998. Mitchell Johnson, son of David Johnson – one of the founders of Polaris in the 1950s – was pivotal to the conception of the iconic machine and tells us more about how the RANGER® rode to market…
“When discussing the beginning of the RANGER®, we first have to think about the vehicle in the context of what Polaris was doing at that time. In the 1990s, the Sportsman ATVs were Polaris’ only Off-Road Vehicle and was selling well.”
Polaris’ reputation for being one of the fastest developing companies in the powersport industry held true, RANGER® went from initial development to production line in just two years.
“We had talked from time-to-time about making a side by side ATV for a driver and passenger. Every Friday we had a staff meeting in the morning and then in the afternoon, we’d go out and ride ORVs. We always took at least one 6×6 ATV to carry everything. We would try and ride around with one person sitting on each fender to see what it was like. One day, Edgar Hetteen [one of our founders] came to my office and said we should make a 6×6 in a side-by-side configuration, he loved the machine but wanted to ride beside his wife Hannah.”
Major decisions about the new model were all made as ‘gut calls’.
“Edgar mocked up side-by-side seating on a 6×6 in his workshop, we spent an hour or so sitting in it to see what it was like – should it have handlebars or a steering wheel? Should it be ride-on or ride-in? These are all things that are gut calls and we made using our experience. With brand new products like the RANGER®, you never know if you’re going to hit the bullseye with customers – the customers themselves don’t envision how the product will or can be used. Take the microwave for example, it hasn’t replaced the oven like the developers thought it would, but has instead created a new market.”
The key in developing the RANGER® in Mitchell’s opinion was to keep the team and investment small.
“I’m not sitting here saying that we knew it was going to be a success but we knew we had to get something out there. If we had identified a need, then we needed to find out. I worked with Edgar, Chuck Baxter – who was the VP of engineering – and James Bergman at BEAMCO in Alvardo, MN, to see if he would do the initial concept work. The idea was to keep investment small, so that if we didn’t hit the bulls eye, we could adjust the sights easily to get on closer to the target centre.”
During early conversations, the main characteristics that the new machine had to have were fairly clear.
“Good speed, great ride and handling with excellent off-road capability, plus a greater payload than any of the utility haulers on the market were all attributes we wanted the vehicle to have. Most of all, it had to be a lot of fun to drive and ride like the already popular Sportsman line.”
“The initial prototype was received well by management. And the first production made a small profit in the first year. We also achieved ‘off-road’ status for the vehicle – which was essential.”
The RANGER® is testament to the Polaris culture – innovation and development, moving with the times and trusting staff to make decisions. Even the name of the new model was helped decided by employees.
“We’d been playing around with names. One of the early Polaris products was a RANGER® snowmobile, when this model was discontinued, so was the name – which I always thought was a shame and I wanted to bring it back. We went out to the employees to ask them to think of a name and said we’d give $100 if their name was chosen. Mike Trihey and Donny Whiteman submitted RANGER® name and were given $100 each.
“The RANGER® name represents the category – it’s fun to ride and that’s one of the most important elements for us. That’s the history of Polaris throughout the years, people realise how much fun they are to ride and the volume grows, plus the RANGER® does a lot of work.
“The RANGER® was a team effort. This stuff doesn’t happen without the people on the team – contributing, listening and pushing, we don’t know for sure what is wrong or right – that’s what has made this successful. The culture at Polaris is one full of passion and an overwhelming desire for the products and people to succeed.”
Polaris celebrated rolling the one-millionth RANGER® machine off the production line in 2017 and 2018 marks two decades since the utility vehicle was introduced to the Polaris line-up. Forming a key part of the Polaris product line, the RANGER® is used all over the globe for a variety of tasks – with the RANGER® Diesel and RANGER® 570 variants being international best sellers.
The RANGER® legacy gets stronger every year, with the RANGER® XP 1000, the latest addition 2018, setting a new industry standard and boasting over one hundred user-inspired improvements. The model has class-leading power (82hp) and torque (61lb-ft), industry-leading towing (over 1100 Kg) and ground clearance (330mm) – making it the hardest working, smoothest riding SXS built.
Check back here regularly to find out what's going on at USK and WYE valley ATV.
The brand-new RANGER XP 1000 will make its debut in dealerships in Early January, with the first units starting to arrive later this month.
Polaris recently celebrated rolling the one-millionth RANGER machine off the production line – 2018 will mark two decades since the utility vehicle was introduced to the side-by-side line-up.
More rugged. More refined. More Ranger.
Developed with over one hundred-user inspired improvements, the all-new RANGER XP 1000 sets a new standard for what a utility side-by-side can do. The model boasts class leading power (82hp) and torque (61lb-ft), industry-leading towing (over 1100g) and ground clearance (330mm) - making it the hardest working, smoothest riding SXS built.
Featuring the proven ProStar 1000 Twin Cylinder engine, the RANGER XP 1000 features a new one-piece frame providing improved chassis stiffness and automotive levels of refinement with a redesigned interior to provide more storage and capability. The RANGER also has a tighter turning radius and more precise steering.
Bold and aggressive new styling on the outside, developments continues on the inside of the cab too. Dual-Sweep analogue dials and a 4” LCD Rider Information Center provide comprehensive information to the driver, while thicker seat foam provides better comfort. Practicality is boosted too with 51 litres of secure in-cab storage including a flip-up passenger seat and double glove box.
Polaris Engineered accessories are available for the XP 1000 and with over 200 available, owners can be sure that there are parts and accessories to enable them to work longer or rider further.
The PIT crew on Standby Dai Evans second from the right.
Diagnostics on the move with a happy customer
Its in here somewhere!!!!
Guy Martin, Dave Knight MBE having a great time on their Polaris
Polaris has announced its 2018 off-road vehicle line-up highlights, with the introduction of a brand-new model and a host of significant updates across the RANGER, RZR and Sportsman families, including an all-new chassis, improved performance and enhanced technology.
Following the introduction of several new models for MY2017, Polaris continues to lead the charge into 2018 with innovative new products and solutions to further enhance user experience.
RANGER – MY18
Headline news for RANGER is the introduction of a brand-new model for the EMEA region, as the RANGER XP 1000 makes its debut.
Following extensive development and testing at the Polaris R&D facility in Wyoming, the new RANGER boasts class leading power (82hp), torque (61lb-ft), ground clearance (330mm), suspension travel (280mm) and towing capacity (over 1100kg).
Featuring the proven ProStar 1000 Twin Cylinder engine, the RANGER XP 1000 features a new one-piece frame providing improved chassis stiffness and automotive levels of refinement with a re-designed interior to provide more storage and capability.
Featuring bold and aggressive new styling on the outside, developments continue on the inside of the cab too. Dual-Sweep analogue dials and a 4” LCD Rider Information Center provide comprehensive information to the driver, while thicker seat foam provides better comfort. Practicality is boosted with a flip-up passenger seat enabling true flat floor storage in the cab too. This is further enhanced with additional cubby space.
The RANGER XP 1000 is due to arrive towards the end of 2017.
Other updates for the RANGER line-up in 2018 include fully sealed suspension bushings on the RANGER XP 900, providing improved durability and maintenance free operation for less downtime when work needs to get done.
The MY18 RANGER line-up will consist of the following models:
RANGER 570 (in Sage Green)
RANGER XP 900 EPS (in Sage Green)
RANGER XP 1000 EPS (in painted Matte Titanium Metallic)
RANGER XP CREW 1000 EPS (in painted Suede Metallic)
RANGER Diesel HD (in Sage Green)
RANGER CREW Diesel (in Sage Green)
RANGER EV (in Avalanche Gray)
RZR – MY18
Following the introduction of the RZR XP Turbo 168 last year and RZR dominance and victory in the SXS class at the 2017 Dakar Rally, RZR has been subjected to a series of evolutionary enhancements for MY18.
An update on the Turbo model is the adoption of a new digital display on the Turbo model; ideal for keeping an easy eye of speed and engine performance. The new display offers quick and easy to see information on speed, engine revs, temperature, fuel level and range.
As well as updates to instruments and new colour schemes across the range, RZR 900 comes factory homologated for MY18 as standard.
The MY18 RZR line-up will consist of the following models:
RZR 900 EPS (in painted Matte Titanium Metallic)
RZR S 900 EPS (in White Lightning or painted Ghost Grey)
RZR XP 1000 EPS (in painted Black Pearl)
RZR XP Turbo EPS (in painted Ghost Grey or painted Velocity Blue)
RZR XP4 Turbo EPS (in painted Ghost Grey or painted Velocity Blue)
RZR XP4 1000 EPS (in painted Black Pearl)
Sportsman & Scrambler – MY18
The evolution theme continues for the Sportsman and Scrambler models in 2018, with a host of technical updates, improving rider experience and durability.
Echoing the development of some RANGER models, the 2018 Sportsman line-up now features sealed suspension bushings, improving durability while reducing service requirements dramatically in the process.
Key updates for MY18 Sportsman 570 models include new fully enclosed side panels and a new four-inch LCD Rider Information Center.
The new side panels improve rider comfort by reducing engine compartment heat venting towards the rider’s lower legs, while the Rider Information Center offers easy-to-read comprehensive information.
Along with providing easily accessed information on speed, engine revs, distance travelled, duration of use, time, battery voltage, coolant temperature and gear position, the new system also offers programmable service interval information and can be customized by the user to select blue or red backlighting and brightness.
Other individual model updates in the Sportsman range include the move to dual A-arm front suspension on the 570 SP and Touring 570 SP models, while the Touring 570 models also get the XP style passenger backrest.
The MY18 Sportsman and Scrambler line-up will consist of the following models:
Sportsman 570 (in Sage Green )
Sportsman 570 EPS (in Sage Green)
Sportsman 570 SP (in painted Sunset Red)
Sportsman X2 570 EPS (in Sage Green)
Sportsman 6×6 BIG BOSS 570 EPS (in Sage Green)
Sportsman XP 1000 (in painted Havasu Red Pearl or painted Matte Copper LE)
Scrambler XP 1000 (in painted Havasu Red Pearl)
GENERAL – MY18
Following on from the homologation treatment of other models, the MY18 GENERAL will too be available as a T1b factory homologated model. Other technical enhancements include a revised CV Propshaft for reduced driveline noise, passenger door enhancements and new colour options.
The MY18 GENERAL line-up will consist of the following models:
GENERAL 1000 EPS Premium (in painted Radar Blue)
GENERAL 1000 EPS Deluxe (in painted Titanium Metallic)
GENERAL 4 1000 EPS (in painted Black Pearl)
Full 2018 model details will follow soon with pricing and availability