Home > AFT History

AFT History

AFT Trenchers Ltd. has been making specialist trenching equipment for nearly forty years. Originally all machines were self propelled: smaller trenchers on wheels and larger types as ride-on models with tracks.

History of Trenchers

In the 1970s a small wheel trencher was manufactured, which was propelled forward by means of a winch cable. These machines were originally developed for the British Railways and once started, they could work alongside a railway line without any staff nearby so train traffic did not have to be interrupted. The winch also made it possible for these trenchers to climb steep railway embankments. Of the two models made, more than a thousand were produced. They also were very popular for laying electrical cables, notably for motorway illumination.

The following major development in the early 1980s was the AFT65, our first tractor mounted trencher. Trenching needs a relatively low forward speed, but those times, tractors with creeper gearboxes were not readily available. The solution was to incorporate a drive system into the trencher.

T65 with wheel drive creep unit

Hydraulically operated cage wheels pressed against the rear tyres of the tractor to move it slowly forward. The tractor, used in neutral gear, provided power to the chain via the PTO shaft. Large numbers of AFT65s were sold worldwide for agricultural drainage and for the laying of pipes and cables. It received the prestigious Gold Award at the Royal Agricultural Show in 1983. The AFT65 has long been superseded by our AFT100, but the drive system is still available.

In the 1980s a new demand grew for sportsturf drainage. Existing machinery was too heavy to operate on delicate grass surfaces and, because all worked with augers which put the soil next to the trench, extensive clean-up work was necessary. First attempts were made by fitting a conveyor system to the small winch propelled trenchers. Though many were sold, it still did not offer an ideal solution.

AFT Sandbander - a revolution in sand slitting

A major breakthrough was the introduction of the WizzWheel in 1985. This wheel trencher is still in production today and is most widely used by sportsturf contractors all over the world.It soon was followed by the AFT100 chain trencher and later by the AFT45 trencher for compact tractors.

The AFT45, which can be fitted with a digging chain or with a slitting wheel, can be used with augers or with a conveyor system. It has enabled green keepers to do drainage work themselves as and when they need to and with minimal disruption to play.

Though specialist sportsturf trenchers are now the main products of AFT, the civil engineering sector has not been forgotten. The revolutionary MH100 trencher for excavators is widely used for the installation of pipes and cables in conditions where conventional trenching machines cannot operate.

In 2003 AFT Trenchers Ltd. moved to new premises and already three years later these had to be extended to keep up with the ever increasing demand for our trenchers and other drainage machinery. Throughout its existence, AFT has built an excellent reputation for the quality of its machines, the quick and reliable supply of spares and unequalled service to its many customers.