Mount Gam­bier owner-driver Matt Win­ter­field sur­prised his friends when he bought a Sca­nia R730 – it wasn’t sec­ond-hand and it wasn’t a Ken­worth. He tells Ta­mara Whitsed why he made the switch

Deals on Wheels - - Used Truck Review -

Matt Win­ter­field is a qual­i­fied diesel me­chanic and third-gen­er­a­tion truck driver. And since 2010 he has been an owner-driver trad­ing as Win­ter­fields Float Hire.

His wife Narelle helps with the book­keep­ing and their val­ued em­ployee Peter O’Dea drives their sec­ond truck.

Based at Mount Gam­bier, South Aus­tralia, the com­pany’s two trucks both clock up about 120,000km an­nu­ally cart­ing log­ging, earth­mov­ing and farm ma­chin­ery on their Drake steer­ing wi­dener low loader with self-track­ing rear axles. Most of their work is within a 300km ra­dius of home but they also travel as far as Ade­laide, Mel­bourne and oc­ca­sion­ally Queens­land.

Matt has climbed in and out of sec­ond-hand Ken­worths more times than most peo­ple have had hot din­ners. And he has chewed plenty of ears in praise of Cum­mins, Detroit and Cater­pil­lar en­gines. So he raised a few eye­brows in July when he traded in the 2004 Ken­worth K104 Peter was driv­ing for a new Sca­nia R730.

If their friends were sur­prised to see Peter driv­ing a Sca­nia, they were as­tounded when Matt sold his 2007 T904 and or­dered a sec­ond Sca­nia for him­self. “The first one was go­ing so well that the sec­ond one was just an au­to­matic de­ci­sion, re­ally,” Matt ex­plains.

But he un­der­stands why his friends are sur­prised. Matt has op­er­ated sec­ond-hand Amer­i­can trucks since he be­came an own­er­driver in 2010. Most of th­ese were Ken­worths.

“Our trucks were im­pec­ca­ble, but to keep them in that con­di­tion you’ve got a con­stant in­flow of bills ev­ery month,” Matt says.

He de­cided it was time to buy his first new truck

to re­duce the time and money be­ing spent on main­te­nance.

‘BUSI­NESS DE­CI­SION’

“You’ve got to for­get the sen­ti­men­tal­ity of it when it comes to mak­ing busi­ness de­ci­sions. We looked at ev­ery sin­gle truck that was on the mar­ket and we test drove ev­ery­thing,” he says.

The Sca­nia ticked all the boxes. Matt loved the com­fort, easy ac­cess, vis­i­bil­ity, power, 12-speed Op­ti­cruise, safety fea­tures, driver sup­port sys­tem, and main­te­nance and re­pair plan.

“The re­tarder I think prob­a­bly sold the truck as much as any­thing else,” he says.

In July Peter be­gan driv­ing a Sca­nia R730 with ‘Win­ter­fields Float Hire’ painted on the door.

The truck is ma­roon-on-white with old-school scroll work. It has been cus­tomised with a pol­ished che­quer plate cat­walk be­tween the fuel tanks and pol­ished alu­minium mud­guards man­u­fac­tured by Chris Bar­ron Engi­neer­ing.

Th­ese make it eas­ier for Peter to walk around the turntable and rear chas­sis.

Matt’s sec­ond Sca­nia was un­der­go­ing pre­de­liv­ery cus­tomi­sa­tion when we spoke to him re­cently, and he had been driv­ing Peter’s Sca­nia while Peter en­joyed a five-week hol­i­day.

It didn’t take Matt long to un­der­stand why Peter had been rav­ing about the truck. Driv­ing in Sca­nia com­fort leaves them with more en­ergy at the end of each long day. Matt says there is enough room in the cab to com­fort­ably stand up while chang­ing clothes. The bunk is 900mm wide and the in­su­la­tion passed the test when Peter was caught in Mel­bourne dur­ing a cold snap.

“He said he woke up in the morn­ing and it

We looked at ev­ery sin­gle truck that was on the mar­ket.

was the same tem­per­a­ture as when he went to sleep.”

Climb­ing into the Sca­nia is much eas­ier than get­ting into a cab-over Ken­worth, Matt says. “Cab-over Ken­worths re­ally haven’t changed since the 1970s – you still have to swing into them like a go­rilla.”

He says the 730hp en­gine is so pow­er­ful climb­ing through hills that the Sca­nia has over­taken empty sin­gles while loaded with a 25-tonne ex­ca­va­tor. The pow­er­ful en­gine and re­tarder com­bine to en­able the Sca­nia to travel at a con­sis­tent speed when cart­ing heavy ma­chin­ery over moun­tains.

“It’s quicker go­ing down hills than an Amer­i­can truck by a long way be­cause the Sca­nia re­tarder will hold you a lot bet­ter than what an en­gine brake ever will,” he says.

The Sca­nia has even chal­lenged Matt’s pref­er­ence for spring sus­pen­sion. “It’s got re­ally good [airbag] sus­pen­sion travel. It doesn’t skip the wheels like most airbags do. It does keep its feet re­ally well in the bush.”

Matt and Peter reg­u­larly cart log­ging ma­chin­ery into log­ging ar­eas like Digby, Hot­spur, Kent­bruck and Dart­moor. Ma­noeu­vra­bil­ity is im­por­tant. “Be­ing a Ken­worth man – they’re pretty good on ma­noeu­vra­bil­ity as well. But they don’t have the vis­i­bil­ity that the Sca­nia’s got,” Matt says. “We’re find­ing that we can back [the Sca­nia] around a left hand cor­ner, which is usu­ally blind, but you can back around there and see ev­ery­thing that’s hap­pen­ing in the Sca­nia. It’s just that good.”

MAIN­TE­NANCE PLAN

“We’ve gone for the full main­te­nance and re­pairs

pack­age, be­cause that was the main rea­son why we’ve done what we’ve done. Any re­pairs and main­te­nance, we take it straight to Sca­nia and they do all of that. All we’ve got to do is put fuel and tyres on the truck and put some grease in it. We know ex­actly what our re­pairs and main­te­nance [costs] are go­ing to be ev­ery 12 months,” Matt says.

Matt is im­pressed 60-year-old Peter en­joys the chal­lenge of im­prov­ing his driv­ing with the tips and feed­back ap­pear­ing on the driver sup­port sys­tem dis­play panel.

Six weeks after the first R730 ar­rived, Sca­nia sent a driver-trainer to Mount Gam­bier to help Peter fine-tune his use of the truck and to en­sure he was mak­ing use of all of its fea­tures.

“Sca­nia is fo­cused on get­ting ev­ery driver up to speed with how to op­er­ate that ve­hi­cle as good as what it can be op­er­ated,” Matt says. This is one of the rea­sons he is im­pressed with Paul Rid­dell and the team at Sca­nia Wing­field.

Matt pre­dicts Sca­nias will be­come more pop­u­lar in the bush, es­pe­cially around Mount Gam­bier.

“Ev­ery­one knows that I’ve just been Ken­worth and Amer­i­can for­ever. For me to buy Sca­nias with airbag sus­pen­sion is ac­tu­ally start­ing to make a lot of peo­ple think,” he says.

Matt says any­one who gets a chance to test drive a Sca­nia should test it in the most chal­leng­ing sit­u­a­tion they can find.

“The worst pos­si­ble hill. The worst pos­si­ble cor­ner. Any­thing you can pos­si­bly think of that would be atro­cious or hor­ren­dous – go and do it,” he says. “I still like Ken­worth but they’re not even close to the Sca­nia. I prob­a­bly should have done this three years ago.”

Ev­ery­one knows that I’ve just been Ken­worth and Amer­i­can for­ever.

1. Owner-op­er­a­tor Matt Win­ter­field chal­lenges Amer­i­can truck purists to test-drive a Sca­nia: “You’ll change your mind. I didn’t think I would, but I did.” 2. Peter O’Dea has decades of ex­pe­ri­ence but uses the driver sup­port sys­tem dis­play panel to fine-tune his skills.

3. Close to home: most of Win­ter­fields Float Hire work is within a 300km ra­dius of Mount Gam­bier.

4. The Sca­nia pulls a Drake steer­ing wi­dener low loader with self-track­ing rear axles.

5. Win­ter­fields carts log­ging, earth­mov­ing

and farm ma­chin­ery.

6. Un­com­pli­cated ac­cess: Matt reck­ons

it’s an easy climb up the Sca­nia stairs. 7. Win­ter­fields has been haul­ing log­ging, earth­mov­ing and farm ma­chin­ery since 2010.

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