Re­li­able rum­bler

Owner-driver Phill Rise­ley be­lieves it's more eco­nom­i­cal to keep his 2004 Freight­liner Columbia on the road than fork­ing out for a new truck. Peter and Di Sch­lenk write

Deals on Wheels - - Contents -

Owner-driver Phill Rise­ley be­lieves it’s more eco­nom­i­cal to keep his 2004 Freight­liner Columbia on the road than fork­ing out for a new truck

Phill Rise­ley's as­so­ci­a­tion with road trans­port goes way back to Ra­zor­back block­ade in 1979. Phill, how­ever, doesn't re­mem­ber the land­mark protest event at all. Just over a year old at the time, he was a pas­sen­ger in the baby seat bolted down be­tween his par­ents in his fa­ther's truck.

“The only rea­son they were al­lowed through was be­cause of me and that they had run out of nap­pies,” Phill laughs.

His dad Jeff Rise­ley had a cou­ple of trucks on the road dur­ing the late 1970s and into the `80s, namely a Bed­ford tray truck and an Isuzu prime mover.

The Rise­leys even­tu­ally moved out of the truck­ing in­dus­try, op­er­at­ing a ser­vice sta­tion in the Vic­to­rian town of Terang. Phill, how­ever, was still keen on trucks, es­pe­cially with W.A. Molan & Sons' trans­port yard just down the road. “I used to watch the trucks come and go,” he re­calls. “One day one of the own­ers asked if I wanted to jump in the truck.

“So that was it for ev­ery hol­i­day break. I used to wag school to go in their rigs.

“John and Kevin are the two older brothers.

They are sort of re­tired now but John's the one who took me un­der his wing and taught me ev­ery­thing I needed to know.”

Phill, how­ever, de­cided he needed some­thing to fall back on, com­plet­ing a univer­sity de­gree in civil en­gi­neer­ing. How­ever, his de­sire to move into truck­ing was tem­po­rar­ily placed on the back­burner af­ter he was in­volved in a se­ri­ous car accident. He vir­tu­ally had to learn how to walk again.

Re­cov­ered, he found a job at a sand wash­ing

plant in the Queens­land town of Gympie, driv­ing a front-end loader.

He bought his first truck, a Sca­nia T113H, op­er­at­ing it in a truck-and-dog con­fig­u­ra­tion. He later traded it in for the Freight­liner Columbia, its pre­vi­ous owner be­ing Rudd Trans­port of Quean­beyan.

The 13-year-old Freight­liner now has 1.7 mil­lion kilo­me­tres on the clock, nowa­days pulling a new Barker trailer.

“It has been an unreal truck for me; it's very com­fort­able and rides like a car,” Phill says. “It's ideal for me as an owner-driver.”

Phill says the su­per sin­gle tyres on the trailer are a cost-ef­fec­tive way to op­er­ate.

“All my mates have su­per sin­gles on their steer and when they get worn out, they give me a call. I take them and run them out on my trailer.

“I had the old trailer for seven years and I think I paid for one or two tyres,” he says.

As well as the sav­ings on tyres, Phill says he gets bet­ter fuel econ­omy. And he needs ev­ery ad­van­tage to stay com­pet­i­tive against the big fleets.

Phill sought help from CPF Detroit Spe­cial­ists in Bris­bane. It's paid off as, from the early days with the Freight­liner and up un­til now, his av­er­age fuel bill is around $3500 a month or less.

“I've spent a lot on the truck to get it to be as fuel ef­fi­cient as pos­si­ble,” he ex­plains. “I'm com­pet­ing against com­pa­nies that have a fleet of trucks, each mak­ing 2 per cent profit. I can't sur­vive on that amount.”

In ad­di­tion, Phill had Caloun­dra-based Torque­gass fit a gas sys­tem to the Freight­liner, which he says uses be­tween 7 and 11 litres per

100km, de­pend­ing on the load. “It’s been tri­alled and 100 per cent safe,” he adds. “It gives you a slight in­crease in power and size­able in­crease in torque.

“But what it does do is burn all the resid­ual diesel, so I’m get­ting al­most 100 per cent burn. I’m burn­ing ev­ery­thing I put in my tanks.”

While his pre­vi­ous trailer tared in at 21 tonne, Phill says the new one comes in at 18.5 tonne, which is an­other sav­ing.

As far as ap­pear­ances are con­cerned, he’s de­cided to keep the pre­vi­ous owner’s colour scheme, con­tin­u­ing it onto the new cur­tains.

“The boys at TFI [To­tal Fleet Imag­ing] did all the scroll­work and sig­nage on the truck and the trailer,” he smiles. “It looks very smart and I added plenty of chrome and alu­minium.

“It’s just eas­ier for me over­all; like hav­ing a wash and wear trailer.”

Al­though he reg­u­larly runs Mel­bourne to Ade­laide, Phill calls Queens­land’s Sun­shine Coast home nowa­days, al­though he says he makes it back there only once or twice a month.

He has no plans to re­place the Columbia any time soon, be­liev­ing it’s bet­ter to main­tain and re­build than pay out an­other $300,000 for some­thing newer.

“The new trucks are meant to be bet­ter for the en­vi­ron­ment but they ac­tu­ally use more fos­sil fuel in or­der to be cleaner. You can’t get the same fuel econ­omy and I would go back­wards and lose my profit mar­gin. The cab it­self is alright, I’ll touch it up ev­ery cou­ple of years,” he says.

Phill be­lieves that if he looks af­ter the rig, it will look af­ter him.

“That’s what my dad in­stilled into me,” he says. “Grease and oil are cheap whereas re­pairs are ex­pen­sive.”

I’ve spent a lot on the truck to get it to be as fuel ef­fi­cient as pos­si­ble.

Phill Ris­ley's 2004 Freight­liner pulls a new Barker trailer

Right: Phill keeps the main­te­nance up on the Freight­liner and has no plans on sell­ing it any­time soon

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.