Brisbane Truck Show shines as the biggest and brightest trucking event in the Southern Hemipshere
thousand gear changes and rethink it. My fingers still scrabble for a range change switch that doesn’t exist.
I get lost in the box a couple of times as I try and get my head around the unfamiliar pattern.
But it’s the steering that takes even more getting used to. With no power steering it’s a serious effort to get it around a corner, even bobtail. Daniel sits in the passenger seat talking me through it.
“You’ve got to start turning about five metres before the corner, otherwise you won’t get around it.”
He’s not kidding; the steering box ratio is that slow.
After a couple of three-point turns at roundabouts I get into the rhythm. The ’box starts to make sense and I can start to truly appreciate this old piece of history.
Compared with today’s big bangers, this truck seems quite small. It can be hard to imagine how it must’ve looked parked next to an F600 Ford in the early ’60s – it would’ve been massive.
This truck hauled timber out of the forests on logging tracks and dirt roads. What a job that must’ve been! I’m whingeing about the steering bobtail!
The job would’ve entailed a different breed of driver. Probably one with biceps the size of basketballs and not a pudgy middle aged guy who wasn’t even born when this truck rolled off the production line.
This truck demands mechanical sympathy. It bucks, snorts and breathes. It requires the skill of a horse breaker to make it work. As we wind through the hills there’s a clang from the front end; the radiator grille shutters flick open to get some more cooling air through the front.
It’s hard not to smile as the Cummins growls through the hills east of Perth. The jake brake snarls in anger, barking at the eucalypts and snapping at passers-by. It’s a beautiful piece of machinery that demands skill and perseverance to operate.
I can only imagine what it must’ve been like hanging off the wheel as foliage whipped past the mirrors with a 40-tonne lump of jarrah on the back. There would’ve been no second chances with this jigger; grab the gear and go.
It’s a take-no-prisoners approach to driving. Sometimes the past is a nice place to visit but you wouldn’t want to live there!
This pigeon pair of Paccar classics bookend not only a company story but an amazing family history: a chronicle of innovation and hard work that started on a Fremantle dock more than 50 years ago and continued into a second generation.
Daniel’s pride in these trucks and their heritage is evident, and rightly so – they’re a part of his family’s story. And hopefully they’ll continue to be a part of it for generations to come.
1993 Peterbilt 379 prime mover. Detriot S60@
550hp, 18 spd, 70T B-double • VIC 03 9998 4887
2014 Peterbilt 388. 388 severe duty CAT 3. Platinum interior, leather • VIC 0418 989 382
1992 Peterbilt 379. Day cab, 970,394kms, Detroit 550hp, 18 spd • VIC 0418 101 320
Above left: Daniel Ridolfo cut his teeth on the tools; these trucks have a lot of sentimental value to the Ridolfo family
Above right: At one stage Ridolfo Transport operated all three of the Paccar brands: Hayes, Peterbilt and Kenworth