This bloke’s heavy handy
Lyndon Reynolds aims to keep the traffic flowing, writesGRAHAMSMITH
WHEN a big truck turns turtle on the highway, it takes an even bigger truck to haul it back on its wheels.
That’s when Lyndon Reynolds’ purpose-built Peterbilt heavy tow truck comes along.
The million-dollar Peterbilt is a state-of-the-art heavy-haulage truck designed to respond quickly to crashes on our roads and clear the wreckage without blocking the road and stopping traffic.
Stopping the traffic flow is not only frustrating for the motorists involved. It is also very costly. US authorities estimate that it costs the economy up to $5 million for every hour a freeway is closed to traffic.
They are so concerned at the cost to the economy that they offer financial incentives for crash recovery operators to clear the crash scene quickly.
The incentives are enough to encourage the development of specialised heavy-haulage equipment by manufacturers such as Miller Industries.
They are able to right overturned or heavily damaged trucks without the need to occupy all freeway lanes.
‘‘In America it’s all about quick clearance of freeways without blocking the road,’’ Reynolds says.
‘‘Local authorities will pay a bonus for operators to arrive within a certain time, clear the scene within a set time and keep lanes open for traffic to flow.’’
Whereas other heavy haulage trucks have to line up at right angles to the crashed vehicle in order to pull it back on its wheels, Reynolds’ Peterbilt is equipped with a rotating hoist — called a rotator — that can be swung through 360 degrees.
The rotator allows it to pull up alongside a stranded truck and haul it back upright without taking up any more than a single traffic lane.
‘‘The beauty of the rotator is that you can work from the side. Every other tow truck in Australia has to be at right angles tothe casualty to pull it back on its wheels, so it’s impossible to keep lanes open,’’ he says.
Reynolds’ company, Truckworks, is an Adelaide-based towing and truck smash repair business. It’s also the distributor for products developed by Miller Industries, the world’s largest maker of towing equipment.
The Peterbilt he’s just imported is equipped with the latest equipment from the Miller catalogue.
The truck is a 2008 model Peterbilt 388 and was built in Denton, Texas, before being shipped to Miller Industries in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where it was completed for shipment to Australia.
It’s powered by a Cummins ISX rated at 410kW feeding into a 20 Series 18-speed auto shift transmission and on to 23,600kg Spicer diffs on 23,600kg Neway suspension.
The massive Peterbilt weighs 28 tonnes and rolls on a 9500mm wheelbase, with a 9080kg front axle and a 9080kg tri-axle set at the rear.
Not surprisingly, the chassis rails are massive. Double skinned, they’re about 304mm deep and 10mm thick, providing the truck’s fundamental strength.
At the front it also has twin steering boxes, one on each side, which make manoeuvring at a cash site much easier when there’s often little room to move. It rolls on super single front tyres.
‘‘These trucks are heavy and, when you’re at an accident scene, you don’t want to have to move the truck to turn the steering. With the big super single front tyres, you need plenty of grunt to turn the steering,’’ he says.
The forward axle in the rear set is a 9080kg self-steering pusher axle that automatically lifts when the truck goes into reverse.
The main lifting device is rated at 75 tonnes and has five auxiliary winches to assist.
The Peterbilt landed in Australia a few weeks ago and was delivered to Kent Truck Repairs at Smithfield where it was being converted to right-hand drive.
After the conversion it will head to Adelaide where Reynolds and his team will repaint it in wild custom colours for its debut at the Sydney Truck Show in August.
The massive Peterbilt will not only be the star attraction at the truck show. It will also be the eye-popping centrepiece of the Truckworks stand.
The stand will also have a 625hp C15 Caterpillar Acert-powered Kenworth T908 with an integrated Century underlift; a fully imported 2008 Cummins-powered Ford F650 with a Century aluminium tilt-tray; and an Isuzu FRR 600 with a steel tilt-tray.
After the show Reynolds will take it on tour to demonstrate it to road authorities in every state.
Turn to us: Lyndon Reynolds’ Peterbilt heavy tow truck is equipped with a rotating hoist that can be swung through 360 degrees.