This bloke’s heavy handy

Lyn­don Reynolds aims to keep the traf­fic flow­ing, writesGRAHAMSMITH

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Big Wheels -

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.

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