Go­ing grain with the

Work­ing Wheels takes to the Vic­to­rian wheat­fields

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Working Wheels - JAMES STAN­FORD james.stan­ford@cars­guide.com.au

DRIVER Cameron Quick sifts the wheat to check the qual­ity. He needs to know the grain he’s load­ing on to his truck won’t be knocked back when he carts it to the drop-off point.

Peo­ple like Cameron are cru­cial to our food cy­cle. They move the grains from the farms, of­ten hun­dreds of kilo­me­tres away from the cap­i­tal cities, and then shift the end prod­uct to the lo­cal su­per­mar­ket.

This morn­ing, Cameron, who drives a B-dou­ble for Mt Noorat Freighters (MNF), is on a prop­erty out­side Ban­nock­burn, south­west of Mel­bourne. The sun is ris­ing as he cranks up the lit­tle four-stroke en­gine which forces the grain out of the mini si­los. These pumps have long tubes from the base of the silo and up above the trailer. It has a worm drive, which is shaped so the grain is pushed around un­til it works its way out the top.

There will be 45 tonnes on board by the time he’s done so he has to be care­ful not to ex­ceed the weights al­lowed for each axle. The trailer sits on airbags which have their own scales on the side. But they aren’t 100 per cent ac­cu­rate if the ground is not com­pletely flat so he slightly un­der-fills it.

Soon he’s fill­ing the rear trailer with the con­tents of the sec­ond silo. This one has a lit­tle V-twin four-stroke so it is pump­ing at a much faster rate.

These mini si­los, called field bins, sit out in the pad­docks or in the farm­ers’ yards if the ground is a bit soft.

MNF­part­ner Tony Maloney ex­plains: In­stead of cart­ing the grain to a cen­tral spot it can fill the bins right next to the har­vesters. Run­ning har­vesters is very ex­pen­sive, so you re­ally want to limit down-time.’’

All of the MNF­ma­chines are fit­ted with cross-locks and power di­viders, which make sure the drive wheels have an even amount of power to avoid loss of trac­tion.

Cameron has fin­ished fill­ing the sec­ond trailer and is soon out the gate and on his way to a de­pot in Mel­bourne.

MNF takes grain to many dif­fer­ent lo­ca­tions, in­clud­ing its own stor­age si­los which it rents out to grain pro­duc­ers who want to hold on to the pro­duce un­til prices in­crease.

When it comes to wheat, the crops are usu­ally sown around the mid­dle of the year and har­vested any­where from Septem­ber through to March, so there is a lot of wheat around at the same time.

MNF Freighters has a fleet of 20 trucks , in­clud­ing five West­ern Stars and 15 Ken­worths, one of which is do­ing the work to­day. It’s a T408 SAR, run­ning a 410kW (550hp) Cum­mins en­gine with Ea­ton Road­ranger man­ual gear­box and Lusty EMS trail­ers.

Maloney says thatMNF prefers Ken­worths be­cause they are Aus­tralian made, so they’re tougher’’.

Ear­wego: Cameron Quick checks the qual­ity of the grain he’s about to load

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