Now those are BIG wheels
This vast miner’s truck is the first step between us and China’s wealth
NOT all working trucks use public roads, so there are some really interesting trucks in Australia that most of us will never see.
The huge Western Star 6900XD is a prime example. This rugged beastie is being used by mines in Australia, but it can’t be registered for road use. The 6900XD is not even close to getting registration approval given it is a whopping 3200mm wide, 70mm too broad for Australian design regulations. It is a rigid truck, meaning there is no trailer, and has a tipper bucket fitted for mining work.
All up, the truck and its load can add up to 40 tonnes.
The 6900XD is never going to carry the same amount as one of the big yellow dump trucks from Caterpillar or Komatsu that dominate mine haulage, as they can run at more than 300 tonnes.
Even so, Daimler Trucks vocational specialist, John Tomlinson, says the big Western Star has its advantages.
‘‘ They don’t carry as much but you can put a really big bucket on the back, and you can get however many compared to one of the traditional (yellow) dump trucks,’’ he says.
Working Wheels understands the traditional dump trucks can cost up to $7 million, while the Western Star is closer to $400,000 depending on the spec.
‘‘ They go a bit faster,’’ Tomlinson says. ‘‘ They are a bit more nimble on-site, they have better access on mining sites and driver training is easier because they are like a regular truck to drive.’’
He says the number on duty in Australian mines is not huge, but that’s not the case with our neighbour to the north. The Freeport mine in Indonesia, the second-largest copper mine in the world, runs about 300 of the big Star trucks.
Because it is not running on the road, a mining truck such as the 6900XD doesn’t need to meet emission requirements.
This is why it runs a 14-litre Detroit Diesel 60 Series sixcylinder, that has been replaced by the latest generation Daimler DD engines which are far more advanced and much, much cleaner. The Series 60 generates plenty of pull, with a total of 373kW (500hp) and 2102Nm of torque.
It makes do without Selective Catalytic Reduction, which uses AdBlue fluid to dramatically reduce the toxicity of the exhaust emissions.
The Detroit Diesel is default engine as the company is now part of the giant Daimler group — along with Western Star, Freightliner, Mercedes-Benz and Mitsubishi Fuso— but it is also possible for customers to select Cummins power.
As is the case with many trucks that haul heavy loads in tricky conditions, the 6900XD runs a traditional automatic, which not only makes life easier on the driver, but reduces the chances of drivetrain damage caused by poor clutch operation.
The big Star uses an Allison 4700 torque converter automatic with a retarder, which comes in handy when dropping down a hill with a tray full of rubble.
It has six gears and the torque converter locks up in all of them, which can save lots of fuel.
One of the big advantages of this truck, over the big yellow Caterpillars and Komatsus, is that it runs reasonably sized tyres, 25-inch Michelins, which don’t cost anywhere near as much as those use by the full size dump trucks, which can knock you back more than $80,000 and can also be hard to get hold of during a resources boom.