Mighty Mack truck now

NT News - Motoring - - CARS GUIDE - By JAMES STAN­FORD

KEEP­ING a 110-tonne road train on the straight and nar­row needs pa­tience.

‘‘Just don’t look in the mir­rors’’. This is not the ad­vice you nor­mally hear from a driv­ing in­struc­tor, but I’m not about to go against it.

I’m not all that ex­pe­ri­enced and yet here I am driv­ing a 53m road train, so I’m tak­ing in all the ad­vice I can get. Yes, you read that right, this Mack prime mover, three-trailer com­bi­na­tion is longer than many a pro­fes­sion­ally booted drop punt.

If I don’t take the ad­vice of my men­tor and sneak a look in the mir­ror, I will see the rear trail­ers whip­ping from side to side. Noth­ing you can do will set­tle the trail­ers down, you just need to wait out the few sec­onds un­til they fin­ish whip­ping. The worst thing you can do is try to do any­thing to stop the trail­ers mov­ing in this sit­u­a­tion be­cause the most likely re­sponse is to counter steer and that only makes the prob­lem worse.

It’s im­por­tant to keep the road train in con­trol be­cause this mighty com­bi­na­tion weighs no less than 110 tonnes — and could do an aw­ful lot of dam­age if it was to leave the lane.

Brak­ing also takes a very long time and there is no way to swerve around an ob­ject safely, so any wildlife that strays on to the road is doomed un­less it gets out of the way.

Now, while I can tell my mates that I did drive a road train, I should point out that my ex­pe­ri­ence is a lot eas­ier than most driv­ers due to a few fac­tors. Firstly, I’m driv­ing on the wide-open stretches north of the South Aus­tralian town of Port Au­gusta, a good qual­ity tar- mac sur­face with no pot­holes. It’s not like the rugged dirt tracks some of the real road train driv­ers tackle up north.

Also, I’m driv­ing a spank­ing-new Mack MP10 Ti­tan.

This helps con­sid­er­ably, partly be­cause it has 515kw (685hp), which makes it the most pow­er­ful bon­neted on-road truck in Australia. And also be­cause this truck is fit­ted with a 12-speed mdrive trans­mis­sion.

The lat­ter is es­pe­cially im­por­tant be­cause each gear change is cru­cial in some­thing this heavy, which is of­ten con­trolled by a non-syn­chro Road­ranger crash box man­ual, which takes much skill to op­er­ate.

While there are nu­mer­ous ad­van­tages of run­ning the mdrive, it is the only gear­box that is sold with the 515kw MP10 en­gine.

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