Mighty Mack truck now
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.