HIGH COUN­TRY HAULIER

Josh Ri­ley is rel­ish­ing the task of driv­ing the fam­ily busi­ness’s lat­est ac­qui­si­tion around East Gipp­s­land – a new Ken­worth T909, write Peter and Di Sch­lenk

Owner Driver - - Owner / Driver -

RI­LEY EARTHMOVING, based in Clifton Creek, Vic­to­ria, has been around since the late 1960s and, al­though the fo­cus is on heavy ma­chin­ery, its fleet of three Ken­worth trucks is in­dis­pens­able to the busi­ness.

Decades sep­a­rate the trio of Ken­worths, from a 24-year-old T909 to a 2007 T350 and the lat­est ad­di­tion, a new T909.

Ac­cord­ing to Josh Ri­ley, the T909 is a world away from the Ley­land Hippo his com­pany used to pull a tri-axle float to move its ma­chin­ery. Nowa­days, Ri­ley Earthmoving boasts a di­verse range of earthmoving equip­ment, not to men­tion 15 staff.

Josh is the T909’s driver, the Ken­worth hav­ing a 5.85m wheel­base, an 18-speed gear­box and a Cum­mins Euro 5 en­gine set at 600hp. Josh says he’s happy enough with the Cum­mins, but would have pre­ferred a Cat un­der the bon­net.

“We have a lot of Cat gear and we shed a tear when they stopped putting them in,” Josh says.

“The Cum­mins is not too bad, a lot bet­ter than the EGRs any­way.”

Josh says the first thing that struck him about the T909 was the space in­side the cab.

“Un­til you sit in both Ken­worths, you don’t re­alise just how much roomier and big­ger the T909’s cab is over the T900,” he said. “And the dash lay­out has changed with the T909 hav­ing a smart steer­ing wheel and no ra­dios or con­trols above the wind­screen.”

The T909 has been spec’ed up with Ken­worth’s IT sleeper that comes in handy as its used its float to move gear through­out dif­fer­ent ar­eas in Aus­tralia.

“We move a fair bit of ma­chin­ery in our lo­cal area and also a lot down to Mel­bourne and back, but some goes fur­ther afield, so hav­ing a bed for the oc­ca­sional sleep is great,” Josh ex­plains.

“I wouldn’t want to have to use it ev­ery night, but for the odd oc­ca­sion it does the job.

“And do­ing a trip away breaks things up a bit; it’s a nice change.”

The new Ken­worth is fit­ted with a quick-re­lease sys­tem tip­ping body, so Josh can change it over for a turntable to pull the com­pany’s quad-axle float.

BUILD­ING VER­SA­TIL­ITY

Josh’s grand­par­ents, Cyril and Heather Ri­ley founded the busi­ness in 1964, start­ing off with bull­doz­ers, clear­ing land for roads and build­ing dams.

“We’re still do­ing the same work to­day,” Josh grins.

There’s a re­minder of the com­pany’s ori­gins in the form of an old Terex wa­ter scraper that sits in the yard. To­day the scrap­ers have been re­placed with dump trucks and ex­ca­va­tors. Its largest bull­dozer is a Cater­pil­lar D8.

“We’re very ver­sa­tile in what we can do,” says Josh.

Josh’s fa­ther Danny joined the busi­ness in 1986, while his un­cle Peter started in 1982. Hence Josh and his cousin James are the third gen­er­a­tion of Ri­leys to be in­volved. Peter’s other son Ash­ley was the main truck driver with a strong pas­sion for trucks and earthmoving, but he sadly passed away in April 2013.

“There’s not a day that goes by where we do not miss him,” Josh says.

One of Ash­ley’s life­long dreams was for the busi­ness to have a brand-new truck. The T909 has posthu­mously ful­filled his dream.

Josh him­self be­gan work­ing for Ri­ley Earthmoving soon af­ter leav­ing school, start­ing at first on the heavy ma­chin­ery. A few years later, with his heavy-ve­hi­cle li­cence, he was driv­ing an R model Mack. “That wasn’t my favourite truck; it only had a coolpower with 320hp. It was hard work,” he re­calls.

The R-model was fol­lowed by a near new T900, the same one still in Ri­ley’s fleet to­day, al­though it’s had a new C15 Cat fit­ted along the way.

“It is still earn­ing its keep,” Josh smiles. “The old girl is pay­ing for the new trucks.”

He says the T900 will soon be

tem­po­rar­ily off the road to get re­fur­bished and re­painted.

“Af­ter the great run we’ve en­joyed with it, there was no choice but a Ken­worth for the new truck.”

Mean­while, Ri­ley’s T350’s reg­u­lar day is spent pulling a quad dog.

“You can’t un­der­es­ti­mate the lit­tle Ken­worth,” Josh says. “It’s a great truck, but pulling the quad dog is a bit am­bi­tious. It prob­a­bly needs a su­per dog and that would suit it down to the ground.”

HY­DRAULIC RAM

Mean­while, the new T909 is pulling a Kennedy quad-axle Ejekta trailer. With a lot of Ri­ley’s work in Vic­to­ria’s high coun­try and in places where flat ar­eas are rare, op­er­at­ing a trailer that doesn’t need to tip up is a big ben­e­fit.

“Kennedy Trail­ers have made a few of these and it does open up the pos­si­bil­i­ties as to where you can de­liver your load,” Josh says.

“With the hy­draulic ram, the load is sim­ply pushed out. The rear tail­gate has a hy­drauli­cally op­er­ated bot­tom guard that holds the main door shut but keeps the load away from the rear of the trailer when un­load­ing.”

The T909 and Ejekta trailer combo are work­ing well, open­ing up the pos­si­bil­ity of Ri­ley’s adding an iden­ti­cal setup to its fleet.

Josh says that al­though the trucks may not ac­cu­mu­late many kilo­me­tres, they’re do­ing the hard yards. The mild win­ter has also meant the work has kept com­ing. “With our earthmoving and trucks, we’re flat out six or seven days a week.”

Despite this, Josh keeps the new truck look­ing sharp. So good that he spent days clean­ing and pol­ish­ing it be­fore this year’s Alexan­dra Truck, Ute and Rod Show. It was the first show out­ing for the T909, and Josh is keen to take part in more events. He may even bring along the T900 as well, once it’s had a workover.

“When you buy some­thing like our 909, it’s nice to pol­ish them up and bring them back to top con­di­tion,” he says. “Es­pe­cially, when they have our fam­ily name on them.”

“The old girl is pay­ing for the new trucks.”

Two of three Ken­worths in the Ri­ley Earthmoving fleet

Josh Ri­ley with wife Pippa and daugh­ter Bella

The new Ken­worth T909 (right) along­side the 24-year-old T900

Kennedy Trail­ers’ quad-axle Ejecta

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