— the lat­est gear, rigs and test drives

Res­i­dent an­gry man Scotty Dou­glas gives mud-cart­ing a go in a new Ken­worth T610 SAR while Ashraf Knack­ler had his cam­era at the ready

Owner Driver - - In This Issue -

MY FAS­CI­NA­TION with trucks and truck­ing started in a strangely aus­pi­cious way. It started with a shittsunami; it was clearly a sign of things to come.

The irony of that is not lost on me; in fact, ev­ery day on the road or in a ware­house some­where, some numb-nut attempts to repli­cate what hap­pened that fate­ful spring day.

I would’ve been about eight years old and I’d just been given a model match­box truck, a sil­ver sin­gle-drive Ford LNT com­plete with tip­ping trailer. It was my prized pos­ses­sion.

The bon­net flipped open to re­veal a shiny en­gine, the win­dows were tinted green, and the tip­per body raised. That truck and I did plenty of high­way miles across the lounge room car­pet haul­ing ex­press loads of Lego. I even man­aged to al­ter­nate be­tween mak­ing en­gine noise and fic­ti­tious CB ra­dio con­ver­sa­tions with­out drool­ing too much. I was clearly doomed to a life of trucks.

Then one day a brand spank­ing new LNT rum­bled up the drive­way of the fam­ily farm, a real life-sized one, haul­ing a stock crate.

I was in awe, my pudgy lit­tle feet car­ry­ing me down the ve­ran­dah steps in a trance as the bon­neted be­he­moth sat out the front idling.

Sun glinted off the chrome ra­di­a­tor grille and the rain caps on the ends of the ex­haust stacks tin­kled in uni­son with the en­gines’ idle. I cir­cled this shiny beast in a daze, the driver clearly thought I was an idiot and de­cided to ig­nore me. I stood be­side the truck tak­ing it all in.

It was then that the load of Merino ewes in­side the crate de­cided to walk over to my side of the truck for a sticky beak.

A tidal wave of liq­ue­fied sheep shit and piss crashed over the side of the trailer with the move­ment, coat­ing me from head to foot in ovine ex­cre­ment.

The driver near pissed him­self laugh­ing; in fact he missed a step on the way out of the cab. May as well start as you mean to con­tinue, eh?

MUD-CART­ING VIR­GIN

But apart from that old toy LNT tip­per and its ur­gent loads of Lego, I’ve never had a go at be­ing a mud-carter in real life. How­ever, I have been drool­ing over the new T610 Kenny since I first saw it but I haven’t had the chance to have a steer of one. The boss cer­tainly isn’t go­ing to buy me one; he thinks I’m a dick.

But I man­aged to con some­one to let me have a go of theirs. I got to tick a couple of first-time boxes; my first as a mud carter and my first go of the new T610.

Ja­son (Big Jay) Davis was an­other kid doomed to a life of truck­ing, for the vast ma­jor­ity of his work­ing life he has been be­hind the wheel. From lit­tle rigids in the early days to line­haul B-dou­ble and tip­per and dog.

In fact, way back when I was splut­ter­ing across my Vic­to­rian lounge room car­pet with my Lego-loaded Louie, Big Jay was also splut­ter­ing across his own Pen­rith lounge room floor with a match­box Scam­mel Crusader tow­ing a float and dozer. What a likely couple of sad bas­tards.

NEW BANGER

The big fella is quite a happy camper these days, though. His bosses, Mark and Linda Anzel­lotti of Sil­verdale NSW-based Sub­bies Tip­per Hire, have just handed Ja­son the keys to a brand spank­ing new Ken­worth T610 PBS truck and dog.

The white 610 makes for a strik­ing-looking jig­ger, and with just un­der 10,000km on the clock it’s still be­ing run in.

The tip­per body and quad dog are from Bor­cat, and un­der PBS the whole com­bi­na­tion can run at a gross weight of 57.5 tonnes. In pay­load terms this means 39.5 tonnes of yon­nies in the back.

This truck tends to do mainly quarry work, feed­ing sand and gravel into con­crete plants dot­ted around the Syd­ney area. Be­ing a PBS truck means it’s re­stricted to the PBS road net­work. The good thing about this for the big fella is that it means there’s none of that dirty pokey demo work. It’s pretty much just quarry to plant.

Mud carters cop a lot of flak from the wider community and even from within the truck­ing fra­ter­nity. It’s not helped by some … er … in­ter­est­ing dis­plays of driv­ing prow­ess from some in­di­vid­u­als out there.

But re­ally, a lot of this can be put down to the fact that these trucks are on the road when ev­ery­one else is, not on a high­way in the dead of night. If you drive like a flog at 1am there aren’t many peo­ple around to get the shits, or video you on their phones.

The com­bi­na­tion of a squared-off bon­net SAR and the curvy new 610 cab tends to po­lar­ize a few peo­ple. I, how­ever, ac­tu­ally quite like it.

In the early morn­ing gloom I climbed up the steps into the Kenny’s wheel­house. I’m not real keen on the third step place­ment. The spac­ing be­tween the steps is awk­ward, though I ‘spose you’d get used to it. I’m also not a huge fan of the bright yel­low grab han­dles, ei­ther; it kinda makes me feel like I need an in­duc­tion be­fore I’m al­lowed on site.

A VI­SION SPLEN­DID

But once I got my arse planted in the driver’s seat I have to say I was pretty im­pressed with the cab.

I had my doubts be­cause I ac­tu­ally like the old nar­row cab and I didn’t see the need to adopt a new yank de­sign for Oz. Vis­i­bil­ity out of the day cab was ex­cep­tion­ally good and the mir­ror de­sign and place­ment is a stand­out; no more looking around mir­rors at in­ter­sec­tions!

I was also con­cerned that the Amer­i­can-style dash would be a plas­tic fan­tas­tic, but I was in­stead

“You hop out of it at the end of the shift feel­ing a lot bet­ter”

greeted with a mod­ern leather clad lay­out that still had a qual­ity feel. Best of all, the guys down at Bayswa­ter have fi­nally stan­dard­ised the switch lay­out; no more guess­ing what switch does what and where!

It used to shit me to tears when, ev­ery time I jumped into a dif­fer­ent K-dub, I ended up search­ing for the bloody head­light switch, the jake switch or the in­te­rior light switch.

Re­mem­ber those old cruise con­trol and jake stalk switches from a decade ago? They were usu­ally the first thing you broke if you swung your bag around a bit much get­ting in or out of the cab. I swear that there was, at some stage, some­one on the Ken­worth as­sem­bly line whose job was to ran­domly change switch place­ment just to screw with peo­ple’s heads.

FREE­WAY RUN

With the seat ad­justed and the big fella safely strapped into the pas­sen­ger seat I rum­bled down the M4 to pick up the first load of the day. I wish I could say the same about the free­way, though; it was packed.

This thing has a pretty short wheelbase so it can fit in­side 19m length re­stric­tions. I thought that this may make it a bit twitchy but it ac­tu­ally steered quite well. The dog­gie out back did what it was told and fol­lowed faith­fully.

The empty run down the M7 and M2 was pretty un­event­ful un­til we hit the clot­ted and clogged vari­cose vein known as Pen­nant Hills road. Any­one who tack­les this piece of bad-karma-gen­er­at­ing real es­tate on a reg­u­lar ba­sis knows that, apart from the oc­ca­sional wildlife ob­ser­va­tion op­por­tu­nity, get­ting through this shit storm is about as much fun as hav­ing your hem­or­rhoids cau­terised with an or­bital sander.

The Mt White weigh­bridge on the M1 is placed in a very awk­ward spot, re­ally. If you’ve left Syd­ney in peak hour you’ve gen­er­ally got the shits by the time you get there, hav­ing re­cently ne­go­ti­ated PH road.

So if you get wheeled in, the first thing you feel like do­ing is bit­ing the ears off an RMS of­fi­cer!

NAME CHANGE

But the ad­mit­tedly empty big Kenny took it in its stride. The old Cum­mins ISXe5 badge has gone, re­placed with the much cooler-looking X15 badges. I’m told that this is the only real dif­fer­ence, but ini­tial ob­ser­va­tions are that this en­gine seems to lug down even bet­ter than en­gines wear­ing the old badge. Maybe they’ve just up­dated the fuel sys­tem soft­ware since the last time I drove one.

Af­ter get­ting off the M1, I pointed the jig­ger up the hill to­wards Man­grove Moun­tain; we were get­ting a load of 20mm gravel out of Kul­nurra. Any­thing with a set-for­ward steer axle like the SAR is gen­er­ally pretty good to steer on shitty road sur­faces. We were go­ing to find out on the way back with a bit of pud­ding in those bins.

Af­ter ne­go­ti­at­ing the quarry and the weigh­bridge, and en­dur­ing the oblig­a­tory ho­mo­erotic ban­ter, I pointed the SAR back up the hill and out of the quarry.

It’s a de­cent drag out of the hole, and apart from an overly optimistic

“Yes, I muffed a couple of gear changes”

gear change on my part the 610 lugged out up the grade quite well.

RIDE TIME

The com­bi­na­tion of a short truck, rel­a­tively big weight and a dog trailer was a pretty good test of the 610 plat­form. The eight-bag rear end kept the thing feel­ing sta­ble and, as be­fore, the dog did what it was told. To pass the time, Big Jay made a con­sis­tent point of call­ing up and trade in­sult his co-work­ers on the UHF to good ef­fect.

The 18-speed stick shift is all you ex­pect it to be – easy and positive – and the clutch well weighted yet light. Given how green this en­gine is, I was still sur­prised how well it hung on un­der load. We’d left Kul­nurra gross­ing 57.3 tonnes; our des­ti­na­tion was West­ern Sub­urbs Con­crete back in Pen­rith.

What did take a bit of get­ting used to was the laggy throt­tle re­sponse of the X15. I’d blip the throt­tle on a down change and the bloody en­gine would barely reg­is­ter the rpm. So yes, I muffed a couple of gear changes.

Jay just glared at me with silent re­proach at these mo­ments.

If there was a thought bub­ble above his head it would’ve read, “You screw with my truck Buddy, they’ll never find your body.”

OLD MACK

Ja­son only re­cently took de­liv­ery of this truck af­ter hop­ping out of a solid yet well-used Mack Vi­sion. “That Mack was a great old truck, it was no pow­er­house but it re­ally had a go,” he reck­ons. That said, he’s over the moon with the 610.

“It’s a for­giv­ing truck, it’s got more grunt than the Mack and it’s just an all-round eas­ier drive.” He’s even logged a bit of wheel time in the com­pany’s other truck, an In­ter­na­tional Ea­gle. “That old banger sounds great; it pulls like a train but you know you’ve done a shift at the end of the day.”

As far as the SAR goes, he reck­ons it’s a good thing from a driver’s point of view. “You hop out of it at the end of the shift feel­ing a lot bet­ter.”

The next load was fine sand out of Ma­roota back to Emu Plains. Again, the Ken­worth was in its el­e­ment wind­ing along the nar­row as­phalt as we thun­dered through the bush. The X15 still man­aged to im­press; it’s cur­rently rated at 580hp but the way it lugs down makes it very drive­able.

GOOD GIG

And you know what? This mud­cart­ing malarkey isn’t ac­tu­ally a bad gig, espe­cially out in these parts any­way. Sure there’s traf­fic, but that’s un­avoid­able. There’s also plenty of off-road­ing and some nice, tight places to chal­lenge your re­vers­ing skill as well.

Jase agrees. Af­ter years of var­ied jobs, he’s very much found his place in the world and he can’t speak highly enough of Mark and Linda as em­ploy­ers. “I’ll re­tire here,” he says em­phat­i­cally.

This thing is do­ing pretty good on juice, too. I av­er­aged 2.26km/l, not too bad for a PBS truck haul­ing in the ’burbs.

You may get the im­pres­sion that I’m some sort of KW fan­boy. I’ll ad­mit to hav­ing a bent for North Amer­i­can iron, which, of course, means I ap­pre­ci­ate a K-dub amongst oth­ers.

But I’ll be the first to ad­mit that I’d got­ten the shits with Ken­worth over a num­ber of less-thanim­pres­sive de­signs over the years.

NOT ALL ROSES

Any­one re­mem­ber the flap­ping dip­stick cover on the K104B? It gave you the im­pres­sion that no­body drove the de­sign be­fore they built the bloody thing! Then there’s the en­gine hump in cab overs that en­dured un­til the K200. The stupid cruise con­trol and jake stalks? The scalp­slic­ing en­try to a K se­ries? Dare I even men­tion Cat ACERT? Or, even bet­ter, Cum­mins ISX-EGR? Or how about the ab­so­lute bloody trav­esty that was the three-pedal auto-shit trans­mis­sion?

I’ve driven some ab­so­lute plonkers wear­ing a KW bug on the front. The T610 SAR, how­ever, isn’t one of them. They reckon Ken­worth Oz spent 20 mil­lion big ones de­vel­op­ing this truck.

Fun­nily enough, the first things I re­ally no­ticed af­ter all that in­vest­ment was the in­clu­sion of three-cup hold­ers and the new mir­rors! Bigticket items in­deed.

There are plenty who’ll bang on about this Amer­i­can cab not be­ing a ‘real’ Ken­worth, most likely from the van­tage point of their old cab-over Kingswood. Sure the ini­tial run of cabs ar­rived flat packed from Seppo land but that’s only un­til the tool­ing is set up at Bayswa­ter.

The T610 may be a new-gen­er­a­tion Ken­worth but, re­ally, it’s a Ken­worth for a new gen­er­a­tion.

Bug­ger me; I just got all po­etic ‘n’ stuff. If I keep this shit up some­one may even give me a job!

“This mud-cart­ing malarkey isn’t ac­tu­ally a bad gig”

This joint would have to be one of the busiest con­crete plants I’ve seen; truck af­ter truck streams through the gates

Shiny … shiny is good

I fig­ured the bloke should be able to at least drive his truck for some of the day

Tip­ping off at Emu Plains: The Bor­cat tip­ping body and quad dog make for a schmick-looking combo

See? There are de­cent tip­per driv­ers out there! Jase sweeps all the loose sand off the draw­bar be­fore we leave the site

This dash is a big leap for Ken­worth, but the lay­out is very easy to use. It also doesn’t have a cheap plas­tic Yank feel. Still not sold on the bright yel­low grab han­dles though!

This PBS setup still sits in­side the 19m length en­ve­lope but can take a 39.5tonne pay­load

I’m not nuts about this third step place­ment. The spac­ing is a bit awk­ward

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