CORBIN’S CLEAN MACHINE
Previously a stickler for bonneted trucks, Corbin O’Donnell is sold after driving a Mott Bleeser Logistics-owned Kenworth K200. Peter and Di Schlenk write
Previously a stickler for bonneted trucks, Corbin O’Donnell is now happily driving a Kenworth K200
CORBIN O’DONNELL reckons he’s the fortunate type, especially after he was recently handed the keys to a brandnew Kenworth K200. Corbin drives for Mott Bleeser Logistics. He’s been with the company for a couple of years and rates them a good and professional operation. Originally based in Mildura, Mott Bleeser’s head office is now in Laverton North in Melbourne, although its heritage remains with the grain industry in the Sunraysia and Mallee districts. Today the fleet numbers 14 trucks with six running B-double tautliners doing fertiliser, chemicals and salt as well as general freight, with a mixture of Victorian and interstate work.
Conventional trucks make up the vast majority of the fleet, with Corbin’s K200 being only the company’s third cab-over, along with a big cab K200 and a flat roof K200, the latter configured as a truck and dog.
“Yeah, I’m very happy with it,” Corbin smiles. “I came out of a T908 and didn’t really want to lose the bonnet.
“But for a cab-over, I like it. It rides well and I’ve got so much more room with the big cab and a big wide bed.”
Corbin wasn’t interesting in having a TV installed. The job is all about driving and then sleeping.
“I’ve never had a TV; I’ve never really needed one. By the time the day is over, it’s bed time.”
The 2017 K200 has a Cummins X15 set at 550hp, an 18-speed manual gearbox and it rides on Kenworth’s Airglide suspension.
However, Corbin says although air suspended seats and air suspension have resulted in better rides, he believes that a lot of the country roads are substandard and have not kept up with the upgrades to the main arterial roads.
Nevertheless, he says the K200 is a big improvement on the old cab-overs as far as its ride and handling are concerned.
“It’s a comfortable truck to operate and the Freighter LoadHold trailers are user friendly as well,” he adds.
Corbin’s introduction into the transport industry came from his grandfather, Mack O’Donnell, and father, Brian O’Donnell.
Mack was involved in stock transport around Birchip and St Arnaud in central Victoria, where he ran to northern New South Wales during the drought years of the 1960s, carting hay up and transferring sheep back to western Victoria in petrol motor Dodges and Fords towing two-and-a-half-deck stock crates.
Brian subbied to Barastoc in St. Arnaud, towing pneumatic tankers and, although Corbin never worked for his father, as a kid he would hop into the passenger seat.
“He was a one-truck operator,” Corbin recalls. “It was a great time. Truck drivers enjoyed a great reputation and they always had great mates.
“Back then, travelling throughout country Victoria and interstate was something that not many people had the opportunity to do as a kid. I guess that’s where I got the bug.”
Starting out, Corbin drove for Trevor Baldock in St Arnaud in 1993 driving an International 2600 S-Line doing the offal run from abattoirs around Victoria and back to St. Arnaud.
Soon after, he went to work for Ron and Nancy Reyne, who operated Leyland Marathons.
“It was carting stockfeed with flat-top trailers and convertibles all around Victoria and down to Melbourne,” Corbin remembers. “They were big old trucks. That was Ron’s thing, he loved Leylands.
“Later he had S Lines and Benzes; nothing flash but big solid trucks that you couldn’t break.
“It was the slow and steady way but I learnt so much as a young bloke working for Ron.”
Corbin has been in the industry for 24 years and while his grandfather and father operated their own trucks, he believes today’s costs are too prohibitive for him.
“I always thought I would have a go at owning my own, being the third generation, but I don’t think I will. The bottom line is a bit too skinny for me to start now,” he says.
“I came out of a T908 and didn’t really want to lose the bonnet.”
“I’m happy with the industry today, there are lots of rules, we are very highly policed and probably over-regulated, but I don’t reckon we do it as hard as we used to. The job has gotten safer with fatigue management and, as a rule, I really don’t get hassled.
“We are all spot on with it – MT data and GPS tracking. Mott Bleeser is very switched on and we run strictly to the rules.”
Despite this, Corbin says the job is not as free and easy as it used to be. “Sometimes you have to work when you don’t want to or stop when you don’t need to. It’s the way everything is going, but this company is all over it.”
Meanwhile, Corbin has the rig looking like a million dollars. He’s a firm believer in keeping the equipment he is given at its best appearance-wise.
“I do all the washing. It reflects my professionalism and is good for the company image,” he says. “I don’t like to start the week off with a dirty truck.”
Above: Corbin O’Donnell caught the transport bug from his father and grandfatherOpposite: Mott Bleeser Logistics’ Kenworth K200, one of three cab-overs in its fleet