DIG­GING THE BLUES

Owner Driver - - Contents -

A cou­ple of blue ‘blinged up’ UD Quons are dig­ging their way around Queens­land’s Gold Coast

It’s un­usual to see ‘blinged-up’ UD Quons on the road, but one Gold Coast truck owner has two in his fleet, painted up in their spe­cially patented shade of blue. War­ren Aitken re­ports

THE GOLD COAST in Queens­land is one of those ar­eas where you never know what you are go­ing to find. From scant­ily clad meter maids to a lizard man at Ri­p­ley’s Be­lieve It or Not, all the way to a singing Drac­ula serv­ing din­ner or a be­gin­ner’s cheese­mak­ing class. Yes, the Gold coast has it all. Well, now it has it all, as the rarest of rare has ap­peared on the roads around the Gold Coast area … a pimped-out UD Quon. The blinged-up UD be­longs to D.I.G Earth­works and Civil, a young and ex­tremely busy com­pany based out of South­port, Gold Coast. Shane Grim­wood is one half of the team be­hind the com­pany; his part­ner in dirt is Michael Dou­glas. Be­tween them they man­age a cou­ple of dig­gers as well as sev­eral truck and dog com­bi­na­tions, which now in­cludes three UD Quons.

While a lot of D.I.G’s work is trans­porta­tion of var­i­ous prod­ucts on-and-off con­struc­tion sites, both Shane and Michael are li­censed de­mo­li­tion oper­a­tors as well as qual­i­fied ma­chine oper­a­tors, which means the com­pany’s ma­chines have to be as ver­sa­tile as them.

Be­fore we get into how UD’s flag­ship Quon is han­dling the ex­tremely bru­tal world of ‘mud cart­ing’, it pays to learn a lit­tle about the man that’s put these stun­ning rigs on the road. Shane has been around the heavy ma­chin­ery and con­struc­tion world since day dot. In fact, I’m pretty sure his first words would have been, “Where’s my f@#&%! Tonka truck?”

Grow­ing up all over the South Is­land of New Zealand, Shane’s dad was a diesel me­chanic, his un­cle was in charge of the heavy ma­chin­ery for the Min­istry of Works and both his mum and grandma ran the camps there. So, get­ting his hands dirty has never been an is­sue for Shane. When he shifted over to Aus­tralia he spent a long time build­ing busi­nesses for oth­ers be­fore, and I quote, “I got sick of mak­ing ev­ery other bas­tard money, thought f@#& it, I’ll start my own.”

Un­for­tu­nately, while Shane’s first com­pany was ex­tremely suc­cess­ful, his busi­ness part­ner at the time made life too dif­fi­cult for Shane to en­joy, so he sold up and de­cided to spend sev­eral weeks cruis­ing the United States on a Har­ley-David­son.

Upon his re­turn an­other op­por­tu­nity pre­sented it­self and Shane com­bined his con­struc­tion ex­pe­ri­ence with Michael’s ex­ca­va­tor ex­pe­ri­ence, and D.I.G be­gan.

That is an ex­tremely short ver­sion of a long and com­pli­cated story, so for the sake of space, it seems bet­ter to shorten it up.

What was ev­i­dent from my chat with Shane is that he prides him­self on qual­ity cus­tomer ser­vice and re­la­tion­ships.

“I got sick of mak­ing ev­ery other bas­tard money …”

“I don’t buy some­thing

‘cause it’s the

cheap­est...”

When I asked him how he ap­proaches the highly com­pet­i­tive in­dus­try he is in, he replied, “I’d rather un­der-prom­ise and over-de­liver than over-prom­ise and un­der-de­liver.” It’s that com­mit­ment to do­ing ev­ery job well and pro­fes­sion­ally that has driven the suc­cess of D.I.G. It’s also that at­ti­tude that has led to the fleet be­ing stacked with Quons now.

Cab-over quest

When Shane worked for the tyre in­dus­try back in New Zealand, one of his best clients, Clive Tay­lor, ran sev­eral Macks.

It was Clive who taught Shane how to drive, get­ting him to move trucks around the quarry and sheds once he’d done the tyres. It was those ex­pe­ri­ences that fu­elled Shane’s pas­sion for Macks.

“I’ve al­ways liked the Macks, the only thing that shits me is they don’t have any cab-overs. I’d have all cab-overs if I could.”

So, when D.I.G be­gan it was Mack, Mack and Mack. How­ever, both Shane and Michael had long been keep­ing an eye out for a cab-over that would tick all their boxes. It was at the 2017 Bris­bane Truck Show where Shane was first in­tro­duced to the UD Quon by one of the sales­men on the stand. He had a quick look over it and was sur­prised and im­pressed.

The next step was the UD drive day at Mt Cot­ton, where Shane and Michael were both given a taste of what the Quons could do. The im­pres­sion left on him by the UDs was enough that when he needed two new trucks in the fleet, he made sure he went to UD sales­man Clin­ton Stevens and told him to sharpen his pen­cil and get on to it. That he did. Shane ad­mits when it comes to the right truck for the job, though, money isn’t ev­ery­thing. “I don’t buy some­thing ‘cause it’s the cheap­est; I buy some­thing be­cause it’s good qual­ity.”

The of­fer from UD and the work put in by Clin­ton was enough for Shane to give it the go ahead.

Two new Quons were or­dered in ‘D.I.G blue’. Yes, that’s right, D.I.G has its own paint colour.

S&T Fabri­ca­tions in Nor­well has been build­ing bod­ies and

parts for Shane for years; it even re­painted the first Mack to go into the D.I.G fleet from the out­set. The colour that Trevor from S&T came up with is now des­ig­nated ‘D.I.G blue’.

Those colour codes were sent to the U.D fac­tory in Ja­pan so that the trucks could be painted on the spot. Shane tells the story of a mate, who works for UD in Ja­pan, call­ing him af­ter watch­ing a line of white trucks rolling down the pro­duc­tion chain and then sud­denly two blue ones ap­peared, shock­ing the fac­tory work­ers with their bold­ness.

The other trait Shane has demon­strated dur­ing his en­tire ca­reer is the em­pha­sis on his fleets’ ap­pear­ance. “I like all the gear to look top notch,” he ad­mits. The re­ward for that comes back to D.I.G often. “I’ve had peo­ple ring me won­der­ing how many trucks I’ve got, they think I must have 50 of them ’cause they al­ways see them on the road,” Shane says. Truth is, he ad­mits, “be­cause they stand out peo­ple spot them eas­ier”.

When he or­dered the new Quons he wanted them look­ing as blinged-up as his Mack. “I got a lot of ‘you can’t do this and you can’t do that’,” Shane re­calls. But his re­ply was f@#& off, you can do any­thing you want, you just got to do it right.

With that in mind, Shane con­tacted Mick at Truck’in Stain­less, Bris­bane and told him his ideas. Never shy of a chal­lenge, Mick had a quick glance around the setup and set to work. “He’s done a great job,” Shane says.

He ap­plauds the in­ge­nu­ity of Truck’in Stain­less, not­ing that Mick was able to use all the fac­tory holes when fit­ting the drop vi­sor and the stone-guard. The stone-guard needed to be cus­tom built as the cen­tre-mounted safety sen­sor and cam­era could not be blocked.

The other is­sue Mick had to work around was Shane’s wish for twin air in­takes and twin ex­hausts. The ex­hausts are fine, but be­cause the air­flow is de­signed to work in with the UD’s com­puter pro­grams, Mick chose to mount the sec­ond in­take but turned it into a wa­ter tank with a tap so the driver can use it. Cun­ning lit­tle setup. The team from Shep­hard Trans­port Equip­ment built the bins and trail­ers for the Quon. Un­der PBS the truck can run to 49.5 tonne, giv­ing it a pay­load of around 31 tonne.

Up to the task

The Quon looks the part, but how does it go in a very de­mand­ing area of our in­dus­try? I took the op­por­tu­nity to go for a ride with driver Co­nan Mura to see how the Quon per­formed and to hear his thoughts.

Co­nan is an­other im­port from the ‘land of the long white cloud’. He has a re­sume cov­er­ing just about ev­ery­thing ex­cept the post­man’s bike. Road trains, tip­pers, flat tops … you name it, as well as all the brands you can think of.

So what were his first thoughts when the boss told him he’d be get­ting a brand new UD? “I was a bit hes­i­tant,” he laughs. “I’d been driv­ing mainly Ken­worths and Western Stars lately.” And his view of the UD now? “I gotta be hon­est, it goes well; it goes pretty hard ac­tu­ally.”

Co­nan also com­mends the driver com­forts that come fit­ted in the Quon. “It’s got a cof­fee warmer and a drinks’ cooler, all the gad­gets.” He raves about the ease of the auto ’box with spe­cial praise dished out for the mul­ti­stage re­tarder. “It digs in pretty hard. I’m happy.”

With the Quon still rel­a­tively new to the D.I.G fleet, feed­back is still a bit lim­ited. But both Shane and driver Co­nan note how ma­noeu­vrable the truck is when drop­ping into con­crete bins.

Drop­ping sand at com­mer­cial build­ing sites mean there is oc­ca­sion­ally not a lot of room and the Quon’s per­for­mance shines more than its paint job.

Fit­ted with cross locks and diff locks, the Quon is also meet­ing the needs when it comes to trac­tion.

It’s got the com­fort in­side, it’s got the room in­side, and for those cof­fee nuts you can even keep your beans hot. It has 460hp with torque to boot, and it’s got a gear­box smart enough to re­pro­gram it­self when you are full and empty.

It’s got the size to cart a pro­duc­tive pay­load but can still get into the spots that most con­struc­tion work­ers say, “You’ll never make it in there, mate!”

It’s got enough shine on it for peo­ple to mis­take it for a show truck and most im­por­tantly it’s got a work­ing sched­ule that’s been test­ing the Quon out right from day dot.

So far it ap­pears the big lit­tle UD Quon is dig­ging deep and well above the pass mark.

“I gotta be hon­est, it

goes well; it goes pretty

hard ac­tu­ally.”

Above: Happy driver Co­nan Mura started his new job with a brand new UD Quon

Be­low: One of the new blue D.I.G Earth­works and Civil’s UD Quon truck and dogs

Top: Driver Co­nan gets the tick of ap­proval to head off with an­other healthy pay­load on the Quon

Above Left: Co­nan awaits his turn on the wash bay as one of the Tri­dents gets its end of day tub

Left: The fin­ish­ing prac­ti­cal­ity from Shep­hard Trans­port Equip­ment and Truck’in Stain­less is fault­less

Top: In­side the Quon – a com­fort­able setup

Above Left: Mick from Truck’in Stain­less added just enough Bling for the Quon to pop

Left: Shane Grim­wood’s first Quon still hasn’t slowed down enough to get the D.I.G blue makeover

Above: The head-turn­ing UD Quons ready go get down and dirty

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