New Equipment Test: Kenworth T610 SAR tipper and dog
Angry man Scotty Douglas gives mudcarting a go in a new Kenworth T610 SAR tipper and dog
My fascination with trucks and trucking started in a strangely auspicious way. It started with a shit-tsunami; 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, and I alternated 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?
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 prick.
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 line-haul B-double and tipper and dog.
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.
The combination of a squared-off bonnet SAR and the curvy new 610 cab tends to polarise a few people. I, however, actually quite like it.
In the early morning gloom I climbed up the steps into the Kenny’s wheelhouse, and 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 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!
With the seat adjusted and the big fella safely strapped into the passenger seat I rumbled out 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 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.
I pointed the jigger towards Mangrove Mountain to get 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, and apart from an overly optimistic gear change on my part the 610 lugged up quite well.
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 trading insults with his coworkers 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.”
Jason only recently took delivery of this truck after hopping out of a 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 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.
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-than-impressive designs over the years.
The T610 SAR, however, isn’t one of them. They reckon Kenworth Oz spent 20 million big ones developing this truck.
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 up someone may even give me a job!
1. Tipping off at Western Suburbs Concrete in the early morning light. The T610 SAR makes for a modern take on a traditional look 2. End of the road at Emu Plains, Big Jay reckons this thing has a pretty handy turning circle for this kind of work 3....
4. See? There are decent tipper drivers out there! Jase sweeps all the loose sand off the drawbar before we leave the site 5. 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....