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

Owner Driver - - Contents -

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.

Trans­port ground­ing

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.”

Road rules

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

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