The Upper Murray town of Corryong is nestled in the heart of a most picturesque and geographically diverse region. Located in the far north eastern corner of Victoria near the pristine upper reaches of the mighty Murray, the town also resides in the foothills of the western escarpment of the NSW Alps.
Whitehead Earthmoving plays a pivotal role in keeping the surrounding farmlands, national parks and roads in order. A vital part of the business is the choice of trucks, and owner Simon Whitehead mentions that the company currently has six, including two older Western Star 4964 models, one a tipper and the other a water cart.
Four Kenworths of varying descriptions round out the fleet. There’s a newly acquired T410SAR and a T409 bought in late 2019, both of which are rigid tippers pulling three-axle super dog trailers. Then there is a late model T659 that pulls the float and a 2004 model C15 Cat-powered T950 that Simon is clearly fond of but that he admits is getting a bit long in the tooth and will probably be replaced before too long.
“That was our float truck for quite a few years until we bought the T659,” he says. “We then converted the 950 into a rigid tipper and pull a tri-axle pig tipper behind it.”
Asked if he’ll be sorry to see the C15 go, Simon replies, “Yeah, for sure, those engines are bombproof. If you keep them serviced they just keep going and they pull like you wouldn’t believe.”
He proceeds to tell the story of how he came to own the T950, saying it was originally sold new to a Tasmanian logging outfit and somehow ended up back on the mainland where Simon bought it with 480,000km on the clock.
“I was driving it home and it boiled like a kettle and blew the dipstick out so I thought I’d bought a dud,” he says. “I took it to WesTrac (Caterpillar dealer) and they took the sump off, pressurised the cooling system and found that the water pump seal had failed because the truck had been sitting around for a while and was leaking coolant into the sump.
“They fixed that, changed the oil out twice and apart from regular servicing I haven’t had to touch the engine since. It has now clocked nearly 800,000km.”
As the conversation turns to the new T410SAR supplied by Twin City Truck Centre at Wodonga, Simon says he is very pleased with the whole package including the tipping body built by Nixons Engineering at Wagga Wagga.
The truck is powered by a 12.9-litre PACCAR MX-13 engine producing 510hp (375kW) from 1,500 to 1,900rpm and 1,850lb/ft (2,500Nm) of torque between 1,000 and 1,410rpm.
It features Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) providing Euro 5 emissions compliance and the simple yet robust functionality of an Eaton 18-speed manual transmission. Suspension consists of taper-leaf front and airbag rear, the latter supporting a Meritor tandem drive assembly.
Speaking about the new unit and Kenworths in general, Simon says he prefers the brand because they are well designed and built to last.
“The T410SAR is an ideal unit for what we do, either as a rigid tipper on its own or combined with a three-axle super-dog trailer,” he says, adding that the power and torque outputs of the MX-13 engine are ample for the combination which is an important factor considering the hilly terrain in which his trucks operate.
“Most of our work is generally within a 250km radius of Corryong, but that includes the Snowy Mountains region of NSW and the Victorian High Country, both of which have some steep climbs to negotiate.