When your trusty vehicle has ceased to proceed, a Hino 500 tilt tray is a great sight on the horizon – Words by Warren Caves, Images by Torque it Up.
If you’ve ever experienced that sinking feeling when your car has decided that, for whatever reason, it’s not going to make to your chosen destination, you hopefully had the assistance of a roadside-assist network to either get you mobile or carry you and your vehicle on to your next adventure.
Back in 1983, if you had called Mossman Towing in Far North Queensland to get you mobile again, Luke McMullen would have turned up to rescue you in his trusty Ford D-series tilt tray.
Two years later in 1985 he and business partner Wayne Burke formed Burmack Pty Ltd, continuing to operate under the Mossman Towing banner alongside their mechanical workshop in Mossman Queensland.
In 1993 the opportunity came up to secure the RACQ contract for the local area and Burmack have been rescuing troubled motorists for RACQ ever since.
“When we purchased the RACQ business it came with an Isuzu NPR and a 1417 Mercedes Benz truck. After some time, we replaced the Isuzu, which was a bit small, with a Hino Superhawk. We had an incredible run from that first Hino, clocking up 800,000 km in 10 years without any real problems. It just kept going, it was a real beauty.
“At that 800,000 km mark a decision was made to upgrade the Superhawk which had served us so well. It was nippy, had plenty of power and as I had spec’d it up with a high-ratio differential, it scooted along really well. But it was time for it to go,” said Luke McMullen
It stands to reason with such a stellar performance from his previous Hino that Luke would choose another Hino to replace it. Shortly thereafter, Burmack welcomed its current FD 1124 500 series Hino tilt tray into the fold, wearing the distinctive RACQ colours.
Five years on, the FD 1124 has totalled some 370,000-plus kilometres of rescue work helping unfortunate motorists, any time of the night or day.
The FD 1124 with its 11-tonne GVM steams along thanks to the reliability of the Hino JO7E 240 hp (179 kW), five-cylinder turbo-diesel engine. Coupled to Hino’s six-speed manual transmission, its Euro5 compliance is achieved via EGR and DPF systems.
According to Luke the smaller Hino 1124 is their priority truck and is always dispatched as a matter of preference.
“That little truck rarely stops,” he said. “It’s kept really busy and never sits still.”
With the Superhawk’s replacement, the FD 1124, admirably proving its worth to the company’s RACQ contract, Luke turned his attention to the ageing 1417 Mercedes Benz, with a little heavier-duty work in mind. The hassle-free relationship the company has experienced with the Hino product made the new vehicle choice easy for Luke as it really was a “no brainer” that another Hino join the Burmack team.
A call to Sci-Fleet Hino in Brisbane saw Luke negotiating with William Gaulton, Sci-Fleet’s Assistant Sales Manager. William remembered Luke from his previous purchase of the FD 1124 and as Luke tells it, the deal was done over the phone.
“All the running around to get the new truck work ready with its tray on was facilitated by William and Sci-Fleet Hino,” he said.
“I have had really good service from Sci-Fleet on both occasions I have dealt with them. For the last truck we bought they even flew me down to Brisbane, picked me up from the airport, took me back to the dealership and I was on my way,” explained Luke.
That purchase was A GH 1828, 500 series Wide-Cab Hino.
The GH 1828 Hino with its 18-tonne GVM was a little bigger than his needs, but Luke explains: “I didn’t really need to go that big in terms of capacity.”
“What influenced me to go that way was the standard locking differential and the bigger truck is a bit stronger. I believed that this would come in very handy for recoveries further north up the coast.”
The GH derives its power from the, eight-litre, six-cylinder JO8E Hino engine, producing 280 hp (206 kW) and 883 Nm of torque. Unlike the smaller FD, the GH secures Euro5 status from SCR and DEF technology, not requiring any DPF burn actions.
Interestingly, Luke has shied away from the ever-increasing popularity of automatic and AMT’s to order the GH with an Eaton, nine-speed manual transmission.
Tilt tray bodies for the Burmack trucks are supplied and manufactured by ATB Engineering in Brisbane.
Luke is a bit of an over-kill guy when it comes to winches and always requests ATB to fit up big winches to his trucks. The FD 1124 is fitted with a 15,000 lb hydraulic winch pulling with 1/2-inch cable and the GH 1828 sports some serious grunt with a 20,000 lb winch and 5/8-inch cable. Luke says he would rather have a bit extra pulling power than not enough, and the bigger winches are not overstrained when pulling cars back up to the road up an embankment.
The RACQ work of breakdown, recovery and smash jobs keeps both Hino’s quite busy and especially the smaller FD which is always the first-choice truck to be dispatched for most jobs. The larger GH is reserved for more serious heavy lifting and rough track work or when two jobs come in at once.
“Our allocated territory takes in areas from the coastal Wangetti in the south and Mount Molloy in the tablelands to Bloomfield in the north, including the Daintree and Cape Tribulation and west to the Palmer River,” he said.
“It’s this area from Cape Tribulation north to Bloomfield that is reserved for the larger GH Hino. The track is unsealed with steep ranges and is much more suited to the big truck with the diff. lock.”
The “Big Truck”, as Luke calls it, also provides relocation services for local businesses of machinery and 20-foot containers. Luke even recalls picking up an ultralight plane which had crashed and needed to be recovered for repair (luckily the pilot was not seriously injured). Caravans pick-ups are also a frequent request and both trucks are well equipped, carrying an assortment of hitches to facilitate this task.
“We work closely and have a good relationship with the emergency services here in Mossman, with the 24-hour service provided to RACQ they often call on us directly.
“Since replacing the old Mercedes with another Hino I like the look of having the same brand within our business, it keeps our business looking neat,” said Luke proudly.
All maintenance for the two Hino’s is carried out in-house by the Burmack team, with Luke stating that the trucks are serviced every 10,000 km and for peace of mind he chooses to exclusively use Hino oils and filters. This maintenance regime has served them well as Luke says that over the years, they have hardly had to touch the trucks in terms of repairs other than routine maintenance items.
“I like clean and tidy trucks, inside and out. It seems to re-assure our customers and when they hop in a tidy, organised, modern clean truck it puts their minds at ease a bit, especially those from out of the area,” said Luke.
“The point at which we look to changeover to a new truck is around 800,000 km. We still get good re-sale return at that point which is then simply re-invested back into a replacement truck.”