Kenworths are part of the family DNA for Scholz Bulk Haulage – report by Ed Higginson
Many truckies in Australia hold a strong passion for the Kenworth badge, and, after arriving at Scholz Bulk Haulage in West Wodonga on the NSW-Victorian border, you can see that holds true for everyone working in this family business.
Craig Scholz’s passion for Kenworths started at an early age through his uncle, Geoff, who was a truckie himself, which led Craig to buy his first Kenworth at just 18, a K123 for work on the family farm in Pleasant Hills.
Then, in 1998, Craig and his brother Wayne joined forces to buy a 1994 T600 with a Detroit for Craig to drive while buying and selling grain, as well as covering some subbie work. Craig would deliver the grain mainly to Gippsland, and then bring fertiliser back to Wodonga/Albury. The Kenworth worked well, and in 2003 they purchased a K104 Aerodyne to run B-double tippers full-time between Melbourne and Sydney, running grain or potatoes down, then lime back.
Along with moving grain, Craig, with the help of his wife Sharee, started to expand into industrial products, so the fleet began to grow. In 2009 they added a new T908, then, soon after, three secondhand Kenworths – a T604 and two K104Bs powered by the Caterpillar C15 before the advent of EGR.
“The Caterpillars were great motors. I used to like my Detroits too, then had a couple of Caterpillars, but now have to run Cummins because it’s all we can get,” said Craig.
“We haven’t really had the ISX issues that others have experienced, and any small issue was always covered under warranty, so they haven’t been a problem,” he added.
With the arrival of ADR80/03, the last five additions to the fleet have all been with the Cummins e5 motors using AdBlue, firstly with two T908s, followed by two SARs and, finally, the K200.
“In terms of transmissions we usually go with Roadranger manual transmissions, but we are trying the automatic boxes in our SAR truck and dog, plus the latest K200,” added Craig.
The latest edition to the well turned-out fleet is a K200 purchased at the end of 2017 from Twin City in West Wodonga through Justin Brooks. As the PACCAR dealership is within walking distance of the Scholz base and offering great support to the family, it’s not a surprise that they never thought of looking elsewhere for their next purchase.
As you can see from the support photography, Craig takes great pride in running a fleet of well turned-out Kenworths, and the K200 is no exception. Fitted with the 2.3-metre Aerodyne COE sleeper cab, it stands out, especially with the dark red tanks to match the fleet colours. Additional trim work such as the extra stainless-steel trim and LED lights were all done through Metalcraft in Albury.
The K200 gets the ADR80/03 Cummins X15 Euro 5 six-cylinder in-line turbocharged engine, rated at 550-578 hp @ 1800 rpm, and 1850 lb-ft torque @ 1200 rpm. Transmission is through the Eaton Fuller 18-speed overdrive, with the Eaton UltraShift and Ezy Pedal Advantage clutch package with VCT and pre-damper. The K200 gets the Meritor axles with a 4.1 diff ratio and drum brakes all-round.
Inside, Craig likes to spec the trucks for the drivers, as they look after their assigned trucks as if they were their own, with the cab trim getting the classic Kenworth feel with sandstone trim in the HD Diamond pleat vinyl style. For the driver’s comfort, the truck has the ISRI Pro air seat, and, as many drivers will spend nights away in their trucks, an inner sprung mattress and Fresco 3000 air conditioner icepack.
Craig and his team of drivers take a lot of care with their trucks, both new and old. Although the T908 is nearing 10 years old with 1.6 million kilometres on the clock, it still looks to be in showroom condition with distinctive graphics down the hood that were applied by Complete Body Craft in Rutherglen, when it was new.
Driven by Josh who has been with the business five years, I caught up with him as he popped in on the Saturday morning to clean up the truck ready for the week ahead. In relation to his ride, Josh went on to say, “I’ve only had the T908 for just over a month now, running containers from country Victoria into Melbourne. I’ve customised it with my own gearstick extension, matching steering wheel and a few extras. It’s now done 1.6 million kilometres, but has no issues. We run at 68.5-ton on HML, so, with the Cummins ISX rated at 600 hp and the 18-speed Roadranger, it pulls well”.
Another driver who is just as passionate about his own ride is Brad, who, at just 21, is proud to be running the fully-restored T600.
“Its awesome to be given the T600 as my first truck. It’s just 6000 kilometres off hitting four million. I did a couple of runs in it straight after it came back from the panel shop, and now ride in it full-time. I finished off my diesel mechanic apprenticeship with Craig, and now that I have my licence it’s great driving for the family. I mainly run concrete to Melbourne or tippers within Victoria, so only have the odd overnight, plus I have had a couple of runs into Queensland,” said Brad.
The T600 looks like new after a recent full restoration, again with Complete Body Craft in Rutherglen. The truck was involved in an accident, but Craig and Sharee decided to bring it back to life.
“It’s a bit like renovating a house. You don’t know how much it will cost until you start pulling it apart. There was a lot of work needed, but it’s now like new,” Craig says.
In an age where many of the larger transport companies look for years of experience before giving drivers a chance, it’s great to see SBH bringing younger talent into the business. This obviously pays off with their passion for the job and the gear being clearly evident.
Sharee explains, “We usually find local drivers through word of mouth and recommendations from our current guys. If they trust them we are happy to bring them onboard. We’ve got a great bunch at the moment who really look after the equipment”.
In terms of maintenance, nearly all of the work gets covered in-house. Craig comments, “We do about 95 percent of the maintenance work, including all A, B, C and D services. Only engine rebuilds get sent to Cummins or Twin City so we can get the warranty. We have an ex-PACCAR workshop foreman with us in our workshop, plus another guy who helps out on weekends.
“With a fleet of around 19 combinations, there are a few flat tops and skels mixed in, but all the tippers come through Sloanebuilt tippers in NSW, which have been great over the years,” Sharee adds.
“All of the trucks are covered by Navman GPS systems running under IAP. It provides us with each individual truck’s distances so we can manage the maintenance schedules closely and we use Birchwood Logbook checker for our compliance,” said Craig.
“The secret to running a good family business is the team. We have a great team around us – drivers, mechanics and office staff. Without them we wouldn’t have a good business, we’ve been lucky to get them,” said Craig.