Reliability comes from looking after your gear properly, as PowerTorque found when he visited Brad Scott Excavations of Drouin, Victoria.
While we like to keep up to date with the latest and greatest in the transport industry, there are a large number of operators who, whether by choice or necessity, operate trucks that are in their second or third life cycle.
Recently, we have been seeing more and more of the older equipment making its way back onto the road, with some pretty tidy examples doing the rounds, either locally or on the highway.
One such example is Brad Scott Excavations’ 2003 Kenworth K104 day cab. With my spies having seen this truck working in the Melbourne suburb of Cranbourne, it was recommended that I go and take a look for myself, and I’m glad I did.
Brad hails from Drouin, in South Eastern Victoria, with the Kenworth covering around 50,000 km a year transporting his equipment to job sites all over Victoria.
“I use it to pull the tag-along around – I do civil contracting work all over Victoria. It does a little bit of tipper work, but only if the conditions are right,” he said with a smile.
The remarkable thing about Brad’s truck is that, even given the dirty and dusty operating environment, it is absolutely spotless. This was commented on by one of Brad’s clients before I caught up with Brad himself, with the client being very complimentary on both the presentation of Brad’s gear and the quality of his work.
Looking at this truck from a distance, you wouldn’t know it done 1.3 million kilometres but, as Brad explained, it had done most of those before he came to own it.
“It was originally with Les Walkden Logging in Tasmania, then a bloke in Penguin (a Tasmanian coastal town) owned it, and then I ended up with it,” he said.
The logging heritage goes some way to explaining the heavy-duty specification, with the K104 running a Cummins Signature, rated at 600 hp, an 18-speed Eaton manual transmission and six-rod suspension on the rear.
“I’m not carting out of quarries or anything, so payload is not an issue,” Brad said.
Unbeknown to Brad, a new engine had been fitted before he bought it, a welcome surprise for any secondhand truck buyer.
“When I bought it, we didn’t know, but, when I went to register it, the numbers didn’t line up. It was a bonus on my behalf,” Brad said.
That was about 300,000 km ago, so there should still be plenty of work in the current engine before it’s due for any serious attention.
“The six-rod suited me better for a tip truck than airbag,” Brad said of the heavy rear end. “With diff locks and cross locks, for what I do it’s magic, and it’s not actually that rough to ride in. With a load on it – the Bobcat sits in there most of the time – it takes that kick out of it”.
“It was just a plain old log truck when I got it,” Brad said. “It was in those colours, but I put the tipper body on it, the chrome wheels and all that stuff”.
Brad said the truck had a bulbar fitted when he bought it, but, “I took that off, I didn’t like it. Probably what spurred me on were the Safeway trucks, I really had a thing for the slim-line Safeway trucks,” he said.
The tag-along trailer seen in this feature is 14 years old, and was custom built for BSE by Macol trailers in Brisbane.
“This one’s just about to get a birthday (refurbishment), this Christmas,” Brad said. He also has another tag-along trailer, a bogie-axle unit built by Barry Brothers Engineering in Drouin. “I’ve modified it to the way I want it to transport my machines. I’ve also got a dog trailer that I rebuilt. I bought two dog trailers and made one out of them,” he said. “All chrome rims, everything, just so it all matches. I’ve used it about five times,” he says with a laugh.
Trucks, and looking after the gear, is something of a family tradition.
“Dad started off with a 1418, and had backhoes and other gear. He always looked after his stuff, it was always mint. He was known for his bright yellow Benz truck. It used to run from Warragul all the way up to Bairnsdale every day working for V/Line, doing maintenance on the railways.”
Brad started out in his dad’s old 1418 Benz, which now sits proudly in the shed in original condition. “It’s never been painted, and shows a genuine 400,000 km on it,” Brad said affectionately. “She’s a ripper, still got the original windscreen in it”.
Since then he has operated both UD and Kenworth branded trucks, including a UD CWA46, which he says, “Was a great truck, I’m sorry I ever sold it”. He came back to Kenworth after a bad run with his last UD. “I lashed out and bought a brand-new 445 UD, and had nothing but trouble with it,” he said. “Then I saw this, just as a cab/chassis, and thought, nup, I’m going back to the Kenworth”.
This truck sets a fine example of how an older truck can be a worthwhile investment, but it also takes commitment to keep one looking the part. As Brad put it, “It’s been looked after. It spends its nights in the shed. Every night it goes into the shed, and it gets washed twice a week”, he said.
There is good reason for Brad to look after his gear. Aside from the pride that comes with operating clean and tidy equipment, Brad says, “That’s my advertising. Everyone knows me for my truck and my gear, and my machines are all the same. It’s a full-time job looking after them”.
From humble beginnings aboard a 1418 Benz, Brad has built his business based on the quality of his work and his equipment. The old Kenworth plays a vital role in this, not only by transporting the equipment to the jobsite, but by demonstrating Brad’s pride in what he does and putting forward a professional image to prospective customers. While it might seem like a bit of overkill for the job, it fits nicely into the role and provides Brad with plenty of power, whether he’s towing an excavator or load number six on the dog trailer. Given the time spent sitting idle on the job site, the cost of a new truck would be hard to justify. By choosing a good used truck, Brad has found a good solution – a versatile truck with plenty of power and the ability to present well, without the big price tag.