LIVING THE DREAM | FEATURE – Kenworth – Airlie Beach

Running two trips each week from Brisbane to Airlie Beach is keeping New Zealander Brad Gallagher a very happy driver.

There’s nothing average about the twice weekly B-double service for the Airlie Beach Hotel between home base and Brisbane.

For starters, the immaculate T909 with its fair share of customising additions is way above the usual standards found in the hotel industry.

Hotelier Mick McFie is the driving force behind the popular North Queensland beachside pub venue and associated hotel and motel complex. His enthusiasm for such a high standard of presentation extends throughout his vehicle fleet that covers local courtesy bus transportation right up to the T909 hauling a B-double trailer set.

Driver Brad Gallagher hails from New Zealand and is responsible for keeping the T909 and trailers up to the high standard expected by his boss. These days Brad lives on the Gold Coast with his wife Casey and two boys, Lucas and Cooper.

Brad started his love of trucks as a youngster, working at weekends in the local truck yard in New Zealand and washing trucks when not at school.

“I was able to practice driving trucks around in the yard after I’d cleaned them and that started me heading towards truck driving as a career.

“We usually run at full permitted weights one way, returning unladen. While we are running under those circumstances and with only 50,000 km on the odometer we are currently returning 2.1 km/litre. It’s our intention to move into return loads to improve productivity and reduce transport costs,” said Brad.

“It’s a simple operation these days as the pub owns the truck and we supply the pub with supplies. The truck looks spectacular on the road and we keep it that way because the boss always like the trucks to be immaculate as that advertises the Airlie Beach Hotel.

“It’s washed after every trip and because we unload directly at the hotel complex there’s never a shortage of help from the staff when the time comes to clean and polish the truck and the trailers,” said Brad.

The Kenworth T909 prime mover is powered by a 600 hp Cummins X15 SCR engine with a torque rating of 2050 lbs ft, matched to an 18-speed manual Roadranger RTLO-22918B 22-series transmission and running a drive-axle ratio of 4.11:1. The fifth wheel is a JOST JSK 37 CZW greaseless unit with LubeTronic.

The rear axle is a Meritor RT46-160GP tandem rated at a GCM of 110 tonne. The electronic braking system includes ABS, automatic traction control and drag torque control.

The Meritor 7.3-tonne rated front axle features drum brakes and is shod with Toyo 385/65R22.5 M149 steer tyres, with Bridgestone M766 11R22.5 tyres for the drive axles on the Airglide 460 suspension and Bridgestone 187 11R22.5 sized tyres on the trailer.

Driver Brad Gallagher is well looked after thanks to a 50-inch Aero roof-integrated sleeper, which contains a large bunk with inner-spring mattress, plus fridge unit and CustomAir HVAC unit, mounted between the rear chassis rails. Fuel tank capacity is a total of 2370 litres, with an additional 225 litre AdBlue tank.

The B-double 32-pallet Titeliner curtain sider was supplied through Vawdrey Trailers of Larapinta, Queensland, by salesman Shayne Nicholls and incorporates the Latchliner quick-release locking system.

The Latchliner buckle-less curtain system replaces the conventional multi-buckle system with a lesser number of quick-release handles, enabling faster lock and unlock times.

Built at the Vawdrey Dandenong manufacturing facility in Victoria, the B-double set features Hendrickson INTRAAX axles and disc brakes throughout, incorporating WABCO EBS and roll-stability controls. The leading axles on each tri-axle set automatically lift up when running lightly laden to reduce tyre wear and improve fuel economy. Other features include hanging gates and also centralised hanging load binders, reducing the need to lift individual load restraints and gates unassisted, with winches mounted in the roof rails.

The T909 was itself purchased through Ben Sparrow, salesman at the Brown and Hurley dealership at Yatala. Before heading into regular service, it was treated to some serious customising courtesy of Ryan Northcott of Bling Man HQ Custom Stainless of Gatton, QLD.

Ryan is well known for his exceptional custom work with stainless steel that he creates in his workshop on the family farm. As a qualified auto electrician, Ryan continued the family enthusiasm for trucks that he inherited from his father and over the past 16 years has gained an enviable reputation for his fastidious attention to detail.

“The 909 is particularly stunning because it’s more a case of subtle additions, where less is actually more in terms of appearance,” said Ryan.

Rather than adding customising that can take over the identity of a truck, the overall look was achieved by attention to detail such as the wrapped fuel tanks, customised battery boxes incorporating steps for cab access between the tanks, adding smooth internal deck plates with scroll work, US-style low-mount guards and fitting eight-inch Monster exhaust stacks. Superchrome of Fairfield East in Sydney took care of the chromed alloy rims throughout the rig and the T909 is painted in Toyota Sahara silver throughout.

All servicing is completed by Brown and Hurley at Yatala, and the T909 also features automatic greasing by Lubecore with a multi-line Spyder unit. This delivers continuous lubrication to critical components such as automatic brake adjusters, clevis pins, spring hangers, linkages, lift cylinders, turntables and fifth wheels.

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