THE INTERNATIONAL FOCUS | Truck Review – International ProStar

ProStar wins another convert for Killmore Plant Services. 

It’s always interesting to see the effect of major advertising campaigns versus the advantages of word of mouth recommendations. Harping back to the age-old question of what works in advertising and what doesn’t, we can recall one marketing person stating that 50 percent worked well, and 50 percent achieved nothing. The problem for him was determining which 50 percent was successful!

In an industry that’s as personal as transport, there’s a lot to be said for watching which vehicles are being bought by local operators and then settling back to see how they perform over time. If they are great, the chances are you won’t hear much about them as the operator in question is reaping the benefits. If, however, the opposite is the case and the new additions to the fleet are proving to be problematic, the whole district will know, either through the drivers, the mechanics or their kids talking to each other at school.

Word of mouth did play an important part in the process of new vehicle purchase when Noel Killmore, the owner of Killmore Plant Services was about to sign up for another North American brand tipper when son Jamie got involved asking the question: “Why not a ProStar?”

Having spotted several ProStar models working nearby for Gates Haulage in Kiama, NSW, and casting his eye over the spec details, Jamie, a truck enthusiast and recently qualified diesel mechanic and who also works in the family business, urged his father to give the ProStar some consideration.

“Jamie came to me and said ‘Hey, these new ProStars have Cummins engines and Eaton transmissions – I think they’re worth a look’,” Noel said.

“Jamie and his mates are truck mad. That’s all they talk about and they’re well up to speed on what’s out there.

“We’d also noticed some ProStars working in the area as well with Gates Haulage, so I called Brian Gates and asked him what they were like.

“Brian has four or five of them on his fleet and spoke very highly of them, saying that they were a good solid truck and well-up to the task for tipper and dog work. He said that the ProStars were standing-up well to the demands of the work and performing better than the other higher profile North American brands he also has on his fleet.”

Not too long after this, Noel placed an order with Sydney Trucks and Machinery at Smeaton Grange for a 6×4 tipper variant, opting for the Cummins X15 rated at 550 hp (410 kW) and 1850 lbs.ft (2508 Nm) engine, coupled to the well proven Eaton 18-speed manual.

For those operators needing some more horses under the bonnet the Cummins X15 is also available in a higher rating of 600 hp (447 kW), with torque output of 2050 lbs.ft (2277 Nm).

From a transmission perspective the Eaton RTLOF-20918B 18-speed manual is the standard fit (the UltraShift PLUS 18-speed automated manual also available) which incorporates the ADEPT powertrain technology.

ProStar is particularly versatile, especially in mixed fleet operations with versions available in tipper, day-cab, extended-cab and sleeper-cab variants. It can be used as a truck and dog but is equally capable of running 34-pallet B-double, 36-pallet B-double and two trailer road-train work.

Featuring air-operated drum brakes with Bendix ABS and automatic traction control, hill-start aid is available with the UltraShift PLUS transmission. The clutch is air-over-hydraulic assisted, which reduces operating pressure and consequently also reduces the onset of driver fatigue.

The rear axle is a Meritor RT46-160GP unit rated at 20,900 kg with power divider and cross locks on both axles, while the front axle is a Meritor MFS 14-14A wide track design with 6500 kg rating. The rear suspension uses Hendrickson Primaax-EX while the parabolic taper-leaf front suspension uses a three-leaf design.

“Some of our other trucks also feature Cummins and Eaton drivetrain combinations, so it makes it easy for the drivers to jump from one truck to the other and be familiar with their characteristics,” Noel said.

The new ProStar has now been at work for several months hauling a tri-axle dog trailer on a highway project in Wollongong involving delivering road-base products to the construction site as well as removing soil. A typical workday sees a 12 kilometre round trip per load with the process repeated 12 or 13 times per day as required.

All-up the ProStar is travelling 1000-plus kilometres per week and has so far drawn plaudits from the driver.

“Nigel the main driver really enjoys the truck and I know he’s taking really good care of it by the way he fusses with it and maintains it in pristine condition,” Noel said.

“Out on the work site it has great manoeuvrability to get into the tighter areas and the visibility from the cabin is also excellent.”

The short sloping bonnet and large curved windscreen profile certainly assists visibility, and the truck stands out on the road thanks to its LED headlamps, complete with integrated daytime running lamps.

Noel is no stranger to heavy vehicles having worked as a professional driver for many years, as well as in the plant-hire industry, before starting Killmore Plant Services in 1992.

Since the early 1990s he has steadily grown the business offering a range of services including truck and industrial-equipment hire, and hydraulic and mechanical repairs from passenger car to heavy vehicle and plant machinery.

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