PowerTorque visits Orange Heavy Towing to see its Freightliner Coronado based Jerr-Dan recovery unit in action.
Every day, we hit the road and take our chances, assuming we’ll make it to our destination in one piece, and with no big dramas to upset the schedule on the way. Sadly though, there are times when we need to call on someone to help get us out of trouble.
Whether it be mechanical issues, or worse, there are only a select few who have the equipment and the knowledge to salvage a stricken truck quickly and safely, without causing any extra damage.
One of those operators is Peter Livermore, who, along with his wife Adele, owns and operates Orange Heavy Towing. Based in Orange, central NSW, Peter and Adele operate two trucks – a super-tilt semitrailer towed by a Freightliner Argosy, and, the central focus of this feature, a new Freightliner Coronado heavy salvage unit.
Peter started driving tow trucks not long after he got his licence, and spent time working for a couple of local businesses before he and Adele decided to go out on their own. They had their own general freight run for about eight years, running between Orange, Parkes and Forbes, and, during that time, Peter was driving tow trucks on the weekends.
“Then we bought the R-model Mack with crash gear, which was basically chains,” Peter said.
As the other towing companies in the area upgraded their equipment, Peter and Adele needed to upgrade the old Mack in order to remain competitive.
“So we stretched it out and put an Ekebol underlift under the rear end,” Peter explained.
As time went on, they could see how OH&S was becoming more of a factor in the industry. “Then we saw the opportunity of going into the Western Star,” he said.
Those of you with a good memory might remember we spoke to Peter around six years ago, when he had taken delivery of his previous truck, a secondhand Western Star with a heavy-salvage body fitted.
After six years with Orange Heavy Towing, and with over a million kilometres on the clock (many of those before Peter and Adele took it on), the Western Star was in need of a freshen up, including a coat of paint and some mechanical work to ensure it was reliable.
“The other truck needed a lot of work doing to it, even though it looked a million bucks,” Peter explained.
“Instead of spending that much money on it, I thought I’d just put that money into a new truck”.
The deal was done through Kent Collision and Kustom in Sydney, and the new Coronado was ordered.
The Coronado is a serious piece of equipment, spec’d for the job straight from the factory.
“This one comes as standard in the perfect wheelbase, so Jamie Kent of Kent Collision and Kustom didn’t have to cut and stretch it,” Peter said.
“It comes in double-rail chassis, in that length,” he added.
Power comes from a Detroit DD15, and is driven through an 18-speed manual Roadranger to the heavy-duty 52/185 rear diffs mounted on Neway air suspension.
“It’s the heaviest you can get, and it’s on the wide spread rear end,” Peter said. “We’re allowed, technically, up to 23 t on the drive”.
The front end is also pretty heavy, with Peter saying:
“It’s rated to 7230 kg on the steer. As it sits there it would be 7.2 t on the front, and around 12-13 t on the drive”.
A lot of that weight is due to the amount of equipment carried in the body, to ensure Peter has the right tools for the job when he gets there.
“She’s fully loaded,” he said. “I could get a call to go to Cobar, and you’ve got to have everything you could possibly need. The worst thing would be to have something you need sitting here (in Orange), six hours away”.
While 20 t might seem like a hefty “tare” weight, the double chassis rails and heavy-duty driveline allow the Coronado to be rated up to 140 t GCM, meaning it can legally tow vehicles weighing up to 120 t.
“When I first got it, I towed a fully loaded B-double up Tap Hill, near Coonabarabran,” Peter said.
“It was a 26 m B-double, grossing 68 t. You put that in front of it, so it’s grossing 88 t. I pulled it up to the top, turned around, and ran back into Gilgandra.
“While the pull up Tap Hill at that weight is impressive in itself, it was the response from the stricken driver that made Peter smile. “He said that this thing pulled it up the hill better than his own truck would, and it was 20 t heavier overall,” he laughed.
The American-built body is the last of the previous-generation Jerr-Dan design, and incorporates a lot of smart technology to make its operation easier and, more importantly, safer.
While the new-generation bodies do look a little different, the boom, underlift and subframe are virtually unchanged, with only the exterior body styling being different.
Controls for the boom, underlift and winches are fitted on both sides of the body, with a full-function remote control handpiece also on hand. This allows Peter to operate the many different functions from any position that provides a good view of the job, and away from passing traffic.
Certain functions can also be controlled from within the cab, with buttons in the overhead console easily reached from the driver’s seat.
“When I’m going through a sharp gutter, I need to lift and lower the underlift, so it doesn’t bottom out. I used to control the underlift raise and lower through using the handheld remote control unit. With this new model I can operate everything from the overhead console,” Peter added.
Included in this panel are controls for all the lights (and there’s plenty of them), allowing for the scene to be well lit up before Peter even gets out of the truck.
There are a few other smart features in the cab, including live feeds into the cab from cameras monitoring the vehicle during reversing as well as the individual winch operations.
“I can actually look at a truck and back right up to the bulbar, then I don’t have to worry about moving again,” Peter said.
“I’ve got another camera at the back to watch the winches, so I can keep an eye on what they’re doing, especially the front one, which is harder to see closely from the ground,” he added.
The display for the winch camera is located at the main control panel, so Peter can see exactly what’s happening as it happens.
“I don’t have to worry about how that cable is spooling back on, I can actually watch it here,” he said.
Buying a truck like this is not a simple procedure though, and Peter and Adele are very grateful for the service and respect they were given by Jamie Kent and the team at Kent Collision and Kustom.
“Kent’s have just been awesome,” Adele said.
“They were so good to work with, and treated me with as much respect as they did Peter. I can’t praise them highly enough,” she added.
“They’d bend over backwards, and do anything to help us,” Peter added, “I can’t recommend them enough.
“When you’re making such a big investment, not only in your equipment but also your future, the relationship is often as important as the deal itself, and, as Adele said, they’re just a great bunch of people”.
Part of the specification on this new truck was to keep the overall height down to 3.6 m.
This enables it to be carried on the super-tilt trailer, and still remain under the 4.6 m height restriction.
“Occasionally we go out to a job that needs the big truck to drag a vehicle out, but the super-tilt to cart it away,” Peter said.
“By keeping the height down, we can carry the tow truck to the job, and utilise both trucks on-site without having to drive them both all the way”.
Given the 24-hour nature of the job, Peter and Adele rely on another driver, Ian Thomas, to fill in when need be. Ian is well trained in all facets of the Coronado’s operation, and, as Peter explained, “He’s is the only other bloke that I’ll allow in this. We do 99% of the rollovers together, and if I go away he’ll have the truck”.
It may have taken them 13 years to get a brand-new truck, with all the bells and whistles, but Peter is more than happy with the new Coronado. It’s always nice to meet people who have worked hard, and achieved what they set out to do, and Peter and Adele certainly fit that description.
“My dream has always been to have one of these, and now to have this one….I can’t wipe the smile off my face!” Peter said, beaming.
Kent Collision & Kustom of Ingleburn is the official Australian distributor of Jerr-Dan recovery equipment.
Jerr-Dan is recognised as one of the world’s leading suppliers of truck mounted recovery equipment, from sliding tilt trays up to fully integrated heavy duty units with winch and recovery options as well as slider and underlift alternatives.
The Freightliner Coronado supplied to Orange Heavy Towing is uilt to the following specification.
MODEL & DESCRIPTION
- HDL 700/300 35 TON, INTEGRATED HEAVY-DUTY WRECKER
- TWO-STAGE BOOM, RETRACTED LIFTING CAPACITY: 70000 LB, 31751 KG. EXTENDED LIFTING CAPACITY: 22000 LB, 9979 KG
- WORKING HEIGHT TO HOOK 229”, MAXIMUM HEIGHT 261”
- BOOM REACH OFF REAR OF TAILBOARD 132”
- MULTI-POSITION BOOM LOCK OUT
- OPTIONAL COACH BOOM UNDERLIFT
- THREE-STAGE STINGER RETRACTED LIFT RATING: 30000 LB, 13608 KG. EXTENDED LIFTING CAPACITY: 7257 KG
- REACH WITH FORKS EXTENDED 146”
- DOG TRAILER ADAPTER PLATES
- LOW-PROFILE HEIGHT CROSS BAR WITH A 5” HIGH-STRENGTH HEAT TREATED PIN (THE LARGEST IN THE INDUSTRY)
- DUAL 35,000 LB TWO-SPEED PLANETARY GEAR WINCHES WITH MULTI-DISC WET BRAKE
- ADJUSTABLE AIR CONTROLLED WINCH CABLE TENSIONERS
- 250 FEET OF 0.75-INCH-DIAMETER CABLE WITH SWIVEL HOOKS
- HYDRAULICALLY CONTROLLED REAR SPADES WITH FLIP-DOWN CLAWS AND INTEGRATED RECOVERY ANCHORS
- MULTIPLEX TOUCHPAD CONTROLS FOR LIGHTING AND UNDERLIFT CONTROLS IN CAB, TOUCHPAD SWITCH STATIONS IN REAR CONTROL PANELS
- WRECKER BOOM AND WINCH 12-FUNCTION POCKET REMOTE
- CONTROL STATIONS BOTH SIDES PROVIDING THE OPTION TO OPERATE FROM THE DRIVERS OR PASSENGER SIDE OF THE WRECKER
- WINCH CAMERA AND LED DISPLAY SCREEN IN CONTROL STATION
- COLOUR-CODED WINCH LEVERS TO SWIVEL HOOKS
- MODULAR COMPOSITE BODY, ALUMINIUM SUBSTRUCTURE
- INDEPENDENT RUBBER SHOCK MOUNTED BODY
- GAS SPRINGS DOOR ASSIST
- BUILT-IN TOOL STORAGE AND CHAIN RACKS
- OPTIONAL HUGE FRONT TUNNEL BOX FOR EXTRA STORAGE
- AERODYNAMIC ALUMINIUM LIGHT PYLON
- LED WINCH WORK LIGHTS
- LED LOWER HOOK-UP LIGHTS, BACK-UP LIGHTS AND WORK LIGHTS
- UNDERLIFT-MOUNTED HOOK-UP CAMERA
- IN-CAB SPLIT SCREEN FOR REVERSE, WINCH AND UNDERLIFT CAMERAS
- RECESSED AIR AND ELECTRICAL CONNECTIONS AT REAR OF BODY
- RETRACTABLE HOSE REEL
- EIGHT REAR RECOVERY ANCHORS BOTH SIDES
- WIRELESS LIGHT BOARD AND CHARGE STATION