Paul Matthei

Trucks to Meet the Future Task

European Drift

The ongoing quest for improved safety and fuel efficiency in trucks over the last decade has seen a European drift. Some operators who traditionally favoured US brands moving to European marques. Paul Matthei visited just such an operator, SRT Logistics, on the Apple Isle.

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Universal Appeal

Universal Appeal

Daniel Mavin’s long-held passion for off-road vehicles seems to have universal appeal. His enthusiasm led him to create Unidan Engineering, a Gold Coast–based niche business specialising in the restoration and modification of heavy-duty off-roaders, specifically the mighty Mercedes-Benz Unimog. Paul Matthei reports.

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Highway Hauling Iveco

The latest Eurocargo can also be regarded as a highway hauling Iveco, according to Diesel Correspondent Paul Matthei.

 

Highway Hauling Iveco

 

Due to access issues and tight loading docks, rigid trucks are often needed for deliveries in metropolitan areas. However, these same trucks – connected to a pig or dog trailer – could feasibly be used for linehaul work hauling high-cube, low-weight freight, thus maximising truck utilisation without compromising driver comfort and safety.

 

This is the conclusion I came to after testing the ML180 on a run along the Cunningham Highway between Brisbane and Warwick. In a nutshell, it felt equally at home cruising the highway as when negotiating suburban streets.

 

The test unit was grossing 13.7 tonnes, just over four tonnes shy of its 18 tonne gross vehicle mass (GVM) as I pulled out of Iveco’s Brisbane dealership and pointed the nose westward on the Ipswich motorway. It was immediately obvious with the relatively light payload that skip-shifting in the bottom box was the order of the day. With this in mind, it was easy to conclude that performance would be sufficient if a trailer were attached. Iveco doesn’t currently specify a gross combination mass rating for this vehicle, however, instead preferring to advise customers about towing applications on a case-by-case basis.

 

The whole duration of the drive I couldn’t stop being impressed by the buttery smooth, short-throw gearshift which made swapping cogs a real joy. Once up to highway speed, I found the ‘sweet spot’ of 95km/h at 1,800rpm optimum for cruising.

 

It was at this point, however, when overtaking a slower vehicle and looking to pull back into the left lane that I realised the worst of two gripes I have with this truck – the mirrors. For some reason, both main and spotter mirrors are convex, which makes it impossible to judge how far you are past the vehicle you’re overtaking. So unless you’re passing a courteous driver who gives you a flash of the high beams when you’re past, you have to go well beyond the vehicle before it seems safe to pull back in.

 

Highway Hauling Iveco

 

It’s also bad news when backing onto docks because the depth of field in the mirror is distorted by the convex lens, meaning you’re likely to hit the dock buffers harder than you should.

 

In short, the combination of flat main mirrors and convex spotters is essential to cover all bases, and having two convex mirrors each side is plain wrong. Hopefully, since it should be dead easy to change mirror lenses, Iveco will sort out this problem pronto.

 

While on the negatives, it was also disappointing to find no sun visor or roller shade on the driver’s side window. And the main sun visor doesn’t pivot around to the side either. Having deep side windows with no protection from the wicked Aussie summer sun is a good recipe for a hot-under-the-collar driver.

 

It’s been suggested that both the mirror and visor issues stem from the European origin of the vehicle but for me this just doesn’t cut it. Iveco has vast experience in this country and knows well the unique demands of our market. It’s a shame that such easily rectified issues have been allowed to slip through the cracks.

 

Highway Hauling Iveco

 

Anyhow, suitably pacified with dummy back in gob, it was easy to enjoy the many positive attributes of this truck, not least of which are the amazingly comfortable and quiet ride and outstanding all-round vision due to the aforementioned deep front and side glass. The Cunningham Highway is notoriously lumpy in certain sections and the Eurocargo, with its well-damped, four-point coil-over-shock cab suspension, simply soaked up the undulations with aplomb. Kudos also to the Isri chair, which worked in perfect synch with the cab suspension. In my estimation, the ride was at least the equal of a few different brands of European prime movers I’ve driven over this stretch recently.

 

Coming up the climb to Cunningham’s Gap, a couple of downchanges saw progress hold steady at 50km/h in sixth gear and 1,750rpm until a slower truck on the steepest section close to the summit forced a downchange to fifth. On the return journey, where there’s a lesser grade up to the Gap, I was quite surprised to see the Eurocargo charge up the ascent in top gear, topping the rise at 55km/h with the engine still pulling keenly at little more than 1,000rpm – yet another example of prime mover–like performance from this heavy rigid.

 

I was eager to see how the engine brake would perform on the steep decline east of the Gap and I certainly wasn’t disappointed. After selecting fifth, with the tacho needle rising to just shy of the redline at 2,500rpm, it held 50km/h all the way down – without so much as a touch on the foot brake. Impressive! Interestingly, it did this without making any undue noise, which could actually be the reason some believe engine brakes on small trucks are marginal at best.

 

On fuel consumption, according to the trip computer readout, over the previous 4,400km with a number of different drivers the truck had averaged 3.83km/l (26.1 l/100km or 10.8mpg).

 

Alighting from the truck after the five-hour journey, I felt as fresh as if I’d just driven down the road – testament to the fatigue-reducing qualities of a supremely quiet, comfortable and spacious driving environment. It’s a feeling I’ve not experienced before when driving trucks of this size.

 

Highway Hauling Iveco

 

At the end of the day, it adds up to a truck with the ability to multitask rather than be confined to a single role. With today’s transport industry demanding optimum efficiency and productivity from equipment, there’s the potential for Iveco to steal a march on its competitors with this truck. Whether this is realised or not could depend on the market’s ability to see the value-added attributes as tangible benefits to business that are worth paying a bit extra for. As always though, optimum after-sales support is paramount in providing customers with the peace of mind that their significant capital investment will consistently keep earning them money over its lifespan.

 

To sum up, during this test the new Eurocargo ML180 exceeded my expectations for a truck of this class. In this role it consistently left me feeling it was a man doing a boy’s job and therefore capable of greater things if utilised to its potential. In short, ‘the truck the city likes’ was equally at home in the country.

 

 

 

Environmental Credentials

Bridgestone Tyres-owned Bandag was showing off its environmental credentials during a tour of the Brisbane Bandag facility for Diesel Workshop. However, the company was keen to show that modern technology has improved the process markedly and – provided the correct air pressures and axle weights are maintained – there’s simply no valid reason why retreads won’t give similar or even better mileage as cleanskins, while saving the operator considerable dollars.

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Iveco’s ‘Big Little’ Truck

Featuring a smooth Euro 6–compliant engine and the option of a high-roof cab, Iveco’s ‘Big Little’ Truck, the new Eurocargo ML180 ups the ante considerably over its predecessor. That’s the opinion of Paul Matthei after driving a loaded example from Brisbane to Warwick and back.

 

Iveco’s ‘Big Little’ Truck

 

Workplace health and safety (WHS) is a huge deal nowadays. And, as a person who has driven a variety of brands – both North American and European, throughout my 22-year driving career, I can vouch for the massive gains in driver comfort and safety that have been made over this period. With the Europeans typically leading the charge, trucks have evolved into increasingly sophisticated and safe pieces of machinery giving every responsible driver the utmost ability to do their job with the highest degree of professionalism – day in, day out.

 

There is a need for versatility and high utilisation in today’s truck and trailer combinations to cater for various applications. For example, due to access issues and tight loading docks, rigid trucks are often needed for deliveries in metropolitan areas. However, these same trucks – connected to a pig or dog trailer – could feasibly be used for line haul work hauling high-cube, low-weight freight, thus maximising truck utilisation without compromising driver comfort and safety.

 

This is the conclusion I came to after testing the ML180 on a run along the Cunningham Highway between Brisbane and Warwick. In a nutshell, it felt equally at home cruising the highway as when negotiating suburban streets.

 

With two wide steps and well-placed grab handles, entering the cab is easy and, settling into the top shelf Isri suspension seat with integrated seatbelt, I immediately sensed the ‘big truck’ feel. The impression was heightened (sorry!) considerably by the sense of space created by the cavernous high-roof cab – complete with sunroof – which, again, is quite unexpected in this type of vehicle. I must point out that the high-roof sleeper cab is an optional extra, but as a truckie who regularly spends long hours in the cab of a low-roof day-cab prime mover, I reckon it’d be worth every cent.

 

With bunk dimensions of 1,900 x 605 x 95mm, there’s a reasonable amount of space for sleeping, although it’s obviously more suited to those built for speed rather than comfort.

 

Iveco’s ‘Big Little’ Truck

 

The dash layout and semi-circular instrument cluster are very similar to those of the Stralis and PowerStar heavies in the Iveco range, adding further impetus to the large lorry theme. All vehicle information is easily accessed via a column-mounted wand – yet, moving the eyes to the left – what’s this? A ‘pudding stirrer’ sprouting from the dash – what a novelty! I hadn’t driven a manual truck in years and actually really enjoyed the experience; it was in fact a touch nostalgic.

 

As far as manual boxes go, this one’s a pearler. The shift action is pleasingly direct, nicely weighted and super smooth, with no slop in the lever at all. It’s a ZF nine-speed synchromesh with an H-over-H shift pattern and well-spaced ratios ranging from a 9.48:1 first to an overdrive 0.75:1. Curiously, at 8.97:1 the reverse ratio is substantially taller than first.

 

It runs a four-bag air-suspended Meritor MS13-165 rear axle rated at 11,500kg with a ratio of 4.1:1, offering 100km/h cruising at 1,900rpm. For those doing mainly metropolitan trips, running an Allison S3000 five-speed automatic coupled with a 4.3:1 diff ratio is available as an option. The 7,100kg-rated Iveco proprietary front axle features parabolic leaf springs and stabiliser bar. Huge 432 x 45mm ventilated discs with floating calipers on both axles take care of braking.

 

Iveco’s ‘Big Little’ Truck

 

As you would expect, there’s a raft of safety features, including anti-lock, anti-skid, stability control, hill hold, lane-departure warning and advanced emergency braking system. Tyres are 295/80R22.5 tubeless radials.

 

At the business end resides the sweet ‘Tector 7’ 6.7-litre six-cylinder mill turning out 280hp (206kW) at 2,500rpm in concert with torque of 1,000Nm (738 lb ft) at 1,250rpm. It uses selective catalytic reduction (SCR) to mitigate emissions to the miniscule levels demanded by Euro 6 regulations. The plastic AdBlue tank holds 30 litres, while beside it the oblong, polished-aluminium fuel tank has a capacity of 280 litres.

 

Preventative Maintenance is Vital

Whole-Of-Life Tyre Management

Whole-of-life tyre management is an integral part of the Bandag business model. When fleet customers purchase a new Bridgestone truck or bus tyre, right through to the third, fourth or even fifth retread, they are assured of receiving the same retreaded casing, thanks to a meticulous factory tracking process. This gives customers peace of mind, knowing the finished product originated from their fleet and meets stringent standards across the board.

 

Whole-Of-Life-Tyre-Management

 

“Bridgestone is committed to providing total tyre solutions for our loyal fleet customers and Bandag forms a crucial part of this business model,” said Bridgestone Australia and New Zealand Managing Director Andrew Moffatt. “From our Ecopia low rolling resistance range, to Bandag retreads and innovative fleet management solutions including BMobile, Bridgestone offers the most comprehensive range of products and services available in the tyre industry.

 

“We are constantly looking to expand our market and we urge potential customers to reconsider retreads as we firmly believe choosing Bandag is a smart business decision,” he says.

 

In addition to cost savings and reliable performance, retreads are said to deliver significant environmental benefits. The company claims producing a retread requires only 26 litres of oil, compared to around 83 litres required to manufacture a new truck tyre. Accordingly, across its 60 years of operation, Bandag has kept an estimated 300 million tyres out of the waste stream and saved up to 15 billion litres of oil.

 

“The use of Bandag retreads was a sustainable business practice before sustainability became a global priority and we continue to raise the bar today,” Moffatt concluded.

 

The retreading process:

 

Initial inspection

Trained specialists perform a visual hands-on inspection from bead to bead, inside and out. This is done to find and mark all visible injuries.

 

Electrical inspection

Actual damage can be closely evaluated by looking ‘through the tyre’ in the crown and sidewall areas that may not be visible to the naked eye. An electrical current is put into the tyre and if there’s a hole, the current ‘arcs out’, which shows the operator exactly where the hole is.

 

Shearography

This process determines conditions within the casing, subjecting it to a vacuum, while lasers measure surface anomalies. An animated visual of the anomalies determines casing condition.

 

Buffing

The casing is inflated to its operational shape. The process removes the worn tread surface, trues up the roundness and prepares the surface for a new tread.

 

Repair

Any damaged material identified during initial inspection is removed and repairs are made, essentially returning the casing to a useful life.

 

Applying cushion

Bonding rubber is applied to the casing. Once this happens, the casing is ready for a new tread. The bonding material is pull tested to ensure it significantly exceeds the Australian standard.

 

Building

A new tread is automatically applied with attention to precise detail. The machine ensures the tread is straight and perfectly centred on the casing. All tread is made in-house, enabling greater quality control, thus ensuring it is fit for purpose.

 

Whole-Of-Life-Tyre-Management

 

Enveloping

The assembled but uncured tyre is encased in an elastic envelope and prepared for curing.

 

Curing

Essentially a giant cylindrical oven, the curing chamber operates at 99°C, well below the temperature at which rubber begins to break down (118°C). It causes the bonding layer to cure and permanently adhere the tread to the casing.

 

Final inspection

A visual hands-on inspection is repeated to ensure quality specifications are met.

 

 

 

Retread Remodelled

While the act of retreading tyres is by its very nature an environmentally friendly initiative, Bandag continues to raise the bar with its retread remodelled. The company is incorporating the latest planet-saving techniques into its operations.

 

Retread Remodelled

 

Sorting fact from fiction should be a fundamental principle of any good journalist, and usually the only reliable way to do this is to go directly to the source.

 

Over many years, retreaded tyres have – perhaps unfairly – been considered by some in the trucking realm as a false economy. While it’s easy to acknowledge the up-front cost savings compared to brand new tyres, some believe they are prone to failure and therefore not worth the risk.

 

During a recent tour of the Brisbane Bandag facility for Diesel Workshop, however, the company was keen to show that modern technology has improved the process markedly and – provided the correct air pressures and axle weights are maintained – there’s simply no valid reason why retreads won’t give similar or even better mileage as cleanskins, while saving the operator considerable dollars.

 

Cost savings aside, from an environmental impact perspective, even Blind Freddie could see the benefit of replacing the tread on tyre casings up to three, four or even five times, particularly on tyres that do mostly highway miles where sidewall damage is unlikely. Yet even tyres used in harsh applications such as the waste industry can be successfully retreaded, such is the effectiveness of Bandag’s case-checking procedure, ensuring only cases fit for purpose are used. To do this, the company uses a sophisticated laser process called shearography, which can detect the minutest fault within the case. As a result, around 50 per cent of cases are rejected, which helps eliminate the primary reason why earlier retreads received a bad rap.

 

Having celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2017, Bandag, a wholly owned subsidiary of Bridgestone, marked the milestone with a new brand campaign aimed at dispelling myths about the quality, reliability and safety of retreads. The campaign platform – Built for Better – positions retreads as an all-round fleet business solution thanks to the advanced manufacturing process and strict quality control, backed by Bridgestone’s 100 per cent replacement warranty.

 

Retread Remodelled

 

“There is still a negative sentiment towards retreads in some sectors of the market, which we are aiming to address by delivering high-quality products and services that show Bandag retreads are a safe, reliable and cost-effective business solution,” said Bridgestone Australia and New Zealand Managing Director Andrew Moffatt. “We continue to invest in the Bandag business to further strengthen our retread performance – from improving wear life by leveraging the latest Bridgestone technologies, to advancements in the manufacturing process and the highest of quality control.”

 

Evidence of quality control and the advanced manufacturing process can be seen here at Bandag’s Wacol, Queensland, factory. All casings that come through the Bandag factory are put through a strict program of tests to ensure their suitability for retreading.

 

Recently, a state-of-the-art splice-matching builder was installed, automatically applying tread so it is straight, centred on the casing, and the end splices match. This equipment is in addition to shearography technology and a custom-made buffing machine.

 

Advanced shearography testing minimises the risk of blowouts by finding any defects in the tyre casing, while Bandag’s cold-curing technology ensures the bonding process doesn’t cause rubber breakdown due to heat exposure.

 

 

Tilt ‘n’ Slide

Tilt ‘n’ Slide

Diesel News’ Paul Matthei put a truck through a tilt ’n’ slide test when assessing Hino’s 300 Series Crew Auto fitted with a Kyokuto Slide Tray body. It was part of Paul’s long-held ambition to restore his first car, a 1963 EJ Holden Special sedan, which he has owned since 1985.

 

Tilt ‘n’ Slide

 

With the car stripped down to the bare shell. The next step was finding the best way to transport the various components from his home in south-east Queensland to ReCoat Smash Repairs and Paint Stripping in Wodonga, Northern Victoria, the outfit entrusted to carefully and skilfully remove every skerrick of paint and rust from the components, thus leaving Paul with a base of shiny steel to begin the build.

 

This is where Hino stepped in and offered the use of a terrifically versatile 300 Series crew-cab unit fitted with a Kyokuto three-tonne slide-tray body. Now, there were a number of technical difficulties involved with removing said body shell from the garage behind my house, not least that it had to come out through an opening with just two metres’ head clearance. Furthermore, with the shed’s internal height of 2.5 metres, once the body was hoisted to the rafters there was barely half a metre of space between it and the floor. In other words, the nifty slide tray unit on the Hino easily accomplished what would have been an impossible feat for a conventional tilt tray.

 

With the rear of the truck positioned about two metres from the doorway, the tray deployed rearward and then tilted down until the rollers at the rear contacted the floor. It then started to ramp downwards as it cleared the rear of the truck until the entire tray sat horizontal on the floor, thus easily sliding underneath the suspended body. From there it was simply a matter of carefully reversing the truck until the body was positioned over the centre, then lowering it onto the tray.

 

After strapping it down, the process was reversed and the tray glided effortlessly forwards and upwards onto the truck, just like poetry in motion. As the clearance between the roof of the car and the roller door during the extraction process was only about 100mm, it was vital to be close to the action while the unit was in operation. This is where the handheld remote control unit proved invaluable as it enabled fingertip control from any position around the truck.

 

Tilt ‘n’ Slide

 

The unit is imported and fitted to the Hino chassis by Import Machinery & Equipment Australia (IMAEA), based in Caloundra West, Queensland. According to the company’s brochure, the Kyokuto JN02-45 Slide-Deck Tilt Tray is priced from $44,750 + GST, fitted (truck not included). Body length and width is 5,700mm x 2,070mm.

 

“It works in the same way as a conventional tilt tray, but [with] with the added advantage of being able to slide the deck level/flat on the ground,” the company says. “This not only has the benefit of to allow loading of low-bodied cars without damage due to the 0.9o approach angle, and also minimises workplace health & safety (WHS) ‘trip and slip’ hazards, as the body is horizontal and at floor level.

 

“The unit can be fitted to a crew or single cab chassis and comes complete with certified tie-down anchor points, a winch and handheld remote. It’s ideal for applications like contract landscaping for ease of loading ride-on mowers and the ability to carry six people – a complete crew of two mower operators and four line-trimmer operators all in one vehicle. It is covered by a 12-month manufacturer’s warranty.”

 

Tilt ‘n’ Slide

 

Another point worth mentioning is the exceptional low-speed ‘creepability’ afforded by Hino’s automatic transmission, which was a boon for negotiating the tight access around the side of my house. With literally a few centimetres of clearance between truck and eaves, it was necessary to manoeuvre at a snail’s pace to ensure no contact was made between the truck and the house or retaining wall on the other side. With a manual version this operation would have involved a considerable amount of clutch slipping.

 

Key Priorities in a Vehicle Purchase

Key Priorities in a Vehicle Purchase

Versatility and practicality are key priorities in a vehicle purchase. As Diesel News’ Paul Matthei discovered during a recent test, Hino’s 300 Series Crew Auto fitted with a Kyokuto Slide Tray body has these qualities in spades.

 

Key Priorities in a Vehicle Purchase

 

Travelling south from the Gold Coast to Wodonga with a renovated car body on board was a good way to assess the new Hino. With the relatively light payload, and Hino’s claim of having the most powerful engine in the light-duty league ringing in my ears, it was perhaps easy to assume this wasn’t going to be a slow trip.

 

The engine boasts hearty power and torque figures of 151kW and 600Nm, respectively, with the latter produced uniformly between 1,500 and 2,000rpm. Peak power arrives at 2,600rpm, which is 100rpm shy of the red line. These figures feed into a six-speed Aisin torque converter automatic featuring double overdrive (0.77 fifth and 0.63 sixth) and lock up of the torque converter on all forward gears except first. The final drive ratio is 5.14:1, which allows a theoretical top speed of 120km/h, and 100km/h cruising at around 2,100rpm.

 

Due to my regular driving job I’m a frequent flyer on the Pacific Highway, so I chose to take the inland route for a change of scenery. This involved heading west through Lismore and Casino to Glen Innes then south through Tamworth, Dubbo and Wyalong. Through the winding mountainous terrain east of Glen Innes, the little Hino gave a good account of itself, maintaining a respectable average speed up hill and down dale.

 

Hino-Tilt-Tray-Test-Hino-15-2-14

 

Particularly impressive was the compatibility between transmission and engine, which kept the revs in the peak torque range between 1,500 and 2,000rpm. Furthermore, it was pleasing to note no tendency of the transmission to ‘hunt’ or kick down too early when climbing hills, thus keeping the revs in the aforementioned sweet spot. In fact, during steep climbs with the accelerator pedal pressed hard into the floor, the transmission remained in the right gear to enable maximum torque to reach the drive wheels.

 

Shifts aren’t as smooth as a car but this is largely because the torque converter locks up after each change to ensure full power reaches the road. This feature also helps maximise exhaust brake retardation, which proved surprisingly effective on the steep descent of the Moonbi Range, north of Tamworth. Locked into fourth gear, the Hino maintained the regulation 60km/h with only a few taps of the brake pedal. I think psychology comes into play here – due to its quiet operation the exhaust brake isn’t perceived to be having as much effect when compared with that of a bellowing Jake brake on a prime mover.

 

The lock-up function also helps fuel economy and in this regard the Hino averaged 5.5km per litre over the course of the trip. It was interesting to note the difference in fuel consumption when cruising on the freeway at the 110km/h limit compared to knocking the cruise control setting back to 90km/h. The difference was an astounding one kilometre per litre and I put this down to the considerable extra wind drag created by the ramps. Indeed, this added drag acted a bit like a parachute on long downhill freeway sections, holding the speed steady at 100km/h where you would normally expect to gain speed.

 

As for driver comfort, the ride is characteristically firm with the four-way adjustable driver’s suspension seat isolating all but the worst bumps from the driver’s bum. In typical Japanese light-truck style, the seat base is virtually flat which makes for easy entry and egress but doesn’t do a lot for lateral posterior positioning on long trips. The seats are clad with heavy-duty canvas seat covers that look like they’d take many years of hard use without flinching. Adding to driver comfort is a steering column that adjusts for rake and reach, although those with long legs and short arms would perhaps appreciate a little more telescopic extension.

 

Hino’s multi-function touchscreen ‘infotainment’ unit featuring sat-nav and radio proved easy to use and the digital radio maintained clear reception in the more isolated parts of the country.

 

Key Priorities in a Vehicle Purchase

 

In-cab noise intrusion at highway speeds could be a bit lower, in my opinion. Some extra underbody sound-deadening measures would do the trick here.

 

The rear seat area is fittingly utilitarian and features a separate aircon unit and a decent grab handle across the width of the cab. The squab is hinged at the rear enabling it to be stowed vertically against the seat back, thus providing a cavernous storage space when required.

Ravaglioli Commercial Vehicle Wireless Mobile Column Lifts

NTI’s Mean Green Fund-Raising Machine

Every now and then the opportunity to write about something really special comes along, this time it’s NTI’s Mean Green Fund-Raising Machine. Diesel Workshop has the story of the full restoration of a 1946 International K5 by National Transport Insurance (NTI). The truck was subsequently raffled as a fundraiser for research into Motor Neurone Disease.

 

NTI’s Mean Green Fund-Raising Machine

 

Motor Neurone Disease (MND) is a cruel and crippling neurological disorder that affects more than 2000 Australians, or one in every 11,434. People with MND progressively and terminally lose the use of their limbs and the ability to speak, swallow and breathe, while their mind and senses usually remain intact. Each day in Australia, two people are diagnosed and two people die from the disease. At this stage there is no known cure and no effective treatment. The total cost of MND in Australia in 2015 was $2.37 billion, equating to $1.1 million per person afflicted.

 

It is something that is extremely close to the heart of specialised road transport insurance company National Transport Insurance (NTI), which has seen first-hand the devastating effects of the disease as it slowly incapacitates one of its own – former CEO, Wayne Patterson.

 

“Wayne joined NTI about 18 years ago and he brought with him a set of values for the organisation to operate by,” says Tony Clark, current CEO of NTI. “He had a great influence on a lot of people who still remain at NTI.

 

“When I got the call from Wayne about two years ago to tell me he’d been diagnosed with MND I was absolutely stunned, and we just wanted to be there with him all the way. So we went to our people, told the story about Wayne and they agreed that the MND and Me Foundation would become the organisation’s primary charity.

 

“Obviously with our DNA and background in transport, we felt that the restoration of an old truck would be a great way of doing that and our aim was to let people follow the journey and enjoy the various stages, then raffle the truck for a great cause, which is to help people living with MND.”

 

The so-called Green Diamond project began in early 2017, with NTI employees Don Geer and Peeter Liiv charged with the task of initially finding a suitable truck then overseeing its transformation into ‘better-than-new’ condition. Don and Peeter are trained mechanics so for both men this was always going to be very much a ‘hands-on’ exercise.

 

The journey took them west from Brisbane to Prices Spare Parts in Dalby, one of the largest truck and tractor wreckers in the country. Here, amongst a throng of ancient Dodges, Leylands, Bedfords, Commers and Inters, they spied the ‘green diamond in the rough’ they were looking for. The 1946 International K5, sporting a ‘Green Diamond’ 233 cubic-inch side-valve six-cylinder petrol engine, was originally owned by H & L Hamilton at Miles – coincidentally, distant relations of Peeter’s wife.

 

“From our research, we discovered the truck had been parked in a shed in 1973 and hadn’t moved or done anything since,” Peeter explains.

 

The duo was determined to see if the old girl would fire up, despite it having sat idle for nearly 45 years. Sure enough, after connecting a battery and feeding some petrol into the carby – and with Peeter manning the crank handle at the front – half a dozen turns later, the old donk burst into life and settled into a reasonably smooth idle.

 

“What a pisser!” Don adds as he revs the engine a couple of times while slapping the mudguard. “It’s running like a top – what a beauty! I’m absolutely stunned that it ran. I mean there’s water pouring out of the engine block because the welch plugs are rusted away, but the points work and it’s obviously got a camshaft hooked up to where it’s supposed to be.”

 

Despite the early enthusiasm, the pair was under no illusions that this would be an easy restoration. On the contrary, they expected to encounter many challenges with the project and as time would show, they were right on the money.