26th November 2017 Melancholy.

Goodaye all. It would take me three pages to fully detail this week. Some downs, some ups and like much in the life of an interstate driver, most of it came either unannounced, or by the actions of others. Nothing much different to all peoples lives true, we all get hit by surprise, with the good and the bad. Some win more, some suffer more and we all hope that those who suffer, have someone to share their pain and or to help them through it.

I will give you the dot point version, so as not to bore you all and certainly after the last couple of weeks, I don’t want you to think I am getting a bit down at heel.

  1. The engine in the K200 finally had enough of cracked rings, (they have been cracked for sometime, but it still went well and there were others in the fleet worse off than me, though mine was next in the que). It told me so with some warnings, but did not quite make it waiting for it’s turn. Cab up and down 3 times, covered in oil along with the exhaust, not recommended for either. Towed home, boy do truck towies have some things to fix. How long it is off the road will be decided next week.
  2. My children, I love them all and each is different and in this job, you are never there for them as a father should be. Yes you can ring them, you can tell them you love them, but you are too often, far away when they need you. That will not explain fully, but it is another weight on my mind. How can I do enough for them?
  3. Into another truck, short of drivers, change some gear over, not enough as I have mostly lived in the K200, 5 nights or more a week for over 6 years now. I have put too much of my life not only into the TIV, but spent too much of it in there. But we must earn a quid. This truck needed some TLC, one view says the driver did not get fixed what he wanted, another says he simply would not write it down or push hard enough. Working on getting it sorted, nothing serious, or I would not be driving it, but little things that either make my job harder, or less enjoyable.
  4. Go to Sydney, do two DC drops, each its own challenge, then find I am off to Melbourne direct, not home via Dubbo as originally told. Things change, I accept that, but a little notice or the effort to tell me, instead of me chasing to find out will make a big difference in my life on the road. Road works at loading point, “Choose Alternate Route” sign at the turn off in a b-double, looks OK, bugger that, round the corner, what clown said a semi could not get in? Told open 24 hours, on site, not inducted , “Go back” the man said, then “Only joking if your first time here”. Funny heh?
  5. Loading, hurry up we go home at 5.30PM, now 5 and another truck in front. Told 24 hours, “Not this part of the plant”. Loading me in his hurry to get home, lucky bugger, load of recycling on, he’s gone. Love the smell, too late to lift boards or floors, mmmmm.
  6. Ah well, time now to catch up on sleep and a shower, will ring my mate Stephen. How about meeting me for some “TRUCK That” filming on the Hume instead of coming to Dubbo next week. Good idea. We planned, then I spent an hour adjusting headlights, tea, shower at Marulan and to Gundagai to bed. Stephen arrives, filming all good and we decide to do “TRUCK That for RVers” to follow on from the good comments on the sharing rest areas video. Walk past a van, “No sign for the UHF I comment”, “Yes we do he says” and we chat. I ask would he like to be in a video to help others and yes he will. Thanks Steven and Bev, though Bev watched. Let us hope it will help make the roads safer in the long run. Watch this space.
  7. No keys for depot, try and sort to get in, so not locked outside for whole week-end. Thanks Katie and Anthony for your help. Will unload Monday, what time slot I was asked. What time slot? No one said. Check back copy of paperwork, due 11AM SATURDAY! Yeh right, that was going to happen, not. Help me and tell me such things and I will do my best. Don’t and I can’t. Many calls and numbers tried, no phone to receiving, will go and try my luck. Yes will unload me, thanks. I’ll start said forkie, then shiftchange and they will finish you, never saw him again.
  8. Phone calls, to Vicroads, fix the hole (again) just up the hill from Glenrowan please.
  9. ARRB starting on new National Guidelines for truck rest areas. Good and you will be able to contribute soon.
  10. NTC, excellent the guideline review is under way, but there is a much bigger problem, not enough rest areas. My new years program, make a lot of noise and have started working on the plan.
  11. Have to make a list for the K200 for all the little jobs while off the road and work on a week off.
  12. There were other bits and pieces, none of major issue yet.
  13. Wash the trailers inside from end to end to get most of the smell out. Love my job.
  14. About to run out of clothes, no frig, mine died and still tied in K200, so no way to carry much, working on another, anyone got a spare for a couple of weeks?
  15. Well that will do for now, time for a shower, though it has just stared to piss down outside. Missing my Icepack and my bed, in the 200 of course. Loading bulk DG tomorrow and back on the road again. I think there could be a song there. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

18th November. TRUCKRIGHT Industry Vehicle History/Sponsors 2.

Goodaye all. I first got involved with road safety when on the road one Christmas and some truckies were bagging vanners out. I thought at the time, who will teach them unless we do? So I did the Caravan Survey and that lead to lots of other efforts. Working for Finemores Liquids driving tankers at the time, I spoke with Ron Finemore with a list of ideas and they then took me to my first Australian Trucking Association convention in Adelaide. I was told by a senior boss there “We would open a dialogue with you for a drivers view” and never heard from him again.

Toll bought Finemores and over the years I tried writing emails and went over and around my boss at times (and he happily told me he knew and it would not help me) and got frustrated I could not get them to support my aims. After meeting Paul Little and giving him another proposal (at another ATA conference, this time in Newcastle) I was called into another meeting and told, “We cannot afford to do what you want”.

As you might imagine, I was not impressed and along with some other issues, after 29 years continuous service, decided to leave and find someone who at the least, could see value in my ideas. After again trying all levels in Toll except for Mr Little, who it seems I could not get to through working there, I gave notice and wrote letters to 30 transport companies. I detailed my plan/dream of a truck to promote the industry and one company did reply weeks later after I had started with Rod Pilon, saying they would love to have me as a driver, but could not afford to support my road safety.

In my letters, I detailed the idea of the TIV as I did not think it fair to get a job and then ask for the support needed to do such a thing. I sent a copy to Rod Pilon, had a meeting with him and he said, “I’ll give you a go and if it all works out, I’ll buy you a new truck and trailers in 12 months”. I started out in truck 7, an ex Bunkers K104 with series 60 Detroit (just like old times from Finemores) with trailers 142 and 132, then Ken Wilkie offered me his truck and I started the TRUCKRIGHT Industry Vehicle at the Dubbo show with Ken’s truck and Rod Pilon Transport Trailers.


Rod Pilon agreed to support my aims and efforts and said as long as it did not cost him an arm and a leg, and he still has them all, we would see how it went. True to his word, he and I separately attended yet another ATA conference, this time in Canberra and Vawdrey supplied the semi-trailer for the conference auction. We were sitting apart and the trailer got sold, then they asked would the under bidder like one at the same price?

The under bidder was heard to say, I want a b-double set and Paul Vawdrey said, “We can do that” and it was announced that Rod Pilon had bought a b-double set of trailers. I got up and walked over to Rod (and on the way got stopped by yet another bloke who had gone to school with him, they are everywhere!) and as I approached, Rod got up, shook my hand and said, “There are your trailers”.

We worked out a list and I said to Rod, I wanted to design a set of curtains and did I ever bite off more than I had thought, but in the end, I came to Rod with a graphic of the curtains and he said, “MMMMM”. To be fair, it did look busy on a small laptop screen, but he waited for me in the yard when I got home with the first load after picking the trailers up in Melbourne and this time he said, “You have done well, they look terrific”.

That support has continued, my ten years at Rod Pilon Transport came up this year and with the current curtains, when the new K200 was ordered, I said to Rod, “I want to do new curtains for the new truck” and he said OK and never saw them till I turned up in the yard with them fitted. There are few company owners who would allow a driver to ever do that and there are things on the truck and trailers Rod Pilon has never seen, but he has given me the freedom to do all this to his equipment and I will be forever grateful for such support. If not for that support, the TIV would not exist.

Thank you to Rod Pilon and all at Rod Pilon Transport for their help and in allowing me to at the very least, start the TIV and then to continue those efforts for now into the tenth year. How do you really say thank you to that? Cheers and Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.


13th November 2017

Goodaye all, it has been a bugger of a week, so my apologies for my tardiness. Roadtraining on Monday with liquid fertilizer, that for the second container did not want to come out, so a long day from 6.45AM till just in time home, at 11.45 PM that night. Hooking up trailers in the dark after unloading and being hungry, as was not in my normal truck, so no tucker. Geez, getting a good feed, particularly outside of hours or when you are in a different spot, is getting harder.

A breakdown Tuesday evening, put me behind schedule and then chasing to keep things in line, meet timeslots in Brisbane Wednesday, a yard where you can get in, have to split to unload, then can’t turn without screwing the wheels off, so a few goes backing the b-double to get out, drive 2 kilometres to have to split trailers again to load, back to the yard, getting repairs, picking up a gearbox for one son, back to Dubbo, tyres and filter and an air leak to be fixed and then ran late, so a later timeslot to load that meant an even later get into bed, though did manage tea and finally a shower, but want to be in Melbourne to unload and reload Friday, or be stuck there for the week-end.

Going into Melbourne, rang Vicroads about a pothole I rang about 2 weeks ago, patched it seemed, but now worse that before, next complaint about another closed rest area, only an informal one true, but still one less space, then another call to Vicroads coming into Melbourne about the 5kilometre traffic que, in a line to unload, then just in time to load to be told it was stuffed up Friday and why am I there so late? Sorry mate, I have been trying since early this morning, then missing paperwork, leftover pizza, thanks Rick and into bed.

Got out of Melbourne in the early hours after my regulation break thinking traffic will be gone, to find bridge beams being delivered, needed a kip on the way, nearly home, a leaking tyre, rang to organise to find I am also due at youngest son’s formal for school, got there in time, next morning off to help another son move, just needed to go for another drive, home in time to jump in truck and go to work, then problems with a fuel card, that delayed me another hour and a half, meant another late night, and now here I am back in Brisbane, loading out tomorrow.

You have to love this job. There is always something and far too often, something out of the drivers control to delay us, yet the flexibility to deal with such things is often not only at our cost, lack of a shower, a feed or sleep time, yet everyone else still wants the freight delivered, timeslots met and if I don’t, then you get held over, lose wages and productivity. All we need is some flexibility, instead of a logbook that tells when I can and cannot drive, based on what, not its’ knowledge of the job or my needs and who will fine me for my lack of compliance?

Someone who gets paid overtime, who can do a double shift, who does not have to live by those rules, made by those who will never sit their bum in a truck to see the goods for people delivered. And now I have to get mine in one to get to the other side of town to go to bed to load in the morning. Gotta run, Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.


5th November 2017. Newcastle Transport Awareness Day.

Goodaye all. My humble apologies for missing last weeks instalment. I attended the Newcastle Transport Awareness Day, the 22nd, all previously held on the Newcastle foreshore till this year, but now at the Maitland Showground. They have raised very serious money for the Westpac Rescue Helicopter service over the years and have had a few new faces involved on the committee in the last few years. Unless you have been involved in setting up such an event, and even with a long history such as here, if you walk in to take over from those before you, it is a lot of work.

I had planned to attend the dinner on the Friday night and was asked to speak, but had to do another trip, so offered an apology and got out of Melbourne late Friday evening. There was a few in front of me when I arrived, so a few hours delay, but thanks to the boys at King of the Road Truckwash in Albury for a terrific job, considering it had rained every one of the five legs that week and also the previous week, so it was dirty.

I pulled up south of Gundagai to go to bed and found oil leaking out of the axle gasket. At 1AM, nothing to do but go to bed. I rang the workshop foreman in the morning and we arranged to get it sorted at the Sydney depot and while I fuelled and the gasket was replaced, I then touched up the trailer curtains with a felt pen. Got into Maitland and after some more tidying up, completed some pinstriping  and then went and had tea with Stephen from Whiteline TV who was also attending. Back to the truck, wiping down wheels etc till they turned the lights out and to bed in my usual abode, this week 7 nights in the TIV.

We went up to watch the convoy converge, I was loaded so did not want to drop the trailers and had banners to put up etc and on return Stephen did some filming of the convoy as it arrived at the showgrounds. Well done to all who put in thousands of hours in total to present their trucks in such a gleaming showcase, millions of dollars of new and old equipment, proudly displayed during their mostly, one day a week off.

I thank the organisers for the invite and was glad to attend, my third time over the years. The first time was the very first event with the original TIV trailer curtains and they had a hole in them from someone else’s failure to do the right thing. It became a dragged out row, but was eventually resolved and that curtain was patched and now resides at the Road Transport Hall of Fame in Alice Springs.

I went with the specific aim of doing a seminar and showing our sharing rest areas video, but due to someone else booking the hall, could not do so. I was asked to help with the judging and then when that was done, we did the interviews and our bit for TRUCK THAT November, which should be out this week. There was a good crowd during the day, I gave away copies of Owner Driver and the Truckies Top Ten Tips children’s version, had many take photos and ask questions and thank Stephen for looking after the TIV and inquiries while I did the judging with others.

Such industry events are often our one chance to not only have the public see and hopefully appreciate our vehicles, but I still feel we often let them get away without having them educated about the other side of our industry to that which they are exposed in the media, generally all bad. The seminars were a chance and I again, wish it could have happened. Obviously the families of truckies do not need to be told, but when the only press we get is bad, we must take every opportunity to show our good side, the side that delivers the food, the clothes, the fuel and the life we lead in Australia.

How many of you have been in a truck for a trip? How many have spoken with a truckie and truly understand our issues? Not enough and unfortunately, getting the right people who will not only recognise the issues and perhaps, even do something to help us, is damn hard work. If you want to help, let me know. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.