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14th May 2022 Farewell Mr Positive.

Goodaye all, here I am in rainy Brisbane, got in last night, waiting to find a way north west, or north then west. Seems some roads are closed again. I know it is my fault for the rain, getting the truck washed last week and not even a photo to show for it and then it rained on the way home Saturday night. Tomorrow will check the maps and see where and when I can go. This morning, cleaned out the toolboxes, the cab, caught up on paperwork and this afternoon, had Simon from Atlas Balance bring me out some late lunch and some stickers for the truck.

Years ago, Ken Wilkie had balance rings on his Kenworth I think, plus Cats Eyes for the tyre pressures and a special oil filter, so he was keen to look at what was then, a bit outside the norm. Simon, after years of having them made overseas, bit the bullet and now has them made here to his spec and they will fit all trucks.

I was visiting Dubbo during the week as I do occasionally, got a couple of minor gate repairs done, fitted some hooks for EIPs and had the trailers serviced. Then got the steer tyres rotated and fitted the balance rings we could not do last week. The truck was at about 57000 k then and my first impression was that I could “feel” the road more and having driven to Moree, unloaded and reloaded then back to Newcastle to get a service, it felt more secure in the bucketing rain I drove in nearly all the way. Down the track we will do the drive and see what else changes.

A big week-end next week-end, Dubbo show, election and I am to talk at the Putty Road Memorial, if I can get there or anywhere with this rain, so another week-end away from home and family, but that is what we do. With this rain, I am only getting wet and messed about, others have lost everything and some, more than once in two months.

I have had an approach about attending a caravan show in Queensland, someone has seen our videos on truck rest areas and Caravans and Roadtrains, highly recommended viewing for all (and the drone footage of a triple overtaking a triple is awesome) at www.whitelinetv.com.au

If you visit the whiteline site, you may see some videos about Mr Positive, Chris Harmer. I knew Chris for over 30 years and whilst he was on and off the road and in different jobs over those years, his last with Burkinshaws and before that Shearers in Wagga, he had a love for trucks and life I have seen in few people.

I had hoped to be able to take part in the interviews, but was always going the wrong way when it could be arranged with Chris. He went to work on a Tuesday, had a headache on the Wednesday and was in hospital with a brain tumour by the end of the week. There are three videos, “Mr Positive” “A Catch up” and the last, an “Interview with Mr Positive”. Having raised this site, I have just watched the last one. Chris passed away in February. I did speak with him the week before he died and as always at the end, he would tell me to stay safe.

Over the last 5 or so years before his illness, we would talk weekly, sometimes just a catch up, he would be on the road and call me, or vice versa. We would discuss the world’s problems, then our own and he was often a good sounding board for ideas, or simply to get the weight of the world off my shoulders. Our longest chat I think went for well over 3 hours and there was little we did not discuss. To have a friend like that to talk to, is something we often need, but don’t always have.

I miss him and mourn his passing, but in watching the videos, you cannot fault his faith, his positivity and his resolve. He had children with special needs and that weighed on him and put pressure on him and his wife. He had changed his jobs over time to be home more, Burkinshaws went out of their way to support him and I would like to recognise and thank them for that. They bought him a 700 HP Volvo, their first, they specced the SAR for him before he was forced to retire, but I think it was a very special relationship, again, one few drivers have with their employer. From where I sit, each thought the other a part of their family.

So Goodbye Mr Positive, I do hope you have found peace in heaven and to all us left on this earth, I hope you have a friend who is as special. If you don’t, perhaps you can be that special friend to another. I miss our chats and hope you travel safe Chris, farewell for now. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.  

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8th May 2022 ATA Convention

Goodaye all, just home this morning and off tomorrow, so short and sweet. Short week on the road, nothing special but got the truck and trailers wheel aligned while attending the ATA convention. Was to fit some steer balance rings, but they did not have a torque wrench, so will sort this week and do a rotation at the same time.

I saw the doctor at 7PM, pretty keen to see a top Sydney surgeon in Dubbo that time on a Sunday night. Top bloke, last repair went well and working good. New damage is not just tendon, but torn shoulder as well. Says he would recommend surgery, but we will have to see. Then got to work to have a trailer problem, had to tranship the load, finished late, went to bed and off to Newcastle early. Unload and reload and managed to get it done on the Monday after sitting for hours waiting to load. Had a good feed at Moorelands on the way up, one of the few old roadhouses on the Pacific now.

Just made it to Ballina for the loo, a kip, then radio and did a live truckstop revue. No kitchen, just fast food and had a quick shower with Luke and Jess, was a bit crowded, but made for good radio some said afterwards. Back to bed and off again and on into Brisbane Tuesday, visit Icepack to sort some future cupboards (a top bunch of helpful blokes there).

In Brissie got the truck washed, worked local for the day, then a lift to the convention. In for a quick hello and drink, then into the serious part Thursday morning. Attended sessions the whole time, did my spot as one of three presenters in “The Future of Truck Rest Areas” that afternoon. Spoke with many, asked lots of questions, may get the award for the most questions asked, if not me, then NRFA would be a shoo in.

NRFA had 8 members as a delegation, two more attending in their own right and congratulations to Sally Tipping for her previously winning the NSW Transport Woman of the year, which then saw her nominated for the ATA  awards. She did not win, but we all support her and are proud of her efforts and achievements. So we had 10 members there and had another join during the convention, welcome Andy.

We had a debrief Saturday morning and I have written a piece for our NRFA members. We knew we could not and would not, change the world, but you have to be in it to win it. You can sit on the outside and whinge and complain, or you can go in, have a say and give it a shot. From conversations, contributions, questions, or simply from a comment, we hope to at the very least, made a difference, we may see it, we may never know, but achieve something valuable, but none of that will happen unless you attend.

You may well all be sick of me saying, join an association, you cannot do it alone, but when you join, you must do so with the intent of being a part of it and taking part. You can’t just pay your money and expect “someone” else to do it all. Every one of our members who attended, lost time and income from their own businesses or job, none of us have big companies behind us that will pay us to attend or keep going without us. I would like to thank all those NRFA members who attended and for their efforts whilst there. I do hope it was worthwhile, but only time will tell. Till next week, Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey

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1st May 2022 Not enough hours.

Goodaye all, off to Albury Sunday night, I reckon the CTI (central tyre inflation) on the steer could have saved me from at the least, a big fright and at worst, having the left hand steer tyre go flat as I hooked in at 100 kph through the sweeping right hand bend over the top (it is a long way down there) of the Hume Highway at the end of the Olympic Way. It went off and I thought it an unusual spot, no rain or slowed down for the pressure to change and all felt ok, but then it went off again with blow out front. It was of course, already putting air in to balance the loss and as I can see the pressure live, I knew it was not flat yet, so I slowed down, got down the road to where I could stop, found the piece of steel, (looked like a chain link opened up when we pulled it out the next morning) and so took the earliest exit and idled down to the BP for the night.

A delay in the morning, some ours too, phone messages not passed on etc, but it seems some low life had been slashing tyres round Albury and the tyre fellow was as busy as. Managed to do a repair, a clean in and out to plug, no other damage and that left me late enough, not to be able to get to Melbourne and reload, but then managed to get a service done at Twin City Kenworth. Took a bit longer than planned and did not get my one extra done. Leccy was too late back and they had waited hoping he would arrive in time, but I will prevail one day with this hanging on issue. Thanks for fitting me in.

Rest of the week I had planned, others had different plans, but got 4 legs in, service, picked up a couple of bits for Rod mods to the TIV for when I get those hours spare and home yesterday. Did a bit of sorting, then checked trailers to go, one tyre needed doing, then backing it in, thought front axle not right, found broken U bolt, run back to catch workshop, and that took up much more of my afternoon than I had planned.

After only near three full week-ends spare time, not full days or week-end of course, have managed to complete most of clear coat on bullbar. Wish I could have had it done by an expert, you won’t tell from 5 metres away, but will preserve paint on bar, just the front of the cab and fuel tanks to do now!!!

Still have some of the things I had planned to be done before it hit the road (like the clear coat), still to do, lights etc, but you can only do so much while working fulltime and on the road. Still managed to fit in a meeting with Transport for NSW for a couple of hours on rest areas on the Newell at Moree, Narrabri and Dubbo. Six others in meeting, but I had my say and I sincerely hope they are now listening. They did say the need for consultation only came up recently and I will take some credit, because I have certainly been giving them a hard, but respectful, time, saying they have been doing it wrong, not talking to those who sleep in such places and therefor, not PROVIDING US WITH PLACES TO SUITABLY MANAGE OUR FATIGUE.

Then another meeting with the ATA, as I will be presenting there on Thursday at their convention o the Gold Coast on “The Future of Truck Rest Areas”, so a big rest are couple of weeks. The ATA have come out in support of my National Truck Rest Area Strategy and I welcome that and will of course be pushing that hard and it is part of one of the following recommendations.

NRFA will have a delegation of 8 members attending and we aim to seek all association’s support for the recommendations from the Senate Inquiry into a Safe and Viable Road Transport Industry.

Had an MRI, yes have torn the left bicep clean off, not too much pain, but what to do. Seeing doctor tonight for clearance from last one and hope he can stitch it up for me and back to work (in my dreams, you all know how keen I am) but we will see. Have to do shopping etc and could use another 10 hours for stuff, but not available, yet again. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.