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17th April 2022 Carting Rhinos and Stone the Crows!!

Goodaye all, you may call me the Rhino whisperer, but details to follow. Our southbound passenger took a bit of quieting before he would go into the cage and delayed our departure from Dubbo till 9.30 AM and it is about 13 hours driving to Monarto Park near Murray Bridge, but a few quick checks along the way showed he was travelling well. My human passenger has been at the Dubbo Zoo for 20 years and was required to accompany me to keep tabs and look after our male white Rhino who was off to visit some new lady friends.

We arrived around 11.30 PM, having of course needed to comply with logbook regs and were put up in the park, but then there was the “Nightshift” to chat on and I did beg off a bit early to get some sleep. The quarantine enclosure was off in a tight spot and took some manoeuvring to get in and I did put a small mark on the bottom of the bullbar on a rock I did and could not see, but don’t tell the driver, or he will be pissed even more then he was then.

I had to screw round inside a holding yard, miss some tree stumps and line up, to unload and then reload. Got some photos of the delivery before we left and hit the road again, but did some tree clearing with the trailer, to get out, but not a mark on it and they had wanted them removed for some time they said.

Another fairly quiet and simple trip and back into Dubbo late Tuesday and had arranged to sleep in the truck at the zoo, far too late to go home and had to be out again the next day. Got to bed after midnight and about 3AM, the truck was rocking that hard, I thought I would fall out of bed. No one else about of course and I thought, I will either find a problem and have to start ringing zoo people, talk to the Rhino and make it worse, or maybe, calm him down.

He was rockin and swayin, but seemed in one piece and we had a quick chat. I told him I was there and it was all good and he should go to sleep for now, till we let him out in the morning and I went back to bed and woke with the alarm after 6AM, so it seemed to work. Then it was to work and off to load enroute to a timeslot at Barnawartha for Thursday morning (any of you who deliver to Woolies DCs will know about the new Sine App needed) and it was my first time and did not go perfectly, but did get sorted.

I backed into the finger dock as a b-double, having passed their test some years ago, but that was an issue with Pilons based in Dubbo, but did get sorted after a few calls and some common sense prevailed. I had a problem with a gate, it would not go in the hole and slipped and put all the weight on my left arm, which was already sore from a fight with a trailer curtain last week.

But off to Melbourne, unload, back to the yard when Wayne had waited to loads me, Rick helped and cooked my tea while he was waiting for his new engine install to be finished. I had to get my Owner Driver column in, another story and then be in Wagga for the “Stone the Crows” Festival. It is one of the few venues where both caravanners and motorhomers attend together. You can stay for the four days of Easter or 7 and they have entertainment from comedy, music, poetry and many other activities.

So column and story done in to the shower and pop, it seems I have just done my left bicep. MMM, we will see how that goes and works out later. Then a call, Rick’s truck is ready, so I dropped him off to Cummins on the way out.

I was invited to the “Stone the Crows” some years ago by one of the organisers who used to be part of “Rig Radio” a national trucking radio show run out of the Wagga Community radio station and have attended (Covid stopped it for the last two years like so many other events) each Easter and done presentations of sharing the road with trucks and have many friends and supporters there. I ask, Pilons help with suitable loads and we had to push and squeeze a bit this year, but got there very early Friday morning. Yes I give up two days of my time, but I do feel it is worth it.

I did a one and half hour presentation, including the “Sharing Truck Rest Areas” and “Caravans and Roadtrains” videos done with Stephen from WhitelineTV at 3PM. At 11AM Saturday, I showed some photos and discussed my Churchill Fellowship trip, rest areas, Channel 18 and many other issues and on both days, had good questions, feedback and after my talks, invited people to have a look inside the cab. I must say the fold out steps on the K200 are a terrific help for this. Many RVers are getting on and whilst I am still happy to climb up and down, it is much safer for them with the steps and allows some who would not normally consider looking, a chance to do so safely.

At the 2017 Stone the Crows, a b-double amongst 400 plus caravans and motorhomes.

Numbers were down a bit on previous shows, but many attend this event each year and so I have already spoken and preached to many of those there, but still got questions, visits and comments, outside of my presentations. The truck was not perfectly clean and I only had one good looking trailer, still waiting for the b trailer of the 50 year Pilon set to be completed, but all were keen to chat and look and listen.

You cannot make people attend such things, but those who do, do so with at least an open mind and many have come to me after and said they had learned or at least, better understood some of our issues etc. I cannot get to them all, I can only get to those who want to listen and if I can educate some, perhaps they will carry that message to others, some even tell me it has happened from past presentations, let’s hope. Till next week, Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

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10th April 2022 Trangie Truck Show. The wet show of the west.

Goodaye all, well it was with a wet set of clothes as I tried to wash the truck, the more I did the more it rained, so I gave in and thought, at least I will still be there. It was Saturday morning, having only got home late Friday afternoon and I did have some things to complete if I could, before the show. So I must thank the team at Simmos Signs Dubbo, not only for their help and design efforts, but for waiting till I got there after 5PM, me still dripping wet from unhooking etc and working till nearly 8PM, THANK YOU. I will follow up and show you their efforts next week.

Now many had arrived at Trangie early and had beautiful clean trucks (and one side of mine was) and it rained all the way out from Dubbo, some quite heavy and into the first hour of the show, but about 9 AM the rain lifted with only some sprinkles, till immediately after the ceremony and awards at the showgrounds around 3PM.

The organisers had said the show would go on and they stood their ground and I believe were rewarded with someone said, near or perhaps over 200 vehicles entered across all categories, cars, bikes, trucks and tractors, so well done to all who braved the weather to attend, to all the organisers and crew behind them for what turned out to be a terrific effort.

Yes they had truck awards, but I was unaware till the end that they are starting a Hall of Fame and whilst they don’t have a hall yet (but the mayor was there presenting and they did put him on the spot for the hall) they inducted the first 6 members, all locals and industry stalwarts and long time transport operators.

It was said the Hall of Fame at Alice is a long way away and to have something very nearly in the centre of NSW would be good for the industry and a couple did make some big claims that with better weather and local support etc, it could go on to become a very serious and special industry event and I wish them all the best.

Given the weather, it can be assumed some of the people from further away may have decided it was too much and whilst there were not hundreds of cars, there were some nice ones and some unusual ones on show. I planned to get a photo of the grand car winner,  but he got away, though I do hope to follow up next week if I can with all the winners and details, but the TRANGIE TRUCK SHOW Facebook page will cover it all for you to look at.

I had planned to provide some photos, but have spent the afternoon tyring to fit clear coat to the bullbar as it has started to chip. I had planned to have it fitted before it hit the road, but all the things which delayed it and see me still trying to complete it to where I can simply work, meant that was not possible. I got most of the bars done, but still have more to do and have to be early to load my rhino in the morning to go to a game park in SA. It will be an interesting trip and I am bringing another home, trying then to get to Melbourne and be back in Wagga for the “Stone the Crows” festival where I will do presentations on Easter Friday and Saturday about sharing the road with trucks.

So as always a quiet, restful and nothing to do week-end visiting Dubbo. But I love doing much of it, though it does frustrate me at times and of course has an impact on my family that I will never be able to compensate for. Till next week, Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

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3rd April 2022 Visiting home again.

Goodaye all. Home for a visit after two weeks away in the Western Province and I must give a big thank you to Transport SA for getting behind the green reflectors and marking many bays north from Port Augusta, almost to the border. Someone we both know had been marking them as time permitted etc and after a call from James at Big Rigs regarding a story they had printed about green reflectors going up on the Princess Highway last year, I chased them and Transport SA and spoke with a fellow there.

Whilst I haven’t heard back from him directly since then, there are far more up now than before and no one else is silly enough to do it on their own. They are using the correct reflectors, their spacings are good and all we need now is some posters to make other drivers aware of them. I asked a few on the way back and forth and some knew, but others didn’t and both agreed it was a good idea and thanked me for making them aware.

I am currently working with a Victorian road safety group and hope to mark some of the overlap bays for the wire rope on the Hume Highway. I have been in contact with Vicroads since they started putting the stuff up and yes, it may well save some car drivers lives, but it has made it impossible for us in trucks to stop safely on the shoulder for any reason at all.

So I asked for some wider bays, but they only did a few and they weren’t marked in any way (but they did retain and surround the northbound bays already marked), but then I had another discussion when they announced they were doing the whole length of the Hume and I asked for more.

They changed the overlaps in the wire and now we have places that you can pick out a bit ahead in the daytime, but they are virtually invisible at night till you are on them, hence the ongoing, now into 18 months, aim to mark them with green reflectors and it looks as though the only way it will happen, is with the help of this group.

It is I fear much like so many things to do with trucks, people with good intent, do not have a real clue and whilst they aim to help, more often than not, they either don’t or make it worse. In the phone hook up I did with the NTC HVNL review fellow, he truly asked, “Are all these fines for logbooks etc real, the {Police say it is not an issue” and for them, it is simply another ticket, an easy mark and another strike against a driver. “Yes I said, they are real, bullshit, overzealous and the penalties and the level of them, have nothing to do with road safety and that is why I wrote to every Police Commissioner in Australia.

 They said fix the law and I thought that this review was supposed to do that and yet here we are, still asking for a fair go and still waiting for it to be fixed and drivers are still getting large penalties for clerical errors. This must be fixed now, not in another three of four years.

All washed and clean in Kewdale, ready to load then back to the border.

Loaded out of Perth, ad some tarp fun, two rolled up inside out, one was a rigid tarp, no shorteners at all and the other only bottom ones, so with two trailers to load and three short length tarps, not my best tarp job, but made it work and got it home.

Truck in for service tomorrow and back to work Tuesday, but hoping to get a few other jobs done, including some further signwriting etc. Till next week, Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

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29th March 2022 Westbound and Down.

Goodaye all, seems I am roadtraining all this month, Sunday evening headed for Peth with a b-triple. Fairly standard trip over, I was the last of four to leave (trying to get as much done in my 28 hours home) and arrived first, but one did a changeover, another had an engine problem that was “fixed” and then became a major engine problem, like, needing a new engine, so he was held up a bit more.

I got in to Perth, dropped the back trailer and got the two “A” trailers unloaded Wednesday afternoon and the third Thursday morning, did ring and see if I could load early, but was told no, noon WA time Friday, so was given the chance to get the lot washed, did some shopping down the road etc during my 24 hour break and then headed out Friday.

I was then asked would I do a changeover at the border and then go back again. Why not! Made it back to the border Saturday evening where the other driver was waiting, changed over giving him the b-triple and picking up a roadtrain and headed back, nearly making it to Balladonia and then getting back to Northam at 5PM Perth time Sunday, only to be told the Roadtrain Permit allowing them to travel under escort into Perth still had a curfew on Sunday night and we would have to wait.

By the time I would have been able to split, go in and do the dog run and then come back, I was still quicker into Perth and saved probably 100 litres of fuel, so sat and waited, chatting and in the end, we had a convoy. WA Transport Inspector and four roadtrains and due to the time, it may have been the last escort. The lady at the bus at Northam said they had done over 400 roadtrains, some singly and up to three at a time during the period the escorts were in place.

It must be said there are two things to comment on, first is obviously the WA government recognised the need to help the transport industry and went to the pretty unusual effort of arranging staff, signs and co-ordinating it all to allow roadtrains to travel all the way into Perth. On the other side, why can a PBS “A” double at the same weights, the same number of axles and only 5 or 6 metres shorter, do it every day anyway?

With all the current roadworks between Perth and Northam, I was told it was towards allowing 36 metre roadtrains into Perth in the future. There is a 40k speedlimit, cameras and arrester beds on Greenmount, so it is not like you drive along and go, “Oh Goodness, there is a big hill here I didn’t know about”  and whilst there are bigger hills and others in other cities, what else is needed to make it safe?

The WA Inspectors I either spoke with or who escorted me in the two times (and there is no need for an escort outbound, just have your flashing light at the rear and observe the curfews) were affable and helpful. So our convoy got into Perth about 9.30PM Sunday night and as it was due to finish at midnight, may have been the last.

Having had another of our drivers offer to do the second trailer unload (Thanks Neil) which saved me time and then meant I could take part in another of the “Driving Health” podcasts, of which the last of 6 happens on Wednesday and I would encourage you all to look it up, either directly or via Monash University who is running them and I would welcome your comments.

Time now for an NRFA Board meeting, my spot on Nightshift, then a radio interview with my local Dubbo station and a late sleep in before I load. Now I have to either do a dogrun or find another way out as a roadtrain and I am looking into that for when I load tomorrow. Hope to be back on that side of the world by next Saturday/Sunday. Till then Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey. And then the phone played up, so a day later, such is life.

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20th March 2022 A roadtrain here and a roadtrain there.

Goodaye all, been a big week at work, roadtrains here and roadtrains there. Had to reconfigure the triple at Bourke to have the right trailers in place to unload, then off to Mt isa, thought I was going back again after returning to Dubbo, but then for the second trip, did a changeover at Barcaldine, then back to Dubbo, off to Broken Hill, into Parkes, back to Dubbo, then Newcastle and another changeover at Kiga Bore rest area, home this morning and off to Perth tomorrow, third time lucky?

So got to take part in the first “Driving Health” podcast series done by Monash University on Monday after unloading two of my three trailers at a mine, then was to take part in an NTC session, but they ignored my email reply, asking them to send me a link to my phone. Have since contacted them and have a one-on-one session booked for next week.

Into Mt Isa, out the next day with two trailers to pick up a truck at Cloncurry and third trailer at McKinley. I must say the facilities at the Cloncurry saleyards are excellent, good showers, a kitchen nearly, bbq and all, well done and were about to be pressure cleaned after I had my shower. It can be done, we just need more such sites available.

A well [placed, set up and cleaned shower block, thank you to Cloncurry Council.

Second trip took one b-double and dolly out to Bourke, had more trouble than I thought hooking up the second b-double, being dark and in the rain and mud, did not help. But once on the way all good. A top heavy load on the drop deck was interesting over some trainlines, but got to Barcaldine, only to have the fellow I changed over with, have tyre trouble the next day.

Redirected to Parkes, loaded there for Dubbo, missed the taskforce at the parking bay on the northside and had one driver ring me and complain about the use of one of our very popular and much needed rest areas as an interception point, specifically about possibly waking drivers etc. Why not use the weighbridge site just down the road?

Had a listen to the first six “Health in Gear” podcasts and I believe the one I did for them has just been released this week. Some good advice from the other ambassadors involved and if it helps one driver with an issue, then well worth the effort to make them and for drivers to listen to them. Give them a go and let me know what you think.

Seems my timing was near perfect on the run out to Broken Hill, slept on the way out and missed the first big storm, unloaded and headed back and they had a deluge that night according to another driver. Should be all gone and sorted for tomorrow I hope.

Finally got a chance to wash the truck, it looks good when clean, but still have some minor things to add, complete and sort. It will take a few months, but will aim to have complete for when the interim trailers are ready. Hope you enjoy the photos, a couple of drivers asked me was I lost, a couple commented on the new truck, but a change is like a holiday they say, still keen for those new trailers. Till next week, Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

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5th March 2022 To blockade or not, I don’t think it will solve our problems!

Goodaye all, short and sweet this week. Been away and missed all the floods, had some heavy rain, no time to get truck clean or complete much more, except put some carpet in and arrange a bit more storage. Thanks to Inland Truck Centres Dubbo Kenworth dealer for the first service and the next one might get a chance to try and finish lights. One bloke asked me was it Christmas (and I said, yes next week) but another called me up and said it looked awesome, so it only goes to show you can’t please all the people all the time.

Big day Monday for zoom meetings, so a couple of stops on my way to Mt Isa will hopefully see me get a say regarding fatigue review and how current laws, penalties and fines etc affect drivers health.

I note the ATA is now calling for a National Truck Rest Area Strategy, seems I recall proposing that, but if they can help it be achieved, then more than happy for them to push the barrow. We sent the NRFA 6 point plan to all state trucking associations and whilst a couple gave me oral support, none got right behind it.

Many say we have too many associations to get listened too and of course, each says it does the best job representing the road transport industry, but who actually represents the drivers best? I would welcome your views, who has helped you, who has represented you as a driver and who do you support?

I had a call from another past association executive who was involved with the blockade at Gundagai, they believe there are still those who would block the roads to get things fixed, but I don’t think that is the real answer. One it is illegal and they can and will, bulldoze your trucks off the road and yes, we have some public empathy and understanding, but I fear it is more said than felt and of course, the government doesn’t have a clue. They have Glen Sterle’s report sitting gathering dust and don’t seem keen to do much.

Would you put everything you own on the line to block a highway? I don’t think I could and unless we all agree on a person or group to speak for us, have the issues and solutions ready to give to government, then doing so without those things will meant it will not achieve its’ goals. But off to the Isa. Till next week, Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

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27th February 2022 TIV Thanks.

Goodaye all, now this post may be a bit boring for some, but I have to thank many people for their support of the new TIV. Without them, it would not exist. The list is long, some have contributed more than others and there are still bits to complete and trailers to come.

Kenworth make exceptional trucks, they stand up well on our roads and many are running well into their third decade or more and last year was 50 years since they started manufacturing in Australia, we make design and test more trucks here now than cars. I am very happy with the improvements over the last K200 TIV, this one rides better, is quieter inside, has the upgrades I missed out on with the last one, the smart steering wheel, front curtains and new dash. It has double bunks and I have some more work to do to complete the inside, as I will be living more in it than anywhere else for the next 5 years. As Luke says on the Nightshift, Rod is off to bed in the hotel Kenworth. Sounds like a good title for a song!!

Cummins engines are world renowned and they now have a joint venture in the USA with another supporter, Eaton, so we will see new and even better product from that in the future. Both have supported the TIV and given me help and even allowed me to help them in the past, particularly with the programming of the Ultrashift (and will be talking to them again soon).

GME supply UHF and CBs and aerials and again, did the fit out for me moving and fitting things to suit and to get the most out of truck to truck communication. There were a couple of others I targeted for in-cab things, but had no success, though still have a couple of plans if I can get that support to make it more, inside.

Tramanco supplied the on-board scales and that incredible technology that sees the truck (and later the trailers too) “read” the road and both define and locate the failures we all feel each day. CTI Central Tyre Inflation Australia, was on the last TIV and is now on the steer as well on this one. It is the first thing many ask about, as you only usually see it on log trucks etc, but the safety and tyre life benefits are well worth the fitting, it could be said, above the safety aspect that you may never realise has saved you, the improvement in tyre life should pay for itself.

Icepack from Haultech Services have a vastly improved service level and include a heater function as well in the new Icepack, so no matter where you are in Australia, you can get good and consistent temperature control for that all important, good nights sleep.

King Bars went to a lot of trouble to both design and then listen and work with me to have the front piece that will protect and make a statement for the new TIV. It is a new design with the first aluminium backing plate and we will test it out. They did a terrific job with the painting as well.

SAF Holland supplied the turntable and painted it to match and will be involved with the new trailers as well. Thanks to Kenworth at Bayswater for fitting it, just have to hook up the telltale lights now. Michelin tyres came specced with the truck, but we have plans for something a bit different in the future if we can get approval, so watch this space.

Inland Trucks, Kenworth and DAF dealers both at Wagga Wagga, Dubbo and Griffith have helped with improving the exterior lights and some chassis plate, some in Wagga Wagga and the rest in Dubbo and are again, long term supporters of my efforts.

NARVA have supplied the showy parts of the lighting (and there is more to do inside and out when I get time) and the serious parts as well, the new Mark 2 LED driving lights are incredible and I can say they nearly turn night into day. I am not scared of the dark, but both want to see and be seen.

DANA axles, with discs right around is a step forward in technology and safety and makes a big difference when bobtail as well.

3M even fitted the conspicuity tape for me that both make the paint job and the truck stand out, both in the day and perhaps even more safety wise, in the night. As with much of the other bits and pieces, there is more to come.

Lockleys in Melbourne did the painting, I am very impressed and think it has come out well. TRUCKWRITERS in Caboolture completed the scrolling, like many others fitting me in late and well past our booked times, there are some words and a mural to add in recognition of Kenworth’s 50 years of manufacturing and then with the last lights, outside will be nearly done.

Rod Pilon Transport have not contributed to the truck as all these participants have as such, it will be their truck in the end, but without their support, I could not have even started down this path. If I win the Lotto, I might buy it and do more for the industry, but as an employed driver, I could never do this alone, so I thank Rod and Ben and all there who have in any way, supported this initiative thus far.

To all who have helped so far, thank you for making a dream become a reality. Off the see what roads are left and if I can get through to Brissie after unloading in Gundi in the morning. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

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20th February 2022 The new TIV is on the road.

Goodaye all, missed you all last week as picked up new truck, had an electrical problem, finally sorted, that’s the trouble with electronics, good when it works, but often hard to find the problem. Seems when it was built and the engine fitted, the ECM harness got a tug and or the clamp was pulled wrong or something and the 5 volt wire which controls many of the ESC, ADblue and Active Cruise was down to only two strands.

The few times I had it looked at, there were no codes, so in the end I had to try and get it to Kenworth at Shepparton without resetting it, and that meant no accelerator except on cruise and that made the trip there quite interesting. But once there and with codes still active, they were able to trace the fault and it has not missed a beat since.

When I had previously taken it up from Wagga to Brisbane for all the gear to be fitted up there, the trouble started and I said to all who gave me a hard time, that was the only time it would give me trouble. It did happen briefly coming back out of Brisbane and it was checked there and calibrated in Dubbo and then when I actually got it on the road, it happened worse, though others who shifted it for me either had no trouble or it simply did not move and play up.

So it was the same problem all along and I stand by my wish, hope, prayer, claim and comment, it will not let me down again!! There is still more to do to complete it and then the interim trailers and then a new set and I am set for the next five years to take passengers and go to shows and to try and get some more stuff done to improve our lot.

I was re-elected as President of NRFA yesterday at our AGM, the conference and truckies breakfast we had planned for Toowoomba has been deferred due to covid till July 9th and we look forward to as many of you as possible attending. So if you want to make a difference, join up, take part and help me achieve more. I am still happy if you want to join any other transport association, just join one and push to make a difference.

Getting ready for work now, was going to Perth last week but their rules keep changing, so did a change over in Port Augusta instead, but now planning to head over for a visit, till next week, Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.  

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6th February 2022 Is it a light at the end of the tunnel, a new truck or a train

Goodaye all, had a lovely experience at a truckstop, the little one just out of Young on the road to Wallendbeen, during the week. It is a small place and whilst they do have a lit “OPEN” sign in the window, it is hard to see. Before I left, I did suggest a sandwich board out the front. It seems they had asked Young Council for permission to put up billboards but were knocked back. The lady was very friendly, filled my coffee cup herself for and they had potatoe scallops of a good size for one dollar each.

Now that is not all that much of a remarkable experience, but in these days of lousy and filthy showers in many places, corporate changes and those who control some sites not seeming to give a fig about us, it was a welcome change. The lady even comes in early in the morning on her own time particularly for truckies, so give them a go if you are through there.

Been a busy and somewhat traumatic week, still trying to sort the new truck, but I think there is light at the end of the tunnel and believe you me, I have been concerned it may be a bloody train. Had some vehicle issues, lousy facility issues and trying to sort it all amongst everything else and then yesterday after asking for plans for a rest area upgrade for maybe 12 months, finally got them to be truthfully stupefied to find RMS plans to tear down trees and destroy a good rest area by “improving” it. I replied saying I would start a revolt and the fellow rang in response to my fairly blunt email, saying even he was surprised, but it is not yet funded and so I have time to influence the plan.

I will make some calls this week and will also be taking part in a meeting as a member of the Newell Highway Taskforce Tuesday and have already raised my concerns and will follow up there as well. If I do not get some sense out of them, I will start a campaign and seek your support. Seems we are likely to lose another rest area in the “Back Creek” overtaking lanes north of West Wyalong, so another issue to raise and follow up.

It seems to have been a bad week for trucking crashes, I personally have not seen or been close to any and had not heard other than from other drivers, so what is the problem? Have you had more pressure placed on you, is it simply a combination of stress on top of stress on top of the usual shit? I did an interview with the local paper and don’t believe I layed it on too thick, but the lady I spoke with said she had no idea what it was like. So do you have a specific problem or even better, a solution. Off to Brissie now, have helped daughter shift house, so more time off this week-end than usual and certainly more time than in the last three weeks, only 18 hours home in that time, but still not enough hours to catch up.

Next week, new truck photos, I hope!!!!! Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

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30th January 2022 Trying for photo, but not yet.

Goodaye all, well here I am in sunny Maryborough (it was when I started and has just rained) waiting to load tomorrow. Wednesday night over to the castle, too late for a feed at Sandy Hollow, so a sandwich and milk, then Thursday up, double split to unload and second trailer tarped, good tarp job by the loader except for covering the side lights. Roll the tarp, no help and lucky no wind and even still in a bit of shade, then two pick ups and off to central Qld.

It was urgent freight and trying to plan delivery times when pick up had some issues, some ugly freight etc, but said hope to be in Friday night, so if that is no good, Saturday morning, but thinking already, another week-end away. Rang and yes, no load till Monday, so enjoy the time off two thousand kilometres from home.

On the way out after loading, rang to confirm delivery windows etc, the sending depot to follow up and ring me back. Getting closer and no call yet, so rang again, so which one first, will come back to me, thanks. Rang yet again even closer now, yes the farthest one first, thanks, then rang them to confirm we were all on the same page. So when will you be there, Friday night as I told all yesterday, Ok will ring you back.

No immediate reply, so into BP Clermont for a feed. Last time I was there for a feed, nearly a year ago now, two things of note. Sitting and eating, I noticed my right arm muscle above the elbow much bigger than the left. I had first thought, geez those push ups each morning working well, till I looked at the left arm. I rang my son and asked him as he is into body building why they would be so different and he said, “You have probably torn the tendon” and this then led to the shoulder surgery as not only had I torn the tendon, but torn the shoulder apart as well. Seems still doing the push ups had strengthened the other of the two tendons and meant I could keep working, as I did till I went in for surgery.

The other thing was the size of the feed. I think then I got four rissoles and salad and chips and even potato salad included and I enjoy my rissoles and salad and could not finish it all, as I had also asked for bread and butter which I usually eat to clean up the last of the gravy etc. Without the bread and butter, I could have finished it. So the feed this week was just as good. The owner (and cook) had gone into town for supplies and the other bloke did not want to give me less than the best, so said there would be a short delay. No call yet to rush in and unload that night so all good, could not unload till the morning anyway and only a couple of hours to get there.

Catch up on my diary, have a coffee while waiting, dinner came and once I can show you the picture, 5 rissoles and I still got the bread and butter and ate it all bar a bit of rissole. Last time I had asked and been given a dish and taken the last rissole for the next morning, (then I had a frig in the old truck) but not in this one as I had only planned to be in it for a month or so. Now into my fourth month in old number 32, wish I had put the frig in, but such is life.

Finished dinner, go to the loo and the phone rings. Hello, “Yes where are you and when can you be here?” At Clermont, about an hour and a half, “No good, I have to go now, so in the morning?” Had they rang back hours before, I could have been there and unloaded, but in the scheme of things, still stuck away and can’t load till Monday and I had a bloody good feed at a fair price. Thanks BP Clermont.

So off to the delivery point, able to park right outside and a bit of reading, still on the “Tawny Man” book five now into the “Assassins Apprentice” series and would highly recommend to all. Up early in and unload, off and ring the second drop and make a time, had a serious call to sort the last bit for the new truck and all things being equal, will be registered and on the road next week. Thank you to Inland Truck Centres for the work to finish it off. I am chomping at the bit, now for the trailers.

I have spoken with a couple of trailer builders and they say they cannot build me a set of trailers, if I supply most of the components, their system will not work that way. It will be a one-of, but I would not have thought that so hard, but I will find a way. Should be on the road with the interim trailers, a tidy up, new paint and a new set of curtains to celebrate 50 years since Rod Pilon started the business. He bought his first truck in 81, but started the RPT business in 82.

So fifty years of building Kenworths in Australia last year and still going strong. So many Kennys years old and done millions of kilometres and still on the road, how many old Benzs and Volvos etc still doing the hard yards? Funny how we still build trucks here and many of the truck manufacturers use Australia as a test bed, when we don’t build cars here anymore.

So thanks to Kenworth and all who have supported the new TIV, there are many and once I have it on the road and a few photos, will list and thank them all here. Congratulations to Kenworth for the effort and the trucks (and still listening to episodes of the “Copy Southbound” podcasts and stories of the past) congratulations and sincere and heartfelt thanks to Rod Pilon for his support and allowing me to do it again and for reaching that milestone.

It seems we will get an apprenticeship scheme for truckies, long overdue and welcome, but sitting here and just chatting with another driver who is about to retire, his comments about why we don’t have enough drivers, when all those who tell us how and what and where and why to do it when none of them have to, is still seriously one of the problems. Can I fix any of this, not on your nelly? Can you, good luck, but if we all got together, we might have a chance, but alone, it is simply hard work. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.