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Australian Trucking & Road-Trains

The Australian Road-Train (text) Page 1

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The Australian Road-Train (text) Page 1
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Most Road-Train tractors that's what you call them in the U.S. are Mack's or Kenworth's both makers have their tractors assembled in Australia with right hand drive.
Most tractors have v8 engines, the engines are the same as used in the U.S. but are not smaller than 450 H.P.
The gear box's have a minion of 13 gears, no lazy axle's, and at lease eighty thousand pound diffs plus double chassis rails.
We have twice the number of air tanks to handle the 3 or more 44 foot trailers.
You will find that the tractors are a lot shorter than you use because we need them short to manoeuvre the trailers to hook up the 3 or more trailers, plus a short wheel base is stronger and their are other different changes that have to be made to make Road-Train specification.
Of corse you can not back up with 3 or more trailers to far, what we do the Road-Train is dropped at the depot and split up so each trailer can be delved to the final desertion.,I work for Richmond Heavy Towing in the city of Adelaide in the state of South Australia .
The city of Adelaide is on the coast line just 10 miles from the sea,all of the bigger towns or city of Australia are on the coast .
The hot and dry centre of Australia which is called the Outback is thousands of square miles most of it is what is called crown land and belongs to know one it is still undeveloped land that belongs to the government.
A lot of the Outback is cattle ranch;s which we call cattle station,these cattle stations are hundred's of square miles each.
The Outback is not good farm land its hot dry scrub very little water,most of the cattle drink at man made water holes,the water is pump up from under ground wells by windmills.
These water holes are hundreds of miles apart so the cattle are moved around by Road-Trains
theses Road-Trains are truck and trailers of 3 or more trailers all hook up together.
Not only cattle are moved around the Outback all road fright is moved by Road-trains.
I have been looking threw my old photos and I realises that I do not have a good photo of one of our big wreckers hooked up to a Road-Train.
I have lots of photos of trailers rolled over and that would not be unusual for you but a photo of a big wrecker towing a 150 foot or more Road-train would be unusual.
Even in Australia a photo of a wrecker towing a Road-Train would be unusual because Road-Trans are note aloud to come with in a hundred miles of our city except the northern city of Darwin but Darwin has only 60 thousand people were you are that would hardly be called a city.
A wrecker towing a Road-Train does not happen a lot,if it is a roll over we split the trailers up on there own,and if a Road-Train has broken down we are aloud to tow the Road-Train to the next town for safety then we unhook the trailers from the truck and we just bring the truck back to the city to be repaired.
The first think is that in Australia truckers are called truckies not truckers and the tractor is called a pri-mover not a tractor,a tractor in Australia is what a farmer use's to dig up his field to grow his crop.
to the question what kind of training to get a Road-train licensing,you have to be over 18 and you start with what's called a TAFE course,that is held at a collage I am a old time driver that have not done this course but from what I have been told is that you learn ever thing for how to tie ropes to how much air to put into a tyres you notice we spell tyre different to you,after a person has passed the TAFE course you then have to do a heavy truck driving test on the road.
It is one thing to get a license but another to get a job driving a Road-Train,you have to get another permit from a company that will give you a job,so it is a catch 22 no one will give you a job unless you have experience,so unless you know some one who will give you a go it is hard to find a job driving a Road-Train.
The best way to go is to start driving small trucks and do that for a number of years and then start driving bigger truck as you go then some one will let you lose with a Road-Train there's no quick way.
You won't to know what kind of equipment we use,you be happy to know that most of the trucks {tractors} are us makes the big two are Mack's and Kenworth's they have to be made to Road-Trains standards with out going in to lots of details that would take all day,the chasse are made stronger with more cross members and the chasse are not aloud to be to long so you do not have room for big sleeper cabs,we have to double the number of air tanks plus more fuel tanks on both sides,there's more but I don't have time to go into.
The reason we have Road-Trains in Australia is that Australia is about the size of the U.S.A. but most of our people live within ten miles of the sea in a hand full of city's, the inland of Australia is made up of a few cattle ranchers we call cattle stations they are hundreds of square miles in size but because the land is so dry and there is not much water there are few cattle spread over a lot of land,most of the land is still unused government land.
so we do not have freeway's from cost to cost the numbers of cars are few and the roads are narrow with one lane in each direction when you get two trucks passing each other they are only feet apart.
So with thousands of miles of road between the city's and no hills to cross Road-Trains make good sense the normal Road-Train is made up of three 44 foot trailers with a twin axle turn table dolly under the front of the trailer hooked up to the back of the trailer in front of it with a ring feeder and a dolly bar the load is 115 tonne spread over the three trailers.
As I have said the normal Road-Train is of three trailer but in the mining game they haul six trailer or more.
What's the scenery and the climate like,it is very large but it is the reverse to you December is the start of our summer so father Christmas is pulled by kangaroos not rain dear,in the south the climate is that the summer is hot and dry average temp is about 95 F with a lot of days over 100 F. and in the winter it is mild I have never see snow,the north has just two season the wet and the dry with an yearly average of 95f the middle of Australia is all ways dry and hot.
As to what you see driving in Australia near the coast there is normal farm land but in the Outback you do not know what you will see next,at night there are lots of kangaroos they are heavy on most roads that's why are truck have big bull bars on the front of the trucks it is not unusual to hit 2 or 3 on one trip they can do more damage than you think.
In the day you see a lot of wild life birds big eagle's and falcons Emus which are big flight less birds and snakes wombats which are bit like a fat dog dingo's all sorts of Australian wild life.
What kind of regulations for driving time,you can drive 4 hours with out stopping then you must stop for half of one hour and you can not drive for more than 12 hours in one day,but most driver break regulations every day driver's have a log book to fill out but that means nothing its called the book of lies.
These day a lot of trucking company run two drivers to each truck so one drives and the other rest that way they go straight though.
Where do we stop and fuel,most trucks have fuel for at lease one thousand miles because as you leave the big city's on the coast and head into the outback the price of fuel goes up and it makes a big different to the price,there are truck stops every 400 miles apart most of these a small compere to yours they seat ten or so people the food is home style cooking steak and eggs plus burgers and fry's what we call chips,simple food like that not conveyer belt food like Mc Donald's there for the city's,
the truck stops or what we call Road-House's are normally like little light house's in the middle of no were,some times there might be a little one horse town but most of the time there on there own.
The Wages are not to bad for Australian's around 700 a week the average wage in Australia is about 500 a week in Australian Dollars the Australian dollar is less than the U.S. Dollar.
The good part of doing the job is there is no boss looking over you shoulder and every trip is different you are so far away you have to do your own thing ,you have to be a jack of all trades if the truck stop you have to try and get it going by your self help is hundred's of miles away.
The bad part of the job is that you have a time table to keep up with and you are paid only when you are working,if you breakdown and have to wait for some one to come out hundred's of miles to get you going you do not get paid for the waiting time a good time to catch on your sleep.
All the photos I have taken my self, I am not the best at taking photos you can use any of my photos as you like.
I will be happy to answer your questions
Most trucks theses days are air conditioned and some trucks have small fridges.
There are two types of way the trips are done, most transport company's use two drivers for each truck.
Each driver takes turn driving and the other driver sleeps in the sleeper cab of the truck.
The trucks stops only for the drivers to get some thing to eat at a small road house or truck stop.
There are only a hand full of stops in thousands of kilometre trip.
Most drivers are on the road for two weeks then have a week off.
The other type of driving is the owner driver theses driver drive as many hours as the can twenty hours a day have a short sleep them off again.Driving the long trips are a very basic life stile there is not much to do but drive eat and sleep.
The road houses or truck stop are very small there is only room for about ten people to eat, theses places are not every small towns so there is no entertainment some of theirs place sell beer but you would not class them as a bar.
There are 3 small towns on the trip but theirs not much entertainment there.
Most of the truck drivers know each other there not many of them so there just hang out together at the best road houses or truck stop.
Is it possible to back a road train, the only time we back a road train is when we hook them up you have to back each of the trailers back onto each other.
The normal gross of a road train is 115 tonne,but their are some road train used in the mining game that gross 180 tonne.
The main problem specific to Road-Train is blowing truck tyres, if a car is passing a road-train when a tyre blows it like being shot by a bullet and a Road-Train can not stop, if there is livestock on the road which happens all the time we can not stop in time that's why we have those big bull bars on the front trucks.
Another big problem is drivers falling asleep at the wheel but most of the time they just run off the road and their is not much to hit so the driver just pulls back onto the road.
Most drivers that a company drivers get 4 weeks payed holidays, but the owner drivers can not afford this so they just keep going.
All Australian workers get a government pension at 65, but most truck drivers stop driving when they are about 45 by them they have had a gut full of the life style.
Part of our job is to tow the longest trucks on earth the Australia Road-train over one hundred and fifty feet long and more than one hundred tonne of load.
The Australia Road-train is the longest truck you will find driving on every day normal highways.
A large part of our Company's work is to drive thousand's of miles into the Outback of Australia and tow these massive rigs with there three or more forty four foot trailers, and tow them hundred's of miles to the nearest town where we unhook trailers so we can take the rig hundred's of mile to the big city's in the southern part of Australia to be fixed.
There are mobile workshops that go hundred's of miles into the Outback to fix the small jobs but if a rig blows a motor or gearbox there's no other way but to send a big wrecker into the heart of the Outback of Australia.
Because of the small population of our large state's were most of the people live near the sea the hart of Australia is almost empty of people so there is very little traffic and very few highways not like the U.S.
So you can drive hundred,s of miles and see just a hand full of cars in fact you see more rigs than cars.
A lot of fright has to go by road transport.As there's not the traffic of the U.S. there is not enough work for big wreckers in the small towns of the Outback so that is why we are stationed in the big city,our company would only do one big Outback job every two weeks but one of these long jobs takes two or more days.
The Australian Road-train was developed just after WW2 the rigs were old U.S. army rigs mainly diamond T's. there was no limit to the number of trailers you could pull in those days the trailers were only twenty foot long,they towed six to eight trailers at a time it used to take half an hour to get to a top speed of thirty miles per hour and to stop there were no brakes you just took your foot off the pedal and waited for it to stop on its own.
Today most of the Road-trains are three forty four foot trailers and travel at sixty miles per hour and they have full air breaking system.
I have spent a lot of time making a web site about big rig towing in the Outback as well as lot of photos of Australian Road-train plus lots of photos of the wreck we clean up hundreds of miles away from our depot in the city.Now I will answer you question.
How many Kilometres do we drive a day
We drive about one thousand kilometres a day this takes around fourteen hours, you have to keep in mind that we do not have many little towns to go though we drive hundred;s of kilometres between towns and no big highways with lots of cars.
I never worked out how many kilometres we drive a year but we do a lot.
How fast do we drive
There is a speed limit for all heavy trucks of one hundred kilometres per hour, but most drivers do about one hundred a ten kilometres per hour.
As we are in the middle of no were their are not many police to stop you, plus there is no speed limit on cars at all .
How many days do we work
Most drivers work on a two weeks driving and one week off at home.
Each day we drive about fourteen hours with short half hour stops about every five hundred kilometres.
were do drivers sleep
Most drivers sleep in the sleeper cabs of the truck
These days a lot of trucking companies run what we call two up, that's were each truck has two drivers one will drive wile the other driver sleeps in the sleeper cab of the truck.
What sort of problems do we have
The worse problem we have driving in the Outback is hitting wild animal and livestock.
If you look at a photo of our truck you will see the big bull bars on the front of the trucks.
We hit lots of Kangaroos which can be as tall as a man some people think they are small, but they will do a lot of damage to a car or truck.
Their are more kangaroos now than their was a hundred years ago, that is because water is pumped up from under ground to water cattle so the kangaroos have bred like wild fire.
The problem with cattle is that the cattle station ( ranchers ) are so big hundreds of square mile each they don't have fences so the cattle can be standing in the middle of the highway.
Driving at night is not a good idea because you never know what's in front of you, but if you have a bull bar its not too bad.
Is a trucker a lonely man
Most trucks have a CB radio so you can talk between trucks this way drivers can help each other out by letting ever body no of what's ahead like kangaroos on the road and if their are police around so they can watch their speed.
Most Road-Trains drive in convoys of about six trucks.
When drivers stop for a break at a truck stop most of them know each other.
What about a truck drivers family life
Their are family men on the long hauls, they doing the long hauls to get the money to buy a house.
The company like the family men they seem to have more sense and they do a good job.
Most of the younger single men do the short trips between the eastern city only about seven hundred kilometres a trip, so they have more time to party.
What do you like about the job
The best thing about the job is the freedom,you are out their on you own and its up to you to sort things out for your self.
That's the best thing about towing Road-trains is when we get a accident rollover and its up to me to sort out the mess and to get the wreck truck hundreds of kilometres back to the big city to be repaired.
Kingsley Foreman...

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