|Eleven Day Trip.|
____ The two Kenworths could not have been more different, in fact the only thing they had in common was the same constant-mesh 13 speed gearbox. If one word describes the W900, it is "Raw." Loud, draughty, harsh and no consideration to any aero-dynamics, emission control or speed limitation. "Chamfered" is the word for the T680; every angle designed to cut through the air with maximum efficiency. No sun-visor but it does have a DEF tank and all the latest technology to cut emissions; the first North American truck that I have driven with no stack up the back.
____ The low-line exhaust comes from a Paccar diesel engine that had it's design roots in Holland at the DAF Eindhoven factory. The interior is very similar to the big roomy Volvo cab; full width, full height and a pleasing lack of squeaks and creaks among the multitude of grey plastic storage cabinets and drawers. I feel that the build quality of a vehicle can be determined by a good slam of the drivers door. The Kenworth's closed with a smooth, precise and impressive clunk that reminded me of something German from the 1970s. I instantly thought I was going to like the smoothness and the quiet of the T680, but would have preferred the rock-solid W900 as I left the yard in near white-out conditions with the wind madly rocking the softly sprung cab.
____ Just 16 months old with 340,000 kilometres on the clock; but the 425 bhp Paccar engine found it hard work with a load of paper that was so heavy that I needed to run with half-empty fuel tanks. Three days down to Laredo, delivering to a warehouse in the old industrial area; near the cotton transfer sheds, not far from Downtown and a stones throw from the Rio Grande. The guy who unloaded me came from Mexico, everyday crossing the river and going through US Customs before catching a bus to his workplace. He didn't arrive until 10.30; saying the lines were long, but he got stuck-in and had the reels off the trailer in twenty minutes.
____ A pre-loaded trailer was waiting at the newer industrial sector at Junction 13; a straight swap, furniture for Calgary. Just mental Friday traffic on Interstate 35 all the way to Salado; where I lost interest in the fight. The Tuesday afternoon delivery appointment gave me plenty of time. An Amarillo Saturday night with Sunday evening at Casper, Wyoming. Forty-seven states will look at the IFTA sticker on the side of a truck and know that the company has paid their fuel-tax bills. But Wyoming is the only one that wants to look at the IFTA permit in very truck's licence book. Every heavy vehicle has to come off the highway and pull into a Wyoming Port of Entry when ever they enter or leave the state. The operatives work 24/7 in checking paperwork that no-one else is interested in. They might think they are doing valuable work but the waste of time and fuel caused be Wyoming Highway Patrol is astronomical when the total of all the trucks in one year is added together.
____ Bitter and twisted? You bet. Ruby Truck Line #116 has 2017 IFTA stickers but no valid permit in the licence book. Not the sort of thing that is high on your check-list when you are changing trucks in seriously sub-zero temperatures. Fifteen dollars for a 96 hour temporary permit and an hours wait behind the over-size load guys while they fork out for their trips. Out of Wyoming and it's pronghorns, into Montana where the herds of Black Angus are calving a-plenty. No barn, no cowboy, no veterinarian; just wide-open snow-swept grassland. A tough start to a tough life that yields tender beef.
____ Calgary is not a quick tip, as the sight of a hand-ball load is off-putting to the RDC operatives. But it is rapid when compared to the reload at Acheson, near Edmonton. Seven hours waiting, while wood-chips are bagged and palletised. An extra day on the trip, which finishes with a delivery at Niverville and the weather is not much different from when I left; snow flurries and ice on all untreated surfaces. Number 94 is out of the workshop and waiting for my next trip; so goodbye to #116 which never showed a check-engine light the whole time I had it.
|Ruby Truck Line #116 : 2015 Kenworth T680|
|Lining up in the rain at the inland border patrol check-point north of Laredo, Texas.|
|Big sleeper trucks x 2|
|Coal train : I like trains.|
|Big Sky Country Montana|