KWCOOL: 2013 Kenworth K108E

By: Raymond Perrett, Photography by: Raymond Perrett

KWCOOL: 2013 Kenworth K108E KWCOOL: 2013 Kenworth K108E
KWCOOL: 2013 Kenworth K108E KWCOOL: 2013 Kenworth K108E
KWCOOL: 2013 Kenworth K108E KWCOOL: 2013 Kenworth K108E
KWCOOL: 2013 Kenworth K108E Matthew Barraclough. KWCOOL: 2013 Kenworth K108E
KWCOOL: 2013 Kenworth K108E Matthew chose the paint, while wife Daphne scored the naming rights. KWCOOL: 2013 Kenworth K108E
KWCOOL: 2013 Kenworth K108E KWCOOL: 2013 Kenworth K108E
KWCOOL: 2013 Kenworth K108E KWCOOL: 2013 Kenworth K108E
KWCOOL: 2013 Kenworth K108E KWCOOL: 2013 Kenworth K108E

KWCOOL, the winner of Peoples choice and Best Bling at the 2013 Hawke's Bay Truck Show, is a truck that always catches my eye.

After tracking down the owners, Matthew and Daphne Barraclough, I organised a ride in their 2013 K108E. A 3.30am start was well worth it to experience the improvements of the new generation Kenworth.

Staying true to tradition, there's the obligatory climb up the ladder rails and steps to enter the Kenworth at the side of the Hawke's Bay expressway. I'm a little gentle closing the very solid Kenworth door, not wanting to disturb the mirror position.

"You need to slam it, it's a Kenworth," says Matthew with a smile. Door secured we're on our way via the Taihape road to a logging site deep in the Kaweka ranges at Kuripapango. A road that really should have State Highway designation, the upper reaches only recently being tar sealed several years ago. Narrow in places with sharp odd-radius corners and the seal often ending at the left fog line mark, not a road to get anything wrong on.

The first thing I notice is how much quieter and comfy it is compared to CAT powered Kenworths I'd previously driven over a dozen years ago. No loud turbo whistle but still plenty enough noise coming through to hear exactly how healthy the engine is and monitor its performance with your ears as well as the gauges.

The steering column is adjustable although the driver's seat position still looks cramped, especially with the manual gear change lever so close to the seat. But this is a truck that is about pure function and reliability and a secure familiarity from one year's model to another.

It speaks volumes about the Kenworth brand's performance and reliability that buyers accept these minor shortcomings in the comfort stakes compared to the hotel-like comforts of European rivals.

With Matthew having previously owned a CF 85.510 DAF logger I was keen to hear the reasons behind his Kenworth decision.

"The DAF was pretty awesome to us in terms of reliability… and at the time I thought it was a pretty great truck," says Matthew. When it came time to replace the DAF there were a couple of options to consider.

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Western Star was looked at, but being well proven around the area for the type of work that is carried out, the Kenworth brand was the final choice.

"Kenworths are pretty well proven around our area for the type of work we do," says Matthew.

A credit to Matthew, the truck is still looking new after 20 months and 223,000km on the job. The longe-term business plan is based around a five year and 750,000-800,000km life cycle before selling.

Running empty up to the skid site with the trailer 'piggybacked' on the truck unit, the ride quality is superb for an 8x4, even over the bumpy sections of the road. Matthew credits the Kenworth load-share system on the front axles for this.

Turning around on the skid site before the loader lifts the trailer off has Matthew using every inch of ground available to execute a multipoint turn and reverse. The extra length from the sleeper cab makes itself known here but it's only a little extra turning needed.

"The truck itself is probably a bit of overkill for this job. But I spend more time in this than anything else," says Matthew, also commenting that the bunk is handy when there is a delay.

After lifting the trailer off, the loader operator at the skid site makes short work of loading. Matthew utilises an in-cab Pacific scales measuring unit to watch the weight loaded and asks the loader for just the right sized logs for the final part of the load. Fully loaded the unit is 44 tonne.

After chaining up we exit the site. Despite the soft track the Kenworth is sure footed with the cross-locks on the diffs engaged and the central tyre inflation system lowering the pressure to around 65psi. Controlled via a digital in-cab display it can be run as low as 30psi and pumped back up to 90-92psi for highway running.

Other trucks are accessing skid sites and quarries in the forest so Matthew is sure to call his presence via an analogue bush radio at each new road junction. You wouldn't want to be backing up for someone on these narrow steep forest tracks.

Back on the highway there are a few steep climbs before the descent to Napier. The Cummins Signature EGR 615 engine just soaks it all up and doesn't even sound like it's working hard, just business as usual. It's a long time before the engine fan kicks in and by then has certainly earned a little extra cooling. The cab floor is well insulated and no excess heat is entering the cab.

With 615hp on offer at 1800rpm and a massive 2050lb/ft (2779Nm) of torque at 1200rpm its takes a bit to challenge this engines capabilities. Downhill, a hefty 600hp of engine braking is available at 2100rpm although there is ample at a more friendly lower engine speeds from the big Cummins.

Kwcool _3

Keeping it old school, the power makes its way to the Rockwell diffs via a manual 18-speed Eaton Fuller Roadranger gearbox. Matthew says the 4.5 ratio diffs are a little low geared for highway running but will be just right when he eventually goes to 48 tonne.

I ask Matthew about Elvis riding along on the side of the cab, a nickname?

No he says, Daphne named the truck and she's an Elvis fan.

"I got to choose how it was painted, she got to name it." He also likes the idea of personalised plates. "Couldn't believe KWCOOL was still available so I took it," says Matthew.

As well as being responsible for keeping the legend of Elvis alive, Daphne also takes care of the day to day paperwork and dealing with the accountant.

"She does all the hard stuff, I just drive," says Matthew with a smile.

And speaking of driving, Matthew has been at it for 18 years. Like many others, his father also drove logging trucks and growing up in Bay View he got to see all the impressive gear often.

His first job was at local Harrap's Nurseries doing general work before Dave Harrap trained him up and put him through his licences when he turned 18. He started on one of their four wheeler Nissans delivering plants and from there moved into logging with two local operators, then about six years with Alan Forbes Transport Ltd.

From time to time Pan Pac invites existing drivers to become owner-drivers and in April 2010 Matthew acquired a CF DAF with the Paccar MX 510 engine.

"What I love about this job is going to places you wouldn't be able to otherwise. So many people don't know what they're missing," he comments as we admire the sunrise over Hawke's Bay while descending the Taihape road en route to Port of Napier.

As part of the 78-truck Pan Pac contractor fleet, KWCOOL operates anywhere from Masterton to Gisborne areas. At times the 35 contractor's fleets can roam as far as Wellington and Hicks Bay.

Well I can honestly say the new generation Kenworths have lifted the bar across the board while still staying true to their traditions.

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