VIDEO: Hino 2627


Skyrise Hire is based in Penrose and specialises in access solutions. They supply everything from self-powered scissor lift platforms and articulated booms, to dedicated aerial platform trucks. The aim is to get workers safely to and from those hard to reach places. After their trusty old 1997 Hino six-wheeler transporter had a fatal incident, they decided to replace it with a medium wheelbase Hino FM8JRKG-WGN 6x4 with an Allison 3500 series automatic transmission with double overdrive, typically aimed at waste collection or cement distribution. As it’s turned out, the spec might be damn near perfect for the company’s needs.

Boss Motorbodies was the nearest body builder when Skyrise Hire was based in East Tamaki and, once again lucky for Ryan, it could squeeze the build in quickly. Ryan says, "Marin, Mike, and the team at Boss Motorbodies were awesome to deal with. They listened to what we needed and worked with us step by step to get it done. I supplied the 18,000lb Superwinch and Powerbeam 1000 LED worklights, which I got from TWL, and the guys at Boss fitted it all up. I'm really happy with the result."

The drive

The Skyrise Hire driver couldn't be more complimentary. He says, "It's a pleasure to drive, mate. I just love it — especially the auto, once I got used to it. It's only done around 3000km, so it's not even broken in yet."

We loaded up a Genie boom lift, which, at around 7500kg, we figured would give us a decent impression of how the Hino transporter performs.

My first impression is the wheelbase and deck look a bit shorter and higher than you'd normally expect from a machinery transporter, however Ryan says, "Boss Motorbodies painstakingly measured all the machines and worked it all out."

The end result is a truck that easily manoeuvres around town, whilst comfortably carrying all but one of the machines available for hire. With the Genie boom lift chained on, it starts to make more sense. The truck looks like it was custom made for it... probably because it was.

Interior

Getting in the cab is easy using the two well-placed steps and grab-handles. The interior has a welcoming, still reasonably modern, almost car-like feel. The driver seat isn't the best but it's more than adequate. You can adjust the steering column to suit almost any driver shape or size, so it's quick and easy to get comfortable.

The mirrors seem huge (so big in fact, the main mirror on the left is taller than the door window) and have flat, heated, and in-cab adjustable glass in the main housings. The blindspot mirrors each side are also huge and help give a panoramic view. One slight issue is the left mirror set produced a very loud whistle. I'm sure Hino will address this at the first service, if the driver doesn't fix it himself first.

The company's driver says he preferred to operate the transmission manually, but I found selecting 'D' and letting it do its thing worked perfectly, both up and down the transmission. However, I only briefly drove it with the 7500kg load on.

The test

Leaving the Skyrise Hire depot, the first thing I notice is the silky smoothness of the transmission. The Allison 3500 series automatic allows you to gently squeeze on the power and glide away, quickly getting up to speed with the surrounding traffic. Absolutely brilliant for start-stop metro work and this is exactly what this truck will spend its days doing. The Hino engineers have done a great job of matching the engine, transmission, and driveline. On the motorway the revs got up to around 2100rpm at around 90kph, which is better than I had expected. Some automatics are very high revving at highway speeds, but this one, with its double overdrive, wasn't too bad, so it should be pretty good on fuel.

There was a slight vibration somewhere in the driveline at very low speeds (sub 30kph), which was disconcerting, however, I'm not overly familiar with driving the Allison auto, so it may be nothing.

Brakes were outstanding. I had to be gentle on the pedal as it was very light and almost car-like to use. The exhaust brake was effective enough to encourage use, which is more than can be said for some older trucks.

Ryan specifically chose air rear suspension to help keep the ride height down and allow them to lower the rear suspension, to assist the ramp angle if required. The FM Hino feels surefooted with the 7500kg Genie on the back, the ride is smooth and steady, and the truck feels smaller than it actually is. With around 190kW (260hp) and 754Nm (585lb/ft) max torque, it's not going to win any races up the hills, but nor should it.

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