Feature Articles

Toeing the line

It’s interesting to discover what motivates people to choose a particular brand of component over another seemingly similar one.

With emotional purchases, such as cars, brand loyalty above all else can play a big part in the purchasing decision. But when it comes to the brutally competitive field of commercial road transport, most operators choose the product they deem will go the furthest distance with the least amount of issues. Quite literally, their livelihood depends on consistently turning a profit and not having it swallowed up by unforeseen repairs to or replacement of equipment.

Past experience and the trusted advice of other experienced operators are often predicating factors in equipment purchasing decisions.

Lewis Truckin was established by Daniel Lewis in 2014 at Nowra on the south coast of NSW. The diverse workload largely revolves around the quarry industry, with a bit of agricultural work in the form of fertiliser pellet delivery to farms thrown in for good measure.

Starting with a Kenworth T408 tipper and three-axle dog – complete with BPW Transpec drum brake axles – Daniel quickly learned the value of not having to ‘babysit’ what are essentially some of the most important parts of a trailer – the components that carry the weight and keep the wheels revolving in their correct locations.

“It’s done 1.2 million kilometres now and is still going strong,” Daniel says. “I’m very impressed with the quality of the axles and the ease of availability of parts when they are needed – which I’ve found to be very rarely,” he adds.

Having had such a great run from the BPW Transpec drum brake axles might seem like a perfect reason to order the same again on newer trailers, but Daniel, for a number of reasons, decided to go with the more modern technology of BPW Transpec disc brake axles on his three most recently acquired Sloanebuilt trailers, including the latest Performance-Based Standards approved five-axle dog.

“A few years ago I bought a second-hand T409 SAR and four-axle dog equipped with BPW disc brakes and I was super impressed with the powerful stopping performance and how easy it was to check the pads for wear and change them when required,” Daniel says.

He contends that his line of work being mostly on-highway and quarry is kinder to disc brakes than other applications such as coal hauling where the requirement to drive through a wheel wash before leaving a site can lead to rotor cracking due to the sudden cooling effect of water on hot components.

Daniel is also no stranger to the benefits of disc brakes on smaller vehicles, as in his younger years he raced go-karts, Formula Fords and motorbikes where disc brakes were always the number one choice.

“It’s easy to keep an eye on how much lining is on the pads and they are straightforward to change,” he says. “I’ve been told that the maintenance costs are a bit higher than drums because of the need to change the rotors roughly every third pad change, but for me the performance when you need to pull up in a hurry and the fact that they feel good under your foot are significant advantages of discs compared to drums.”

Daniel adds that his philosophy is to buy what he perceives to be the best quality products in both truck and trailer realms.

“I like Kenworth trucks, Cummins engines and BPW axles on Sloanebuilt trailers – things that last a long time and that people want to buy when it’s time to sell,” he says. “Where we are based parts for these products are easy to get hold of because they are popular – everybody has them.”

Daniel has been operating heavy machinery for most of his life thanks to his father who has owned an earthmoving business and tippers based at Ulladulla for the last 40 years.

Before starting his own business, Daniel did FIFO (fly in-fly out) work operating heavy earthmoving machinery in the WA mines and also on a big pipeline contract in Queensland.

“I came back and decided to buy the Kenworth T408 SAR and three-axle dog and started working for a bloke I knew who owned a quarry,” he says. “It all sort of just happened and before I knew it the business had grown to six trucks and here we are today.

“I probably couldn’t have picked a harder industry to start in – you have to spend a lot of money and there are a lot of overheads but if you manage it right you can make a career out of it.”

Manage it right Daniel certainly has. With the help of good drivers and good equipment – including BPW Transpec disc brake axle equipped Sloanebuilt trailers – the business looks set to continue kicking goals well into the future.

Fast Fact
For Daniel Lewis, owner of Lewis Truckin, BPW disc brake axles on Sloanebuilt dog trailers are providing surefooted stopping power and simplified inspection and maintenance regimes.

Fast Fact
The Ringfeder 303AUS AM/RL air release coupling fitted to the T909 Kenworth makes uncoupling a breeze according to Lewis Truckin owner, Daniel Lewis.

“The air-operated Ringfeder is amazing,” Daniel says. “The manual release versions can be a bit tight and hard to release if the truck and trailer are parked on uneven ground. Sometimes you need another person to put weight on the handle while you rock the truck back and forth to make the pin pop up. The system is very simple yet effective as it uses the air pressure that releases the maxi brakes on the trailer to provide a 3.0kN force that easily retracts the pin.”

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