Jump to content

Robby's Kenworth T359 a retirement rig


Recommended Posts

Owner-Driver  /  July 6, 2017

Robby Votino beat the transport industry syndrome of 'no experience, no job' by obtaining his roadtrain licence in the Moomba gas fields.

Robby Votino reckons he has two vital assets in his owner-driver operation. The first is his wife Claudia, who not only looks after the books but helps clean the truck as well.

The second his Kenworth T359 which Robby bought brand new and brand new. It’s more than just a truck; he reckons the Kenny will see him out to retirement.

Subcontracting to Boral, Robby carts asphalt and quarry products with a couple of Hamelex White tippers.

Robby returned to the tipper game after six years as a diesel mechanic in Karratha. But the urge to get behind the wheel was there, despite the usual obstacles that came part and parcel with the transport industry.

"When I finished my trade I went for my semi licence but was unable to get a driving job because of having no experience. So I got a job with Halliburton doing fly in/ fly out in the Moomba gas fields."

That was in 1996, when he drove his first Kenworth, a C500. During his time at Moomba, Halliburton bought a fleet of Kenworth T950s.

"I got my road train ticket with Halliburton as an operator on hydraulic fracking and we would need to move up to 15 trailers each setup and operation. The road trains cut down the trips.

"They put us through our road train tickets – that was great. It was good experience."

Robby left Halliburton in 2003 when his wife Claudia fell pregnant. He bought a truck, an old Ford LTS 4000, which he used to work on as an apprentice mechanic. He found work with the Ford in a sand and metal yard.

"That’s how I got into the business," he explains. "I had a lot of breakdowns with the old Ford so I decided to go new.

"I’d seen the T350s on agitators so I went down to Kenworth and looked at the brochure. I just thought ‘wow’!"

The result was a T350 tandem tipper. Robby later bought himself a little 2-axle pig trailer from Adelaide-based specialised transport equipment manufacturer Barry Stoodley.

"It was only a 300hp C10 and was underpowered with the trailer, so I sold that and bought another one with a Cat C12 with a bit more horsepower," he says.

Robby kept that Kenworth for six years until he decided to get back into mining.

Up in Karratha, Robby was working two weeks on, one week off; one week day shift, one week night shift, and then home for a week.

"It was a good experience," he recalls. "At the end of the day, because you are putting in the hours, it’s very fatiguing and you need the week home to recover."

Robby never thought he’d get back into the tipper industry, always believing he’d retire after his career in mining.

"With the family, I was after job security so you go back to what you know," he says.

"I knew I was going to buy another Kenworth. I know they work, their reliability, they are cheap to maintain, but I priced up three other trucks as well." The T359 ticked all the right boxes.

"It had a light tare weight of 9.6-tonne, excellent visibility, and it was an extremely comfortable and easy truck to drive."

Robby’s three Kenworths have been bought through CMV in Adelaide, each time dealing with salesman Bob Malusa.

"Bob and I have actually become good friends; I have a lot of respect for him and his family."

The T359 has a 440hp Cummins ISMe5 coupled to a Fuller 18-speed UltraShift Plus on Kenworth Air-ride 460 rear suspension.

"All of my trucks have been autos; for around town you just can’t beat them," Robby says. "The technology is so good. This one doesn’t have a clutch and I tell you it is amazing."

Another factor that impresses Robby is that the T359 comes with engine brake and cruise control on the steering wheel.

"They have come a long way since the T350," he continues. "The finish inside the cab is beautiful; there’s gold trimming around the gauges and I custom built this with black interior.

"The grab handles in the cab are great and there is no effort required to get into the cab. The steps are wide and easy to negotiate."

Robby worked as a diesel mechanic for Cummins in Karratha so it made sense to have Cummins in the new truck.

"It’s a beautiful little engine, great on fuel and not as noisy. It does a great job and pulls up the Adelaide Hills without a problem," he says.

"The resale on these is great, you can’t beat them," he smiles. "But I know that this truck would see me through to retirement – and I’m only 43."


image 1.jpg

image 2.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...