Day Tripper: Jim Turner

By: Peter and Di Schlenk


Jim Turner swapped long-haul trips for local tipper work, with the added advantage of driving a Kenworth K200 since new. Peter and Di Schlenk write

Day Tripper: Jim Turner
Jim Turner has driven TRN Group’s Kenworth K200 since new.

 

Jim Turner, who drives for the TRN Group out of Narellan, NSW, doesn’t mind offering advice insofar as what is the right truck for the job.

Currently driving a Kenworth K200 hauling a set of Muscat Asterion tri-axle stag trailers for the family‑owned business, Jim was previously behind the wheel of a Kenworth T408 SAR up front of a set of bogie stag tippers.

When it came time for TRN to introduce the Muscat trailers for its quarry runs, Jim sensed that the business owners were uncertain on a suitable model.

‘I said they should consider a cab-over as some of the concrete plants they go to are a bit tight," he says.

Jim was familiar with cab-overs from his time driving for Scarcella Transport.

The TRN K200 clocks up 800 kilometres each day, with Jim doing three road trips from Narellan to Marulan and then down to Smeaton Grange.

"It’s the best truck I have ever driven," he smiles.

"I was hoping for an Aerodyne but now with the flat roof it lines up nicely with the top of the trailers. It looks neat like a complete unit."

A Cummins E5 set at 615hp lies under the cab.

"It’s not too bad," Jim says.

"You could always have more horsepower, but every driver says that."

He explains that the rig grosses 68.5 tonnes, and although it works hard running into Sydney, it manages the task pretty well.

"I’ve never had anything to do with EGR engines," Jim continues.

"My previous truck, the SAR, had a C15 Caterpillar Acert."

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Jim’s regular day begins at 4.30am, and he’s back in the yard around 5pm each afternoon with the majority of the run up and down the Hume Highway.

Starting early means he misses peak hour traffic, although he admits Sydney’s traffic isn’t getting any lighter.

"It’s all freeway, like a billiard table, nice and smooth," he says of the Hume.

Jim adds that the comfort of the K200 makes life easier, a big change from the old K104s and K108s that he has driven in the past.

Buses to long haul

Years earlier, Jim had completed his mechanic’s apprenticeship.

However, it was while on an overseas trip that he began thinking of a career change.

"I thought driving coaches would be a good idea as I would always be on a holiday," he smiles.

"So I got my bus licence at 21 and started driving route buses at Camden in outer Sydney."

Around the same time, Jim began doing Friday night runs to Dubbo for Scarcella Transport. Eventually, a full time position became available for the taking.

"After seven years of route buses, I went driving interstate, mainly Sydney to Melbourne," Jim recalls.

"I did one trip to Darwin with a road train, but it was mostly up and down the Hume.

"After two and a half years of that it got a bit much so I came up and saw the guys at TRN.

"I explained that I had never done any tipper work, nor had any experience with tippers at all.

"Their reply was that if I could do Scarcella’s work, I could handle theirs.

"More than 13 years later I can say it’s the best job I have ever had."

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Jim says TRN is a company that makes a point of looking after its people.

"It’s a very simple philosophy – you look after them and the equipment and they will do the right thing by you," he says.

Jim explains that the TRN name comes from the three brothers who started the business — Terry, Ron and Neil Fordham.

Unfortunately, Ron passed away a couple of years ago, around the same time as the K200 was being delivered.

"The truck was at Ron’s funeral," Jim recalls fondly.

"It was a nice touch to have it there with the traditional beige colour."

Bonnets hold sway

Starting out in 1966, TRN Group now employs over 300 people, operating 40 trucks with the majority of work centring around earthmoving and civil works.

The fleet is a mix of predominantly North American makes, with Macks, Western Stars and Kenworths featuring, although Jim’s K200 rig is the only cab‑over in the fleet.

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Jim carts out of the Gunlake Quarry, which he says is spot on with loading and axle weights.

"You couldn’t ask for a better set-up," he says.

"Up until recently the truck would pass over the bridges at Marulan six times a day, but now there is a new road out of the quarry and onto the Hume."

Marulan is better known for its Roads and Maritime Services’ (RMS) heavy vehicle checking stations, however Jim says he does not have a bad word to say about the RMS boys.

"They always smile and wave," he grins.

"We have been coming down here for four years now and they’ve got to know us."

The K200 has notched up more than 350,000km since its arrival at TRM as new in 2013.

With the exception of an air-conditioner cooling leak, Jim says the truck has remained trouble free.

"I think I have a dream job," he adds.

"TRN pay well and I get to drive a K200."

 

In Brief

Name: Jim Turner

Company: TRN Group

Truck: 2013 Kenworth K200

Engine: 615hp Cummins E5

Transmission: 18-speed Roadranger

Freight carried: Quarry material

 

 

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