Easy does it

Todd Shipton’s regular run to Melbourne in Presna Transport’s 2013 Volvo FM13 is an easy one now with bypasses along the Hume. Peter and Di Schlenk write

Easy does it
Todd Shipton is happy being a driver after experiencing life as a truck owner


Todd Shipton knows what exactly where he’ll be each week, and that suits him just fine.

Driving a Volvo FM13 for Presna Transport Services out of Australia’s cherry capital Young, New South Wales, Todd’s regular run is down to Melbourne and back.

"I’ve been with Presna for 14 years and I know what I am doing all the time, and that makes it pretty good," he says.

Todd says that manager Michael Ricketts is a good bloke to work for, although he adds that with many long-term relationships there have been moments.

"We have the occasional run in but respect each other and move on," he says.

"Once I get home I don’t touch the truck. I just pull into the yard, fuel it up, park it, they unload and load it for the following day.

"I head off about 4:30 in the afternoon to return to Melbourne."

The run between Melbourne and Young is 600kms. Todd says in previous years he’d go through Wagga Wagga but now with the Hume bypassing Holbrook and Tarcutta, he shoots straight back up the Hume, turning off at Coolac with the final run home only 90km.

"I’m on the Hume Highway the vast majority of the time and the 600km is very easy.

"I can either make it all the way down or stop at 11, so I can get my seven hour break every night."

With road works occurring everywhere in Melbourne, Todd says it doesn’t matter if he arrives in the middle of the night or the next day when the traffic can be a problem.

The Volvo which Todd drives is an FM13 model with a 450hp Euro 5 engine and a Volvo I-shift 12-speed auto gearbox.

"I drove a truck around Melbourne with the gear stick the other day while mine was being repaired," he smiles.

"I thought it was going to be interesting getting back into the gearstick thing again but it was no worries.

"It was just like riding a bike. You just keep changing gears like you have done it every day of your life."

However, he admits that he’s become used to the auto. "I don’t mind it," he adds.

While Todd says the Volvo is lacking a bit as far as grunt is concerned, the majority of his loads out of Melbourne are around the 12 tonne mark.

"It’s fully loaded both ways. Half the time coming down I would be 42 and a half tonne and it’s not until you are right up on your weight that you notice it a little bit."

The Presna fleet is made up of 10 trucks, predominantly Kenworths in addition to three identical Volvos.

"I’m quite happy to be driving the Volvo; doing what I am doing. The Volvo is three years old now but basically as far as the job goes, they are not too bad.

"Except for a few teething problems, it has been fairly trouble free. It’s a nice comfortable little truck."

Todd points out that he only sleeps in the rig every second night.

"There is not a huge amount of room in them," he says. "If you were away from home all week you would definitely lack a bit of room."

Generally Todd pulls up at Avenel, just north of Melbourne on his way home and picks up a couple of roast beef salad rolls, has a 15 minute break and then continues on to Young.

Todd has mainly lived in the vicinity of Young and went to school in Cootamundra, Young and Warren.

His father Paul Shipton bought a truck when Todd was 20.

"I just got the bug and from there away I went. I kicked off with dad and then went down to the police station in Warren, completed the paperwork and the officer said they wouldn’t worry about the test.

"He had seen me driving around town," Todd recalls. "They were the good old days."

Paul’s first truck was a 3070 ACCO with a 903 Cummins and nine-speed ’box. He worked locally doing the harvests and carting cotton out of Warren up to Cargill Australia’s plant in Narrabri.

"It wasn’t too bad. We kept the ACCO running 24 hours a day and changed over day and night shift," Todd explains.

"Unfortunately there aren’t many 3070 ACCOs around these days; even the farmers have passed them on."

Todd then drove for J&P Molloy in Young before buying an International T-line 2670 and becoming an owner-driver for 10 years.

"That was a very good truck; it was built heavy duty with 44,000lb diffs, double chassis rails and heavy duty gearbox. I ended up selling it to dad when I bought a 3600 S-Line."

Todd operated the S-Line for six years but with the GST looming, he decided to give the owner-driver game away.

"I had a break from trucks altogether for a while before getting back on the road as driver," Todd smiles.

"I enjoy the job but if someone handed me a heap of money tomorrow I could possibly leave and not miss it," Todd says. "But I’m still happy doing it."

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