UD PK9 Is The Perfect Mount For A Modern Day Drover

Monday, 28 September 2009 | Print

Gunnedah cattle truck operator Bryen Bates is proud to consider himself a modern day drover even though his mode of transport these days is a new UD PK10 and not a stock horse.

Bates comes from a long line of drovers and left school at 14 to travel the long paddock with his drover father, however these days he drives cattle to and from the Gunnedah sales yards in a whole lot more ease and comfort at the wheel of his UD.

After starting his own cattle cartage business 10 years ago Bryen Bates tried a number of different truck brands before acquiring his UD PK9 in February this year.

According to Bates the reason he chose UD was because of a better tare weight than competitive brands, good levels of comfort and performance, the professional approach of the J.T. Fossey dealership in Tamworth and a strong changeover price," he said.

"I considered all makes with a truck of this spec but it wasn't long, before I selected the UD PK9 model," he said, taking delivery in February this year and.

"It's the first UD I've owned and with just 7000 km on the clock it's still early days but it's doing everything right so far and the nine-speed gearbox is a really good thing, smooth with the right ratios whether you're crawling or cruising," Bryen added.

The Bates UD PK 9 is fitted with a 6.7 metre (tray and crate, and utilises leaf-springs rather than the air bag rear suspension on the similar PK10 model.

Making the UD package even more versatile is a 3.66 metre (12 ft) single-axle pig trailer which Bates utilises to meet increasing workloads.

The pig trailer allows Bates to push gross capacity to 23.5 tonnes and employs a clever air-operated 'slide-through' loading arrangement on the drawbar to allow the rear of the truck to be reversed almost flush against the front of the pig trailer allowing walk-through loading and unloading of the stock between truck and trailer. The controls for the sliding arrangement are located inside the cab at fingertip reach making it easy and convenient to use.

Bates says he is often asked why he sticks to a 4x2 rigid configuration but says there are a number of clear economic and efficiency advantages.

"There's not always the need for the trailer so it's easy to drop it and just run the truck but with a three-axle truck you're stuck with the extra capacity whether you need it or not. On top of that, it costs more to buy and running costs are higher."

"As far as I am concerned reliability is everything. You just have to be on time, all the time and everything I have heard about UD along with my experience over the last few months indicates there won't be a problem with the PK," said Bates.

"Roads are the killers around here and the cabs take a real hiding, we average about 120,000 km a year and there's a lot of off-road work but even the bitumen is ordinary and when you're expected to be somewhere at a certain time, you can't back off for every pothole so you just have to hammer along which certainly takes its toll," he adds

While some may believe the air suspension PK10 may have been a better choice for the poor road conditions Bryen Bates says the reason he chose steel suspension over air bags was because leaf springs are more stable particularly when carting livestock.

"Leaf springs are more stable for the work we handle and there's just less to go wrong in the middle of nowhere and quite frankly I think the ride is pretty terrific.

Bates is also extremely happy with the fuel consumption of the UD PK9 which is averaging around 3.3 kilometres per litre.

"The fuel efficiency is great and with a few more kilometres on board I reckon it will only get better," said Bates.

Born and bred in Gunnedah, Bryen Bates says when he decided to start his own stock haulage business he made a clear choice not to join the ranks of the long distance carriers, instead carving out a niche doing short haul work around the Gunnedah region.

"I'd been there, done that as a driver, and didn't want to go back to it, there is plenty of local work, specialising in smaller loads from landholders large and small, so I rarely have to venture more than 100 km from Gunnedah.

"I might pick up one or two head from one place, then a dozen from another, or a full load from one farm.

"It can all change from one day to the next and I work closely with the stock agents, but on Mondays when the sales are on in Gunnedah, I might end up doing eight or 10 loads in the day," he says.

"Then there's the runs across to the abattoirs at Coonabarabran and Tamworth, and the drought has meant a lot more work because cattle are moving from one place to another, either to agistment or saleyards, and there's been a fair bit of hay to move as well, so I keep pretty busy with out wandering too far from home," he adds.

"I suppose it is a bit like a cattle taxi," Bates laughs.

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