A few years ago, Faye Lougher wrote a Just Truckin’ Around on Micky Prendergast, who was driving the Mobile Health surgical unit truck that day. This time, Jimmy Wilson is the driver, and the Mobile Health 2001 Freightliner Argosy has been replaced with a 2020 Mercedes-Benz Actros 5.
Jimmy said the Freightliner had given nearly 20 years of service, and the Merc arrived late last year. “It took a bit of getting used to as the Freighty had a crash box, and this is a 12-speed auto,” he said. “It has a lot more horsepower – the old girl was 500, and this is 650.”
Although the truck is fitted with MirrorCam, Jimmy said they don’t like the system because the resolution isn’t there. “We’ve had external mirrors put on because you just can’t quite see by the time you get to the back of the trailer [the length of the unit is about 20m], or at night.”
Jimmy has been driving for 35 years. Like a couple of the other drivers who regularly transport the mobile theatre around the country, he was formerly a tour bus driver, then drove the lithotripsy bus in the South Island.
In Levin for the day, Jimmy was off to Hawera the following day, then on to Tokoroa, Taumarunui and Rotorua.
“I love the variety of work we get – it’s not just driving. We look after the equipment too. It keeps us on our toes.”
Jimmy proudly showed off the cab interior with all its modern technology. “It’s almost too smart, but we’re getting used to it.”
The biggest problem Jimmy encounters is the condition of New Zealand’s roads, saying they’re shocking.
When faced with the choice of Richard Pearse or the Wright Brothers, Jimmy said he’d have to go for Pearse – “he’s a Kiwi!”