Whether you’re describing the operation itself or the driver’s comparison between this month’s Top Truck and its predecessor, the answer is the same.
Photo: Another Mouat Scania. Long may it continue!
“It’s a bucket list thing for me. To have my truck in a trucking mag. I’ve been excited about this all week,” laughs Conway ‘Con’ Keilman. The 51-year-old glass-half-full trucker was Kapiti born and raised, but today he’s happy to call the Waikato town of Taupiri home, where he lives in a lovely house surrounded by trees and a paddock with wife Karla, and sons Dante and Kaleb.
Having driven trucks since before he legally could, Con reckons he’s reached the pinnacle with his latest ride, the Scania R620 recently added to the one-make Haz Haulage fleet of Mainfreight contactors Nigel and Fiona Mouat. Haz Haulage says it all really, and like its workmates the big Swede is decked out in Chemcouriers livery with the famous Mouat Rotties emblazoned on its air deflector kit.
The truck is double-shifted, with Con delivering the specialist DG freight into the Bay of Plenty, Waikato, Taupo, or Northland areas by day, and when big yellow dips under the horizon, shift partner Chris Raina usually tackles some metro transfers before heading for Rotorua.
Photos: The high(line) life. The big Scania’s environs and driver aids make operation “effortless” according to Con.
“We’ve been doing this for 27-odd years,” said Nigel. “The Scanias began when the Mitsubishi I was running right back at the start did two motors in 12 months and we thought ‘this can’t go on’. We were in it for the long term, so I took the plunge and bought the first new Scania on a full maintenance plan in 2000. Only the Euros were doing those plans then, and I wanted peace of mind. That’s it really. Been with them ever since. They’re beautiful machines to operate, the drivers love them.”
The NTG R620 replaced an existing R620 and Con said there’s no comparison between the trucks. “Don’t get me wrong for a moment, the old girl is a beautiful truck and anyone would be thrilled to drive it, but these new ones, mate, they’re just next level. Comfort, visibility; just completely effortless driving. I mean, look at this for an office, blended brakes and retarder, adaptive cruise, it’s even got a heated or cooled seat! I can have a hot arse or a cold one,” he laughs.
Photo: It’s a night and day operation. Chris Raina has been to Rotorua and left the truck on the dock for Con’s day run. She’s a well oiled operation.
The new truck runs the Euro 5 DC16 115 L01 15.6-litre V8 engine, at 463kW (620hp) and 3000Nm (2213lb/ft) of torque. Behind the OEM’s hallmark big banger is the GRSO905R 14-speed Opticruise AMT transmission, with the AMS640S front axles and AD400SA rears both riding on air. The truck features an air deflector, drop visor, Kelsa bar, spotlights, and Alcoa Dura-Bright wheels.
Inside the cavernous Highline cab there are those heated and cooled leather seats with the V8 logo embossed into their backrests, a fridge, and all the usual creature comforts you’d expect to find in a big Scania. There’s also a Guardian Seeing Eye machine for additional safety, which Con is perfectly happy to have in the cab. “The trucks are on the go night and day and after all it’s only there to eliminate risk and prevent problems. Na, she’s all good with me.”
Photo: Con Keilman. The photo tells it all. Life is great!
At some point late this year or early next, the faithful old 4-axle trailer behind the Scania is due for replacement with a new Roadmaster 5-axle unit. Con’s been with the Mouats for four years and having worked in trucking all his life, including an eight year stint with Fonterra, he can’t speak highly enough of his employers. “Once or twice in your career you work for people like them. They’re generous and genuinely care about their staff, and they provide great gear. That’s straight up.”