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Tipping into the Scania Way


After 34-years as an owner-driver devoted to American trucks, Newcastle’s Phillip Meharg tried a Scania V8 in 2020. He loved it so much he’s just taken delivery of its replacement, a Scania R 770 V8.

In the heart of COVID, Meharg took delivery of a new Scania R 650 V8 tipper to pull a quad-axle dog for his regular contracts hauling magnetite from Newcastle to mines in New South Wales as well as Queensland.

His other regular work included hauling coal, mulch, sand, gypsum and even compost, though by 2023, the majority of the time spent on the road was hauling magnetite for Kara Magnetite, Kooragang Island.

Four years on from the debut of the R 650 and with 620,000 km on the clock, Meharg took the plunge on another truck, upgrading to a 770 hp Scania V8.

“The 650 has been fantastic,” Phillip says. “Scania has looked after me very well. The truck is unique in that I haven’t seen another 650 tipper with quad-axle dog and people are constantly asking me about it and how it is going.

“When I took delivery of the 650 V8 in mid 2020, I said that I would be happy with fuel burn of around 2 km per litre, which would have been a meaningful improvement over the American truck I was previously using which returned between 1.6- and 1.8-km per litre.

“After 620,000 km I can say that the Scania delivered on this expectation, never under 2-km per litre and often as much as 2.2-km per litre, depending on where we were carting. All the work we do is pretty hilly, so the truck was working hard. It wasn’t cruising a smooth flat blacktop.”

In addition to the fuel burn improvement, which has had a positive effect on Phillip’s bottom line, he also opted for the Scania Repair and Maintenance contract for five years, which meant he had nothing to worry about if anything on the truck broke, and he had full visibility of his maintenance costs for five years.

“When I bought the 650, I wasn’t sure how the R&M contact would work out, but it has been very successful for me, and I have had no hesitation in going with it again on the new truck. The peace-of-mind is great, and there have been no surprises. It was a big step, but you have got to make the change,” he says.

“The Scania crew have been very efficient at both organising my servicing, and preventative maintenance for my vehicle. They have replaced al the oils and fluids at the correct time, even diff oil and retarder fluid, which is something you might overlook if you were doing your own maintenance,” Phillip says.

“I was amazed at how few issues there were and how little work needed to be done on the truck compared with previous trucks I have owned. Even the brakes are still at 75 per cent and 78 per cent of life, and that’s thanks to the retarder. The Scania retarder has also enhanced tyre life, which is another saving on running costs, plus it increases valuable uptime.

“Unlike my mates with American trucks I haven’t had to pay for replacements to wheel-bearings or diff-rod bushes or even for a new gearbox, which they have incurred over the same period as I have been driving the 650. Everyone has been asking how the Scania has been going, and some have got the message and have shifted to Scania,” he says.

The V8 power of the Scania’s comes in handy when hauling magnetite to the mines.

Meharg has also been impressed with the way the Scania combination handled on the road.

“I have a full air front end and I thought I might lean a bit or wallow in the turns, but the computer-controlled suspension responds so quickly, there’s no sway, which is good for ride quality and also reduces tyre wear. The driving experience has been very relaxing, especially compared with my old trucks.

“In the old days I would hop out of the truck after getting home and walk across the paddock to the house, and my wife would chide me to stand-up straight, I was that dog-tired, but with the Scania I still feel fresh, even at the end of an 800 km day.

“A while back I left Newcastle for Brisbane and then went out to Warwick and didn’t feel a bit fatigued. You have to experience this to believe it,” he says.

“About a year ago I went to the Anglesea proving ground and drove the new Scania truck range, and I really was impressed by the 770 V8.

“With the new truck I ordered a new five-axle dog from Sloanebuilt Trailers who manufactured the tipper body and dog that I used with the 650.

“The new tipper body and dog have been sprayed in matching silver to the truck, and even the guards, etc., are all colour-coded so the visual effect is bold and beautiful. I have transferred the ‘Scania’ rego plate to the new truck and the trailer wears ‘R770V8’ plates.

“The AJ’s bull bar is good looking as well, and it really sets of the truck. I now have all the permits and I can’t wait to get the first load on..

“I expect that the fuel will be largely similar to the 650, allowing for the extra weight running at 63-tonnes gross, compared with 57.5-tonnes with the 650, but the truck will do it easily.

“In the 650, running at 100 km/h you’re turning over at just 1100 pm, but there’s so much torque that you just cruise up hills fully laden, then the retarder does all the work on the way back down, keeping the speed exactly under control.

“Sometimes coming off big hills such as Mount Ousley Road in Wollongong, after I’ve arrived at Port Kembla and touched the trailer hubs, they were all cold, the service brakes hadn’t been used at all, it was just the retarder all the way down the hill at 38 km/h,” Phillip says. “The retarder really is terrific.”

“You can just drive the Scania with a finger on the cruise control button and one on the downhill speed control.”

Phillip Meharg is a big fan of the look, the feel, and the power offered by Scania’s V8 trucks.

The new R 770 follows the superseded R 650 in having a luxurious leather lined interior.

This time Phillip has opted for a cab cooler/heater system, as he spends quite a few nights in the bunk, and he’s also opted for some clear film on the front to resist stone chips.

His trademark blue and red stripes have been reinterpreted again, and there is reflective safety tape over the trailer and tipper body, to be compliant with mine access requirements.

“Sloanebuilt have definitely exceeded my expectations in customising my new bin and trailer. They’ve done an excellent job finishing them inside with a special paint to allow the magnetite to slide out more quickly,” Meharg says.

“With the five-axle dog, the third axle lifts, which should save some wear and tear when running empty. AirTarps have done a great job fitting fully sealed, waterproof tarps to pelmets on both bins.

“The paint job and the overall appearance of the combination has already stirred up a lot of interest and I can’t wait to get out on the road.”

Scania new truck account manager for central New South Wales, Butch Quin, says he is also excited to see the new 770 V8 hitting the road.

“The previous 650 V8 was a distinctive truck, and the new one is just as bold,” Quin says.

“I am confident Phillip will enjoy his time behind the wheel of 770 hp, who wouldn’t? Based on the experience he had with the 650 V8 coping extremely well with his heavy hauling, and returning impressive fuel economy, smooth handling and of course all the active and passive safety features that make the Scania the safest truck on the road, we look forward to Phillip enjoying the next five years just as much, behind the wheel of the Scania King of the Road.”

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