The timber industry represents a unique proving ground for Kenworth trucks.
“It’s hard to put into words what the trucks go through. They really get worked over,” explained Greg Pellham, president of Pellham Cutting, Inc., a logging and trucking operation out of St. Helens, Oregon. Pellham’s fleet comprises 24 Kenworths, including seven of the latest Kenworth T880 models.
“For the most part, we’re not driving on pavement. We can be off road as far as 25 miles, and that's on 'roads' with surfaces ranging from dirt and clay to unprocessed ‘pit run’ gravel,” said Pellham. “There are dramatic elevation changes, and roads can be narrow with sharp turns. There’s lots of backing up and pulling out fully loaded from a dead stop. We’re doing this three to four trips a day, year-round, in every weather condition imaginable. Kenworth and the T880 certainly live up to the challenge."
Greg Pellham, president of Pellham Cutting in St Helens, Oregon, relies on Kenworth T880s to get the job done.
Pellham got his start as a logger in 1992, hand-falling trees and hauling them to mills with a lone Kenworth W900A. Today, Pellham Cutting is a ground-based logging operation, using specialized forestry equipment like a feller-buncher to cut timber, and log loaders to pile slash and brush, and pull the logs to the landing where they are loaded onto trucks to be hauled from the site.
Pellham’s niche is “right of way logging,” clearing trees and brush from a strip of land where a logging road is planned. Rather than sitting in one spot, harvesting a specific timber patch, Pellham’s crew and machines are continually moving forward as they blaze a trail. Because of that, one of Pellham’s most important pieces of equipment is a Kenworth T880 spec’d as a heavy hauler with 18-speed transmission, full lockers and 52,000-pound rear ends, hauling an Aspen 75-ton three-axle trailer.
Pellham Cutting moves equipment for many of its customers, who are cable loggers that utilize steel cables suspended from a mobile tower to transport material from the woods to the landing. There, they are readied for shipment using machines, including log loaders and processors.
On any given day, Pellham’s Kenworth T880 heavy hauler can be moving anything from small Caterpillar earth movers to massive tower yarders weighing 125,000 lbs. Being limited to seven axles off road means more weight and strain on the truck — which, based on Pellham’s experience, it handles with ease. But that’s just one part of the challenge.
“The goal is to get the equipment as close as possible to the job,” Pellham said. “The road systems in the woods are not always the best, so you’re always watching your mirrors for the ditches, trees and other obstacles, and to see what the trailer is doing.”
Another of Pellham’s newest Kenworth T880s is set up to haul "poles" — long, straight trees, from 65 feet up to 120 feet in length, transported from the woods to the mill yard where they are turned into utility poles. It would be a fairly easy haul if it were a straight shot, but managing the narrow, winding logging roads with a load that can overhang the three-axle trailer by up to 40 feet, makes visibility critically important for the driver.
Pellham Cutting driver Jeff Jacobs operates a Kenworth T880 "pole truck" for the logging company.
“Being able to see through the windows and use of the mirrors is crucial, and one of the factors that sold me on the T880 is the amazing amount of visibility it provides,” Pellham said.
Pellham’s wife Dawn, his partner in the business, was sold on the Kenworth T880 as well. Because a big part of her daily routine is managing the drivers of the log hauling fleet, keeping them happy ultimately makes her job more enjoyable as well.
Pellham Cutting Kenworth T880 driver Brandon Lokken is shown in the roomy and comfortable cab.
"She hears any complaints, so the fewer the better,” Pellham remarked. “Driver comfort is a big deal. The T880 cab is roomy, and constructed with quality fit and finish. Because the truck is so quiet and smooth riding, the drivers don’t get as fatigued and have the energy to bring in their loads, even at the end of a long day."
Under the hood is the PACCAR MX-13 engine. Not only does the engine benefit from a single high-strength steel camshaft and compacted-graphite iron block to provide excellent power to weight ratio, but the 1,850 lb-ft of torque of the 510 horsepower engine, which starts peaking at just 1,100 rpm, makes it perfect for heavy-haul applications.
“Horsepower doesn't do you any good if you can't get going in the first place,” Pellham said. “The log trucks are hauling up to 105,500 pounds, and having low end torque gives them the ability to pull out of landings fully loaded and to easily climb steep grades. With other engines, you may have to rev it up and drop the clutch to get doing. The PACCAR MX-13 gives a really smooth take-off.”
Pellham’s T880 log trucks are spec’d with 18-speed transmissions, air ride cab and air bag suspension, 3.91 ratio rears with lockers, and disk brakes. The two most recent were special ordered with five axles and a 265-inch wheelbase to accommodate bridge laws, which restrict the spacing and weight of axle groupings. The longer the wheelbase and the more axles a truck has, the more weight it can carry.
Pellham has its own shop equipped with dealer-level diagnostic software for the PACCAR engines. Four mechanics handle all maintenance and repairs in-house. According to Pellham, the ease of engine access provided by the layout of the Kenworth chassis is a time savings for mechanics. "We use every edge to keep the fleet rolling,” Pellham said. “If our drivers aren’t working, the company isn’t making money.
“I’m an owner that’s out there driving the trucks. I don’t order something not knowing how it actually works,” Pellham added.
Pellham saw first-hand Kenworth's commitment to quality, when he visited the Kenworth assembly plant in Renton, Washington, to watch a new Kenworth being built. "What impressed me the most is how each individual throughout the process took pride in their job and made sure things were done right,” he said. “They’re building my truck how I want it built, and they have my best interest in their hands."
Pellham, 51, has lived and worked his entire life in the Pacific Northwest, where Kenworth trucks older than him are still running strong hauling logs. “Log truckers can be very hard-headed when it comes to change, especially if something has proven that it works,” he said. “Kenworth trucks are very durable. Kenworth has mastered everything from the cab to the suspension. The T880 holds up better in the woods than other makes and models.
"What I love most about what I do is the constant challenges. When I get up in the morning, I never know exactly what the day is going to bring. Owning a Kenworth assures me I can handle whatever I’m up against.”
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Kenworth Truck Company is the manufacturer of The World’s Best® heavy and medium duty trucks. Kenworth’s Internet home page is at www.kenworth.com. Kenworth is a PACCAR company.