For the first time in his 30-year career, Delbert Ritchey is driving a truck where his seat isn’t rubbing the upholstery off the back of the cab.
“I’m a fairly big guy, about 6 feet, 280 pounds,” said Ritchey, the senior driver for San Jose Logging Ltd. in Williams Lake, British Columbia. “It’s nice to be able to pull my seat forward a little instead of having to push it all the way back.”
Delbert Ritchey, senior driver for San Jose Logging, in shown in the cab of one of the company’s comfortable Kenworth T880s.
Comfort is paramount when you’re behind the wheel of a logging truck for up to 15 hours a day. Twice a day, Ritchey pilots a Kenworth T880 over resource roads that traverse open range and switch back through the Cariboo Mountains in British Columbia’s central interior. The operating conditions are among the toughest in Canada—and that’s during daylight hours. One of Ritchey’s runs occurs completely in the dark.
Delbert Ritchey and the Kenworth T880
“It’s an extremely demanding job and the competition for skilled drivers in the region is intense,” said Darren Getz, whose family has owned San Jose Logging since 1957. “It takes a team of dedicated people all pulling on the same tug-of-war rope to succeed, and our drivers are on the front lines of that effort. The Kenworth T880 is a premium product and our reward for that investment is a more productive and satisfied driver.”
From left, are Darren Getz, and at right, his father Roger Getz, representing two generations of San Jose Logging owners. In center is San Jose Logging's senior driver Delbert Ritchey.
The San Jose Logging fleet consists of four Kenworth T880s and three T800s. They typically pull Super-B trailers with a 63,500-kilogram (or 140,000-lb) GCW on routes that rarely exceed 120 miles a day. As much as half that distance is off-highway, with grades as steep as 27 percent.
“The physical nature of the work makes it hard to keep younger drivers around and it’s also tough on the older guys like me who enjoy the life and want to stay at it as long as possible,” says Ritchey, who turns 60 this year.
At 2.1 meters (82.7 inches) wide, the T880 cab is 10 inches wider than its predecessor and has 23 inches of room between the seats. Four inches of extra space behind the seats let Ritchey adjust the seat the way he likes and still have enough room to hang up a coat behind him.
In the footwell, the T880 uses firewall-mounted hanging pedals instead of floor-mounted pedals—ideal for drivers who wear work boots.
“I like that I can clean underneath the throttle pedal easily,” Ritchey says. “When you’re in and out of the mud, you track it into the cab. In the T880, I can flip up the pedal, wipe underneath, and it’s a non-problem. It’s one of those little design touches that makes my day easier.”
Another “little touch” involves the T880’s grab handles. They’re mounted inside the door frame, away from the mud, ice, and cow manure that spray up from the resource roads. “I can open the door and there’s a clean handle for my right hand and a clean handle for my left hand,” he notes. “I really like that.”
From left, are Darren Getz, and his father Roger Getz.
Darren Getz, meanwhile, is focused on the T880’s entire package: its productivity, safety features, and ease of maintenance.
The company works for one licensee, handling everything from harvesting logs to proper lengths to hauling timber to the mill. Getz expects maximum uptime from his vehicles because his customer expects no less.
San Jose Logging replaces its trucks with new units every three years and has its own shop to maintain them. Inland Kenworth, the local Kenworth dealer in Williams Lake, provides parts and warranty support.
“We only have seven trucks, which is large for a logging business around here,” Getz said. “We go to every length to have those trucks available.”
It includes spec’ing the T880s with disc brakes all around for better stopping performance on grades and slippery ground. Eaton UltraShift® PLUS automated transmissions eliminate the clutch pedal and allow for smoother, more precise shifting especially at low speeds on tough grades.
“We sweat details that we know are important and have done so through three generations of family ownership,” Getz said.
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.