Stepping Out with Actros | REVIEW New Mercedes-Benz Actros

Ray Worboys shifts to the new German cabover alongside his conventional Coronado 

As many of you will know, life as an owner/driver is not a simple affair. But with the right equipment, and a good support crew, there are opportunities to be had. The biggest problem within our industry is the dog-eat-dog attitude, and the number of people willing to undercut rates and put others out of a job to get work. But, as Ray and Sue Worboys have discovered, good equipment and good service can minimise the damage if you find yourself on the wrong end of this scenario.

Ray Worboys, like many others in this industry, started out with basic equipment and a can-do attitude. His first truck, 17 years ago, was a single-drive Mitsubishi towing a bogie axle flat top between Newcastle and the Worboys’ hometown of Taree. After about a year, Ray upgraded to a bogie-drive Kenworth prime mover, which he ran for a while before buying a brand-new Freightliner Argosy. From there, Ray was offered another contract carting steel to Coffs Harbour, and so another truck was added to the fleet. When the demand lead to a fourth truck being added, the Worboys’ fleet was made up of four Freightliners – two Argosys, a Coronado and a Century Class.

Everything was going well for the Worboys’, until their main client hit hard financial times. This led to another contractor under-cutting Ray’s rates.

As Ray explained, “There were no problems with the service, reliability or relationship. I was told the rate this guy offered and that the client still wanted us to keep doing this job, but we had to match that rate”.

To their credit, Ray and Sue stuck to their guns, “I said no, it’s not happening. So I had a yarn with my drivers, told them exactly what was happening, and we pulled the pin. So we went from four trucks and five trailers back to one, which was a bit of a head spin for a little while,” said Ray.

Since then, Ray and Sue have worked hard to rebuild the business, to the point where a second truck was needed to keep up.

“That was going to be my retirement truck,” Ray quipped, pointing to the Coronado parked beside the shed. “But I got this extra work, and I need a cabover for the extendable work”.

Given their history with the brand, you might expect Ray and Sue would go for another Freightliner, but Ray had other ideas, opting instead for the European comfort of a Mercedes Benz Actros 2663.

“I almost bought a Scania,” he said. “I had a demo Scania for a week, earlier this year, and really the only thing that swayed me was the service I get from Mavin’s. I’ve been with them for, probably, fifteen years”.

Mavin’s Truck Centre is a long established, family-owned dealership based in Kempsey that sells and supports Mercedes-Benz, Freightliner and Hino trucks. Having dealt with them as a Freightliner customer, Ray was glowing in his praise for both the sales and service sides of the business.

“Any time I’ve had a problem, they’ve fixed it. They go out of their way to help you,” he said. “The salesman was honest, and explained everything, which makes it easy. Plus being there so long, you know, we have a good relationship with them all. They just make it easy – too easy – I’ll have that,” he laughed.

The level of support was demonstrated when sales manager, Steve Pinkstone, arrived to check out the new Actros during our chat.

While 630 hp might seem like a bit of overkill for single-trailer work, Ray’s explanation for going with the big banger was simple: “Just to spoil myself,” he laughed.

“Nah, just for the ease, it should do it easy”. There are also benefits in resale, with Ray saying, “If someone wants a B-double truck, it’s set up ready to go”.

Being a long-time operator of American style trucks, I asked Ray what led him to go European.

“Mainly the ride. You compare that to a Kenworth, or even an Argosy, and there’s no comparison. Those things leave them for dead,” he said. “It’ll be a bit of a shock getting used to it, I think”.

Another big difference between the Actros and the Freightliner comes in the way of service intervals. “They were quoting figures, which I’m a bit uneasy with, but they reckon on single work it can do 90,000 km. That’s a lot”.

But being so far from the norm, Ray was honest about his thoughts on whether he’d take it that far.

“I’d be hesitant. The Coronado goes to 40,000 km, and that scares me a bit, but there hasn’t been a drama. So they’re saying maybe 50,000 km for the first one, and we’ll see how it goes after that. It’s a lot of Ks between oil changes,” he said. “The Actros came with five years free servicing as part of the deal, and with four years/800,000 km driveline warranty, so it’s pretty well covered anyway,” he added.

Ray’s truck was ordered prior to the official Australian launch of the Actros, and was meant to be on hand at the official launch but didn’t make it. Probably a good thing for Ray and Sue, it wasn’t covered in greasy fingerprints from blokes like me drooling over it before they got their own hands on it.

Being the first of the new model Actros sold by Mavin’s, the pre-delivery took a little longer than normal as the PD staff at Mavin’s were dealing with something different.

While the truck came out of the factory in the blue paint you see here, it has spent a bit of time in the workshop at Macleay Sheetmetal, also in Kempsey, having a few finishing touches put on it.

“Those guys go over and above – the light bars, painting the Viesa and battery box and a few extra lights,” Ray said. “I’m a little bit fussy when it comes to the nice stuff”.

This got a good response from Sue, “A little bit fussy?” she laughed. Everywhere you look on this truck there is some detail to catch the eye, from the full-length chassis cover to the stainless wrapped AdBlue tank and custom rear light bar, all of which sets the truck off very nicely.

The interior also has a few nice touches, including a flatscreen TV and a stainless surround around the roof-mounted aircon unit. The Worboys’ Actros has the top of the line Home-Line interior package, with wood grain trim and all the trimmings. Twin bunks in the sleeper will make life easier when Ray takes his grandson for a trip, though the TV in the lower bunk may cause some contention as to who sleeps where.

It’s a long way from where they began, but Ray and Sue are looking forward to life with the big Mercedes. “I drove a loaded one at the Launch in Cairns, and I said to Sue that we’d done the right thing,” said Ray. With a new Barker extendable trailer to go behind it, due to arrive in January, the big Benz should really look the part and get the job done in style.

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