As intimated in my last post, I did go and buy the Kenworth W900 with Studio Sleeper Cab. I can afford it with the company doing well. I’ve just employed a 3rd driver in Tucson and he’s quickly got up to speed. I decided to swap out my Peterbilt 579 Stand-up Sleeper with the Kenworth T680 that Simone was driving, so she is the immediate beneficiary.

What do I make of the W900? Firstly, a couple of points about the Peterbilt 579 trucks I have been driving. Going out on the road in the day cab version was not very different from driving my car – sure I was sitting further from the ground with the resulting better visibility. But apart from having 13 gears to play with, the general handling without a trailer was much the same as if I was driving my car. The sound proofing, the road feel, the plastic fittings – everything was like driving a normal car. That’s not a complaint – it’s a demonstration of how far the modern truck has moved down the road of driving comfort as a priority. I noticed the same when driving the European trucks too.

The W900 is a very different kettle of fish. The most immediately obvious difference is the sound-proofing. I can really hear the engine – which is why we drive trucks isn’t it? What’s the point if you can’t enjoy that diesel rumble and the whistle of the turbo-charger! Then there’s the finish – plastic on the cheap dash – Walnut veneer if you splash the cash. The ceiling and the walls of the sleeper are padded velour (you thought I was going to say cell then didn’t you?) 😉 Actually, it could be leather – I should look at the brochure on Kenworth’s site. At this point, I should say – Welcome to my Office…My Office…As you can see I’m a sucker for a bit of opulence – I’ll probably get a nicer steering wheel soon 🙂

The next point to make about the sleeper cab version of this truck is – it’s really long! In fact I’m convinced, without taking a tape to it to check, that it’s actually longer than a stubby trailer – it certainly looks that way. The upshot is that steering is no longer anything like a family saloon. You turn the wheel and several seconds later the nose starts to come around. This isn’t a truck… It’s an Admiral’s Barge that I’m driving! Ok, that’s a slight exaggeration but hopefully it gives a feel of how things look from inside when you’re making a turn in-town. Clear of the town though, the handling on the freeway or Interstate is fantastic – really planted on the road. Parking a trailer doesn’t seem any harder than with the shorter wheel-based 579, or perhaps I’m just getting better at it?

I’ve equipped the truck with the Eaton-Fuller 13 speed gearbox with retarder. A retarder is very useful when trying to slow down a heavy load with the brakes on a realistic setting so if you decide to try your hand in ATS I’d recommend that you get one! The engine is the PACCAR MX-13 485HP and makes a great noise. I’m getting around 6.3mpg with that set-up in game which is ok. I did a bit of research on the real world mpg figures of the MX-13 455HP version as fitted in my Peterbilt fleet and mid-to high 6’s and low 7mpg’s was the norm with one truck company reporting that one of their drivers was routinely getting up to 7.8mpg “But he thinks that anything over 62mph is speeding!” I’ve found that shorter runs and time spent in towns will definitely hurt your average fuel consumption – so longer trips are best whatever engine you are driving. I noted that the video diarist Squirrel has fitted his W900 Day Cab with a Cummins 605HP engine. I don’t think he worries about fuel consumption – last figure I saw was 3.7mpg though he’s probably getting more than that on longer runs (he changed the truck’s display so it show’s speed rather than trip info).

I hinted at the color I was likely to choose in the earlier ‘Itch’ post. In the end the metallic paintwork has become slightly more golden and as a result I’ve called the truck ‘Rolled Gold’. So a couple of shots will show what that looks like. Here she is northbound on Interstate 5 with a container for the docks at Oakland…Rolled Gold - Container for Oakland…and driving through our home city of Bakersfield…Bakersfield Gold…I’m not sure what my local Peterbilt dealer thought about that but I’ll be back to visit him when the 389 goes on sale 🙂 I’m really pleased with the colour – it lends itself to some creative photoshoppery 😉Evening Gold

Finally, and with a thought for blogging friend Debra and all those living through another bad drought in California, I hope this electronic rain on Interstate 8 near El Centro triggers the real thing for you very soon…It Never Rains