Digging the blues: D.I.G Earthworks and Civil

By: Warren Aitken


It’s unusual to see ‘blinged-up’ UD Quons on the road, but one Gold Coast truck owner has two in his fleet, painted up in their specially patented shade of blue

Digging the blues: D.I.G Earthworks and Civil
The finishing from Shephard Transport Equipment and Truck’in Stainless is faultless

 

The Gold Coast in Queensland is one of those areas where you never know what you are going to find. From scantily clad meter maids to a lizard man at Ripley’s Believe It or Not, all the way to a singing Dracula serving dinner or a beginner’s cheese-making class.

Yes, the Gold coast has it all. Well, now it has it all, as the rarest of rare has appeared on the roads around the Gold Coast area … a pimped-out UD Quon. The blinged-up UD belongs to D.I.G Earthworks and Civil, a young and extremely busy company based out of Southport, Gold Coast. Shane Grimwood is one half of the team behind the company; his partner in dirt is Michael Douglas. Between them they manage a couple of diggers as well as several truck and dog combinations, which now includes three UD Quons.

While a lot of D.I.G’s work is transportation of various products on-and-off construction sites, both Grimwood and Douglas are licensed demolition operators as well as qualified machine operators, which means the company’s machines have to be as versatile as them.

Before we get into how UD’s flagship Quon is handling the extremely brutal world of ‘mud carting’, it pays to learn a little about the man who’s put these stunning rigs on the road. Grimwood has been around the heavy machinery and construction world since day dot. In fact, I’m pretty sure his first words would have been: "Where’s my Tonka truck?"

Growing up all over the South Island of New Zealand, Grimwood’s dad was a diesel mechanic, his uncle was in charge of the heavy machinery for the Ministry of Works, and both his mum and grandma ran the camps there. So, getting his hands dirty has never been an issue for Grimwood. When he shifted over to Australia he spent a long time building businesses for others before, and I quote: "I got sick of making every other bastard money, thought f@#& it, I’ll start my own."

Unfortunately, while Shane’s first company was extremely successful, his business partner at the time made life too difficult for Shane to enjoy it, so he sold up and decided to spend several weeks cruising the United States on a Harley-Davidson. Upon his return another opportunity presented itself and Shane combined his construction experience with Douglas’ excavator experience, and D.I.G began.

That is an extremely short version of a long and complicated story, so for the sake of space, it seems better to shorten it up. What was evident from my chat with Shane is that he prides himself on quality customer service and relationships.

When I asked him how he approaches the highly competitive industry he is in, he replied: "I’d rather under-promise and over-deliver, than over-promise and under-deliver." It’s that commitment to doing every job well and professionally that has driven the success of D.I.G. It’s also that attitude that has led to the fleet now being stacked with Quons.

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Cab-over quest

When Grimwood worked for the tyre industry back in New Zealand, one of his best clients, Clive Taylor, ran several Macks. It was Taylor who taught Grimwood how to drive, getting him to move trucks around the quarry and sheds once he’d done the tyres. It was those experiences that fuelled Grimwood’s passion for Macks. 

"I’ve always liked the Macks, the only thing that shits me is they don’t have any cab-overs. I’d have all cab-overs if I could."

So, when D.I.G began it was Mack, Mack, and Mack. However, both Grimwood and Douglas had long been keeping an eye out for a cab-over that would tick all their boxes. It was at the 2017 Brisbane Truck Show where Grimwood was first introduced to the UD Quon by one of the salesmen on the stand. He had a quick look over it and was surprised and impressed.

The next step was the UD drive day at Mt Cotton, where Grimwood and Douglas were both given a taste of what the Quons could do. The impression left on him by the UDs was enough that when he needed two new trucks in the fleet, he made sure he went to UD salesman Clinton Stevens and told him to sharpen his pencil and get on to it. That he did.

Grimwood admits when it comes to the right truck for the job, though, money isn’t everything: "I don’t buy something ‘cause it’s the cheapest; I buy something because it’s good quality."

The offer from UD and the work put in by Stevens was enough for Grimwood to give it
the go ahead. Two new Quons were ordered in ‘D.I.G blue’. Yes, that’s right, D.I.G has its own paint colour.

S&T Fabrications in Norwell has been building bodies and parts for Grimwood for years; it even repainted the first Mack to go into the D.I.G fleet from the outset. The colour that Trevor from S&T came up with is now designated ‘D.I.G blue’. 

Those colour codes were sent to the UD factory in Japan so that the trucks could be painted on the spot. Grimwood tells the story of a mate, who works for UD in Japan, calling him after watching a line of white trucks rolling down the production chain and then suddenly two blue ones appeared, shocking the factory workers with their boldness. The other trait Grimwood has demonstrated during his entire career is the emphasis on his fleets’ appearance. "I like all the gear to look top notch," he admits. The reward for that comes back to D.I.G often.

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"I’ve had people ring me wondering how many trucks I’ve got, they think I must have 50 of them ’cause they always see them on the road," Grimwood says. Truth is, he admits, "because they stand out people spot them easier".

When he ordered the new Quons he wanted them looking as blinged-up as his Mack. "I got a lot of ‘you can’t do this and you can’t do that’," Grimwood recalls. But his reply was you can do anything you want, you’ve just got to do it right. With that in mind, Grimwood contacted Mick at Truck’in Stainless, Brisbane and told him his ideas. Never shy of a challenge, Mick had a quick glance around the setup and set to work. "He’s done a great job," Grimwood says.

He applauds the ingenuity of Truck’in Stainless, noting that Mick was able to use all the factory holes when fitting the drop visor and the stone-guard. The stone-guard needed to be custom built as the centre-mounted safety sensor and camera could not be blocked.

The other issue Mick had to work around was Grimwood’s wish for twin air intakes and twin exhausts. The exhausts are fine, but because the airflow is designed to work in line with the UD’s computer programs, Mick chose to mount the second intake, but turned it into a water tank with a tap so the driver can use it. A cunning little setup. The team from Shephard Transport Equipment built the bins and trailers for the Quon. Under performance-based standards the truck can run to 49.5 tonnes, giving it a payload of about 31 tonnes.

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Up to the task

The Quon looks the part, but how does it go in a very demanding area of our industry? I took the opportunity to go for a ride with driver Conan Mura to see how the Quon performed and to hear his thoughts. Mura is another import from the ‘land of the long white cloud’. He has a resume covering just about everything except the postman’s bike. Road trains, tippers, flat tops … you name it, as well as all the brands you can think of.

So what were his first thoughts when the boss told him he’d be getting a brand new UD? "I was a bit hesitant," he laughs. "I’d been driving mainly Kenworths and Western Stars lately." And his view of the UD now? "I gotta be honest, it goes well; it goes pretty hard actually."

Mura also commends the driver comforts that come fitted in the Quon. "It’s got a coffee warmer and a drinks’ cooler, all the gadgets." He raves about the ease of the auto ’box, with special praise dished out for the multistage retarder. "It digs in pretty hard. I’m happy."

With the Quon still relatively new to the D.I.G fleet, feedback is still a bit limited, but both Grimwood and driver Mura note how manoeuvrable the truck is when dropping into concrete bins. Dropping sand at commercial building sites mean there is occasionally not a lot of room and the Quon’s performance shines more than its paint job. Fitted with cross locks and diff locks, the Quon is also meeting the needs when it comes to traction.

It’s got the comfort inside, it’s got the room inside, and for those coffee nuts you can even keep your beans hot. It has 460hp with torque to boot, and it’s got a gearbox smart enough to reprogram itself when you are full and empty.

It’s got the size to cart a productive payload, but can still get into the spots that most construction workers say, "You’ll never make it in there, mate!"

It’s got enough shine on it for people to mistake it for a show truck and most importantly it’s got a working schedule that’s been testing the Quon out right from day dot. So far it appears the big little UD Quon is digging deep and well above the pass mark.

 

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