Boneshaker!

MANY men have a dream, a few bring it to reality.

Such is the case with Nathan Godfrey, owner of NGH Express.

Nathan's dream was to have a truck, so different, so startling that it is liable to break the necks of truck spotters as they twist their heads to look at it.

That he has achieved his goal is possibly the understatement of the year.

This is the absolute best, most creative truck this writer has seen.

Nathan started with a 2010 Peterbilt, 2015 compliant.

With a 63-inch bunk and 10-inch exhaust pipes, every part of this creation is custom.

There's not one part, other than the chrome accessories that are bought off the shelves.

It has emu leather seats, painted floors, full fibreglass door trims which are fibreglass lined.

It has been a project 12 months in the making.

Nathan runs 11 trucks and 30 trailers, based in Melbourne.

They run the paddock from Melbourne to Perth with B-triples.

Nathan has been in business for 13 years, and specialising in the Perth run for the last five.

Boneshaker will be joining the fleet on the run.

"Well it will be when I sort out a glitch or three," Nathan says.

"Unfortunately the South Australian police don't like the truck as much as everybody else. They put me off the road and took the plates off it. Too wide, too low, too loud, you name it. They gave me three different defects.

"I thought I'd built something nice. Most people appreciate what it is but unfortunately they disagree in South Australia and that's the state I travel through most.

"I'm scared to put it to work because I don't think it will make it through. Sadly it's not going to look like this to go to work. The guards will have to come off.

"I'll have to modify the

exhaust downstairs in terms of putting a tube inside so that it's cold. They tell me the sun visor (an all-metal work of art) is too low - although it's not any lower than the sun visor inside the cabin. The grill is too sharp.

"The nut covers are too wide. Not one light on the whole vehicle is ADR approved, apparently. No more than five roof lights. Apparently it's the most unsafe vehicle they've ever seen and I wasn't to drive it another foot. It's very disheartening.

"Do they ever think about what something like this does for the industry?

"As a representation to the wider public of what the industry is and what it can do and what it does for the country? You go out and make something like this, something special, something that shows industry in a terrific light.

"Then along come the number crunchers and people who look in a book and say that's the way it is. End of story!"

There is no doubt Nathan will put Boneshaker on the road and when he does, his two longest-serving drivers, Karen Prato and Pieter Bergheof will be the lucky recipients.

Karen and Pieter

THE couple have been together for the past 12 months, having known each other for five years, the last four of which they've worked for Nathan.

"He's a good boss. When everything turns to s**t - and that happens in this business - he'll have something on the go to sort it out. I'd hate his job," says Pieter.

"I'm very happy driving."

Karen has been involved with trucking for 22 years. It is her second job as a two-up driver.

"We're together 24/7 and so far we haven't had an argument." says Karen.

"I haven't put her out on the Nullarbor yet," Pieter joked.

"And I haven't put you out either. But there can always be a first time!" Karen said.

"It is my first time driving two-up and it took a little while to get used to it," he said.

"When you're a single driver you just pull up when you're tired. To actually pull up and say, 'Righto, it's your turn to drive,' you think you'll get to sleep. But the truck's moving, there's the bumps and so forth. She's a bloody good driver, but it took me a little while to work that out."

"And he's a Dutchman, but I don't hold that against him. Seriously, it's all good."

While waiting for the Peterbilt to pass South Australia's stringent laws, the guys are driving a Volvo.

"I swore blind that I would never ever driver Volvo," said Karen.

"I come over to Nathan and guess what I end up driving. A bloody Volvo! But I have to admit they are a totally different set-up to the first ones I drove. Nathan's sets his up properly for the hard run - full power, the right computer program and they are comfortable.

"They have a road train program in them which is completely different to others that we've driven. It's an FH16 with 600hp pulling B-triples. At two years old the truck has covered 750,000km and has run like a charm."

The trip takes two full days, usually with a day's break in between, giving the couple the weekend off.

"If we are both tired we simply pull up. Nathan wouldn't have it any other way. Most of the time when we go over there, Nathan puts us up in a motel. We load the next day and come back.

"When this (Boneshaker) came along, Nathan said this was to be our truck. It's taking a little while to get it on the road. Every time it gets close he comes up with another brainstorm and does something else to it."

Karen is supposedly the feisty one. "Sometimes I have to put a lead on her - and the muzzle."

"Don't you go there!" said Karen. "Change of subject!

"There are a lot of couples doing what we are doing, nice couples too. The biggest problem is that we don't stop. That's just the way the job is," she said.

"You'll see them when you're fuelling up, otherwise it's on the CB. There's still a lot of old school on that run. If you're pulled over on the side of the road, someone will call you on the CB and ask if you're okay. It's nice. You don't get that on the Hume Hwy."

"You need to look after each other out there. Once you've gone past Ceduna after 7 o'clock at night there is nothing open, apart from Penong which they are trying to close down now, until you get to the WA border."

"All you've got is a lot of kangaroos," Pieter said.

Pieter and Karen will keep on the run: "Until we want to stop, and that won't be any time soon."

Meanwhile they look forward to getting behind the wheel of Boneshaker, a very big piece of art in motion - and ain't that the truth!

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