Kenworth Trucks Keep Wagner Hardwoods Moving

May 05, 2018


OWEGO, N.Y., May 4, 2018 – As one of the largest manufacturers of hardwood lumber in the Northeastern United States, Wagner Hardwoods processes 60 million board feet of timber annually. That’s enough wood to make a 1-by-12-inch board reach from one of Wagner’s three New York sawmills to California and back again. But logs don’t magically appear at the mills – they’re delivered with the company’s fleet of Kenworth trucks.

"We've always been partnered to Kenworth,” said Wagner’s Operations Manager Don Goodrich, who started with the company 24 years ago as a log truck driver in a 1995 Kenworth T800.

Wagner Hardwoods Kenworth T880

Wagner runs a fleet of 52 trucks, primarily T880s and T800s. The company is now up to 19 T880s, purchased through the Kenworth Northeast Group headquartered in Buffalo. There are self-loader “picker” trucks and semi tractors that pull walking floor vans for chips, lowboys for heavy equipment, conventional log trailers, and "covered wagons" for kiln-dried lumber.

“We really like the ride quality, quietness and durability of the T880s, as well as the power and the reliability of the PACCAR MX-13 engine. It's been a very strong engine for us,” Goodrich said. “We really think that we're going to drive them for a life cycle of at least 10 years before we trade them in.”

Wagner has configurations spec’d for heavy loads up to 107,000-pound gross vehicle weight. Tandem-axle tractors are equipped with 13,250-pound front axle, 46,000-pound rear with full lockers, and 11-5/8 inch tall by 3/8-inch thick frame rails, as well as wet lines to operate walking floors. Tri-axle picker trucks are spec'd very heavily with 22,000-pound front axles, 46,000-pound dual locking rears and Watson & Chalin 20,000-pound steerable tag axle.

Pulling power is important. That’s why the T880s are specified with PACCAR MX-13 engines rated at 500/510 horsepower with 1,850 lb-ft of maximum torque, and are coupled with 18-speed transmissions. Versatility plays a part as well. On a typical day, a T880 will haul chips in the morning, lumber in the afternoon, and then logs on the final run.

With hauls in a 200-mile radius of Wagner’s mills, they value the fuel economy of the PACCAR MX-13 and aerodynamics of the T880. Goodrich said they’ve seen a 10 to 15 percent increase in fuel economy over the previous engine makes they have used. But even more important is the engine’s reliability.

“Yes, we appreciate the better mileage,” Goodrich said, “but a few extra gallons of fuel aren’t worth much if you're not working consistently. Reliability is our key metric.”

Wagner handles 98 percent of maintenance and repairs in-house. They rely on Kenworth Northeast Group’s Syracuse, Albany and Rochester locations for parts and warranty service, and the dealer’s Elmira store for updates on the ECU and emissions systems. Kenworth Northeast Group set up Wagner’s three shops with PACCAR’s Davie Engine Diagnostic Software.

“We are such a long distance from a dealership (about 50 miles), that it helps us to pre-diagnose any issues. If our guys plug in and find a problem, they can call a service manager to find out exactly what to do,” Goodrich said.

Out on the road – or off-road, as the job requires – build quality and comfort play a big part in driver satisfaction. Some logging sites are located right off the pavement, while others require trucks to traverse miles of dirt and gravel roads back into the woods. Kenworth’s AG460 air suspension helps to smooth things out.

“We do everything you should NOT with our trucks, and then pound them down some of the roughest roads in the Northeast. We use them off road in the mud and snow like log forwarders and it is a pretty tough obstacle course in general,” Goodrich said.

“Winters are tough on roads in New York and Pennsylvania, between the salt and plowing, roads can be very rough. The ride quality of the T880 was substantial enough over our previous trucks that our drivers say it adds years to their careers.”

According to Goodrich, the panoramic windshield on the T880 provides superior visibility, and is particularly advantageous on narrow logging roads with tight corners. The T880’s cab is eight inches wider than the T800, and Kenworth proprietary seats offer an advanced air suspension system that automatically adjusts to various driver weights.

“The T880 is very comfortable. Once our drivers get into the T880, they are pretty fond of it,” Goodrich said. “They'll drive a T800 extended cab, but they'll get right back into the T880.”

Wagner Hardwoods Kenworth T880
Wagner Hardwoods Kenworth T880

As vocational models, Wagner’s trucks are made for getting down and dirty. But that doesn’t mean they don’t look good too. Wagner dresses up their trucks with chrome visors, LED lights, polished steps, and Dura-Bright aluminum wheels.

Wagner Hardwoods Kenworth T880

Three of the fleet’s Kenworth loggers are fitted with small sleepers, including a new T880 with a 40-inch sleeper just put into service. It's not that the trips are so long that they require a rest period, but when a job calls for an early morning load, the driver can go out the night before and be ready to go first thing.

“It’s really about convenience,” Goodrich said, “and it doesn’t affect our payload that much.”

From logs to lumber hauling, Wagner considers the Kenworth T880 to be a “premium-class truck.”

“The majority of trucks we see in the logging and lumber industry are Kenworths. The toughness of the trucks is a big factor,” Goodrich said. "Our drivers have a lot of pride in their Kenworths,” he added. “You want to give drivers what they want."

Leave a Comment