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00 RHODES Don

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Inducted into the Shell Rimula Wall of Fame at ReUnion 2000.

Don Rhodes was responsible for building the first Australian built roadtrain in today's sense of the word.  His massive Rhodes Ridley truck revolutionised ore haulage bringing unheard of carrying capacities.

Don Rhodes was a pioneer of the rugged Pilbara region in WA working several small manganese leases.  He initially used the English trucks of the day; Leylands, Fodens, AECs and Atkinsons, but they could not cope with the task set for them.

Don then challenged his chief engineer, Harold Ridley, with designing and building a rig capable of hauling the company's 100 ton crushing plants.  Two years and a thousand ideas later, on 30th October, 1958, the 70 ton Rhodes Ridley roadtrain rolled out of Perth on its maiden voyage to the Pilbara.  It was nothing short of an engineering feat.  The Rhodes Ridley doubled the standard horsepower of the day by using twin GM6/71 engines for an output of 400 horsepower and the diffs and gearbox had been transplanted from a General Grant tank.  It was an amazing four metres wide.

The first trailer carried a conveyor belt and ore bin and the second trailer the crushing and screening plants.  Unfortunately the government of the day failed to see any potential in this giant of the road.  They ultimately refused to license it or even allow it to operate on gazetted roads.  Ironically, it had been Don Rhodes who had initially trailblazed many of those remote roads for his own use in the first place.

The Rhodes Ridley had barely done 3000 miles by the time it was forced to retire.  There is no doubt it laid the foundations for the type and size of mining machinery seen working in the bush today.

The truck today has been fully restored and is in the hands of Don's son, Ken, where it travels around the country to various truck shows and other outback festivals.

The Road Transport Historical Society

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