Prime Mover Magazine


Phoenix Arisen

Phoenix Arisen

Castrol oils is in exclusive long-term use in every vehicle across the Freestone fleet. With excellent lubricating properties and official carbon-neutral certification, Paul Freestone, who was recently bestowed an Order of Australia, recognises Castrol Vecton oil is both great for his engines and the environment.

As the lubricant division of global petroleum company BP, Castrol has worked hard in recent years to achieve carbon neutrality. From 2016 to 2019 the company engaged the NCOS carbon neutral program for certification and as of 2020 has moved across to the PAS 2060 international program, a certification process carried out by the British Standards Institution (BSI).

In February 2016, the company launched its Vecton range of diesel engine oils in Australia as certified carbon neutral.

Castrol has since claimed its Vecton oil is the first and, to date, only heavy-duty engine oil to be thus certified. Castrol claims that for every litre of Castrol Vecton used, a business can neutralise two kilograms of carbon dioxide (CO2).

Neutralising the CO2 footprint of the Castrol Vecton product is achieved by analysing each element of the whole of the product life cycle, from cradle to grave.

Everything from the recyclable packaging in which the product is shipped to the recycling or disposal of the oil after it has served its time is taken into consideration.

To maintain certification and the right to use the BSI Standard PAS 2060 certification trademark, Castrol must strictly adhere to a set of criteria including quantifying its carbon footprint, setting carbon reduction targets and offsetting unavoidable emissions.

Critically, it must also attain carbon neutral certification and assurance by an independent third-party entity, with the results reported and published on an annual basis. For Paul and Christine, owners of Freestone’s Transport, the number one priority when it comes to the oil that is used in their trucks is that it must be the best available.

“You need to use the best possible products to achieve outstanding results as far as the reliability and longevity of equipment is concerned,” Paul says.

“The lifespan we’ve achieved from our Caterpillar truck engines under the programmed maintenance we use is a good case in point. Our best-ever Cat engine did 2.8 million kilometres without having any work done on the bottom end apart from scheduled main and big-end bearing change-outs at 800,000 kilometre intervals.”

According to Paul some minor work had gone into the head but the pistons and crankshaft have never been replaced over the 2.8 million kilometre lifespan.

“It’s a shame Cat doesn’t sell the C-15 and C-16 anymore – they were terrific engines.  Castrol Vecton 15W-40 CK-4/E9 oil gives us fantastic internal bearing life with all of our engines and the Syntrans Heavy Duty and Dynadrive oils help us get amazing life from our transmissions and diffs,” Paul says.

“We generally get well over two million kilometres from each vehicle before any transmission overhaul is needed and the diffs are usually good for 2.5 million kilometres.”

Freestone’s Transport has its own workshops at head office in Melbourne and also at the Sydney depot, with another workshop currently being established at its Brisbane facility.

Enabling companies like Freestone’s to achieve maximum life from their engines, Vecton engine oils feature a unique additive package called System Pro Technology.

According to Castrol, this provides an extra performance reserve that fights oil breakdown and also adapts to higher temperatures, giving operators the peace of mind that the oil will remain in peak condition for long-drain interval requirements.

Freestone’s Transport currently adheres to oil drain intervals of 200,000km for both transmission and axles, and 25,000km engine oil.

The pride Paul and Christine have in the fleet is obvious from casting an eye over the immaculately presented Kenworth, Peterbilt and Western Star prime movers that make up the more than 80-strong flotilla.

Though unseen, the internal components of the trucks are maintained in the same top-shelf way. A high level of mechanical expertise from the personnel in the workshops is a perfect complement to the lubrication par excellence provided by Castrol for each of the trucks.
 
“We plan to have our Brisbane workshop up and running in the first half of this year which will take some pressure off our Sydney and Melbourne workshops,” Paul says, adding that Freestone’s is a 100 per cent Castrol fleet including all the cars, work utes and even Paul’s special race cars – a Chevrolet Camaro and a Pontiac Trans Am – which he races in the Touring Car Masters series. In this case the engines – churning out more than 700hp – are lubricated and protected by Castrol Edge fully-synthetic oil.

Freestone’s Transport closely observes the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) recommendations for oil drain intervals and also uses Castrol premium heavy-duty grease for all chassis lubrication requirements. As a road freight business, the company’s track record makes it one of the great Australian success stories.

Paul’s love of trucks was confirmed while he was still at school. In 1966 he had a part time job at an Ampol service station in Essendon where many trucks used to stop for fuel before journeying north. One day a Mack B-61 pulled in and Paul struck up a conversation with its driver who encouraged him to follow his dream of becoming a driver himself.

Which is exactly what Paul did after leaving school and travelling to South Australia to gain his semi-trailer licence.

After working in the mines to save up, in 1970 at the tender age of 16 he bought his first truck – a Bedford furniture van. From there he embarked on an owner-driver career that would last for 13 years and span several trucks and a variety of work including local and interstate express freight, hauling Pub Squash interstate and later fuel for Mayne Nickless.

TWO MAJOR MILESTONES occurred in 1973 with Paul marrying the love of his life, Christine, and subsequently purchasing their first new truck – a Ford Louisville LNT 9000. In this truck Paul did five trips a month to Kalgoorlie and Kambalda in Western Australia hauling an LPG tanker for Mayne Nickless.

The truck’s gauges had plastic surrounds that over time became brittle and broke, allowing the gauges to fall inside the dash. To read the gauges, Paul had to reach into the dash and pull them out.

In 1981 Paul and Christine purchased their first new Kenworth Aerodyne cab-over prime mover. This was also the first truck to wear the striking maroon, white and black livery that remains one of the legendary colour schemes within the industry.

In the early ‘80s Paul was working casually as a tow operator for Multigroup, which later became Discount Freight Express and finally StarTrack Express. Late in 1983 the company offered him the express freight contract between Melbourne and Sydney which included three Scania trucks.

With the ’81 Aerodyne and the three Scanias, the fleet of Freestone’s Transport was off and running. Another three Kenworths were immediately purchased to replace the Scanias and to this day the company has remained loyal to the PACCAR brands of Kenworth and Peterbilt.

Over the next 30 years Freestone’s grew with the rapidly expanding express freight business until the fateful day in 2014 when the contract with StarTrack was lost to Linfox. Virtually overnight, Freestone’s lost about 95 per cent of its work.

“At the time we had to make the decision on whether to retire or keep going,” Christine recalls. “We decided we had way too much history and passion for our industry, so we rolled the dice and here we are today.”

Rising Phoenix-like from the ashes, the company’s legendary recovery from this major setback included the monumental feat that not one employee was retrenched.
“The employees all believed in us and our ability to continue and we honoured that commitment the best way we could,” Paul says. “We believe in living by faith not fear.”

The business was rebranded and restructured with a new accounting platform and fresh transport management systems. A Queensland depot was purchased, 100 new trailers acquired and an enterprise bargaining agreement established with the employees.

Sticking with the tried and true formula of dock-to-dock parcel freight work, Freestone’s picked up linehaul work with TNT, COPE, Border Express, DHL and FedEx, returning it to a growth phase to keep up with the demand. That growth continues unabated.

“These days the industry runs on three-year contracts so if you do the right thing you might get another three years,” Paul explains. “I’m quite happy working from contract to contract.”
Earlier this year, Paul was fittingly bestowed the honour of an Order of Australia medal for his long and dedicated commitment to the Australian transport industry. He describes the experience as a touch overwhelming.

“The experience was very humbling, but it gives me even more reason to keep doing what I’m doing,” he says. “For me it’s never been work, it’s a passion.”

A big part of that passion involves efficiently operating a fleet of fine-looking prime movers that earn their stripes plying the eastern states highways connecting Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.

Castrol oils also play their part, keeping the machinery operating smoothly and efficiently for extended periods, thus contributing tangibly to the bottom line of the business.
The lighter nature of express parcel freight which makes up the bulk of the business is a contributing factor to longer component life according to Paul.

“We don’t run at the high gross weights like a lot of operators so I guess there’s an added bonus there for us, but I’m a firm believer that Castrol is the best oil around and we’re a long-time user which has given us plenty of time to assess the products in terms of how they maximise the longevity of the components in our trucks,” he says. 

Yet Paul’s satisfaction with Castrol oils goes well beyond the quality of the products. He describes the service, from delivery of the products to the technical advice and information he receives from Castrol, as second to none.
“They’re great people to work with and their delivery system is absolutely awesome,” he says.

“The deliveries are on time, every time, which is very important to us. We have a great working relationship with Castrol – it’s simply the best of the best. I can confidently say we’ve never had a failure due to an oil issue.”

As a big organisation, Castrol’s systems are according to Paul close to faultless.

“They’re just a great company to deal with. Some of the big corporates have good products but because they’re so big, customer service sometimes suffers,” he explains.

“Not Castrol. It’s like dealing with a family company – they’re very approachable, the staff are absolutely lovely and nothing’s an issue. To have that sort of culture in such a big corporation really fascinates me and I hope we can stay that way with our own company.”

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