What happened to the trucks New Zealand Trucking featured on its cover in 2007?
We’ve tracked them down and here’s what they’re up to now.
Ten years ago the transport industry was bubbling along happily, and truck sales were strong. No one knew the GFC was just around the corner and spending would slow significantly the following year. At least one of the truck operators featured went bust in the following years.
We tested a range of trucks, as technological and electronic advances were being introduced more frequently than ever before. Selective catalytic reduction (SCR) showed up in the first of the new DAF XFs to enter the country, automated manual transmissions (AMT) were becoming common, electronically controlled safety features were being introduced, and flat floors and cab comfort were recognised as benefits.
International opened their new plant in Mount Maunganui and aimed to ramp up assembly numbers, while Foden produced their last truck in 2007 and exported it to New Zealand. The evergreen debate around Japanese pricing versus European quality was raised whenever we reviewed a Japanese truck, as it still is today, and it was suggested the difference between the two regions’ products was becoming less relevant, as still happens today.
It turns out that most of the trucks have proven themselves and produced a profit for their operators. Although a couple are no longer on the road, several are still with their original buyers and three are hard to tell from almost new trucks.
ROBERT MONK TRANSPORT of Opotiki put three new Renault Premium trucks on the road in 2006. New Zealand Trucking’s first truck test of 2007 was one of the 412hp trucks with 12-speed ZF As-Tronic AMT transmissions.
We took a trip from Auckland through to Mount Maunganui in the B-train curtainsider and concluded that it was a “satisfying truck with a relatively modest powerplant under the cab”. We were also impressed with the comfort in the air-sprung cab.
Robert Monk Transport said the three Renaults gave electrical trouble and were expensive to maintain. They found an overseas parts source to reduce costs, but still sold all three trucks relatively early in their lives; the one we tested was sold in 2014 with 974,802 kilometres recorded.
It was subsequently registered to Sportsline Holdings Ltd and worked for Massam Transport Ltd carrying containers. It’s now got over one million kilometres behind it. Although the AMT change pattern was apparently upgraded, it appears no significant mechanical work has been carried out.
At the time of writing the truck is for sale at William Gill and Sons, and is still doing container work for one of their customers while they await a new Sinotruk ordered from Gills.
A 6900 SERIES Western Star Constellation named Portland Express was our cover truck in March 2007. It was owner Stephen Thorn’s first truck, although he was already a well-known driver.
The tractor unit was impressive; it sported a 62” sleeper and 550hp Cat C15 engine, 18-speed Eaton and many polished extras. It towed a new Fruehauf quad-semi curtainsider.
Within two years the truck was sold to Broadway General Carriers Ltd and operated in Freight Lines colours. It’s been there ever since, although Celtic Line Haul bought Broadway in 2017. Celtic’s North Island transport manager, Cory Knox, says she’s still an excellent truck and credits former driver Michael Harlen with looking after Portland Express for the majority of her life. The truck has spent the past year doing metro work around Auckland, but Cory has a new B-train on the way that will mean the truck can go back on line haul work. He’s trying to get Michael back from Perth to get behind the wheel again.
Portland Express has 1.1 million kilometres on the clock and had an in-frame engine rebuild 100,000km ago.
A JD HICKMAN Volvo FM Globetrotter with a 480hp Euro 3 engine and I-Shift 12-speed was the subject of the main test in April 2007. The double-shifted tractor unit hauled two sets of B-train curtainsiders.
We discussed the AMT transmission in detail; they were a pretty new feature back then and the industry wasn’t convinced AMTs would stick around. The comfort of the sleeper cab and safety aspects of the Volvo, including its disc brakes, were also mentioned favourably.
The truck clocked up a lot of kilometres and JD Hickman traded it in 2011; however it had been economical and no significant repairs were carried out while it was in their fleet. It went to Normans Transport Ltd in Morrinsville and has now travelled 1,266,000 kilometres.
With Normans it was orginally used to carry general PHOTO: COURTESY NORMANS TRANSPORT LTD PHOTO: NEW ZEALAND TRUCKING ARCHIVES PHOTO: NEW ZEALAND TRUCKING ARCHIVES freight in the Waikato/Auckland/BOP areas. It started towing a Roadmaster semi, then had a stint towing a new Roadmaster 6-axle B-train until a new truck arrived to take its place. It then went on to tow a 3-axle skelly trailer carting containers. Recently it has moved back to general freight towing the original Roadmaster semi-trailer.
Repairs haven’t been significant for the truck’s work level. It dropped a valve and required a head overhaul back in 2012, a turbo replacement in 2013, and clutch replacement in 2016.
Normans haven’t scheduled replacement. Director Adam Norman says, “It’s a well maintained reliable truck, looks good on the road and the driver enjoys operating it. We will continue to maintain and operate it indefinitely.”
Volvos are the backbone of the Normans’ fleet and they have models dating back to 1997 with no plans to remove them. Adam says, “The trucks themselves are extremely comfortable and so far second to none for reliability. This is a huge selling point for us.”
We regret to inform you that while this article was being written, the driver of the truck died when he was involved in a car accident on his way to work.
Adam Norman said, “Michael Van Den Broek (AKA Snow) had worked in the Norman’s team since November 2016 and passed away on Friday 25 August 2017. In the short while Snow was with us he made a lasting impression with his dry sense of humour and calm approach to life. No matter the time of day or how busy he was, he would always take time to say hello and ask how your day was going. Snow will be missed.”
Condolences from New Zealand Trucking to his wife Judith, daughter Georgia, workmates at Normans, and friends and family.
ONE OF THREE of Wellsford’s Wharehine Contractors’ UD Trucks CW385 was the subject of New Zealand Trucking magazine’s May test. Powered by a 385hp Nissan Diesel backed up by an Eaton 18-speed manual, the 6-wheeler tipper and 3-axle trailer was set up as a workhorse as the title suggested, and capable of hauling a payload of about 27 tonne.
We concluded that the relatively low horsepower truck was an ideal unit for its role with Wharehine Contractors.
Ten years later it is still in the same role with 688,000kms on the clock. Wharehine transport manager Sam Dingemans says, “It’s a well maintained unit and we’ll keep her going as it still does the job well. In the next few year’s it’ll get a retirement package to truck-only work. The six-rod suspension is still the best arrangement for on site work.”
The truck has the same bin as it did 10 years ago and is used every day. Its tipper work includes regular tough runs over the Dome and Matakana hills. The clutch, turbo and trunnions have been done and the engine had a top overhaul and a new cam and liners in 2015.
While the company still runs 15 UDs as the backbone of the fleet, they have been buying higher horsepower trucks to handle bigger loads, and as well as the UDs they now operate seven DAFs, four Kenworths, seven Fusos and four Isuzus.
ANWAY TRANSPORT’S Scania R470 6x4 and 3-axle semi trailer featured in June 2007. A 470hp engine and Scania 14-speed Opticruise AMT provided the drive to keep the truck running between Auckland and Hamilton, loaded both ways.
We focused on the Opticruise, but also paid positive attention to the then state-of-art EBS brakes on both the truck and trailer. The unit had disc brakes all round, traction control and load sensing EBS; these safety features were supported by Scania’s five-stage retarder, which controlled speed on descents, providing a greater safety margin than almost every other truck of the day.
The truck and run was sold to Ian Wildman within a year of the feature being printed. Ian has several trucks and the Scania continued to run between Auckland and Hamilton until this year. Changes within the customer’s business meant the run was no longer required.
The Scania now has 480,000kms on the clock and Ian says when the wheels are polished it still looks like a new truck. No serious work has been necessary, and when the Scanplan ran out Ian continued to get the truck serviced by Cable Price. He says even the brake pads are still original.
The truck and trailer are now on the market.
EIGHT INTERNATIONAL 9800i 8-wheelers were in the Turners Transport fleet in July 2007 when New Zealand Trucking reviewed one of them. The truck was an early New Zealand assembled model; they had been built here for about two years at the time. It was powered by a Cummins ISX 525hp engine backed up by an 18-speed Eaton manual gearbox. At the time the driver called it a basic truck, but he was very happy with it, and the American hardware was very capable of hard work.
The body and trailer were both fitted with Swissmaster sides as opposed to curtains. They came with a 300kg weight penalty, but had better insulation properties, an advantage for the refrigerated units. Much of the story was about the Swissmaster doors and their sealing performance, however the doors did not achieve the long-term benefits expected of them. Turners’ policy at the time was to replace line haul trucks when they were five years old and the International was replaced in about 2012.
Jackson Transport now own the truck and it is based in Napier. It’s now a bulk tipper towing a 4-axle trailer and has travelled over 1.4 million kilometres.
Since it’s been with Jackson’s it has only been driven by Ray Ohia and the International is an everyday runner carting a 29 tonne payload. Napier depot’s Arthur Te Riini says, “One day it could go to Gisborne and back then the following day it could end up in Taumarunui or Wanganui carting all sorts of products ranging from fertiliser to bark to rendering.”
When it comes to repairs, the International has proved itself very economical. Arthur says, “No major engine or gearbox work has been done to it. We have got away with just the normal regular servicing. It gets serviced every 8500 kilometres, which is pretty much every two and half weeks.”
Jacksons intend to keep this truck and eventually plan to use it as the backup truck for the fleet. They have 14 International trucks in their fleet, and are based in Hawera and Hawke’s Bay.
NEW ZEALAND TRUCKING spent some time with two of Auckland construction company Pro-Floors’ Fusos. This was during the name change period and the older of the two wore a Mitsubishi nameplate, while the other was a Fuso. Both were top of the line Shoguns with 6M70 430hp engines on tipper work. The Fuso was a rigid 6-wheeler, while the Mitsubishi had a fifth wheel and towed a 2-axle semi-trailer.
We reckoned these were great workhorses following the Mitsubishi tradition and they were likely to pull their weight for a number of years.
The Mitsubishi is still with Pro-Floors, and has completed 877,000 kilometres. It’s still on tipper work, although in about 2009 the fifth wheel was removed and the truck converted to a 6-wheeler tipper towing a 3-axle trailer.
The truck has been pretty much trouble-free – while the clutch has been replaced, the engine and gearbox have not required any significant work during 10 years of daily grind.
The Mitsubishi/Fuso stable has proven an excellent choice for Pro-Floors with low maintenance costs overall. They currently run four Fighters and 11 Shoguns.
The Fuso is no longer with Pro-Floors; its whereabouts is currently unknown. Last records for a CoF were completed in March 2011.
IN SEPTEMBER we covered a Hino 700 tractor unit working for Isaac Construction in Christchurch. It was Hino’s budget model and the company had been largely buying Mercedes-Benz over the past decade so it was quite a departure from their recent buying history. We discussed the theory that there was less difference between the Japanese and European trucks than there had been a few years earlier and that Hino’s main shareholder, Toyota, had had a significant influence on their truck quality. But Isaac’s primary incentive for buying the Hino over a Merc was the price gap.
The Hino’s most impressive feature was its torque. Although the engine only pumped out 410hp, the maximum torque of 1618Nm was present from 1000rpm through to 1800rpm.
Pulling a 2-axle tipulator around the relatively flat Christchurch area with a normal all-up loaded weight of about 34.5 tonne meant the truck wasn’t overly strained and this was a further reason for choosing the low-powered, fuel-efficient option. The power output was also reflected in a lighter Eaton 18-speed manual and lighter rear axles than those fitted in the more powerful Hino 700 option.
The Hino certainly worked out well for Isaacs and it clocked up about 450,000 kilometres in a little over 10 years. They had planned to keep it, but it was involved in an accident earlier this year and written off by Isaac’s insurers. Fortunately no one was hurt in the accident.
OCTOBER 2007 featured a logger on the cover. A UD CG450 operated by KR & JL Dykes Ltd of Rotorua was driven by Karl Dykes, son of the well-known operator Kevin Dykes, who had bought two of the UD trucks.
While the 13-litre engine output was a modest 450hp, it was torquey, producing 2254Nm at only 1200rpm. It was returning a similar performance to the higher powered CH Mack it replaced and getting over two kilometres per litre; the fuel economy was a significant part of the truck’s attraction to the buyer. The small cab made access super easy and the Japanese model had a few advantages over the traditional North American trucks that dominated forestry cartage back then.
Kevin sold the truck to another Rotorua operator, Vaughan Topliss, when he retired from 50 years of driving in 2009. Kevin points out that he had a great run with the UD.
The UD had 240,000 kilometres on the clock when Vaughan bought it. He worked it hard, but it was cheap to run and a good truck. All he did was replace the turbo and rebush the rear suspension. He traded it in on another UD in 2013 with 820,000 kilometres behind it.
After being for sale in Northland, the truck returned to the central North Island under new ownership but it only worked for about a month before the engine overheated and was overhauled. It then did two years in Northland with John Himiona Transport Ltd before being sold in May this year with 906,822 kilometres on the clock. When we caught up with the UD it had just been bought by Mark Sanson of Waimea Contracting and Waipounamu Contracting in Southland. It will join their four current loggers as a backup truck. Mark bought the truck without bolsters and it was in Kraft Engineering’s Ngongataha yard awaiting work when we photographed it.
IN NOVEMBER we carried a story about the first two new DAF XF105 model trucks to arrive in the southern hemisphere. They were both 510hp demonstration units owned by Southpac Trucks, so it wasn’t a road test as per usual.
While DAF said they evolutionised the truck rather than revolutionised it (the XF95 had been available here since 1992), they billed it as “DAF’s flagship” and claimed it “is going head-to-head with proven brands”.
The impressive cab and (almost) flat floor were covered, along with the option of 12 or 16-speed ZF AMTs. But the real difference between it and almost any other truck in the country at the time was the Euro 5 emission standard achieved through the use of SCR and DEF.
One of the demonstration trucks was sold to Keith Church’s Broadway Carriers, to run between Auckland and Wellington. Broadway was bought by Celtic Line Haul earlier this year. The truck is still working for Celtic, towing a 6-axle B-train on an Auckland to Wellington return on alternate nights six nights a week.
It has now covered 1.1 million kilometres. During the past 10 years it has had two engine rebuilds and the transmission has been replaced.
The DAF is due for replacement soon.
WHEN PANPAC owner-driver Kerry Paviour bought a new Western Star 4864FX 8x4, at the time it was the only bonetted truck in PanPac’s fleet of log trucks, and its history is the most colourful of the rigs of 2007.
Powered by a 580hp Cummins Signature driving through an Eaton manual and Meritor diffs, there was nothing surprising about the mechanicals. However the twin steer setup was unusual at the time and the second steer axle was fitted locally. Comfort, quietness and the classy addition of fully adjustable leather seats with armrests were all mentioned.
When only 10 months old, the Western Star was rolled. White Brothers bought the wreck and performed a comprehensive rebuild that included a new cab and interior.
When truck salesman Dale Greaves sold it to Steve Murphy Ltd in 2009, it had about 100,000 kilometres on the clock. Steve Murphy says, “The truck was good for us, very little trouble as with most Western Stars we have owned.”
He adds, “We carried out routine servicing and maintenance such as brakes, suspension and top tunes, but nothing too major. Its only negative was its steering lock, but you soon figured that out when you had your nose in the wrong place.”
It remained in the Steve Murphy fleet for seven years and was sold last year with about 900,000 kilometres on the clock. Steve reckons it is a good truck with plenty left in it for the new owner. Dale Greaves was the agent for the sale.
The new owner has had it for 10 months now. Nathan Marshall of Marshall Haulage Ltd had it repainted and says many think he bought it new. It’s based in Bell Block and still on logs. An experienced driver, Nathan contracts mainly to Bunn Earthmoving, although he moves logs for others too.
Since he’s owned it he has repaired an oil cooler and replaced the clutch, but he’s very happy with the Western Star.