The Rigs of 2008

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

What happened to the trucks New Zealand Trucking featured on its cover and road tested back in 2008? Well, we have tracked them down and here is what they are getting up to now.

Turn the clock back a decade and there were warning bells and alarms starting to sound as financial markets began to haemorrhage around the world. In ’07 if you asked the average Kiwi in the street who Lehman Brothers were they would probably have answered a country and western band, however by mid-September ’08 Lehman Brothers were top of the 6pm news.

Their US-based bankruptcy had sent not ripples but tidal waves crashing through the world banking industry, contributing significantly to the global financial crisis (GFC) of the late-2000s. New Zealand was not exempt; we too found ourselves having to tighten the belt and be financially mindful. The national records show the effects of the GFC, with vehicle registrations that had been achieving significant growth over the previous years suddenly plateauing as vehicle owners made the decision to hold back on purchasing new.

Through the turmoil the transport industry was in the midst of releasing new models, with amongst other things larger front grilles aimed at increasing airflow to accommodate the new emission control technologies being implemented. Some engine manufacturers were still experimenting with exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) systems on their offerings to try and meet the forthcoming new EPA rules as well as Euro 4 and 5 on the horizon. Caterpillar decided in late ’08 it was time to announce a complete exit from supplying the worldwide heavy-duty truck market, much to the dismay of many. Kenworth Bayswater had released its updated model range, suffixed with an 08, designed to comply with the new ADR 80-02 emission standards.

The appearance of the 8x4 bonneted tractor unit pulling super quad trailers continued to accelerate amongst most brands, including Mack with the introduction of the twin-steer Trident. Automated Manual Transmissions(AMTs) also continued their development and infiltration into the market. The products started to display their increased reliability and user friendliness as more hit the road, in return earning acceptance in certain applications.

Once again throughout the duration of 2008 New Zealand Trucking featured a broad spectrum of truck brands in a wide variety of applications. To our delight all but one, which had an unfortunate and untimely demise, continue solid service on a daily basis, earning their keep. We also found six that are impressively still with their original owners, and one other that is currently enjoying a factory based rebuild-rebirth, including a brand new 5-axle trailer while in the process of changing fleets. Let’s take a look at the Class of ’08.

Photos are in Then/Now Order

T408 On The Trail

EDT555 – TDL – Kenworth T408 With ADR 80-02 and Euro 4 and 5 requirements just around the corner, in 2008 the development team at Kenworth in Australia had jumped the queue with the release of an entirely new line-up designed to accommodate the new powertrain technologies. Transport Dynamics Ltd (TDL) was the first to have a T408 off the rank and working. An early pre-production unit, it was equipped with the latest offering from Caterpillar, the C15 ACERT, mated up to an Eaton Fuller RTLO18918A AutoShift transmission with the optional Cobra shift lever fitted. The combination has proven to be a solid performer for TDL throughout the years, with little to report. After its stint in line haul with the B-train curtainsider, the tractor unit was transitioned into metro swinglift operations, and later on to skeletal container movements. Now the unit can be found in a position of ‘semi’-retirement, based at a TDL client’s facility in Wiri and working as a yard shunter, moving the company trailers as required.

MARCH 2008
Spud Shifter

EBG99 – Riordan & West – Freightliner Argosy
The present-day fleet for Riordan & West Transport from Pukekohe is heavily weighted towards the Freightliner product, with no fewer than 19 examples of the marque being graced with the standout two-tone blue and white livery (most recently fleet number 6 featured in New Zealand Trucking magazine August 2018). Back in 2008 EBG99 was the fourth Argosy in the fleet and was set up as a dedicated bulk unit with a matching 4-axle trailer. This combination’s primary task was the collection and distribution of waste potatoes. Talking to Dave West he is very quick to bestow praise upon the brand, the product, and their dealer, Trucks & Trailers Ltd in Wiri, who have served them admirably. This truck in particular is testament to that claim.

Having completed 700,000 trouble-free kilometres, the Detroit Diesel 60 Series received a birthday rebuild, and at 1.2 million kilometres the AutoShift and driveline have only ever had general maintenance. “In fact, it still has the original clutch in it,” remarked Dave. The truck is still very much in daily use and is now more versatile, having been converted to a swap body system with fifth wheel also. Duty called recently where EBG99 had to step up to the frontline for six months with the start of a new contract running three loads of coiled steel a week to Wellington while the new purpose-built number 6 was under construction, and like a trooper EBG99 got on and got the job done.

APRIL 2008
Real MAN for hard work

Was EFA712 now KWD375 – Classic Transport – MAN
EFA712 has had an interesting first 10 years, with no fewer than five owners in that time. As tested it was the pride and joy of Classic Transport on general freight duties operating out of Lower Hutt. The next registered owner is shown as Midway Haulage Ltd from Taupo from February 2011. From there the unit was with Penske Commercial Vehicles NZ in Manukau from February 2013. In June of 2014 Anton’s Seafoods Ltd of Auckland purchased the truck and put it to work distributing the company’s seafood products throughout the North Island. It was September 2017 when EFA712 was purchased by Machinery Relocations Ltd (MR-L) of Penrose to join the fleet on all manner of semitrailer work.

Talking to James Fogarty from MR-L we learn that the MAN is a pleasure to drive and has lived up to their expectations with the ability to complete the task at hand, however some rather expensive maintenance work and EGR repairs have tainted the relationship slightly. With that in mind James is quick to add that when you purchase an older truck you expect a niggle or two to iron out. “All that aside, if the Russians buy them secondhand and send them off to Siberia then that’s a good measure of product reliability in my eyes,” said James with a laugh.

MAY 2008
Trident Twins

EEE287 & EBW182 – Barry Caulfield – Mack Trident
An opportunity to join the Tahoe forest harvest presented itself to Barry Caulfield, which resulted in a request to the team at Motor Truck Distributors in Palmerston North to supply a matched pair of twin steer 8x4 Mack Tridents. The challenge was accepted by the creative team at Palmy, resulting in the very first twin steer Tridents on New Zealand’s roads. Later the pair made their way into the McCarthy Transport Ltd fleet where they operated successfully until 2014, at which time they were sold on.

Now EEE287 can be found with DM Transport operating out of Wellington, and EBW182 is with Hood Transport also out of Wellington, with both units still operating on logs. EBW182 has been and continues to be a good reliable workhorse for Hood Transport; unfortunately DM Transport have had a couple of component issues with EEE287 to do with engine management and the associated wiring loom and intercooler. Both companies made the decision along the way to swap out the 18 series Roadrangers for the stronger 20 series units purely for ongoing reliability out in the bush. As Dave from DM Transport said, “They might not win any races, but at the end of the day they get on and get the job done not that far behind”.

JUNE 2008
World first For Scania

EHS70 – Murray Crooks – Scania R500
This Scania was in effect a prototype for the marque. Murray Crooks approached CablePrice and asked the question, ‘Can we spec an 8x4 tractor unit?’ As luck would have it a highly specced cancelled order for a R500 rigid truck 8x4 was available. The okay was obtained from Scania HQ to remove the excess rails and modify the chassis into a tractor unit. There were a few suspension set-up niggles to sort along the way, however the result was as good as anything the motherland factory would have produced, and these Kiwi number 8 wire efforts paved the way for the production model. When first delivered, Murray was unsure of the Opticruise AMT transmission; safe to say these initial jitters evaporated as the benefits were soon realised. Records show that the unit changed hands in February 2012, and unfortunately also show that it was in the wrong place at the wrong time on the Desert Road and ended up written off by its insurer in April of 2015.

JULY 2008
Stock Mercedes with extras
EDJ966 – CPT – Mercedes 3254

When Canterbury Plains Transport Ltd (CPT) took delivery of EDJ966 there were already four other Mercedes- Benz Actros units within the fleet. However there was one significant difference, this particular V8 powered 3254 dedicated stock unit was the first in the fleet specified with an automated manual transmission (AMT). The G330 Powershift 12-speed made an immediate lasting impression on managing director Mike Cowens. That impression continues right through to the present day with big horsepower Mercedes-Benz trucks fitted with AMT transmissions making up the lion’s share of the CPT fleet (Refer New Zealand Trucking magazine May 2018 road test of CPT’s new Arocs 3263). Talking to Mike we find that EDJ966 has been a solid performer and has more than met expectations, requiring normal levels of maintenance and no real nasty surprises along the journey thus far. At time of writing this there was no indication of EDJ966 retiring any time soon from daily duties, there is still far too much work to get through.

Hino Torques Big
EMG799 – Northland Bulk Haulage – 700 series Hino

Again we have a truck that was well specified at time of order and 10 years on it is still performing both on task and on paper. We will let Mark Klinac of Keriland Earthworks tell the story this far. “We have had a good run out of this truck, as with the other three Hinos we are currently running. It has now done just over 800,000 kilometres and still goes as well as the day it went on the road. A good call at the time was specifying this truck with the Dana rear end. It made for a very comfortable ride and gave amazing traction off road. We are yet to find an option that can better it, or for that matter even match it off-road.

The only major work this truck has required were new heads and manifolds plus a turbo, however this seems to be a common problem with this model, although with the number of kilometres now on the clock we cannot grizzle too much. If they had disc brakes they would be very hard to head off regarding bang for buck. All in all the 700 series has carried on from where the old 380 Hinos left off. A bloody good reliable workhorse that does the job well.” Well said.

DAF Playing Hard Balle
EMN978 – Balle Brothers – DAF

Ten years ago Don Wilson placed this standout CF85 stock unit on the road. Stepping out from behind the shadows of its stablemates, the DAF XF105 and K108 Kenworth, this truck soon proved its ability with its US influenced driveline and Euro styling. As our editor at the time, the late John Murphy, so aptly wrote, ‘Rocky Balboa in an Armani suit’. Talking with Don about EMN978 you soon understand his respect for both the marque and the level of back-up and support for the product he has received from Southpac.

“This particular truck suffered a serious engine failure at 400,000 kilometres and Southpac went above and beyond to sort out the problem under warranty and get us back on the road as fast as possible. Commitment and loyalty to the brand all comes back to the quality of after sales support, and Southpac have been superb.” EMN978 now has more than 1,000,000 kilometres on the clock and works as hard for the fleet today as it did when first tested. “It has been a great truck, and although a new K200 has just joined the fleet, we will definitely be ordering more DAF product in the future,” said Don.

Southern Kenworth Easy Rider
L8LOAD – Anderson Linehaul – T408SAR KW

As we saw with the Jan/Feb 08 issue, Kenworth had been busy redesigning their entire model line-up ready for the impending, more stringent, emission requirements just around the corner. Being a fan of the classic SAR, Dwight Anderson of Anderson Linehaul set about ordering a new T408SAR when they became available, an addition to the fleet working a contract with BOC New Zealand. The truck was ordered with a healthy array of accessories and bling; however the order was placed four weeks after the cut-off for Euro 4, which meant if it was to be built with a Cummins it had to be an EGR unit. As was the case with a number of operators who lived through the early EGR years, this would prove to be an Achilles heel for this truck. For all the EGR heartache along the way, the truck has got on and done its job and is still a head turner. The truck remains in the hands of Dwight and is seen in and around Kennington on all manner of tasks.

Mack Granite rocks
ENS977 – Coastline Transport – Mack Granite

At the time, the much-anticipated arrival of the Granite did not disappoint. This was more than just a replacement for the Vision, it was also a bold step towards the future for the marque with the new MP8 heart beating to a Scandinavian rhythm. What is now accepted as being the norm back then were early steps towards a global product that shared the best of both Mack’s American heritage and Volvo’s technological advancements. Coastline Transport in the Bay of Plenty was one of the first off the rank with a Granite, double-shifting it on bulk cement deliveries. The lugging capability of the new MP8 500 over the EA7 470 in the older CH was the immediate observation. The truck was moved across to Fletcher Construction & Infrastructure Ltd in 2009 and continued the task of distributing the Golden Bay Cement product throughout the Bay.

Midway through 2015 it was returned to TR Group, and in March of 2016 it found a home with the team at Relocation Contractors Ltd in Rotorua. Talking to Dean from RCL you hear how the fleet has its pedigree firmly placed in the Bulldog brand, and adding this younger pup to the line-up was a natural progression. “The rig is well suited to the task that we ask of it,” said Dean. “It is the perfect match to the older Bulldogs that do the heavy lifting, with this rig perfectly geared to run down the highway with its purpose-built 4-axle removal trailer.”

International’s sweet success
EQL486 – Toll – International 980i

A contract for Toll with Cadbury running between the North and South Islands bought about the need to find no fewer than 12 combinations that could deliver a calculated result. After extensive research the resulting solution was to become known as the ‘International 9800i 63TS 8x4 Eagle day cab – Cadbury Spec’. The homework paid off, with a solid driveline specification delivering the numbers at the bottom of the balance sheet. EQL486 enjoyed a long and productive life contracting with Vanzanco Ltd under the Toll banner. April of this year saw it change ownership for the first time into the Daltons Landscape Supplies fleet from Matamata. Talking with Peter Crawford from Daltons we find that five of the original line-up now reside at the depot.

Peter said the original spec was the attraction of these units and just how well they fit their application. EQL486, as seen here now, is currently undergoing a factory rebirth at the Intertruck Distributors (NZ) Ltd plant at Mount Maunganui. Chatting to Hugh Green from Intertruck he describes the bumper-tobumper process and how all aspects of the unit are given the once-over. “This is a whole lot more than just a coat of new glossy paint,” says Hugh proudly, and looking at the end result it is fair to say they will be good for another 10 years.