TOP TRUCK - A step back in time

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Emerging from the forest and weighing in at over 100 tonne, The Captain and Hilary head for Kinleith.

There was a time when the Pacific brand was the truck of choice to haul big off-highway loads to mills in the central North Island. Those days have passed but ‘The Captain’ still remains.

It’s a cool day in April, the sun is shining through the trees and the sounds of native birds can be heard in the forests behind Tokoroa. Suddenly the calm is broken by the rattling sound of an empty log truck as Hilary Dahm steers her 1988 Canadian off-highway Pacific P510PS through the bush to the skid site to get another load of logs for the Kinleith Mill.

Inside The Captain. Would you want to be anywhere else in the world?

The Dahm family name is synonymous with the logging industry and Hilary, who is just 22, had this to say about growing up as a member of the Dahm family:

“I don’t know if my brothers and I ever ‘grew’ up around the trucking business because it has always just been our life. There was always an adventure to be had in the trucks, or work to be done. Some of my greatest memories are of logging adventures with Gord.

Gord and I would go in this old off-highway Mack we had, and do eucalyptus from Whakamaru. In those days I couldn’t even get a chain over; mind you they probably weighed as much as I did!”

In 2008 Gordon Dahm received a phone call from Peter Withington, the workshop fleet manager at Williams and Wilshier. Peter asked Gordon if he’d like to buy ‘The Captain’. As Gordon already owned the sister truck ‘Double Trouble’, he knew their capabilities well. The purchase was made and ‘The Captain’ was put to work on logs.

Once a common scene all over the Central Plateau, and a Wagner unloading a Pacific off-highway log truck.

Driver Gary Paltridge pedalled the big Pacific for five years. Gordon gave his daughter Hilary a turn behind the wheel to get the hang of driving a double with driver/trainer Digby Cameron, as she had expressed an interest in driving the off-highway unit.

With Hilary about to start driving the Pacific, Gordon took the chance over the Christmas break to get some panel repairs done on the cab and get the old girl repainted. The trailers, which are Patchell built, consist of a 40-foot front bailey bridge and a 32-foot back trailer, capable of carrying a payload of 35 tonne each.

Hilary Dahm and The Captain. To be driving a Pacific P510PS in 2017 is something very, very special.

The Pacific, powered by a 3406 CAT engine with an 18-speed Roadranger transmission, hauls loads into Kinleith on a regular basis with Hilary behind the wheel, which Gordon thinks is pretty cool. “She’s not afraid to get up early and put in the hard yards. I look at John Lockley and now know how he feels,” said Gordon.

Hilary feels the same way “I believe Gord and I are so lucky we can work together in our separate areas of the business for the day and then have a cuppa in the office when we’re finished, the same office that my poppa [Rob Dahm] would have sat in. I like to think that every now and then he must have a cuppa with us in the afternoon, wherever he may be.”