TOP TRUCK - Progressing with the tried and true

Thursday, September 19, 2019

The two-tone green Volvo FHs of Otorohanga Transport and its associated companies have been synonymous with longdistance livestock movement since the mid 1990s. The current version is still a common sight on New Zealand’s roads.


Photo: Stock Lines Limited has standardised on Domett decks and trailers along with Nationwide Stock Crates.

The Barker name is synonymous with livestock transport the length and breadth of New Zealand, with lineage stretching back to 1963 when the late Jim Barker and Dennis Dow purchased local carrier Whittington Perry Limited and renamed it Otorohanga Transport. New Zealand Trucking magazine’s Top Truck title has previously been bestowed on two families of two-tone green Volvos. The company’s first-ever FH12-420 was featured in the September 1995 issue, followed almost two decades later by one of the first new generation FH540 Volvo 9-axle HPMV livestock units to go to work in New Zealand. This month’s Top Truck, a Volvo FH16-700, operates under the Stock Lines Limited banner, a name that has its origins in 2008 when the upper North Island Otorohanga Transport operation become wholly owned by the Dow family. Otorohanga’s South Island-based trucks, along with the Nelson Marlborough Transport operation and latterly Manawatu Transport, combined to form Stock Lines, owned by the Barker family.

Today Stock Lines encompasses a fleet of 35 trucks based between Feilding and Ashburton, servicing the South Island and lower North Island. The company is owned by the Barker Family Trust and enjoys a close working relationship with OTL Group Limited (incorporating Lime Haulage Limited), owned by the Dow family, which services the rest of the country. Together both have a large livestock carrying capacity. Owen Stewart drives the FH16-700 from its Nelson base. Specified with a 5300mm wheelbase, the truck has a Domett 7.6-metre (25-foot) deck and Nationwide Stockcrates crate, while the Domett trailer that runs 17.5” wheels is fitted with an 11.2-metre (37-foot) crate.


Photo: Driver Owen Stewart enjoys the comfort of the FH16-700 cab.

Both crates are three-deck-sheep/ two-deck-cattle combinations and the Volvo operates currently as a 50MAX combination, giving it good access to much of New Zealand’s hinterland. The FH16-700 represents a significant evolution in terms of Volvo trucks put to work by the Barker family and their associated entities over the past two and a half decades, with substantial advances in terms of horsepower, driver comfort and payload capability. A 16.1-litre Euro 5 Volvo D16G- 700 engine provides motive power, producing 522kW (700hp) and 3150Nm (2323 lb/ft) of torque. The engine can provide up to 425kW (570hp) of retardation, courtesy of Volvo’s VEB engine braking system. An all-Nordic drivetrain transfers the horsepower to the highway using the 12-speed ATO3112F I-Shift transmission, which incorporates Volvo’s TP-LONG software package, ideally suited for fuel-efficient long-haul operation.

Rear axles are 3.40:1 ratio Volvo RTS2370Bs with full differential locks between the axles and wheels. This 23 tonne rated bogie rides on an 8-bag RADDGR air suspension and the truck is shod with Alcoa Dura-Bright wheels. Owen spends his working day inside what could arguably be described as one of the best-appointed cabs currently available on the New Zealand market. The Volvo SPL sleeper cab features a sunroof and has an internal height of 171cm, allowing ease of movement between the seat and reclining bunk. Multiple storage cupboards and a 33-litre fridge ensure the cab is well set up for nights away from home.

Driver acceptance was one of the reasons given by Stock Lines Limited director and general manager Paul Parsons when asked why Volvo had become the truck of choice for Stock Lines. “The drivers seem to be happy to drive them, they are a good fleet truck, reliable, and there is a good network of dealers able to fix them when needed,” he said. When it comes to the whys and wherefores of what defines a Top Truck, these reasons make the Stock Lines Volvo a worthy candidate for the September 2019 title.

Today Stock Lines encompasses a fleet of 35 trucks based between Feilding and Ashburton,
servicing the South Island and lower North Island.