TOP TRUCK - Savage STAR

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Living in Central Otago is a privilege in any case, but for one operator at McNulty’s Transport, it’s just that little bit better.

Operating the most recent acquisition in the McNulty’s Transport fleet from Cromwell is Brendon Savage. Brendon came to Central Otago about five years ago from Wilsons Bulk Transport Ltd in Ashburton to start work at Central Machine Hire in Wanaka. He started on an RB Mack, and at 27 he was a year older than the truck he drove, so that was character building. A move to Cromwell saw him take up a role driving a Freightliner Columbia for McNulty’s Transport on the demanding run from their Amisfield Quarry near Cromwell, to Frankton on the outskirts of Queenstown, carting aggregates for the Firth concrete plant there. On the day Brendon turned 32, managing director Brian McNulty told him they had ordered a new Western Star 4864FXC to replace the Freightliner Columbia he was currently on. “They want to carry more weight without going to an 8-wheeler with a 5-axle trailer.


Photo: Transport Engineering Southland (TES) is Brian McNulty’s preferred supplier when it comes to trailing gear and bodies.

They saw the Star and it got the nod,” said Brendon. “It was also a tipper spec unit.” A great deal from the Penske team included painting the unit in McNulty’s colours. “The short 5-axle trailer is ideal,” Brendon said. “The concrete plants are tight, so a short 5-axle trailer was perfect. The Star has a payload of 36 tonnes, five more than the previous Freightliner.” Aptly named Savage Star, the truck creates a real presence on the road, helped by its operator, who keeps it pristine. Brendon gets on the road about 4am most mornings and has been known to be in polishing the truck at 2am. That’s dedication right there. And it’s something not lost on Brian McNulty, who is full of praise for the way the truck is looked after and operated.


Photo: The Western Star’s clean lines and uncomplicated livery come together well, resulting in a striking machine – the old less is more lesson again.

Savage Star was painted white in Christchurch and came down to be set up with its new trailer and bins by Stephen Keast and his team at Transport Engineering Southland (TES). Stephen is another person Brian has high praise for, the firm doing all of McNulty’s gear. Hilton Signs in Cromwell did the graphics; understated but very effective. Five loads of aggregate per day head through to Frankton from the Amisfield Quarry, keeping the Queenstown building industry on its toes. That’s 10 times a day that Brendon navigates the Kawarau Gorge Road and no two trips are the same, due mainly to the nature of the other road users frequenting one of the country’s most popular tourist spots. McNulty’s has added a dash camera to the truck just in case the worst happens. The Frankton run is what the Star does most, but once a month it gets a run to Oamaru and Dunedin just to show Brendon there’s more to the region than the beautiful scenery he sees on a daily basis.


Photo: From left: Brendon Savage (driver) Brian McNulty (managing director), and Brett ‘Spike’ Tomkies (transport manager).

The Western Star runs the DD15 rated at 418kW (560hp) and producing 2508Nm (1850lb/ft) of torque. Transmission is an Eaton Roadranger RTLO-20918B and the rear end Meritor RT46-160GP at 4.3:1 and 20,900kg capacity. The million-kilometre warranty with this powerplant also helped seal the deal. The Star is the first of its kind in a mostly Freightliner and Isuzu fleet, with a couple of Hinos in the mix as well. The company’s work includes servicing the construction industry with aggregate trucks, crane trucks, cement tankers, and agitator trucks. Brian McNulty and transport manager Brett ‘Spike’ Tomkies are impressed with the unit, which has clocked up 80,000km since it arrived in September last year. McNulty’s has been in the transport game for just over 140 years. Brian’s great-grandfather started the business in 1878; suffice to say prudent decision making is in the bloodline. The choice of Brendon Savage and a Western Star 4864FXC with its TES gear are just two of the latest.