Truck show time!

The Historic Transport Museum Trust is a group of people dedicated to preserving transport history in the upper South Island. They hold a show each year and in early October I went out to Pigeon Valley, south of Nelson, to have a look at this year’s event.

When Dad and I arrived, the event was already in full swing and the grounds were full of trucks.

We made our way around the grounds and there was much to look at. Trucks of all different shapes and sizes, old and new, scrubbed clean and ready to be viewed.

Many local transport companies had put in an amazing effort to get their vehicles looking their best for the show.

Some trucks that really stood out to me were three stunning Kenworth Aerodynes, belonging to Austin Transport Services, that were polished to perfection.

Four heavy tow trucks were lined up down the back of the grounds. It was neat to be able to get up close to them and Dad explained how they recover trucks that get stuck or have broken down.

We also spotted a big red truck that looked quite old-fashioned. I asked Dad about it and discovered it was the first ever Hino to come to New Zealand, brought here from Japan, all the way back in 1960.

Later on in the day, we came to my favourite part of the show, the truck pull! Teams of three people from different transport companies competed to see who could pull a truck along a short road, in the fastest time.

I watched some epic pulls by teams from the local companies and organisations (even the New Zealand Army soldiers, who had brought their military truck to the show, joined in).

The winning team only took 17 seconds. As we made our way out of the grounds, I farewelled the awesome show. The Pigeon Valley Truck Show was not one to miss!

By the time you guys read this, the holiday season won’t be very far away. Have a good time with your friends and family. I plan to get out in a couple of trucks over the school holidays and I will tell you all about it next time.

Happy holidays,

Wash time

With trucks all over New Zealand taking a battering from winter weather conditions, keeping your truck clean is important, not only because it looks nice and positively represents the industry, but also it can make spotting any maintenance issues easier than if it’s plastered in mud, dirt and grime.

Hi Little Truckers, I hope everybody is well and you are all keeping warm over winter. I have had a busy few months and there has been no opportunity to do a truck trip with Dad unfortunately.

However, I jumped at the chance to head over to Sollys Richmond Depot recently to meet up with Dad and help him wash the winter’s grime off the Scania.

Mum drove me across to Richmond, I caught up with Dad and after being shown the controls and what to do I was able to drive the Scania onto the wash pad…..what a thrill!

We wet the truck down, then sprayed it with detergent from the foam gun, before sponging the cab and wheels and scrubbing the rest of the unit with a soft brush.

Dad and I then had ‘turn-about’ using the water blaster to clean off the loosened dirt. As we worked our way around the truck and trailer, I asked Dad if he liked washing his truck.

“It’s certainly not my favourite part of the job but I like the finished result,” he said.

I think he secretly hopes I will offer to clean it each week!

We left the Scania to dry in the sun and headed to the smoko room where Dad said he ‘would shout me a cup of tea’ for helping with the washing.

On our way across the yard, I saw Leighton using an interesting-looking machine to shine the alloy wheels on the trailer behind his Iveco.

It’s called a Rim Shine machine and has three rotating arms with soft pads on them. They fit inside of the alloy wheel rims on a truck or trailer. After putting some polish on them, you roll the machine inside the rim and turn it on, it spins and gives them a brilliant shine, without having to do it by hand, using polishing rags.

Talking of shiny things, I hope many of you Little Trucker readers get to the TMC Trucking Industry Show, being held at the Canterbury Park Showgrounds in Christchurch on 25 and 26 November.

There will be hundreds of trucks to gush over and heaps of other trucking-related activities. I look forward to seeing you there!

Heavy Haulin

Hey Little Truckers, I hope everyone is well and has seen some cool trucks out and about. Recently, I had the chance to learn all about heavy haulage, and how over dimensional (high, wide, and heavy) loads are moved.

On a cool morning in April, Dad and I drove down to Reefton on the South Island’s West Coast, to meet up with Daniel McKenzie from Satherley Transport, who took me on a rather exciting trip.

Parked on Broadway (Reefton’s main street), was a stunning Kenworth T909 with a massive load on, a Hitachi EX1200 excavator weighing around 65 tonne.

We had a walk around the Kenworth. It has a 615hp Cummins Signature engine and was towing a two-rows-of-eight load divider and a four-rows-of-eight trailer. Let me explain a little more. Firstly, a loaddivider is a small trailer between the prime-mover (truck), and main trailer. Its job is to take some of the weight off the primer-mover and prevent overloading. Also, when we’re talking about heavy transporters like this one, we say ‘rows’ rather than axles. The reason is, there are no axles that run right across like a normal highway trailer, instead the wheels are in four groups of two across the width of the trailer – that’s why we say ‘eight’ (4×2=8). There are two groups at the outside, and two either side of centre. They are built like this so there are more wheels and tyres to carry the load. In total, we had 58 tyres on the road!

This colossal load was destined for the Stockton coal mine, north of Westport and I was lucky enough to be invited to come for the trip.

The excavator was so large that the cab, arm, and bucket had to be removed from it and was taken to Stockton the previous day on another truck.

Satherley Transport are a New Zealand-wide heavy haulage company. Their big blue Kenworths can be seen all over the country with some pretty cool loads on.

I climbed into the cab with Daniel and we headed off. Two pilot utes travelled in front of us, warning road users that a large vehicle was approaching, and they also let Daniel know of other hazards.

Many oversize load moves take place in the early hours of the morning to avoid traffic, however, this load was able to be done in the daytime, which was a special treat for all passersby to see.

The most direct way from Reefton to Stockton is via Inangahua Junction and the Lower Buller Gorge, however the load was too big to travel on that route.

Instead it was south over the Reefton Saddle (a big hill!) and down the Grey Valley. Daniel skilfully manoeuvred the load over the very narrow Mawheraiti Bridge, and we drove through the Grey Valley to Nelson Creek.

Here we turned left and travelled inland through Deep Creek, re-joining State Highway 7 at Stillwater just North of Greymouth.

From here it was across the Grey River and through Taylorville where we turned right onto State Highway 6 toward the coal town of Runanga.

Daniel has hauled many different loads in his time working for Satherley Transport, including different types of construction, forestry, and mining equipment.

He showed me a folder that had permits in it. They showed where the truck is able to travel and how much weight can be carried on certain roads. The permits also detail where the bridges are enroute and what instructions need to be followed when crossing a particular bridge with an oversized load.

I asked Daniel how heavy the truck, load divider, and trailer plus the excavator would weigh added together, he said “around 100 tonnes.”

North of Runanga State Highway 6 follows the coastline for much of the way towards Westport. At a place known as ‘the Ten-Mile’, Daniel executed a three-point-turn and crossed a bridge. I looked out the mirror and had an amazing view of the excavator from behind as it came across the bridge.

The sky darkened and a light drizzle started north of Punakaiki where the famous Pancake Rocks are, however this didn’t cause us any issues and the Kenworth with its big Cummins engine made easy work of the job.

As we got closer to Westport there was a lot more traffic around. We crossed the Buller River and turned into Mill Street. Unfortunately, after a fascinating day I had to say goodbye to Daniel.

Dad picked me up and we drove 25 minutes north to Granity where the Stockton mine turn-off is. We parked the car and patiently waited for Daniel at what is known as ‘The Grand Canyon’, a really steep section of the road into the mine. To help Daniel and the Kenworth get the load up the grade, Jared Avery from local Westport company Avery Brothers hooked his Hino tipper on the front.

The flashing of pilot vehicle lights came into sight, and we saw Jared, then Daniel. Working together they steadily climbed the incredibly steep mine access road.

We watched the excavator disappear through the gates into its new home at the mine where it will be put back together before going to work.

Just another day for a heavy haulage truck driver, but a lasting memory for a truck and heavy machinery enthusiast.

Trip to Golden Bay

Hey Little Truckers, I hope you have all had a great Christmas and New Year! I have been quite busy these holidays but I still managed to fit a really cool trip in.

On Christmas Eve 2021, I jumped in the cab with Dad, and we made our way over to Takaka, Golden Bay to complete a delivery and load up. We headed off at 6am on a journey of just over an hour, made a bit quicker than last time as the roadworks on the Takaka Hill had finally been completed after damage from Cyclone Gita in 2017.

We made it to the Sollys Depot on Commercial Street where we tipped the trailer load of palm kernel off in the bulk store.

We unhooked the trailer and went to a farm at Hamama. When we arrived, we started to unload the truck load of palm kernel. Palm kernel is popularly used as stock food for cattle. I had the pleasure of meeting a very friendly calf there, who came over to say hello, while Dad worked on unloading.

A trailer load of palm kernel gets unloaded

He tipped half the load off before jumping out and borrowing the farmer’s tractor, to push the kernel up into the back of the shed. He was then able to tip off the other half of the load. He did this because the shed was too low to tip straight into and tipping it off altogether would result in a big mess, leaving the kernel out in the weather! This is a practice for many truck drivers, with some customers often leaving their tractors, forklifts, and loaders nearby for them to use. Drivers being able to drive tractors, forklifts and loaders are skills that many drivers learn early in their career.

Palm kernel is used as food for cattle

I farewelled the calf and we made a quick trip back to Sollys depot to hook up the trailer. Shortly after we bounced on up to the Golden Bay Dolomite plant located at Mount Burnet at the northwest corner of the South Island. The views out to the Tasman Sea and along the coastline, from the deck of the site office there, are beautiful. While I was playing photographer and catching some action photos, Dad got on the loader and packed the bins full of dolomite. This load was headed for Canterbury, between Christmas and New Year. Before heading back over the Takaka Hill with its 360° corners, we stopped back at the Sollys depot for a drink, something off the barbeque, and a catch-up with some of the drivers who were enjoying the staff Christmas Eve shout. We made it back home to Motueka for lunch with the family eagerly awaiting Christmas the next day. All in all, this short half- day trip was efficient and accomplished all that was needed, while affording me a meeting with a very cool furry friend.

I look forward to the next trip!

Truck and trailer working together!

Truck drivers often know how to drive tractors, forklifts and loaders too.

A gorgeous Sollys R-Series Scania

On the road with Milly

My name is Milly McCauley. I am 14 years old, and I have grown up around trucks for my whole life.

I am a Year 9 student and I go to Garin College in Richmond, near Nelson in the South Island.

My dad is a truck driver for Sollys Contractors, and we live in Motueka. He would often ask if I wanted to come along for a quick ride in the truck with him, running a load of stock food over the Takaka Hill to Golden Bay for the afternoon, or to cart a load of Dolomite to Southland, staying away in motels for several nights. I have always leapt at the chance.

My first ride was when I was three years old. I lived in Reefton at the time and Dad took me to deliver a load of hay to Rotomanu, near Greymouth. I still take any chance I can to jump in the truck to spend some time on the road.

Having the opportunity to go on rides with Dad has been exciting because I have been able to travel all around New Zealand and see some amazing stuff, even if it’s through a large cab window at 4am in the morning with a hot pie and Coke in hand (a nutritious breakfast for little truckers).[/vc_column][/vc_row]

I originally come from the deep south of the South Island. I have now been to many of the main cities, small towns, and villages in both the north and south islands. I have also travelled across the Cook Strait on all the different ferries on various trips. We’ve seen a multitude of trucks and admired them on the way.

My grandfather was also a truck driver, and my dad has been taking truck photos since he was 11. So, I guess I am the third generation of truck enthusiasts in our family.

Being involved with the transport industry through my father has given me a platform to share my experiences with you all. Dad taught me how to take photos when I was younger, and I have continued with that as a hobby. I have also been able to contribute my interest in photography and videography to New Zealand Trucking magazine – I am one of the editors of the online Out and About video features and I have written some feature articles.

Besides school and contributing to the magazine, I also have a white British shorthair cat called Benjamin, who is completely deaf, who I hang out with heaps. I love dance and have been attending jazz and contemporary classes since I was four.

Little Trucker Down Under is going to be an awesome platform where we talk trucking and transport. You can learn about my journeys in and around trucks and learn more about the transport industry, through articles and stories recorded within these pages. I am super-excited to have this opportunity where I can share with you what it’s like being a trucking kid and I’m sure many of you will be able to relate to these experiences. I can’t wait to start sharing all my adventures with you, and even learn about some of yours!

Thanks for reading! I can’t wait to show you guys what’s been going on and I am looking forward to hearing about your journeys.