Bad habits don’t always create a bad image

In June 2023, Kenworth, Top Truck8 MinutesBy Andrew GeddesJuly 4, 2023

Pleasant Point, 19km inland from Timaru on SH8, is best known for steam locomotives, Model T replica rail cars and Denheath custard squares. It’s the gateway to the Mackenzie Country, Mt Cook and on to Central Otago. In the past 12 months — to the locals, at least — it’s become better known for being home to a shiny, gleaming, red Kenworth.

Often noticed and admired by locals and passers- by, RT Southern Linehaul’s 2.8m K200 Aerodyne, Bad Habit, arrived in May last year, resplendent in Bascik Transport livery.

Owner-drivers Rob and Tania Jeffery and their family call Pleasant Point home, and this year sees 16 years in the transport industry. The new K200 is the fourth Kenworth (the third new) to join their single-truck operation. Undoubtedly, it’s the most impressive.

“You know the truck gets noticed by locals when you’re queried at the local fish ‘n’ chip shop as to whether Rob’s home for the weekend and likely out washing the truck,” Tania jokes.

Trucking runs deep in Rob and Tania’s families, Rob’s grandfather and Tania’s father and youngest brother all having done time behind the wheel. Rob’s father was a truck driver for companies including Hyslop Blair, Dynes Transport and Dunedin Carrying, hauling stock and logs. At Dynes, he was privileged to drive two of the company’s iconic SAR Kenworths. No stranger to the industry, Rob’s entry into driving started at 18.

Rob’s first driving job was hauling logs for Dunedin Carrying, on a 340hp Nissan Shogun longs unit. Next was a Mercedes-Benz 3235 V-series 8×4 truck and trailer called Red Pine. Keeping things in the family, Red Pine was a hand-me-down from Rob’s dad, a truck he had driven from new. A MAN then followed.

On moving to Dynes Transport, Rob found himself behind the wheel of one of the company’s two Kenworth T650 chip trucks. Unfortunately, that unit was involved in an accident while in the hands of another driver and written off, and Rob was put on the second unit. Anyone who remembers these T650s will know what great-looking trucks they were. But sadly, neither had long lives, with fire destroying the second unit.

Rob then did a stint at Clutha Valley Transport, driving a Kenworth truck and trailer unit, hauling stock. From CVT, he stepped into his first new truck, arguably one of the standout units of its day, a big-cab Freightliner Argosy and five-axle B-train for O’Brien Laminates, Mosgiel.

By this stage, Dynes had purchased Dunedin Carrying, and Peter Dynes approached Rob with an offer to drive a new K104 Kenworth 8×4 crane truck, which Rob accepted.

In 2005, Rob moved to Christchurch looking for a fresh start and a relationship with Tania, who was Christchurch born and raised. There, he initially drove an IVECO for an O/D at Owens, running to Nelson return, then had a stint at Leif Blair Transport. A brief return to Dynes for the milk season followed – it was to be Rob’s last driving job as an employee.

In 2007, the couple decided to become owner/operators and RT Southern Linehaul became a reality. Rob and Tania purchased a second- hand Kenworth K100G 8×4 day-cab dropside tipper with split-tip trailer unit. This was eventually replaced by a 2004 Freightliner Argosy. By now, they were contracting to Rangiora-based 4D Freight, and the truck had been into the paint shop for a freshen-up. I first met Rob when I was asked to come up with a fresh design. The logo and now familiar cab stripe that adorn Bad Habit are a carryover from that design process, with a few tweaks.

A move contracting to NZL Transport Group resulted in the cab being reimaged, but as work changed and contracts dried up, an opportunity arose to work for Brosnan Transport in Timaru. This turned into an eight-year stint with the company. The Argosy was replaced, initially with a new 8×4 K200 2.3 Aerodyne tractor unit, followed by a 6×4 unit as work requirements changed.

By 2021, it was time to take up new opportunities. Going full circle in their O/D venture, Rob and Tania found themselves back contracting to 4D Freight. Having contracts with Christchurch-based Bascik Transport, the K200 now runs the company’s familiar red, yellow and black livery. It hauls a company- owned six-axle TMC curtainside B-train. Running at 54-tonne, hauling general freight, foodstuff, wool, timber, or servicing Bascik’s extensive warehousing infrastructure and customers, Rob goes anywhere from Invercargill or Central Otago to Auckland and between.

When spec’ing Bad Habit, the decision to go with the Kenworth product was obvious. Rob’s a fan of the brand. Chris Gray from Southpac handled the finer details – a Cummins X-15 rated at 462kW (620hp) and 2780Nm (2050lb/ft), which drives via an 18-speed Roadranger manual transmission. Rob’s previous two Aerodynes were 2.3 models, and notwithstanding some friendly ribbing from his mates about driving a ‘day cab’, he opted for the larger 2.8 cab. Given the inter-island work and being away most of the week, living in the larger cab makes for a much nicer environment. Creature comforts include a microwave, TV and two fridges.

Where it all began 16 years ago. Photos: Rob Jeffery.

Externally, twin square fuel tanks, Kentweld alloy bumper and custom alloy fill-in panels behind the steps give the tractor a lowrider look. These, and the custom grill, stainless accents, lights and drop visor, are the work of Chris Stanley from Custom Truck and Chrome. All the other set-up work is by HDPS Engineering and Southpac Trucks.

Regarding final overall imaging, Rob was pretty much given the green light to do what he wanted to make the truck stand out. Tony Bascik’s only proviso was that the Kenworth had to sport the Bascik red base colour and company logos. Graphics, line work and paint protection film were provided by Andrew and Rochelle at Timaru Signs and Graphix.

A bad habit is seldom a claim to fame most would be proud to own, but RT Southern Linehaul’s K200 proves there’s always an exception to the rule!