For King and Country

In December 2022 / January 2023, Top Truck6 MinutesBy Craig McCauleyJanuary 27, 2023

The red and white livery of DT King has been serving the rural folk of western Southland for almost a century, with the International product a stalwart in the company’s success. Shady Lady 2 is the latest in a long line of big Inters.

The name DT King is a road- transport institution in the south, its ancestry able to be traced back to the late 1920s.

Company founder, the late David Thomas King (DT), operated a flax mill near the site of the current depot at Pukemaori, 70km west of Invercargill.

He acquired a solid-tyred International truck in 1928, initially used to haul bundled flax from his mill to the nearby Orawia railhead. Word spread among the community, and an enterprising King began carrying fuel in four-gallon tins for the emerging forestry industry.

His flax and trucking operations ran in tandem for several years until stocks of flax began to dwindle, and the milling operation was wound up. King focused his attention on the transport business, and on 8 July 1938, the company of DT King & Company was registered.

Driver Wayne Todd is the third generation of his family to drive for DT King.

International trucks have featured strongly among the company’s asset register throughout the decades. K Series trucks were the predominant movers in the early years, superseded by Loadstar, Fleetstar and various models of ACCO.

International 3070s joined the fleet in the late 1970s, and these gave way to several S and T Lines throughout the 1980s.

The last International S Lines disappeared during the early 2000s, and in the ensuing decade, a mix of primarily UD, Mack and Volvo trucks were purchased.

Fleet No.149 is one of a pair of International 9870 R8s put to work by Kings in 2022, with the competitive tare weight offered a prime consideration.

Propulsion is provided by a tried- and-true drive train of American origin; a Cummins X-15 E5 engine, producing 432kW (580hp) and 2508Nm (1850lb/ft) of torque. Behind that, a manual-shift Eaton Fuller RTLO20918B transmission puts the power on the pavement via a pair of Meritor RT 46-160GP rear axles, which ride on International’s IROS air suspension.

Front axles are Meritor MFS- 143 wide track sitting on three-leaf parabolic springs with International’s ECAS air suspension on the second steer.

Intertruck supplied the 9870, painted ex-factory in King’s livery, and an Ali Arc bumper and tidy stainless- steel DEF tank covers were among the custom additions added at the Mt Manganui assembly plant.

Upon arrival in Southland, Modern Transport Trailers (MTT) in Invercargill set to work, crafting a 7.2m-long deck for the truck and 9.8m five-axle trailer, both of which feature removable 1200mm-high aluminium sides, allowing for plenty of cubic capacity when hauling bulkier products.

1 & 2) A clever setup allows the truck deck to be quickly changed over to a logging frame.
2) Photo: Wayne Todd

Modern Transport’s lift- outside equipment has become popular in the south, with operators remarking on how easy it is to operate. Handles attached to the sides make repositioning them simple, and double-swinging tailgates are among the features designed to make the operator’s life straightforward.

In the interests of versatility, an existing logging setup (bolsters and headboard) was modified to fit the International’s chassis.

A simple system made up of U-shaped saddles mounted on four corners of the truck chassis accept steel pins on the underside of the respective bodywork and are held in place by locking pins.

This setup allows for quick changeover from the deck to logging frame. In logging mode, the 9870 tows a four- axle MTT multi-bolster trailer.

Longstanding names don’t just apply to truck brands at DT King – the company has an impressive lineage, with multiple generations of members from the same family working for it. Wayne Todd drives the 9870. He has clocked up 23 years with Kings and follows on from father Mervyn and grandfather Stan, who both spent time behind the wheel of Internationals in their long careers with the company.

To acknowledge DT King’s long lineage with the International brand, the 9870 is named Shady Lady 2. The original Shady Lady was a TF2670, which carted livestock during the 1980s, when the International brand ruled the fleet.

The latest in a long history with the International brand, and operated by a driver from a family with a similar length of time in the company, makes Shady Lady 2 a first-rate choice as the New Zealand Trucking magazine Top Truck for December 2022/ January 2023.

3) The original Shady Lady, a TF2670. Photo: Dean Jackson via Big Rig Fotos.