Fresh out of old-skool

In Top Truck, November 20227 MinutesBy Carl KirkbeckDecember 22, 2022

Drop-sider trucking ranks right up there with pavlova and yellow kiwifruit when it comes to vigorously defended New Zealand intellectual property. With its roots firmly embedded in the early agricultural workshops of the back roads of rural New Zealand, the drop-sider is that superlative blend of multi- functional flat-deck and bulk tipper our very own electrode- wielding Dr Frankensteins brought together.

Bo’s connection to drop-siders starts with his grandfather Ian Lord, who ran a general carrying business out of Normanby in South Taranaki. Bo explains: “My first memories of trucking are pouring over photos at my grandparents’ place of all the trucks they used to operate. Looking at what they used to get up to was pretty cool. The trucks were old-school drop- siders with the wooden sides. They’d come into the yard, whip off the sides, drop the crate on and go out to pick up a load of hoggets for the works, then come back and set up for bulk to head down to the railhead and load off the train with the clamshell. Yeah, pretty cool stuff, all right.”

Diesel and driving feature heavily throughout the family’s careers. “My nana used to run the local school bus. She would run the kids to school, then come back home to make the boys’ lunch and take that up to the yard for them. Then, later in the afternoon, get back in the bus and drop the kids back home again.

“Then, there is Mum. She has her class-5 licence. She drove for Kiwi Dairies out of Hawera on the tankers. Now she drives a little Freightliner FL80 6×4 tipper locally on general earthworks.

“A funny story – when she was younger, she would have sneaky drives of Grandad’s trucks around the yard when he was out. So, yeah, driving definitely runs in the family.”

Growing up in and around the transport industry has left a lasting impression on Bo. “I started playing with Matchbox toys as a youngster, and now here we are. I guess the toys have just gotten bigger,” he says with a laugh.

Like so many of us, Bo left school at 15 and was told he needed a trade qualification behind him. He started a building apprenticeship, but after three years of hitting thumbs, he turned 18 and thought, ‘Right, I can get my class 4 and 5 licences now.’ Compiling a CV at his dad’s work, Bo bumped into Russell Hawkes of Taupo- based Hawkes Cranes. On hearing Bo’s plans, Russell immediately offered to help him get his class 4 and 5 if he quit his job and started with him immediately. Three years of interesting and varied work at Russell Hawkes led to an opportunity to finally get into a linehaul drop-sider with Rhys Adlam at Huka Haulage.

“Rhys handed me the keys to a Signature 620-powered flat-roof K104 truck and trailer combination. It sure was one cool rig to operate.” A quick stint with Bo’s dad at Lakeland Drilling was next, looking to be involved in the family business, but the call of the road was far too strong.

Encouragement from his good mate Kaden Parkinson convinced Bo to finally have a chat with Kaden’s dad, Aaron Parkinson of Taupo-based Hog Haulage, about a job. A quick conversation with Aaron and Bo was a gainfully employed team member.

Bo’s steed is a new K200 flat-roof Kenworth known as War Machine. Powered by the mighty X-15 Cummins, set at 615hp, with a Roadranger RTLO22918 18-speed manual transmission certainly keeps it real, especially with three pedals on the floor. A point worth noting is that War Machine, as seen on these pages, is the net result of at least a year’s worth of planning and building by the team at Hog Haulage. It was to be Kaden’s pride and joy. However, as Kaden plans to make the shift from the road to the office in the next six months or so, he suggested to Aaron that it would be better to give the truck to Bo from new, seeing as he was coming on board and would end up with it anyway. We tip our hat to you, Kaden – that truly is the measure of a man in the trucking industry, someone prepared to do what is right for the business, even though it means handing over the keys to what would have been yours. Top marks, mate.

The nine-axle War Machine combination is the epitome of how a drop-sider should be configured. Fresh from the Roadmaster workshops, it is a well-executed build that has been thought through at the drawing-board stage with well-laid-out and ample storage. The finished result is crisp and clean, a hallmark of the Hog Haulage fleet.

For general carriers, the drop-sider really is the Swiss army knife of transportation. As Bo accurately puts it: “The drop-sider is so versatile, every load is different. Every day is different. But regardless of how dirty the work can get, you must keep it clean. You must be able to drive past those shop windows and see those shiny wheels.”

We couldn’t agree more.