Ride-along on day one

In Kenworth, Custom Corner, May 20224 MinutesBy Marty CrooksJune 2, 2022

It was one week out from Christmas when Harley Tripae collected ‘The Dirty Rascal’ as a completed, ready-to-work logger from Rotorua and travelled back to Wellington with his new steed. I stumbled across Harley and ‘The Dirty Rascal’ parked up not far from my home and – trust me – seeing it for the first time, I could not believe what I was looking at – a Wellington-based logger that looked that spectacular.

I got chatting to Harley and soon a plan was hatched for me to meet up after the holiday break and grab the passenger seat for day one in the bush. Fortunately, on the first day back after the break, Wellington put its best foot forward and gave us a perfect blue sky. We headed out over the Rimutakas and beyond Martinborough to a private forestry block located at Whiterock. Although it was a narrow gravel road up to the skid site, it was nicely formed and required only a touch of deflation from the on-board CTI system in the loose stuff.

Reversing into the immaculate Whiterock skid sight of Peter Calcinai and his gang was no stress for Harley, eyeballing The Dirty Rascal’s first load.

The skid site is operated by Peter Calcinai, an ex-Wellington-based truckie who now runs his own logging gangs, and it’s fair to say they run a tight ship as everything was neatly laid out with fantastic access. We park up and jump out, and meet with the grapple operator who came over to have a look at Harley’s new ride. Impressed, he jumps back in the machine and deftly unloads the trailer for the first time with ease, and begins loading from front to rear keeping the butts all lined up with each other, a real work of art.

Chained up we jumped back into the air-conditioned cab, a real treat given it was a typical hot and still summer day in the Wairarapa. Looking around at the appointments inside the awesome Aerodyne sleeper cab, I ask Harley the story behind ordering this spec.

Harley explained: “I will be spending many nights through the week away from home. I like to get back in the bush at night so that I am first load out in the morning, and on the longer runs up north I never need to think about the extra expense of motel units.”

Trailer off and first logs on, ‘The Dirty Rascal’ getting to grips with its deployment.

Back out onto the main road and heading for our return to Wellington via the Rimutakas, loaded with export for the port, you cannot help but notice how nicely the entire combination is following through on the corners, especially back up and over the steep side of the hill. I look across to ask Harley what he thinks and what it’s going like, and I can already tell he is impressed with the package by the big smile on his face. It just seems to keep pulling on the steep stuff, then on the way down the other side it is so smooth and quiet, with only the noise of the fan clutch kicking in every now and again.

If you had no idea that it was ‘The Dirty Rascal’s’ first trip fully loaded on such a notorious hill you would think he was an old hand at the task. I guess with a skilled operator at the helm and a well-put-together package it’s just the norm, doing exactly what it was designed to do.