Top Truck March – Service at the nucleus

4 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineMay 2, 2017

As well as being the birthplace of Ernest Rutherford, Brightwater in the Tasman region of the South Island is home to AC Palmer & Sons,
a well-respected family transport operation that‘s just taken its long history of serving the district to a new level with the addition of a magnificent Kenworth K200.

In 1976 local farmer Arthur Palmer started business ground spreading fertiliser around the Brightwater region, using an International 1950A Acco. Powered by a V8 DV550B engine, the Acco was renowned at the time for being able to turn diesel into a lot of noise.
Truck numbers doubled in 1977 with son Brian joining the business at the helm of a TK Bedford.

By 1982 Arthur‘s older son Kevin had also come on board, and AC Palmer & Sons was thriving, operating an International T-Line, S-Line and a newer 1950B ACCO, spreading lime and fertiliser in an area covering Golden Bay, the Waimea Plains and into the fringes of Marlborough.
At about that time the tonnages of fertiliser being applied by the rural sector diminished rapidly when Lange‘s Labour Government removed farming subsidies. A decision was made to exit the ground spreading industry and focus solely on bulk cartage.

In 1987 a 25-year relationship with Japanese brands began. An ex-Shell Isuzu VPZ was followed by several others from the same stable, and in time Mitsubishi as well as UD Quon found their way into the fleet.

Looking for a truck with a solid chassis and full lock-up rear axles to handle increasing amounts of off-highway cartage to farms, airstrips and forests, in 2015 Brian and Kevin bought a DAF CF85 from Southpac Trucks.

In order to keep R&M expenditure under control, equipment is turned over at about five years of age before running costs escalate. With the Mitsubishi approaching this mark, Palmer‘s set about looking for its replacement.

Having fond experiences with Internationals in the early years, Brian initially considered the recently released 9870. However, with Commercial Vehicle Centre‘s Nelson workshop being a service agent for the Southpac product and the opportunity this provided for having one service provider looking after the entire fleet, Brian settled on a Kenworth K200.

Photo: Another load of lime goes in the bins

Fitted with a 2.3 metre sleeper cab the K200 is powered by a 550-580 horsepower Cummins ISXe5, with an Eaton Fuller RTLO-20918B transmission and 4.1:1 ratio Meritor RT 46-160 rear axles riding on a Kenworth AirGlide 460 rear suspension.

Photo: The arduous country the Palmer Kenworth often finds itself in means additions like central tyre inflation are invaluable

A two-year-old Guy Norris Engineering bin and trailer were transferred from another truck in the fleet onto the Kenworth, which operates on a route-specific HPMV permit.

As with the rest of the Palmer fleet, Big Foot central tyre inflation is fitted to assist with traction into many of the off-highway locations Brian services around the Nelson/Marlborough area.