SMOOTH AS WHISKY under the Hokonuis

In Top Truck, Scania9 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineAugust 10, 2020

A livery synonymous with rural cartage in Southland has just put its second Scania on the road – this time HRT has gone big, safe, smart, and comfortable – the latter meaning for all the occupants!

Photo: Spectacular in any setting. The HRT R620 is a magnificent ambassador for the business.

Smooth as whisky with a punch to match pretty much sums up the latest acquisition for Gore‘s Hokonui Rural Transport (HRT). The company is known for having a mix of brands making up its 20-strong truck fleet. All the trucks are charged with servicing the rural sector in some way or other. This month‘s Top Truck is the second Scania in the company‘s colours, the first being a spreader. Managing director Adam Waghorn weighed up several things before getting the Scania across the line. Price, backup service and reliability are your main tick-box items on the list, but for Adam, driver comfort, safety, and the ability to get a low chassis height were just as important. Hokonui Rural Transport is a joint venture between Adam and the HWR group, so it‘s not easy getting something outside the normal into the fleets, but the safety features on the R620 fitted right in with what HWR requires, operator safety being high on the list of requirements.

Photo: Thanks to tech, materials, craftsmanship, and pride from the likes of Transport Engineering Southland and Delta Stockcrates, trailers today are co-stars rather than bland ‘ole mate out the back that simply carries the load.

“The tare isn‘t bad for a high roof sleeper cab Euro, coming in at just under 25 tonne. It weighs the same as the sleeper cab K200 Kenworth on the same work, with the lightweight leader being the Argosys at just under a tonne leaner than the other two,” says Adam, who points out that the weight was a small price to pay for the driver comfort and safety. The Scania does have some additional stainless steel for extra eye appeal, and highly rated Steve Keast from Transport Engineering Southland Ltd (TES) in Invercargill has done his best to keep the weight down without skimping on the shiny stuff either. The beautifully built trailer and monocoque deck carry equally impressive Delta crates. All HRT crates are Delta units, as their workmanship is hard to fault. The step-decked trailer and crates were chosen to give the cattle more back room. In a region now teeming with dairy farms, carting cattle is a huge part of the business, and having the best options available to carry them is important. Scania invited transport operators throughout New Zealand to Geelong in Australia to test drive the Scania, and Adam was impressed with the standard spec and the new Opticruise GRSO905R 14-speed gearbox, with its increased shift speed over the previous version.

Photo: Adam English rates the Scania as the pinnacle in his truck career to date.

The 620 V8 Euro 5 went to Cliff Mannington‘s Truck Signs in Tauranga where they worked their magic on the truck. From there it went to HRT, its new driver Adam English, and then straight onto milk cartage, common for new HWR Group trucks. After 70,000km in that work it was set up with its new crates and trailer. Adam English learnt the transport game the right way, and he says piloting the big Scandinavian is a pleasure. Coming out of high school at 17, he went to HRT washing out sheep crates before obtaining his class 2. He started doing flea (small truck) work around Eastern Southland, while still washing out crates, and then gained his class 4 and 5 licences. An FH 460 Volvo was the first big mount, followed by an FH 540 with I-Shift, then a new Freightliner Argosy with a 5-axle trailer in 2013. He ran that to 600,000km after six years before he went onto the new R620 V8. He‘s been with HRT for 10 years now and is happy to be there for another 10 years. For him, the Scania is the pinnacle. A bit of driver training from Scania‘s driver training supremo Chris Foot, and from there, he set the truck up to suit himself. “Everything about this truck is just 10 times better than anything I‘ve driven. It‘s 10 times more comfortable, more powerful, has better retardation, and better fuel economy,” he says. Adaptive Cruise Control makes life behind the wheel a dream, and at the end of the day he doesn‘t feel like dropping off to sleep on the couch after dinner. The R4100D retarder is one of the best when it comes to keeping the service brakes fresh.

Photo: The NTG interior is one that sets the bar on truck driver workplaces in the 21st century.

The truck looks great on the outside and Adam is equally spoilt by the inside. He removed the carpet for a more user-friendly vinyl in the cab, which made sense for livestock work. Add in a great bed, plenty of room in the cab to stand up in, and no shortage of storage, and you can see why he is happy to spend as much time as possible in here. Adam operates the Opticruise AMT in the standard mode to get the best fuel economy, and is always looking for ways to get the most out of the engine. Little adjustments lead to big gains. Everything the Scania does seems effortless, and Adam is surrounded by some of the best safety features of any truck on the market. Adam Waghorn has specced the unit with Wabco TailGUARD just to make backing safer.

The system stops the truck dead if it senses something in the way when backing. It also lessens any impact in its line of work, protecting the rear of the truck or trailer as well as the livestock ramps. The HRT Scania is a standout in a region swamped with standout gear. There is an attention to detail with the way this truck looks that is not lost on either of the Adams. The new generation Scanias are proving popular, and the Hokonui unit with its step deck trailer, a design style in vogue currently, is not only receiving fleeting glances, but also hands-on-hip nods of approval from those in the industry. It remains to be seen what Adam Waghorn purchases next. Only time will tell.

Engine: DC16 115 L01 V8
Capacity: 16.4 litre
Power/torque: 462kW (620hp), 3000Nm (2213lb/ft)
Emissions: Euro 5 (SCR)
Transmission: 14-speed Opticruise GRSO905R
Clutch: K432 26 Automatic
Retarder: Scania TMS R4100D 5-stage
Rear Axle: Scania RBP662 with full lockup/load transfer
Suspension: Front springs/rear air
Extras: Dura-Bright wheels, lighting, stainless guard, Wabco TailGUARD