Sweet new candy

In Top Truck, Scania, July 20227 MinutesBy Gavin MyersAugust 11, 2022

Knight & Dickey’s fleet of red and yellow trucks is as integral to the North Island trucking scene as the company is to its hometown of Waiuku. The company gets exceptional service life from its trucks, but vehicles aren’t added too often – making this new R650 Scania stock unit stand out even more.

Walk through Knight & Dickey’s Waiuku yard, and you’ll feel like a kid in a candy store, thanks to the variety of trucks – and applications they’re spec’d for – in the company’s extensive fleet. From little two-tonne tippers to truck and trailer bulk units, four and six-wheel curtainsiders, articulated units, bulk spreaders, crane and stock trucks, there’s seemingly a truck for every season and every reason.

More than 85 of them, in fact: new, old, American, Japanese or Euro. They might come across as modest in the company’s simple red and yellow livery, but – like the best candy you remember as a kid – modest can also mean quite tasty indeed. While stock transport has long been a part of the company’s services, other areas of the business have taken precedence of late. However, 38-year Knight & Dickey veteran Mike Fisher has recently taken control of the stock division and is set on building it up again. As he has worked on stock for about 34 of those 38 years, there could hardly be a better man for the task.

“Guys like Mike, with the experience they have, are such an asset,” says director John Dickey. “Customers like drivers who have good cattle sense, who know how to handle the animals. You can’t teach that with a manual.”

The R650 is the first Scania in the Knight & Dickey fleet (with another two bulk units to come this year). For Mike, it represents only the third new truck of his career. “I started on the old 1923 Merc on bulk. Then I moved into stock on one of the new 350 Mitsis. It didn’t go any better than the old 230hp Merc with its six-speed crashbox!” he says, with a laugh. (The Mercedes- Benz now sits, gleaming, in the transport museum John is curating in Waiuku.)

“After that I drove an Isuzu for about eight years, before moving onto a 1998 Freightliner FLB. The last truck before the Scania was a C15-powered Freightliner Argosy with an 18-speed Roadranger, which I did about 1,200,000km in from new,” Mike explains.

“It was time for an upgrade,” John comments, adding that the company went on a drive to replace its stock trailers a few years ago. “The old Fairfax trailers began to rot out after 10 years or so, and we decided to replace them with some five-axle low-deck units because we cart some really big cattle. The local farmers must be in competition to see who can grow the biggest cattle!”

John turned to Craig Gordon of Total Transport Engineers to build the trailers and Craig’s brother Nigel at Nationwide Stock Crates to build the crates, which he’s also done for the Scania. Both John and Mike agree the quality of the crates is right up there.

“The trailers and crates are good, good gear. It was important to work on the heights to get the crates deeper,” Mike reiterates. “They ride on airbags and don’t lean. They’re very stable – it’s unreal.”

A handwash tank is on the right-hand side of the truck between the steer axles, while a stainless toolbox sits ahead of the first drive axle and behind the second is a neat home for the prod. Also behind it, at the left-hand side, is the electronically controlled outlet for the alloy effluent tanks.

The Scania was supplied by Scania New Zealand account manager Damon Smith and came spec’d for the job. The R-series high-roof sleeper cab allows the opportunity for overnighting and also closes the gap to the crate height for a more streamlined look.

Setting it off nicely are the twin air horns atop the cab and a set of Alcoa Dura- Bright alloys. Signwriting is by Waiuku local Ken Baird, who’s skilfully applied the six-decades of history in this longstanding livery to the modern lines of the R-series.

The 8×4 chassis rides on parabolic leaf springs up front, with the rear being air suspended. The air-suspended cab adds that extra level of comfort for Mike.

“It’s a change from the Freightliner. When I got that new, it was a good truck for a long time. I liked that truck. But in this, you hop out at the end of a long day, and still feel as good as when you hopped in it,” he says.

Under the cab sits Scania’s 16-litre DC16 V8, offering up a solid 478kW (650hp) and 3300Nm which is sent rearwards through the propriety Opticruise 14-speed transmission. “It’s nice to have the V8. It’s a different sort of power than the American power, more laid back,” says Mike. “I was pretty disappointed I wouldn’t have a choice in the transmission, but actually it’s awesome. Great in traffic… No heavy clutch, no shaking legs.

Knight & Dickey stalwart Mike Fisher – a man who knows stock.

“I’m enjoying it. I like this truck,” Mike says with a hint of understatement. “There’s no doubt about it, the Europeans build a pretty bloody good truck,” John adds.

Yes, the R650 is a sweet addition to the Knight & Dickey fleet.