The Dirty Rascal

In Kenworth, Custom Corner, May 20225 MinutesBy Marty CrooksJune 3, 2022

When Wellington logging operator Harley Tripae was looking to replace his ageing K104, the timing could not have been more fortuitous, with Kenworth Australia celebrating 50 years of production under the glow of the Southern Cross.

Some 20 years ago, Harley Tripae started his driving career at Fulton Hogan. It was here that he learnt the ropes on all manner of tasks that included moving machinery. A stint with Bitumix nearly ended everything through an accident involving a 17-tonne roller, which required a considerable amount of recovery time.

A lifelong dream of driving road trains eventually led Harley across the ditch to the outback of Australia. It was interesting work for sure, hauling support equipment for the offshore oil and gas platforms and the money was good, but having to leave his partner Sarah behind in New Zealand, big hours, and living out of a caravan was not that enjoyable. The 2008 recession put an end to this work and saw a return back home for Harley.

1) Plenty of stainless steel from front to rear with round LED tail lights and old-school black mudflaps complete this immaculate build.

2) The sandstone interior of the Aerodyne certainly makes those nights away from home more comfortable, also helping set up Harley for the first load out of the day.

Through good family friend Des King, Harley landed a job with Classic Transport piloting an immaculate Western Star on flat-deck tasks, running on both islands. A call home to more local work saw a stint driving tankers for Capital Fuels on BP deliveries, then an opportunity with Tranzliquid Logistics presented itself and Harley made the move. The new role was a self-managed position that exposed Harley to the day-to-day running of a transport business, assisting clients as well as operations and driver training.

“It was a great place to work, a fantastic work environment,” says Harley, “but after six years in the role it was time for a new challenge.”

An introduction to the logging industry through a few good mates had Harley hooked. The purchase of an older K104 Kenworth logging rig was next and he was into it full steam ahead. In teaming up with HP Transport, with Joe Potter at the helm, Harley discovered that organising the day’s work provided a fantastic blend of work duties. “Joe is awesome in offering good rates and well-planned days that look after the owner/drivers.”

Man and machine: Harley Tripae with his new steed ‘The Dirty Rascal’.

The K104 Kenworth was a great first truck for Harley, however after three years of hefty work it was time to start thinking about lining up a replacement. A call to Southpac’s Mark O’Hara in early 2021 got the wheels in motion, and soon after the nod was given to place the order for ‘The Dirty Rascal’, a 50th Anniversary K200 Aerodyne 8×4 rigid in metallic purple from top to toe, running Cummins X-15 and manual 18-speed Roadranger gearbox. Being a commemorative model, all the boxes have been ticked on the build spec sheet, as well as 50th Anniversary features including gold embossed bling throughout the cab and a shiny gold bug sitting proudly atop of the grille – it truly is a special build.

The new K200’s shipping to New Zealand was delayed with the Covid lockdowns, however upon arrival and after completing pre-delivery it went straight to the team at Custom Truck & Chrome, Silverdale. It was here the polished stainless-steel fabrication work was completed and fitted, including drop visor and an array of clearance marker lamps.

The deft touch of Peter Calcinai’s grapple operator was poetry in motion, a true work of art.

From Auckland, it headed south onto Patchell Industries, where they worked their magic building the log gear, matching five-axle trailer as well as the custom headache rack, all painted to match with SI Lodec scales fitted throughout. While in Rotorua, Darren Caulfield of Caulfield Signs was enlisted to add his touch to the rig with striping, pin-striping and freshly designed new company logos – it really was the icing on the cake.