3 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineJune 12, 2018

The motherland‘s finest

By the mid-1920s the purchase of vehicles sourced from Britain is plain to see. A Leyland truck advertisement in the 20 May 1921 edition of The Evening Post listing local users of the brand said the P. & T. had 17. The advert said: “Leylands are of true British quality and reliability. After six years of steady toil they will be found in first-class order. Leylands operate at a quarter of the cost of horse haulage on a ton-mile basis.” 

Photo: This is a Leyland platform truck that was placed into service by the Post and Telegraph Department on 14 March 1925. Its body was buit by the P. & T. workshops in Wellington. It cost £975 ($92,720 today). The location of the muffler is interesting, so too is the fitting of pneumatic tyres on the front and solids on the rear. Determining how much the annual licence fee for this was must have been interesting as the Motor Vehicles Act of 1924 shows an annual licence fee payable for vehicles fitted with pneumatic tyres of £3 and £5 for vehicles with solid tyres. No mention is made of vehicles that have mixed tyres.

Poles ahead

From the early days the Post & Telegraph Department were also responsible for the growing telegraph network. Many miles of copper wire were strung between telegraph poles; you only have to look at photographs taken at the time is see how much weight these poles were carrying. The poles were set in holes that were dug by hand, and were lifted into place by a truckmounted winch and shear legs. Although hand-digging of holes was replaced by truck- and tractor-mounted mechanical post-hole borers, the method of lifting poles using shear legs was still in use during the 1970s, until truck-mounted knuckle-boom cranes become available. Many power companies also used shear legs to place their power poles. When telephone cables were moved underground, truck-mounted winches were used to pull the cables through the buried ducting. 

Photo: A Leyland winch truck that entered service in Auckland in June 1928. The body was built by the Auckland workshops and cost £1,453, approximately $138,000 today. The sliding window in the rear of the cab was a feature of these types of trucks. Two of the shear legs would have pivoted off the brackets at either end of the rear cross member. Note the trailer coupling.