TOP TRUCK – Much more than a big yellow lorry…

In Top Truck6 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineOctober 6, 2017

An increase in the size of equipment operating in North Canterbury forests over the past couple of decades required a corresponding increase in carrying capacity for local contractor T George Ltd.

The K200 cuts a sleek profile and is adorned with innumerable extras including plenty of polished alloy, twin air intakes and exhausts.

Tim and Janey George commenced business in 1990 as logging contractors before moving into root raking and the preparation of land for forestry using hydraulic excavators.

A secondhand Mercedes-Benz 1635 tractor unit and three rows of four trailer was originally used to transport the machinery between sites, but the size of excavators being operated increased and a larger capacity four rows of four trailer joined the fleet.

T George Ltd was the first contractor in Canterbury to put excavators to work on hill country land preparation; later machines were fitted with high and wide undercarriages which allowed for increased ground clearance and footprint. These machines weighed significantly more than the base model and required a larger capacity transporter to relocate them, so a Kenworth T950 originally put on the road by Owens Tankers contractor Leon McDonald joined the operation, along with a three rows of eight MTE trailer.

In 2008 they were awarded a contract to construct and maintain forest infrastructure throughout Canterbury for Matariki Forests. This meant expanding the truck fleet, an idea that Tim freely admits he “wasn‘t all that keen on” at the time.

Today, earthmoving and land development are undertaken for a number of clients in both the forestry and local government sectors.

The company has seven staff and operates a range of equipment including five excavators, two loaders, a dump truck, bulldozer, grader, two rollers and four trucks.

Tim had been cautious that the operation‘s productivity might be compromised if the low loader was out of the district and not available to
move their own gear when required, so initially the focus had been on moving just their own equipment.

After being approached by crews working alongside them in the Canterbury forests, T George began moving logging equipment around the forests and between service providers, usually within a 150-kilometre radius of the company‘s Balcairn base.

As forest equipment increased in size Tim was faced with the situation that other heavy haulage operators were being brought in by the contractors to move the larger machines, as the MTE trailer being towed by a recently acquired Kenworth T904 did not have enough payload capability.

Tim once swore he would never own a dolly, but came to realise that purchasing one would allow the company to shift these larger machines, so a MTE two rows of eight load divider was added.

Owing to the increased workload, a second tractor unit was required to assist with both gravel cartage and the heavy haulage work. Having had a good run from the T904 and its predecessors, another Kenworth was the obvious choice.

Tim sat down with Steve Herring from Southpac Trucks and a Kenworth K200 fitted with a flat roof sleeper cab was specced. With a 4.9 metre wheelbase and using a removable fifth wheel, the truck would easily convert from a tractor unit to a rigid tipper with the aid of
a demountable steel bin that ensured maximum versatility.

The Georges visited Kenworth‘s Bayswater plant at the time their truck was assembled. Tim recalls Janey paying particular attention to a new T909 painted a very similar shade of yellow to their trucks. He guided her toward the new acquisition and was promptly met with the response – ‘that‘s not a truck, it‘s a lorry, a big yellow lorry‘. The name stuck and is proudly emblazoned on the side of the K200‘s cab.

A Cummins ISXe5 SCR 500-578hp engine powers the K200, with an Eaton Fuller RTLO-20918B transmission and a pair of 4.56:1 ratio Meritor RT 46-160GP rear axles sitting on Kenworth‘s Airglide 460 rear suspension completing the drivetrain spec. A 7.3T rated Meritor MFS73 front axle shod with 385/65R22.5 rubber is fitted, which allows for maximum forward weight distribution.

Daniel McKenzie drives the K200 and enjoys the variety
of work undertaken by the T George Ltd operation.

Daniel McKenzie has spent his working life behind the wheel. Besides driving the Kenworth he enjoys the variety of the T George Ltd operation and is adept at operating the company‘s fleet of machinery should the truck work be quiet.

The largest machinery currently being moved under permit tops the scales at around 50 tons, necessitating use of the load divider. To date both owner and driver are complimentary of the Kenworth‘s performance‘ making it a worthy winner of this month‘s New Zealand Trucking magazine Top Truck.