In Kenworth, Top Truck, January 20215 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineFebruary 19, 2021

Tumeke – in Te Reo it means surpised and startled. In modern pop culture, ‘too much‘ – an apt description of what any truck lover will identify with when they see this month‘s New Zealand Trucking magazine Top Truck come down the road.

Photo: Tumeke Logging‘s Kenworth T909 pulling off a skid in Golden Bay.

Like many Kiwi youngsters of his generation, Wayne ‘Sol‘ Solly, owner of Takaka-based Tumeke Logging Ltd, had his introduction to the transport industry in the passenger‘s seat of various trucks driven by his father. Sol‘s vocation of choice ended up being logging; he recalls the first woodlot job behind the once-famous Rat Trap hotel at Upper Takaka. Chainsaws, a Massey Ferguson 135 tractor, and International TD9 bulldozer were the tools of choice; the logs produced trucked out of Golden Bay by self-loaders from Richmond-based Johnson Logging. Log trucks coming to the skids kept the trucking flame alive and when the ex-Alan Forbes, ex-Steve Murphy 1998 Kenworth T900 arrived on the lot at Star Trucks in Nelson, Sol headed for a look. Driving out the gate and through the Richmond traffic lights on a test drive, he loved it, despite almost losing a car under the Kenworth‘s long bonnet.

Photo: Patchell B-train tracks well.

With the deal done the T900 went to work carting the crew‘s own logs between Golden Bay and Nelson. When a second truck was required Sol looked at a new T909, however the 8×4 T659 was chosen due to its suitability around HPMV loading. He rates the T659 and 5-axle trailer combination as a ‘good log truck‘ and another pair has joined the fleet since. Looking for a better way to deal with the large volume of logs four metres and less in length on the forest companies‘ cut cards resulted in the Kenworth T909 and 6-axle Patchell B-train combination. Designed so each half of the B-train can be towed separately should site access dictate it, the trailer runs Hendrickson INTRAAX suspension, WABCO disc brakes, and Jost Modul B0301 landing legs. Despite having purchased a lot of new machinery during his logging career, buying and setting up a new truck rates as one of the most enjoyable parts of the business for Sol. “There is so much you can do to make them a better logging truck,” he says.

Photo: Wayne and Moana have been involved in the logging industry for three decades.

Sol rates the Patchell product highly, remarking that it‘s generally heavier than the others. “But I‘m not hung up on tare and it doesn‘t break all the time.” He says Patchell‘s workshop manager Pete Elphick is “magic – a real good bastard, straight up”. Destined to spend a good part of its life running over the Takaka Hill, a climb of 791 metres, the T909 was built to complete the traverse loaded in the transmission‘s high range (9th gear). A 459kW (615hp) Cummins X15 engine produces 2779Nm (2050 lb/ft) of torque at 1200pm, which turns the power into an Eaton Fuller RTLO 22918 transmission, fitted with oil cooler. Meritor RT 50-160GP rear axles with a 4.56:1 ratio sit on the steel pedestals of Kenworth‘s 20.9-tonne rated Air Glide 460 rear suspension.

Photo: The unit handles four bunks of short wood with ease.

Offset rims are fitted to the 7.3-tonne rated Meritor FS73LA front axle and the complete unit sits on Alcoa Dura-Bright wheels. A twin-cylinder compressor is fitted to the X15 due to the massive draw of air that takes place during the setup and loading process with so many air bags across the entire unit. With the tractor unit having a 5250mm wheelbase, HPMV axle loadings are easy to achieve. Sol commented he likes the tractor unit/Btrain concept “because you are only loading your tractor unit to between 21 and 22 tonnes, you‘re then putting the rest of that weight back there, where it should be, on those tri sets”. There is so much more that could be written about this well-thoughtout and splendid-looking Kenworth and B-train combination, but it‘s best to let you enjoy the visual splendour of this month‘s New Zealand Trucking magazine Top Truck.