Wood Turner

In May 2023, Million Mile Club3 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineJune 22, 2023

Our first inductee for the Bridgestone Million Mile Club this month follows on from last month’s duo of International 9800i rigs.

We find ourselves in Taupo with Mickey and Tessa Ali, and sons, Jarvis (21) and Kasey (16), standing alongside their 2009 International 9800i Eagle, affectionately known as Suspect. “The truck got that name because the driver looks like one,” Mickey says with a laugh.

Looking at the colour scheme, it is easy to see the 9800i started life new in Bryan and Rhonda Smith’s Taupo-based Self Loader Logging fleet, and it is here at Self Loader Logging where Mickey started his career in the logging game a bit over 10 years ago.

“I was looking for change, so I started green-as at Self Loader Logging,” says Mickey. “Bryan was awesome taking me on and making me a part of the team, learning the ropes. I gradually worked my way up through the ranks, even did two years on stems, but it was about six years ago now that Bryan came to me with an offer to go owner-driver within the group. That was the big turning point for us – I was able to purchase Suspect from Bryan and, with his guidance, set myself up.

Mickey, Tessa, Kasey and Jarvis Ali stand proudly with Suspect.

“Yeah, Bryan has been fantastic to us. I have learnt so much from him, and its nearly five years now since we took that step. It’s hard work but great work; I’ve never looked back.”

Suspect has the right pedigree: Cummins, Roadranger, Rockwell and Patchell logging gear, a blend that proves its worth in the bush every day of the week. Mickey took over ownership of Suspect at a touch over 700,000km and is having a great run out of the truck. At 1,200,000km, a re-manned Cummins ISX was slotted in between the rails, which is not unusual, and a new clutch was installed. “The gearbox and diffs are all original, with only regular service and maintenance needed, and the team at Intertruck at the Mount have been awesome. They are always helpful and parts are off-the-shelf – you can’t ask for more than that” says Mickey.

Mickey and Suspect’s work chores see the pair travelling the Central North Island on all manner of tasks, including a fair share of interesting and challenging wood lots. “They are a heap of fun,” Mickey reckons. And running at 46 tonne, there is room for a tasty 30-tonne payload, not too shabby at all for an ol’ girl.

It is fair to say that nothing suspicious is going on here – just a solid truck, with solid owners, making a solid living.