Giti Tyres Big Test
I can't help it: Meeting up with Kevin (Woody) Apperley and his brand-new Freightliner Coronado 114 - running burnt lime from the comparatively rural lands of Otorohanga to Silverdale (or should that be Silverado?), north of Auckland - immediately has my mind straying to thoughts of the wild, wild west.
I guess it's something about this thing being as American as stars and stripes, its Tex-Mex(ish) name...and that Glenn Campbell song! So in my mind the Coronado's a stallion....and Woody's The Limestone Cowboy.
And this is even before I get to experience the Coronado's bucking, bronco-ish ride in the strictly-standard-issue (ie no air suspension) passenger seat. Yee-hah!
Our 8am start in Otorohanga is a "late one" by Woody's standards. Really late: "I prefer to be on the road around 3am to avoid the congestion on the Southern Motorway heading into Auckland," he explains. And, quite frankly, who wouldn't! But as trucks photograph better during daylight, he's happy to accommodate us city-slickers.
Pirelli Trevor Test
It's back to my old stomping ground in South Waikato to catch up with this month's test truck - PGF's new Freightliner Coronado 8x4 tractor unit, hooked up to a new Feldbinder quad-axle silo tanker.
We're carting burnt lime - another throwback to my past. And we'll be running up the Otorohanga to Hamilton route via Pirongia - a road that I must have driven hundreds of times.
It's a great looking unit in the loud PGF colours and with the brand-new trailer behind.
My usual beef comes with the cab entry, which - as it is on so many 8x4 bonneted trucks - suggests that getting the driver in is an afterthought....once all the axles have been placed.
There are three reasonably spaced steps up into the cab, but the combination of the second step extending further out than the bottom one, the positioning of the door over the steps and no grabhandle at all for the right hand makes it a less-than-ideal cab entry.
Once inside, the interior's not bad looking and is spacious, thanks to the 34-inch sleeper.
All gauges are well laid out in front of the driver, with a large central panel housing all the various switches, brakes and ventilation controls. All the gauges have a nice white background which makes for a nice light display that's easy to read at a glance.
Unfortunately, with only just a little more than 3000 kilometres on the clock, the left-hand panel of the dash is already in danger of falling off and will need attention at the first service.