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‘Sweet Child of Mine’ – a salute to logging legends of the Bay


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New Zealand Trucker  /  September 2018

The calibre of detail and preparation on this month’s Top Truck is no coincidence. The net result of an owner-driver who started at the bottom of the ladder, surrounded by legends of the industry.

In the early 80s a young Matt Barraclough moved to Bay View, just north of Napier, as result of his father’s employment with Pan Pac. This placed Matt ringside in an iconic era of log trucks passing right by his doorstep, heading just up the road to feed the insatiable appetite of the Whirinaki mill.

Matt ’s passion for trucks started early, riding shotgun with his Dad, who was helping out with relief driving for a couple of the local logging contractors. This is where Matt ’s love for log trucks started and to this day it’s as strong as ever. “I used to watch the likes of Cliff Guy roll past in his immaculate W model Kenworth and think to myself, ‘that ’s me, that ’s what I want to be doing’,” said Matt.

After leaving school Matt started working for a local nursery that had a couple of four-wheelers. As he set off to sit his licence the manager said, “Do not fail mate, you have deliveries this afternoon”.

When Matt ’s Dad began working for Linton Transport Matt seized the opportunity to help out around the yard, on the wash, and looking over the shoulders of the mechanics.

“Mucking-in and getting your hands dirty and spending time in the passenger’s seat is the way to learn; it ’s these opportunities that are missing for today ’s youngsters,” said Matt.

At 21 Matt finally realised the dream of getting into the driver’s seat of a log unit. It was a night shift position driving a DAF CF85 for a local contractor. From there he spent time with Gary Deakin on export out of the Awaho Forest, and then with Alan Forbes at Pan Pac for the best part of seven years.

It was in 2010 that an opportunity to become an owner-driver with Pan Pac presented itself. This involved the purchase of a secondhand DAF CF85 logging unit with 177,000 kilometres on the clock. The DAF did the groundwork over the next three and a half years that paved the way for the purchase of Matt ’s first new rig, ‘Elvis’, a Kenworth K108E.

Now four and a half years later it was time to raise the bar a little. ‘Sweet Child of Mine’ is a 2017 flat roof Kenworth K200 running a Cummins X15 at 458kW (615hp) mated to a manual 18-speed Roadranger with Meritor 46-160 diffs on Kenworth’s 8-bag air suspension, and rigged out with Kraft logging equipment.

The paint scheme is a twist on a classic Kenworth factory scheme, and is similar to the well-known Melbourne-based ‘Freestones’ fleet, one Matt ’s always liked. The roof mounted 7” air intakes with mushroom tops are a tipof-the-hat to the ‘old-skool’ Aussie cabovers of the day. Matt had a clear image of exactly what he was trying to achieve; however the rig would not have come together the way it has without a dedicated team in the background taking Matt ’s ideas and turning them into reality. The signage and pin-striping were a collaboration with Darren Caulfield, and Matt is very quick to praise Darren for all his efforts.

Also, the team at Kraft were “just magic”; the level of enthusiasm for the project was exactly what was needed.

As for the stainless steel work that adorns ‘Sweet Child of Mine’, that is the work of locals KR Tong Engineering, “‘Grunter’ went above and beyond,” said Matt.

Then there is special mention of the amazing support from Matt ’s family. Without them alongside him Matt said he could not have achieved this goal.

“Daphne is so diligent looking after all the accounts as well as crunching the numbers for me, and the kids look after the cleaning: Blake on the exterior and Reese on the interior,” said Matt. “It really is a family business that I am very proud of.”

The layout of the unit is a real credit to Matt, as is the presentation. It is fair to say that the legends of the industry in the Bay who influenced Matt on his journey have all had a hand in this build.

‘Sweet child of mine’ is a true working truck, and the photo above shows that its job first and foremost is to put food on the Barraclough table. But opening the poster will also show the pride this family takes in its number one ride.


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