Sammy the Salmon
A brand new Volvo FM500 has joined the fleet at N&J Wood, an earthworks and bulk cartage business run out of Pokeno in South East Auckland by Neil and his wife Joanne. Hauling feed and concrete the length and breadth of New Zealand — from Whangarei to central North Island and the Bay of Plenty to Taupo. Their new tipper is the twelfth truck in the fleet and it’ll soon be joined by another Volvo FM500 — due on the road in late November.
Grunty enough to take on the hardest jobs and well-proven in tough conditions for over 25 years, the premium drive chain technology powering the Volvo FM500 can also be found under the bonnet of its big brother, the FH750. Neil Wood, owner and driver of a FH750, knew that his new unit would operate equally well in heavy Auckland traffic as it does off-road, dramatically reducing driver fatigue.
“It’s got good, hard construction suspension to deal with off-road conditions and the automatic gearbox is ideal for stop-start driving around town. It’s going to be working hard,” Neil continued. “We’ll have it at full load all day, every day in both directions as soon as we get the permits through. It’ll be interesting to see what the fuel does.”
Neil’s FH750 has recently topped 57,000kms at an average of 1.8km/litre, giving him confidence in Volvo’s reputation for fuel efficiency. “The 500’s going to be working harder than the 750, if we can get 1.8 per litre around town, I’ll be pretty happy,” he commented.
The FM500 is currently hauling up to 46 tonnes while Neil waits for the permits to come through for all routes, but he’ll soon have it up at full load (53 tonnes). “Our driver’s more than happy with it. The gear box makes life easy – he doesn’t need to stand on the clutch all day. It’s got a smaller cab, better visibility and maneuverability.”
Value for money was a factor in the Wood’s buying decision — and getting premium Volvo technology as standard made a big difference. Disc brakes and Volvo’s stand-out I-shift 12 speed automatic transmission were included in the buy price, not as extras. The only modification that Neil has made is the addition of an air suspension system for on-board weighing.
“Volvo give you trucks that are pleasant to spend the day in,” Neil said. “They know how to build a truck with comfort that’s way up there.”
Driver, Sam Moke loves his new truck, as much for the comfort as the smooth drive and ride in heavy Auckland traffic. “It drives really nice and holds to the road. The I-shift is the way to go around town, traffic is no bother. It’s great at tip sites and on the motorway – compared to other trucks I’ve driven the Volvo tops it off.”
The truck’s distinctive pink and blue paintwork turns heads as it drives around the local area and has already earnt it the nickname ‘Sammy the Salmon’. “It’s great because it helps us stand out,” said Neil. “People are always commenting on Facebook and posting photos.”
Neil and Joanne enjoy working with MTD Trucks local rep, Mitch Redington. Brought up in the trucking industry, Mitch has worked as a driver and has hands-on mechanical experience. He supports his clients with driver training to make sure that they get the most from the new unit from day one.
“Mitch is great to work with and he’s had a bit to do with trucks, so he knows what he’s talking about. The Volvo service team have been good at turning things around quickly with the FH750,” said Neil. “It’ll be interesting to see the stats for the FM500 over the next few months.”