Old School Trucks: Transport Services Ltd

By: Dean Middleton, Photography by: Dean Middleton


Transport service LTD 1 A 2228 Mercedes-Benz dropsider that was still in its Transpac colours when pictured not long after the Transpac demise in the late ’80s Transport service LTD 1
Transport service LTD 2 An ex-Freight Haulage S108 Foden also with the original Transpac paintwork and with TSL signwriting Transport service LTD 2
Transport service LTD 3 German brand MAN found favour in the fleet in the early ’90s. ‘The Dealer’ was a typical example and was engaged in frontline livestock work. Transport service LTD 3
Transport service LTD 4 A smart FL10 Volvo bulkie pictured in the early ’90s was a sign of things to come for the Swedish brand Transport service LTD 4
Transport service LTD 5 A partial fleet line-up in the early 2000s showed how subtle changes from white cab tops and aero kits to red ensured a complete demarcation from the previous Transpac colours Transport service LTD 5
Transport service LTD 6 Several Foden Alphas were worked hard in the fleet in the late ’90s and early 2000s Transport service LTD 6
Transport service LTD 7 UDs have had their place in the fleet; these two CW330s were pictured back in 2011 Transport service LTD 7
Transport service LTD 8 A couple of Freightliner Argosys with consecutive registration plates entered the fleet in 2008: a sleeper cabbed bulkie and this slimline livestock truck Transport service LTD 8
Transport service LTD 9 A 2009 Volvo FH520 Livestock unit Transport service LTD 9
Transport service LTD 10 This smart FM Volvo was pictured when near-new in 2011 Transport service LTD 10
Transport service LTD 11 A facelift FH500, which was one of several Volvos that joined the fleet in 2011 Transport service LTD 11
Transport service LTD 12 Don’t forget the mighty UDs. This 470 Quon was the first TSL unit engaged in livestock feed auger deliveries. Transport service LTD 12
Transport service LTD 13 A mixed line-up at the TSL yard in Nightcaps in October 2013 Transport service LTD 13
Transport service LTD 14 ‘The Stag’ was the first K200 Kenworth to join the fleet in 2013 and was an HPMV capable nine-axle unit Transport service LTD 14
Transport service LTD 15 The first of the new-generation FH Volvos hit the road in 2014 Transport service LTD 15
Transport service LTD 16 ‘The Phantom’ was a head-turning​​ T408 Kenworth bulkie unit Transport service LTD 16
Transport service LTD 17 The second bonneted Kenworth to wear the TSL livery was this T609 model named ‘Renegade’ Transport service LTD 17
Transport service LTD 18 The tough-looking exteriors of the K200 Kenworths make a nice contrast to the smooth lines of the Volvos in the fleet Transport service LTD 18
Transport service LTD 19 Volvos continue in the popular TSL fleet. This stunning FH600 named ‘The Silent One’ was pictured when near-new in late 2016. Transport service LTD 19

This month, Deals on Wheels writer Dean Middleton takes a look at The Transport Services Ltd fleet

When Australian Company Southern Cross Enterprises purchased numerous New Zealand-owned transport companies in 1986, it seemed the transport scene (as we knew back then) would be changed forever. Running under the guise of Transpac Holdings, one of the New Zealand companies that the Australian company acquired was Freight Haulage.

The Transpac venture was short-lived and the then juggernaut went into receivership in 1988. Thankfully, all was not lost, as many rallied former employees to re-start the companies that existed prior to the Transpac takeovers and some started new ventures.

In 1989, in the sleepy southland town of Nightcaps, 10 brave men stepped up to the plate (nine were previous employees and the 10th a local coal merchant) and purchased the Ohai/Nightcaps Branches of Transpac to form Transport Services Limited (TSL).

The late Bill Richardson (now HWR) purchased TSL outright in 1996 and in 1999 sold 50% of the shares to Dean Carleton and Wayne Williams in a joint venture that remains to this day.

It was the late ’80s before I managed to train a camera lens on a TSL unit and it was not long after the Transpac collapse. TSL was one company that adopted the previous Transpac livery for many years afterwards with the only change being the signwriting.

Then the subtle change from white cab tops and white aero kits to red made a clear demarcation from the previous brand. TSL is involved in all of the typical work you would expect from a rural-based company, however, as the Nightcaps/Ohai area is a rich coal mining area, a huge amount of the black sub-bituminous product has been and still is carted in the bins of the bright red fleet.

Back in the late ’80s, the brands of trucks in the fleet were inherited and fleet replacement saw many brands parked in the depot with MAN, Fodens, Volvos, and UDs sharing the ranks through the ’90s. Into the 2000s, Freightliners have made appearances, with Kenworths also getting several ticks in the order book along with DAFs from the same stable.

The Swedish Volvos still maintain a level of dominance and look stunning in the TSL livery, particularly the smooth lines of the newer FHs, which are in stark contrast to the rugged good looks of the smart K200 Kenworths, thus making it difficult to pick a flagship in this impressive fleet from the deep south. 

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