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  • Nigel Gamble

Wheels at Wanaka 2019

Updated: Jan 16, 2020

The organisers of the inaugural Wheels at Wanaka

Rally promised a great event and boy did they live up

to their vow, and with around 1200 exhibits there was

going to be plenty to see. From cars, trucks, tractors,

traction engines, stationary engines to old farm

machinery as well as earthmoving equipment there

would be something of interest for all types of

enthusiasts. New, classic, vintage and veteran vehicle

classes would be well represented, the only thing the

organisers could not guarantee was the weather. With

the main set up day arriving on Friday April 19th the

venue began to fill up quickly, a steady stream of

truck and trailer loads of machinery kept flowing in

all day.

The scraper line up

Although much of the bigger earthmoving equipment

had arrived some days earlier, including some loads

of big gear that had been brought down from

Cambridge just for the weekend, as well as other

numerous loads being carted from all over NZ, a

remarkable effort by some very enthusiastic people

indeed. More and more machinery kept coming

through the gates, trucks with trucks stacked two high,

trailer loads of tractors, and old cars under their own

power kept rolling in, as the display areas began to fill

up it was very clear this was not going to be an

ordinary show, this was shaping up to be an event the

likes of which had not been seen for some years.

this impressive load was brought to Wanaka by the Pullar’s. from South Canterbury

Later in the day Richard Bardley and Daniel Crossen

steamed the Bradley Family Marshall engine into

Wanaka’s main street, and were met by other Club

members for a drink and a natter in the autumn

sunshine. The engine drew a lot of attention from

tourists, many of whom had never seen a traction

engine before, lots of photos were taken and

questions answered before the crew headed back with

the engine to the rally field as the sun began to set.

Back at the grounds even more exhibits had arrived,

the sound of bulldozers and scrapers could be heard

coming from the earthmoving play pen, as the

operators practiced for the demonstrations that were

scheduled to start the following day. As the light

began to disappear we made our way to the camping ground to check into our cabin for the weekend, where we were met by almost half the members of the South Canterbury Traction Engine & Transport Museum ( we are also members ) who were staying in cabins next to us, this was shaping up to be a great weekend.

The Bradley Marshall basking in the autumn

afternoon sunshine, on Wanaka’s water front, as

Club members enjoy a quiet drink in the


just a few Macks in this line up

As Saturday morning arrived the level of excitement grew, however with heavy rain falling during the night,the rally paddock was rather wet under foot, which meant that the earthmoving demonstration would not be able to take place during the day, which for myself was a little disappointing, but as there was so much to be seen on display, any disappointment the wet weather brought was soon forgotten as we wandered around the many lines of tractors, trucks and cars. One of the most impressive line ups of trucks stood near the main entrance, two rows of trucks, Macks down one side and Kenworths along the other facing off with each other, making a very imposing walk way for pedestrians to pass through.

Amongst the Mack line up was the very first New Zealand assembled Mack, a 1972 FR785 RST, built at Palmerston North Motors workshops for Maramara Products, at a cost of $37,476 and was used to cart wood chip around the Central North Island. The truck has been restored to original condition by Motor Truck Distributors NZ and Truck Stops, and attends various outings around the country. Another show stopper in the Mack collection was a stunning example of a little ED pick up truck.

The first NZ assembled Mack on display.

This little ED Mack was a real head turner.

Around from the trucks was a fantastic display of veteran Ford cars, some very rare examples of early motor cars produced by Ford could be viewed here, along side a great variety of other makes and models of vintage and classic car. Further along was the food and entertainment area, with a kids play ground, trade stalls and a bar with under cover seating for the adults, local farm machinery suppliers had some interesting new tractors and equipment for sale.

One of the best displays of early Ford motoring you could ever wish to see.

The display of tractors was a very impressive sight, IHC appeared to be the most popular brand with good numbers of all the usual brands also being well represented, interspersed amongst the lines of commonly seen tractors were some rarely seen makes and models, some recently imported into NZ. Such as a 1929 Rumely Oil Pull model X 25- 40 and a 1948 Lloyd V8 Crawler sat along side other brands like Bates Steel Mule, Munktells, Glasgow, Renault and Vickers.

the little Renault crawler

Some Ford trucks on display

some of the Kenworth line up

This very nice example of a Rumley Oil Pull was just one of the rare tractors on display.

Another unusual tractor being displayed was this Vickers Aussie Special of 1926.

Surrounded by the tractors was a fantastic selection of stationary engines, and at the end of the display was the steam section, made up of six traction engines, one wagon, a portable and some scale replica traction engines.

traction engines on parade

Some of the Southland engines during a parade.

As it was still too wet come Saturday afternoon for the earthmoving machinery to be put to work in the play pen, this proved to be a good oportunity to take a close up look at this incredable line up of very large equipment. Many of the old dozers and scrapers in this line up had been used during the construction of the Twizel and Benmore Hydro scemes back in the 1970’s and 80’s. This display generated a lot of interest amongst the earthmoving community, and attracted a lot of folk whom had worked these old machines. So there were a lot of old operators standing amongst the old iron reminicing, and catching up with old work mates from years gone by. When the big diesels roared into life the next day inside the play pen, the saftey fence was lined with the smiling faces of teary eyed old earthmovers reliving the sights sounds and smells of yesteryear.

This Caterpillar D8H was just one of the dozen or so Cat dozers in this very impressive line up.

Saturday evening saw a social gathering for exhibitors and organisers take place in a large shed on the edge of the rally grounds, a live band played during the evening, a prize giving saw trophys given for best in show in all categories of exhibits. Ryan Pullar taking out first prize for his Thames Trader.

Next day, Sunday saw an improvement in ground conditions, and after some mud had been pushed off the play pen, the big gear was able to set to work and demonstrate how earth was moved in earlier times.

This was a great sight to see, with six to eight scrapers working alongside bulldozers, dump trucks and a large Internatonal 560 loader (once the largest loader available at the time) and all pushing and carting top soil around the sight. Some very rare machines were also seen working here, including a Caterpillar 660B scraper, the biggest ever built by Cat, and a twin engined Euclid TC12 dozer complete with rather impressive sounding two stroke Detroit engines- making quite the dinn. At one time three dozers (two Cat D9’s and a D8) were seen pushing with blades locked, side by side and moving a huge amount of material in a very short time.

TC12 and D9H working side by side

Some of the equipment from the International Harvester Company stables, included a Pay Hauler model 95 dump truck, a TD25 dozer and a

560 Pay Loader, seen here working in the play pen. The loader sports the Baker Construction name, a company well known for there work on the Twizel Hydro Scheme

A 1943 Cat D82U with ripper in tow, along side a 1967 D8H towing a carryall and 1957 D8F and carryall at work.

All the way from Cambridge, and owned by C& R Developments, this very rare Euclid TC12 bulldozer was a very impressive sight.

Believed to be one of only two working examples left in the world, this Vickers dozer was a very rare machine to have on the grounds.

As the day drew to a close it, was time to load up and get ready for the trip home, as the final parade finished tractors and machinery headed for trucks and loading banks, and the grounds began to empty out. I think it would be fair to say everyone who attended this fantastic event would have very much enjoyed themselves, the entire event appeared to run flawlessly, the only hiccup being the wet weather, a real credit to the organisers who worked tirelessly to put the rally on. I highly recommend attending the next Wheels At Wanaka event in two years time, as this was by far one of the best shows I have been to in a long time, and with so much talk about the next event online, it already promises to be another great show.

All loaded up and about to head home, Bruce and Kelvin Andersons Mack is loaded up with tractors owned by the Gibson Family.

The following is a selection of photos taken during the event over the weekend.

I have put together a book of photographs taken during the earthmoving display at Wheels at Wanaka, this is a hard cover book containing nearly 60 photos of old earthmoving machinery hard at work. If you would like a copy they are $40 plus P&P, you can odder your copy from my on line store.

For people outside of New Zealand please message me and I will arrange a shipping method that will work for you.

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