Last Tournahaulers ready to leave Maui

Frank Nakoa (from left), a retired Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. Tournahauler driver; Brian Pestana, owner of Bob’s Equipment; and Gary Perreira, a retired HC&S worker, stand by the last Tournahaulers on the island at Kahului Harbor. The two haulers will be shipped to the Mainland today. Photo courtesy of Brian Pestana

Tournahaulers that once trucked sugar cane from the fields to the mill will be leaving Maui for good today.

The last two Tournahaulers, which were introduced to the island in 1950 as a replacement for the plantation’s railroad, were driven from the Puunene Mill to Kahului Harbor on Monday afternoon. They will be shipped to Los Angeles today. Once there, they will be put on lowboys and trucked to coal mines in the Midwest, said Brian Pestana, owner of Honolulu-based Bob’s Equipment, which was contracted to ship them.

Pestana, the second-generation owner of the 50-year-old company, said Monday that he has been shipping 11 Tournahaulers, two to three at a time, since March. He could not disclose the company that contacted his services, which purchased the machines in a January auction.

On Monday, the last two Tournahaulers were driven to the docks. They had a police escort for safety and liability.

To get the Tournahaulers to the harbor on Maui’s roads, Pestana had to unhook the trailer, cut off the fenders and remove two of the four rear tires. That trimmed the 15-foot-wide Tournahaulers to 12 feet wide to drive on the road.

Shipping preparation required a two-day cleaning job, washing off dirt and cane, he said.

Bob’s Equipment has been importing and exporting used construction equipment for the last five decades and has been involved in liquidation of sugar plantations statewide for the last 20 years, including in Hamakua and Kau on the Big Island and Amfac Kauai Sugar, he said.

His company currently is involved in the liquidation of the last sugar plantation in Hawaii, Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co., which shut down in December.

Tournahaulers, 14-feet tall and 84-feet long with a trailer, were originally designed for large-scale mining applications. Modifications that make the trucks suitable for island farming — and unique to Maui — included removing the mining beds and replacing them with long, framework trailers sporting ingenious systems of chains and cables that allowed heavy loads to be dumped quickly and efficiently, HC&S officials said.

The last of the Maui Tournahaulers were built from Caterpillar 773 mining trucks with their beds removed. While the unique trailer frames were formerly built by HC&S crews on Maui, the last few were assembled in Wyoming, HC&S officials said.

Tournahaulers transported up to 1.5 million tons of harvested cane to Puunene Mill per year.

The vehicle got its name from R.G. LeToureau, a 20th-century American engineer and inventor, HC&S officials said. LeToureau, born in Richford, Vt., gradually made his way westward as he strived to build the biggest and most-efficient mining and grading equipment.

As the last Tournahaulers headed to Kahului Harbor, other drivers beeped their horns and people flashed the shaka, Pestana said.

“It’s a very sad day for Maui,” said Pestana. “but it’s progress.”

A tourist, who visited Maui every year, was in tears seeing the Tournahaulers for the last time.

“She and her brother just loved those trucks,” he said. They followed, taking photos of the last of the cane haulers.

“It’s a wrap,” Pestana said.

* Lee Imada can be reached at leeimada@mauinews.com.

Correction. An A&B official said Tuesday that there are still two Tournahaulers on Maui.


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