Diane is a Lady Truckie with a mission. Her biggest dream was to resurrect a B-61 Mack tractor from the truck grave yard, and transform it into a first class restoration. Something that any truckie (Trucker) in the world would be proud to own.
How did all this get started? Diane's father used to work for Mack Truck in Australia, delivering new vehicles from the factory. She used to ride along with her dad while he made his deliveries around the country. The old "B" Model Mack left quite an impression on her. Since then, she has taken up the driving occupation with zeal.
While still trucking, she started thinking, "what would it be like to restore a truck from scratch". She discussed it with Terry, and he suggested that, "if you don't do it now, you never will". Shortly after that, she came home with the news of finding a truck for the restoration project. It was a real monster, it had spent part of it's life hauling road trains, and looked like an impossible job.
The game plan for this restoration is to trick it up, metallic paint, white
roof, lots of mirror finished stainless steel, all new rubber, leather seats and
a soft head lining. She wants to give it the 'WOW' factor without destroying the
integrity and charisma of the truck.
This is the time that decisions are made about what needs to be replaced outright. Being an older machine, the parts can become a rare commodity.
The search is on. Now where do we start looking? The local Mack dealer was very helpful but could not supply everything from on site. Neil Owen - parts coordinator - Mack Trucks, Australia, is a miracle worker when it comes to locating the parts that he does not stock. Without Neil's help, support and service, the project would have folded long ago. His search for parts went beyond the Australian borders, Canada, and the United States were a start. The internet was a major factor in the accumulation of the necessary items. Some things as stainless mirror arms and battery boxes, Terry fabricated himself. (It is what he does)
Next, is Terry's own description of what was happening. Once into the restoration, things are not always as you might expect.
We've got two new doors, two new fenders ( We call 'em mudguards ), and a new radiator cowl on the high seas, due to land here soon. They will probably cost the Earth but maybe no more than to fix the bits we've got, and we'll be able to bolt them straight on to the chassis. The cab still needs some work around the bottom of the back wall ( when we open it up I'm sure it will be pretty horrible ) and the brow area above the windscreen inside still has to be finished. I started to make new frames for the external mirrors a short time ago in my workshop and those are coming on nicely ( all stainless steel of course ). The stainless exhaust is coming together slowly, no rush. One problem we do have is the hex shaped pins that the radiator louvers are mounted on. The ones we have are not useable and I am hoping that our senior fitter tradesman at my workshop can manufacture some new ones.
We built a new front bumper bar out of stainless steel. I polished it to a mirror finish (took me 25 hours). We also have a stainless battery box, stainless tool box sitting between the chassis rails, two stainless rear view mirror frames (with Mack mirrors) and stainless tail light stems. Can you imagine the glare coming down the road with the front bumper and the radiator cowl in very shiny finish?
We had one new part made for the steering box, because the bit that was in it was badly worn and pitted, but now we have lost the steering box.
Mack Truck say they haven't got it and the people who made the new bit say they haven't got it, it isn't at home here, so it looks like we'll have to get another ( I don't think it will be too much of a drama, there should be plenty lying around in wrecking yards etc.)
In the interim it is very frustrating not seeing a great deal going on, but hopefully very soon we will see some progress. There is still a long way to go and we are looking forward to seeing the old girl roll again
A recent discovery about this old "B" Model Mack, has come up with a shadowy past. The further you investigate, the more you come up with a history of fascinating intrigue. You just never know what you are getting into at times, until you get there. Then it could be to late to back out.
The original chassis was purchased from Stan Fuller in Brisbane towards the end of 2000 for $4,500.(AUS) Stan used it for about 10 years as a yard tug, but was forced to sell it as a result of being booked by the police for driving an unregistered vehicle on the road. One of his men used it to park a trailer on the side of the road, outside his work shop so as to be ready for pickup early the next morning, by a customer.
Before Stan owned it, the truck was working variously around Queensland.
At the time of the truck purchase, it was apparent that the cabin (cab) sitting on the chassis was not original, as there were wrecker's marks on the under side of the roof and on the doors. They also established that the engine was not original, as the chassis number indicated that the original engine was naturally aspirated, and the one in it now is turbo charged.
An initial inspection of the restorative work to be done, by a bloke in the restoration game, confirmed my worst fears-the cabin was just about beyond repairing, he told us that we should try to procure another cabin. The rot, particularly across the top of the fire wall and around both doors and the roof, the floor and everywhere else was horrible. Diane called into a truck wrecking yard at a place called Yatala, just south of Brisbane and optimistically asked "I don't suppose you have a B-61 cabin in the yard". "yes we do" was the reply. So we became the proud owners of a second cabin for the sum of $1,500.(AUS) After this cabin came back from the sand blaster it was painfully apparent that we had a major repair job on our hands, even with this one. The rear window, part of the fire wall, a patch in the roof and various other bits and pieces were cut out of the original cab and replaced the rotten sections in the 'new' cab. Most of the box sections around the doors and the window pillars were rebuilt, the floor has had a large part replaced, part of the rear wall of the cabin has been replaced and the stiffening web under the brow of the cabin has been removed and repaired. The ribbed sections on the rear corners of the cabin beside the rear window came out of the original cabin. Both pairs of doors that we had were also in a very bad condition and both had areas of body putty up to 1/4" thick from earlier repair jobs. (we bought a new pair of doors through Mack in Australia from the States)
Keeping a steady job going, while undertaking a project as great as this one, can take a lot out of you. While some critical parts were still to be located, this would be a good time to take a break to have a change, (which they say is as good as a rest) and rejuvenate.
During this period, work was to be done on Diane's personal vehicle. (A truck of course) Some mechanical updating and a new paint job were in order. The Mack was put on hold for a time while waiting for parts, as well as a deserved rest.
A REAL NICE RIG --- FIRST CLASS
This is a description of Diane's "personal truck". It is a 2003 model Holden one tonne ute built in Australia. Equipped with a 5.7L - V8 series III Chevy engine, 6 speed manual box, power everything with what Holden calls the "S" pack. They had the seats and door trims re-upholstered in black and grape coloured leather. The photos above, show the tray (rear deck) with the drop down sides removed. They are the same colour as the body which is a colour called Cosmo, and the tray has a hardwood floor which they oil to keep it looking good. The ghost flames are by Little Mick who operates a tatto and decorative paint shop in Fortitude Valley which is a part of the inner city of Brisbane. Little Mick is highly regarded world wide for his flair for freehand decorative paint work.
NOTE; Holden, is Australia's home grown motor company, now owned by General Motors. UTE, is referred to as a UTILITY model, or PICK/UP as known in other parts of the world.
The chassis has been completely re-built. Every seal, bush, bearing, rubber and bolt has been replaced, and they've got ten new tires under it. The chassis rails were also split apart so that they could be properly repaired. No two pieces of the chassis were bolted together.
Once the chassis has been set up, you begin rounding up the parts and accessories, and then start to piece this puzzle back together again. At this stage of the game, the job has become a much cleaner and more pleasant environment to work in.
In the meantime, Big Wheels at Rocklea removed and replaced the rubbers in the rear axle rocker assembly. (This is specialist work.) While another specializing company, Mendham Engineering at Rocklea made the new shackle pins, one of the new bits for the steering box and lapped the front axle to the new king pins. Without their expertise, this restoration would not make it to completion.
Time to employ a professional Panel Beater (Body Man), and leave this part of the job in experienced hands. A once in a lifetime project such as this one, deserves the best body man (panel beater) around. From Oz Rods and Restorations, comes Daryl, who is the tradesman working on this project, and is a true panel beater. His work is pretty to watch.
Once it is determined what has to be done to make it all come together, the panels will be stripped off and the chassis will come home while they continue to repair and prepare for paint. While all this body work is being done, a 4" tube 304 grade stainless steel exhaust is being fabricated to compliment the paint and body. First class all the way.
THE CAB'S BODY WORK, BEING CAUGHT UP, IS FITTED TO THE CHASSIS.
New body parts which we have bought from the USA, are the radiator cowl (chromed), the doors, head lining, glove box, bailey channel, door seals, starter button, stop button, ignition switch, headlight switch, tacho, between panel rub strips, one new quarter pane glass, inner fire wall insulation, bonnet catches and a few other bits and pieces. Terry was at Mack in Brisbane, and was informed that they have three radiator louvre systems coming over, so he ordered one, otherwise he was going to have to rebuild the existing one, which is in a very sad state.
Diane managed to get another steering box from Barry Clough (who happens to be the godfather of all "B-61" enthusiasts), and lives at a place called Plainland, which is west of Brisbane, towards Toowoomba. Barry is a retired truckie who loves playing with them, he has several sheds full of parts and has restored quite a few "B" models. She took the box to a steering specialist, Priority Power Steering at Rocklea, where Ian Palmer is rebuilding the steering box for us. We've just had the tail shaft rebuilt and it looks like new, all new universals, new splines and a fresh coat of gloss black paint.
PIECE BY PIECE, THINGS ARE STARTING TO COME TOGETHER QUITE NICELY.