THE Historic Commercial Vehicle Club of Australia made two very important changes to its annual show this year.
- 1: It changed the date, moving it to earlier in the month, which meant no clash with the coming Castlemaine Truck Show on November 22-23; and
- 2: It changed the venue from Sandown Park Raceway to the Yarra Glen Racecourse, 40km north-east of Melbourne.
It was an inspired move as the treed surrounds and excellent facilities of Yarra Glen stood in sharp contrast to the bare asphalt quadrangle that was the staging point of the show for decades.
It seemed to have no effect on attendance either, as exhibitors came from around the state and across the country to show off their prides and joys.
Similarly, the public arrived in droves - an excellent result as the day competed with the nearby town of Healesville, which was celebrating its 150th anniversary on the same weekend.
This show differs from many in that it attracts not only trucks, large and small, but also buses, bikes, military vehicles, steam engines, vans and cars from bygone eras.
The result is a fascinating walk through the annals of transport history.
Ian Castles had a 1931 Chevrolet at the show.
"I bought it from my next door neighbour, Frank Ramatanis. When I got it, it was a real wreck. My wife Helen said she could understand Frank wanting to sell it but she did not understand me wanting to buy it. I told her I could see the potential in it. She loves it now of course," Ian said.
"There's five years work in bringing it up to what you see now. George Smithwick built the cabin for it, and did a magnificent job.
"My best mate, Bill Goldsack, built the tray. Sadly it was the last thing Bill did before he passed away from a brain tumour. I'm going to put a plaque on the tray as a dedication to Bill.
"She puts out 75 horses and will do maybe 80km an hour. She gets a bit wheezy up around there. You drive it through the seat of your pants. You feel the vibration.
"People wouldn't realise that years ago we used to drive our trucks through the seat of our pants. Certain vibrations and we would know to back off. Different world these days."
Kevin Oates from Avoca, 70km out of Ballarat, is a proud owner of a 1925 Chevrolet powered by an overhead valve four-cylinder.
The motor is a work of art in itself with the pushrods outside the block.
"She will do a whole 58km an hour," Kevin said.
He has owned the Chevy for eight years but wouldn't touch it until he retired.
"It took me three years to restore, stripping it down to every last nut and bolt. You do a lot of hunting around swap meets for the parts you need.
"The hardest thing to find were reflectors and the outer rims around the headlights. Tyres were a bit of a worry but we finished up getting two brand-new ones for $100, would you believe.
"The back ones were an even better deal at $80 the pair. People look at it and tell me that I've done an amazing job of restoring it but I've spoiled it by putting that magpie on the front windscreen."
Kevin points to the Collingwood Football Club Magpie stuck to the screen.
"It upsets a couple of my grandkids who are Melbourne supporters."
Dave Hall showed up with a 1971 Bedford KMR XT5. The truck sports a 653 Detroit with 10-speed overdrive and a two speed, number 4, Eaton differential. Dave has owned the truck for 10 years.
"I basically bought just the engine and the chassis. The cab was knackered so we stripped it and rebuilt it and rewired it. We did it all at home under our own steam because of our budget," Dave said.
"The only thing we didn't do was the trim line which we got Crackers (Gordon McCracken) to do."
The door of the truck bears the inscription, E. Harris, Livestock Transport.
"He's a well-known old fella at home who had a Bedford and carted livestock for years. He is still alive and kicking and we just thought we'd pay homage to him."
Dave still works the road with his truck, doing a bit of a road train work and heavy haulage for Doolans.
With sun shining and literally hundreds of modes of transport on display, the HCVCA's show at its new Yarra Glen home was an unqualified success. Bring on 2015.
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