BEAUTIFULLY RESTORED: The 1960 model B-61 has been lovingly brought back to glory.
BEAUTIFULLY RESTORED: The 1960 model B-61 has been lovingly brought back to glory. David Vile

'Always been a Mack man' - John's beautifully restored B-61

DRAWING a steady stream of admirers to the CMV Wodonga display at the Deniliquin Truck Show and Industry Expo in mid-September was the beautifully restored B-61 Mack owned by livestock hauler John Carmichael of Ivanhoe in outback New South Wales.

John had brought the 58-year-old Mack down on a trailer to the expo, with the truck having undergone a restoration from the chassis rails up over a number of years.

John purchased the truck out of Boulia in Queensland, with the truck in a poor condition after a hard working life.

"It was originally owned by a house removalist in Queensland before being sold and put to work running between Melbourne and Darwin - it had a sleeper box fitted - and then being sold out to Boulia,” John said.

Being a long-time Mack enthusiast, John was on the lookout for a project truck and once back at his Ivanhoe base the rebuild started.

"It was stripped back to the chassis rails and it was done up over a number of years. We did all the mechanical and wiring at home in our own workshop, the cabin was done by Rod and Rob Mann in Balranald, and the paint and signwriting was done in Swan Hill by John Conway,” he said.

Parts for the rebuild were sourced from Ian Lee in Kyneton and the old bulldog came to life once again.

John Carmichael with his B-61 Mack.
John Carmichael with his B-61 Mack. David Vile

"It's a 1960 model. It's not the oldest B-Model as there were a few prior to that but it has the Thermodyne 237 horsepower motor, and the quad box and bogie are original,” he said.

John took the Mack to the Alice Springs reunion in 2015 and has also displayed the B-Model at the Mack Muster in Kyabram.

Making his first visit to the Deniliquin event, he reckoned the contrast between old and new trucks showed how road transport had evolved.

He said it was a bit different to a vintage show, but good to see all the modern trucks.

John has been in transport since 1969, when he first took to the road carting tomatoes, firstly in a Thames Trader and then an AB International from Echuca to Dandenong.

He did his first livestock job into the Swan Hill saleyards in a Ford F600 and moved back to Ivanhoe in 1972 to start his own business.

"Off the land I learned to drive machinery and trucks, so I kicked off with an Albion Reiver, then a C-Series Inter, then a White Road Commander, before buying a brand new Mack Super-Liner in 1986,” John said.

Today that 1986 Super-Liner is still part of the all-Mack fleet which covers a range of models, with the Carmichael operation at the time of our chat about to take delivery of new Titans.

Livestock is still the mainstay of the operation, with cattle, sheep and goats transported to abattoirs and saleyards across southern Australia.

"We run B-doubles and B-triples along with conventional road trains. We get a lot of work south these days to abattoirs in Melbourne, Kyneton and Ararat, and we do a lot of goats into Wodonga,” he said.

The Carmichael fleet also includes a couple of road train side-tippers which undertake haulage for road projects for the Carathool and Central Darling shires, along with the NSW Roads and Maritime Service.

"It's good work and the roads are improving. The road south from Ivanhoe to Balranald is now almost fully sealed and we now do about 50-50 off the blacktop.”

With John's son, Mark, running his own Mack and coming on board as a partner in the family business, John reckons he might be able to wrangle a bit more time to find and restore another truck - with the stipulation it has a bulldog out the front.

"I might have a bit more time to play with the B-Model. I would like to take it to Kyabram again, and find another one to do up,” he said.

"I have always been a Mack man so I would like to do an R-Model or a cab-over Ultra-Liner - there's not many of them about.”

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