Grandson restores classic Ford back to original condition
A 1946 Ford aptly named Henry which was once among the best known trucks in far north Queensland has been lovingly restored by the NSW grandson of the deceased man who purchased it.
The late Alex Cameron lived in Townsville and for more than 55 years loved Henry.
Alex purchased Henry from Magnetic Motors in Townsville during 1946 for 695 pounds and the pair was well known throughout the north and beyond.
Henry even carried the logs that Alex cut down from trees near Reid River to Gilliat Street in the suburb of Wulguru where they were used as supports for the Cameron family house.
The truck was a common sight driving around Townsville and was parked for decades in a shed at the back of Alex’s house.
Alex passed away to that wonderful trucking happy hunting ground in 2002 aged 87 and had made a wish that Henry should remain in the family.
Soon after Henry was sent down to his grandson, ironically also a trucking fanatic and named Alex, to Abermain in NSW.
“Henry settled in his new shed and the work began to get his engine up and running,” grandson Alex told Big Rigs.
“This was done very easily as the old fella had kept Henry in such good nick, plus he kept a trailer load of spare parts just in case.
Alex said that once Henry was up and running, he joined the Maitland Classic Motor Association.
“That was done to be able to register Henry on historic registration in NSW and to enjoy the fellowship with other classic vehicle enthusiasts,” he said.
“His first outing was to the Broke Village Fair, still in the condition that grandfather had last driven him. People were interested in the restoration process and it was suggested by one gentleman that I should not repaint him but leave as is.
“My aim over the restoration was to keep Henry drivable as much as possible.
“The longest time he spent off the road during the restoration was when the cab went in to be painted.”
During the restoration, Henry was seen on the road with bits and pieces painted and others still to be done.
“We replaced his wiring harness and some other minor electrical parts. We also updated his lights. The tray was completely rebuilt. The in body hoist did not require any work, other than to top up of the oil,” Alex said.
“I would like to acknowledge the advice and assistance given to me during the restoration of Ray Bowman and Michael Hopper who gave me many points to consider and hours of their time.
“At the moment, he is having his brakes redone, therefore he is off the road.”
This writer did several stories on Henry and his legendary owner Alex in the ’90s and just before his death and one incident stands out.
I was snapping pictures of Henry and Alex near a sawdust heap in his backyard when a taipan appeared.
Alex who was known as the “Honest Woodman” because he was also a champion axe man frightened the “Joe Blake” off with a chainsaw.
In 1998, Alex and Henry were inducted into the Million Miler Club by the now defunct national magazine Truckin’ Life.
“I want to ensure my truck stays in the family and it will be driving around well into the 21st century – long after I am gone,” Alex told me then.
The late Alex Cameron had been a quality cyclist, woodman and cricketer who scored a number of centuries with the willow in his heyday.
One of his best mates and cricketing rivals was Woodstock legend Bluey Field and the pair had some interesting discussions about their matches over many years and various trucks.
Henry used to cart railway sleepers, gravel, wood, tree stumps, sand and just about anything else you could fit onto such a truck.
Some other quotes from the late Alex bring back wonderful memories.
“I think Henry is in much better condition than me and has been around the clock many times, I am a septuagenarian and we are both on light duties now. But Henry has got a bit more speed than me but then again I am 30 years older than him. If Henry could talk he could really tell some stories,” Alex said.
The Townsville Show Society named a wood chopping arena after Alex after he had been competing for 63 years during the annual event.
“I only missed one show and that was during World War II when it was cancelled,” Alex said once.
Looking back, NSW Alex said that Henry had been fairly mechanically sound when he got him in 2002.
In his Abermain house, Alex has an honour board with many of Henry’s and his grandfather’s achievements on it.
It had been suggested at one stage that Henry may end up at the National Truck Museum at Alice Springs.
Henry will be on display at the Maitland SteamFest (April 19 and 20), Broke Village Fair (September 20 date to be confirmed), Kurri Kurri Nostalgia Festival (March 27-29) all in the Hunter Valley NSW.