Proud drivers share stories as trucks dazzle in Deni
THE Deniliquin Truck Show is now in its fifth year and attracts increasingly good attendance from both the trucking fraternity and the local community.
Not only do the Show and Shine brigade turn up, but the dealers put on a show of force with Daimler (Mercedes Benz and Freightliner), CMV (Volvo and Mack), Kenworth (and DAF), Scania and Isuzu all bringing a range of vehicles along.
On the CMV stand was a Volvo FH16 Globetrotter 25th Anniversary model - one of only 14 built in Australia - looking resplendent in its unique grey paint job, with the interior standing out for its contrasting orange stitching, grab rails and many other one-off features.
A 600 amp stereo will entertain the few lucky owners of this rare beast whilst on the road.
If you'd like to buy this truck, CMV will fly you and your partner to Brissie for a tour of the factory.
The Volvo was joined by its new stablemate, the XXL Cab, as well as a couple of Macks.
Kenworth/DAF dealer, Graham Thompson Motors of Shepparton displayed KW's new T360 and T410 and is pleased with the reaction the industry has had to both trucks.
Kenworth has recently been forced to reduce its workforce in response to a downturn, brought on by the drought.
With an eye to the future though, the company has invested $37 million in upgrading their Bayswater plant, which will be able to produce up to 20 trucks on a day-shift when completed.
"Like any industry there are peaks and troughs," said Gary Nickson.
"It is a reflection of Paccar's faith in this market that they make this sort of investment."
Moving on we came across a 1996 Classic T900 Kenworth with Neil Hort madly polishing away, aided and abetted by Dave Keith, who has recently started his own business - Dave the Detailer.
This T900 is indeed Classic. Coming from Gary Cleary in Ballarat it was sent to Barry Dickson Paint and Panel in Cobram for a complete restoration from the ground up.
"It was in pretty ordinary condition," said Neil.
"It originally had a low-line bunk on it which was replaced with a high-rise. Engine bay, guards, brackets, and insulation of the entire cab. Everything was done and topped off with a new paint job."
The truck took 12 months and quite a few beers to renovate.
It is a working truck, running Melbourne to Sydney with a fridge fan. Barry Dickson, aka Dicko's Restorations, has been in business for 40 years.
This truck was a super classy example of what Barry can do.
Dave the Detailer is based in Tocumwal and details cars, trucks and farm machinery. In business for five years he has recently gone full-time.
"I do a lot of farm machinery - washing headers, tractors, trucks, stock crates - a lot of things people don't think about. I will go pretty well anywhere where the work is. And of course the rates are reasonable."
You can get hold of Dave on 0438220100.
Based at Finley, Mick Gray of Gray Transport turned up with his beautiful 2015 T950 Legend.
In business with brothers Bill and Tim, all three boys are out on the road making a quid.
It's working for them given they have 14 trucks between them.
The brothers have been in business for 20 years.
Mick was originally an aircraft engineer, having worked for aerospace in Port Melbourne. It's a long way from aerospace to driving a truck.
"Dad had trucks when we were kids. He started in '66 and sold up in '89, so we kids went and did our apprenticeships and training.
We always had a bit of a passion for trucks and thought one day would get back into it. Twenty years ago, in 1999, we did."
The brothers mainly cart grain and fertiliser, but also run containers from Finley to Melbourne or Sydney as well as around the local area.
"We have half a dozen trucks that run only four or five kilometre loading containers onto the rail. In the peak season we would be sending out 100 containers a day.
"Up until the last 12 months it's always been busy but not this past year. Everybody is hurting thanks to the drought."
I'm admiring a pretty neat Kenny when owner, Scott Congram, asks, "Wanna buy it?" When I ask what's wrong with it he replies, "The bank manager and the drought." From Finley, and like many others in the area, Scott is finding the going a bit tougher than usual.
"We are actually really busy at this very moment but I can see it falling in a hole. The future is a bit of a worry and the bank still wants their money."
He bought the truck brand-new from Twin City Trucks in Albury. Scott and his brother run three vehicles, running as B-doubles or Road Trains.
Scott won the first Deniliquin Truck of the Show with this truck (painted by Barry Dickson) in 2014.
"The trophy lasted about 10 minutes. It was glass and the young fella put it in the truck. I bought some stuff at auction, threw it into the truck and smashed the trophy all over the floor.
"They did replace it with another one later on which was good of them. It was a bit of a laugh after the event. We'd had a fair bit at the bar as well."
Frank Ramsdale has a successful business - Plendrive - at Pakenham (V), with five liquid waste tankers keeping him busy. Back in the day though, he started out driving for Vaughan Transport and the first truck he drove was a White Road Boss.
So, all these years later, he has shouted himself one, which had its first outing at Deni. A 1980 model, Frank has had the truck for around two years.
"One day I'll do her up but pressures of life keep getting in the way," he said.
"So far I've put a new floor in and made battery covers. I'm going to repaint it and I've got a bunk to put on the back.
"They are a great looking truck and we all have an affinity for the first one we got behind the wheel of."
Brett Sullivan is a diesel mechanic by trade and has been getting grease underneath his nails for the past 23 years. But no more.
He is "retiring" this year to become a full-time truck artist.
"When I was young Mum always had paper and pencils around. I tinkered a lot and drew a lot when I was young and into my teens. I also did graphic art at school. About three years ago I picked up the pencils again and currently I have nearly 40 commissions to do. I've done nearly 100 trucks over the last two-and-a-half years."
Brett now trips around the truck show circuit with t-shirts, truck colouring books for kids and prints of his artwork.
Keep a lookout for Brett at the next show you attend and check out his talents. You can contact him at facebook.com/sullivan
The winner of Truck of the Show was Matthew Clarke who drives for SRV Road Freight Services.
This is his second win - the first when driving for Frank Gattuso Transport in his T108 big cab.
Matthew's drive is a 2018 Kenworth SAR. Matthew lives in Tongala and hauls general freight with a B-double.
"I love this truck and driving for SRV. It's one man/one truck so the presentation is down to me."
Well done Matt and to all who attended Deni.