Wickham Freightlines restore iconic original rig

The restored C-500 at Wickham Freightlines headquarters in Warwick.
The restored C-500 at Wickham Freightlines headquarters in Warwick. Contributed

MORE than 30 years after it was first purchased by the company's founder, Wickham Freightlines has brought a piece of company history back into its fleet.

The original prime mover, which was tracked down after a regretful sale two decades ago, was lovingly restored in a stunning tribute to founder Angus Wickham.

Mr Wickham, who bought the rig in 1984, died in 1999.

Company director Graham Keogh said the truck was a part of the company's history, which was only realised after it was gone.

"We got rid of it in about 2002,” Mr Keogh said.

"The truck had done a few million kilometres and we needed to move her on so we could get a new one,” Mr Keogh said. "We had a lightbulb moment a bit later that maybe we should have held onto it.

"But at the time, you don't really envision turning it into a restored showpiece in 20 years time.”

The truck, which was mostly driven by long-time employee Garth Power, was used for logging in Killarney and Mt Colliery.

The truck was sold back to truck dealer Brown and Hurley in Kyogle but in a stroke of good fortune, was bought a few years later by Warwick earthmovers John and Chris Loy.

Mr Keogh said Wickhams approached the Loys to register its interest should the Loys ever want to sell.

In 2016 the wish was granted and the truck was returned to its former home.

The Kenworth C500, the first to sport the company's signature colours, was completely restored at the company's East St head- quarters over about 18 months.

Workshop manager Steve Lord said the restoration was a team effort.

"A few guys spent a lot of time working on it, but a lot of others had a hand in it,” Mr Lord said.

"It took about 12 months full time, but it was the sort of job we could keep coming back to between other tasks.

"It was good fun and a chance for the younger guys to get involved and learn a lot.”

Mr Lord said every nut and bolt was touched during the restoration. "It was a ground-up rebuild,” he said.

"The engine and gearbox were still working pretty well, but we overhauled the suspension and back-end, brakes, got rid of all the rust, completely rewired and replaced all the air lines.”

The truck was then painted by Josh Robertson and his team at Mirror Finish in Warwick.

Wickhams now plans to tour the restored Kenworth to schools and shows, starting with the Kenworth Klassic in Sydney in September.

A Facebook post showing the work went viral this week, with more than 900 "likes” and more than 115 people sharing the post among their own networks.

Topics:  big rigs kenworth kenworth australia southern downs truck warwick