OLD FAITHFUL: Proving you can’t always knock a “wreck”.
OLD FAITHFUL: Proving you can’t always knock a “wreck”.

Wrecks value found on the inside

FROM Shepparton, Victoria, Frank Latorre has spent a lifetime behind the wheel, starting in the orchard game like his father.

After the orchard season finished they would drive produce interstate.

"Being Italian, we'd have to be involved with fruit and veg wouldn't we?" laughed Frank.

Frank didn't have a particular interest in Foden as a brand, but when he saw one at a wrecker's yard in 1982, the look of it appealed both to his heart and his common sense. When he stumbled across it, it was about to be cut up for scrap metal. A minimalist when it comes to words, Frank says he towed her home, fixed her up and got her registered.

"In those days it didn't cost too much for registration - unlike now. I saw it as a useful addition to the couple of trucks that I already owned. It had a flat tray with the twist locks and all, and was suited to orchard work. She had a hitch on her and I was able to haul the forklift to the various jobs. I used her for seven seasons, carting tomatoes to Rosella. It was only local carting and I worked within a 20 km radius which didn't put a lot of strain on the old girl."

The 1965 S21, twin steer, bogie drive Foden is powered by an Alex Gardiner LX150, as in horsepower motor.

"She's not overpowered, but in low gear she'll pull a train."

The original Foden epicycle box had been replaced by a nine speed overdrive Road Ranger before Frank gave her a new lease on life. The motor is original as are the diffs which are direct drive, no power dividers here. Frank's model came with air brakes unlike the earlier vacuum and hydraulic set up.

As the harvests got bigger and bigger, the size of the Foden meant she couldn't cope with the amount of work so Frank decided to give the harvests away.

"When I finished working within the orchard industry I just parked her up. She wasn't a truck you could sell, as those used in the industry were getting bigger and bigger and faster and faster. This old girl is flat chat doing 80 km an hour."

Then an opportunity came to do some work for Young's and Sons in their quarries, taking aggregate to the stockpiles. So Frank got rid of the flat-bed and replaced it with a tipper body.

When Boral bought out Young's and Sons, Frank figured he was no longer needed so the Foden went into retirement again.

When Boral took over they wanted to subcontract the quarry work and having heard that Frank had worked there, approached him. Frank showed the manager his Foden and said, "Will this do?"

"Go for it," said the manager. "If it goes it can work, but under OH&S you'll need to fit air- conditioning."

"Wish I'd done it 15 years earlier," Frank quipped.

She worked in the quarry, bin dumping for the next 19 years with Frank retiring her only three years ago. When he retired the Foden, Frank intended to retire himself but the GFC made a substantial dint in his life savings. Consequently he still works at the quarry driving a 2350 ACCO.

Looking at the Foden parked up in his yard, Frank realised that she could still lead a productive, if more restrained life.

The inside of the tipper has been cleaned out, carpeted, lined, had a high-rise tarp placed upon her, and now holds a bed and Frank's camping gear when he heads off to the various historical truck shows.

"It is now an RV!"

It's a bit of a climb up over the tailgate to check out Frank's home away from home, but once inside she is a cosy place to be. This writer commented that it could be a bit dangerous stepping outside at night to take a leak. This doesn't faze Frank. "Nah. I got a ladder."

Frank paid $6500 when he bought the Foden from the wrecker. He doesn't like to remind his wife of how much he's spent on her since (the Foden, we mean).

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