Jimmy Harris’ 1984 Mack R688RS
Retired truck driver Jimmy Harris is sitting at his kitchen table looking through photo albums with his wife Susie and son Dustin.
“It’s got some stories, that truck,” Dustin says as he points to a photograph of Jimmy’s 1984 Mack R688RS loaded with logs.
Photographs in the album also show the Mack carrying hay, road-base gravel, general freight, frozen food, organic milk, and earthmoving machinery.
Jimmy grew up in Corryong, Victoria, and remembers admiring the Mack when Corryongbased logger Allan Wilkinson bought it new in 1984.
Allan worked it hard in the high country before selling it to his son Steve Wilkinson in 1987. Steve drove it on logging tracks and highways.
Jimmy is the truck’s third owner. He bought the Mack from Steve in 1993 with 1.1 million kilometres on the clock. It came complete with the sleeper box and jinker.
“A lot of people will say the old B Model was the truck that made Mack, but the R Models cemented it because the R Model was a more comfortable truck and was just as reliable, if not more reliable,” says Jimmy, who initially used it to cart logs.
Jimmy’s Mack excelled in the bush: “The old motor was just super reliable. The diffs were heavy duty.”
Jimmy and Susie live in Browns Plains near Barnawartha, Victoria. Dustin has followed Jimmy into the trucking industry and drives between Melbourne and Albury for WA Pickles.
A lot of people will say the old B Model was the truck that made Mack, but the R Models cemented it.
HIGH COUNTRY TRUCKING
In his youth, Jimmy drove trucks in the Corryong district for Maldon Sheather, Jack Hillier and Howard Willins. He also spent eight years working at Max Walker’s Corryong timber mill.
He felled trees for the Mack’s first owner, Allan Wilkinson, from 1986 to 1989.
Jimmy bought his first truck in 1990. The R
Model was his second truck. The old photographs show ‘Harbury Haulage Corryong’ written on the Mack’s door from 1994 to 1997 when Jimmy operated three trucks in partnership with Jamie Spilsbury.
During this time, Jimmy, Jaimie and their employee Steve Watson all drove the Mack. It carted logs and general freight, travelling as far as Adelaide, Sydney and Brisbane.
‘PRESS ON REGARDLESS’
Two life-changing accidents left their mark on Jimmy’s body. His right hand was badly injured in a milling accident at Cann River in 1989. He lost two fingers and hasn’t regained full use of his hand even after 20 operations.
And, in 1995 at Mount Beauty, a log fell from a trailer and crushed his left leg. Surgeons amputated below his knee.
Jimmy impressed friends with his determination to keep driving trucks. His inspiring motto, ‘Press on Regardless’, is written on the R Model’s bug deflector.
Despite his injuries, he still loves driving manual trucks – even the R Model with its 9-speed gearbox. “I’ve got a restricted multi-combination licence,” Jimmy says. “The restriction is I’ve got to have my [prosthetic] leg on.”
By 1997, Jimmy was disheartened by the logging industry and decided he would rather work for wages. So he left the Harbury partnership, taking the Mack with him, and he spent the next eight years employed to drive trucks for Baxter Concrete of Wodonga. When Baxters were short of trucks, Jimmy put an agitator behind the R Model.
Jimmy left Baxters in 2005 to work in partnership with his brother Harold. They specialised in road maintenance and construction.
They employed Dustin to drive the Mack. “I worked it flat out for four years as a tipper and dog,” says Dustin, who had already gained several years trucking experience with McKendrick Transport and Greenfreight.
He was familiar with the Mack because he had previously used it to cart organic milk from Kyabram to Corryong in 2000.
Jimmy and Dustin rebuilt the original 350hp 2-valve END673 engine in 2005 when it clocked
It owes me nothing so it can stay in the stable.
up 2.9 million kilometres. This was the engine’s second rebuild.
The Mack has been on club plates since Jimmy retired in 2012.
“There’s no way I could afford to keep that truck out there on full registration, because the cost factor involved is just too much. On club registration you can justify having it sitting there in the shed,” he says.
“It owes me nothing so it can stay in the stable.” Jimmy has been involved with the Australian chapter of the American Truck Historical Society (ATHS) since 2008. Today he is treasurer and
Susie is secretary. They encourage American truck lovers to consider joining the club, which holds several truck shows throughout Australia each year.
Jimmy usually drives the ATHS merchandise van to club events, which means he has not been able to display the Mack at any of the club’s popular truck shows. But Dustin was proud to take the R Model to the Mack Muster at Kyabram in 2016.
And Jimmy looks forward to taking it to a Historic Commercial Vehicle Club (HCVC) event taking place at Broadford next month. The inaugural Spirit of the Hume Truck Display takes place on February 18 and 19 at The Common, Broadford, Victoria.
After hard years on bush tracks and the highway, the 1984 R Model Mack is taking it easy on club plates at Jimmy Harris’ Browns Plains home
1. In 2000, Dustin Harris used the Mack to cart
organic milk between Kyabram and Corryong 2. Dustin Harris and his father Jimmy Harris say regular maintenance is the secret to the Mack’s longevity
3. With an agitator, working for Baxters Concrete 4. Jimmy and Dustin with ‘The Kid’ – a 1971 F Model Mack under restoration in Jimmy’s shed. The F Model was first owned by Ballards of Queensland
5. Jimmy and Susie Harris are treasurer and secretary of the American Truck Historical Society’s Australian chapter
6. At Tom Groggin in the Snowy Mountains in the
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