Show dog

Jimmy Har­ris’ 1984 Mack R688RS

Deals on Wheels - - Contents -

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

mid-1990s 1

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