Old-time brand re­stored

Al­lan Prowse of Wagga Wagga is repli­cat­ing an Eas­toe’s Trans­port truck and trailer. Ta­mara Whitsed ad­mires the work in progress

Deals on Wheels - - CONTENTS -

Anew trend is emerg­ing among clas­sic truck en­thu­si­asts. Sign writer Gor­don ‘Crack­ers’ McCracken says he’s no­ticed grow­ing num­bers of re­stored pan­techs and re­frig­er­ated vans at­tend­ing clas­sic truck events over the past four years.

He loves to see them be­ing pre­served and doesn’t mind whether they are re­stored or not. “Old-time stuff just looks magic,” says Crack­ers, who lives in Wodonga, Vic­to­ria, and is highly re­spected for his old-school lin­ing and scrolling. “It seems to be the new thing now. Every­body seems to have a lot of old time trucks. Now they’re slowly get­ting trail­ers.”

There have al­ways been plenty of old flat-tops at clas­sic truck events – McGraths, Freighters and Frue­haufs. And low load­ers have at­tended for many years, of­ten car­ry­ing clas­sic trucks in

var­i­ous stages of restora­tion. Now we’re notic­ing more cur­tain-siders, tip­pers, tarped loads, tankers, jinkers and even a few old stock crates. Crack­ers takes his own re­stored 1974 Freighter bo­gie flat top to truck shows, and is con­scious it takes up the space of two prime movers.

Or­gan­is­ers of some events face a con­sid­er­able chal­lenge pro­vid­ing room for the grow­ing num­ber of trail­ers.

Sev­eral pan­techs are used as sleep­ing quar­ters dur­ing the shows. “They’re do­ing up old-style pans as liv­ing quar­ters, with ev­ery­thing self­con­tained,” Crack­ers says. Some have cook­ing fa­cil­i­ties and an awning on the side.

In a pre­vi­ous is­sue we showed you a re­frig­er­ated van which Crack­ers had sign writ­ten in the style of Cold­stor­age Trans­port, com­plete with the ski­ing pen­guin, for Rus­sell Ri­cardo.

And last month Crack­ers painted a re­frig­er­ated van as a replica of an Eas­toe’s Trans­port trailer for Al­lan Prowse of Wagga Wagga, New South Wales. Crack­ers re­ferred to old pho­to­graphs to recre­ate the Eas­toe’s sign.

LINES AND SCROLLS

Prowse will tow the trailer be­hind a 1966 Seat­tle Ken­worth K123. The truck is at Royan Truck and Trailer Re­pairs, Wagga Wagga, as we go to print, and will soon be moved to Wodonga where Crack­ers will line and scroll it in Eas­toe’s style.

A long-term Wagga Wagga res­i­dent, 75-year-old Prowse drives for Farey Trans­port. He found the K123 ad­ver­tised in a mag­a­zine. “I’d been look­ing for a truck for a while, and it was rea­son­ably priced, and be­cause of its vin­tage — it’s a 1966 model — I jumped in pretty quickly and told the fel­low that I wanted to buy it. I was lucky enough to get it.”

The K123 was orig­i­nally or­dered by Eas­toe’s Trans­port but the com­pany never took de­liv­ery of the truck. “Be­cause of the tie with Eas­toe’s, I wanted to do it in their colours,” Prowse says. “When I was a young fel­low in the bush, Eas­toe’s were run­ning around with their big trucks and stood out re­ally well. You ad­mired them when you saw them.”

Prowse sought a suitable trailer through Face­book. He re­ceived sev­eral replies and set­tled on a 1980 RP van of­fered by Lloyd Hob­son. It has a Thermo King in good work­ing or­der.

“For 38 years old it’s in re­ally good con­di­tion. It’s not on air bags – it’s got spring sus­pen­sion. And it hasn’t got alu­minium wheels – it’s got spi­der wheels. Old school,” he says.

Prowse looks for­ward to tak­ing his truck and trailer to clas­sic truck events in 2019. “I think it’s fan­tas­tic to try to keep the mem­ory of our road trans­port his­tory in peo­ple’s minds.”

THE CHICKEN TEST

For­mer Eas­toe’s driver Pe­ter ‘Lizard’ Wil­liams of Wan­garatta, Vic­to­ria, can’t wait to see Prowse’s re­stored Ken­worth and fridge van. Lizard started with Eas­toe’s in the early 1970s when the com­pany was run­ning about 30 trucks in­clud­ing Peter­bilts and cab-over Ken­worths – most with Cum­mins 250s. In 1973, Eas­toe’s added a few Ken­worth S2s with Cum­mins 903s to the fleet. “They were just the duck’s guts!” Lizard says. Eas­toe’s was based at Moorab­bin, Vic­to­ria, and Lizard carted frozen prod­ucts in­clud­ing chooks and tur­keys in­ter­state.

He re­mem­bers pulling Eas­toe’s old Tran­si­cold trail­ers. These were grad­u­ally up­graded to FRP re­frig­er­ated trail­ers from 1973. Signs on these newer trail­ers pro­claimed Eas­toe’s as ‘The Spe­cial­ists’. This is the style re­pro­duced on Prowse’s trailer.

Lizard re­mem­bers how good it felt to park an im­pres­sive Eas­toe’s rig in front of a road­house and step out of the truck in the smart green uni­form. “And be­cause we reck­oned we were kings of the road, we used to wear pol­ished slip-ons.”

Eas­toe’s jobs were highly cov­eted, and Lizard re­calls a man­ager mak­ing him prove he was wor­thy of the Eas­toe’s uni­form. “He’d make you stand in the back of the pan­tech, and he’d toss you all these frozen chick­ens. You hand stacked the whole lot.

“I’m run­ning and run­ning. I’m think­ing, ‘I’ve got to stay here and do this be­cause I want this job.’ We packed the whole van. And I reckon my arms were about five inches longer af­ter. There were some pretty good blokes there that drove at the time,” Lizard says.

He left the com­pany in the mid-1970s. Eas­toe’s pur­chased Ken­worth SARs with the big ‘E’ on

the air foils af­ter he left. Eas­toe’s trucks were on the road from the late 1950s un­til the 1980s, and sev­eral have made their way into the hands of clas­sic truck col­lec­tors and re­stor­ers.

Al­lan Prowse’s replica Eas­toe’s Trans­port trailer be­hind Gor­don McCracken’s Ken­worth S2

Pe­ter ‘Lizard’ Wil­liams with an Eas­toe’s Ken­worth S2 in the 1970s

Above: An Eas­toe’s Ken­worth S2 and Tran­si­cold trailer

Lizard and his baby daugh­ter Dan­nielle with one of Eas­toe’s cab-over Ken­worths and Tran­si­cold trail­ers

Al­lan Prowse with the 1966 Seat­tle Ken­worth K123 which is near­ing com­ple­tion

Lizard us­ing two sticks in an Eas­toe’s Peter­bilt

Pe­ter ‘Lizard’ Wil­liams at his home near Wan­garatta

The re­frig­er­ated van has been sign-writ­ten by Gor­don McCracken in the style of the Eas­toe’s Trans­port’s trail­ers

The 1966 Seat­tle Ken­worth K123 prior to restora­tion

Gor­don ‘Crack­ers’ McCracken is re­spected for his lines and scrolls

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