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
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