Forty year old White still bright

Big Rigs - - BIG RIGS | COVER STORY - David Vile

WITH the un­veil­ing of the first West­ern Star trucks in Aus­tralia at the 1983 Bris­bane Truck Show as a re­place­ment for the White Road Boss and Road Com­man­der, the ‘White’ name­plate, which had graced the na­tional high­ways for a num­ber of years, was con­signed to the his­tory books.

With the con­ven­tional Road Boss and cab-over Road Com­man­der, both pop­u­lar ve­hi­cles dur­ing the late 1970s and early 1980s, a num­ber have sur­vived through their work­ing life, and been over­hauled and re­stored as show pieces for the pop­u­lar and grow­ing his­toric ve­hi­cle move­ment.

One such ex­am­ple is the 1978 Road Boss owned by Leigh Rankin, with both truck and owner mak­ing the jour­ney from their home town of Katunga in north­ern Vic­to­ria to Urana for the 2018 Vin­tage Rally in late Oc­to­ber.

Leigh is the third owner of the truck, with the White go­ing to work ini­tially in South Aus­tralia for one of the coun­try’s larger fleets.

“K&S bought five of these in one lot with the same spec­i­fi­ca­tion in Mount Gam­bier – it was mainly used for heavy haulage and over­sized work and a bit of log­ging also,” Leigh said.

“From there a farmer from Nhill had it for his har­vest work and so on – it got a bit tired for him, he didn’t want it off the road dur­ing har­vest time so we saw an ad for it, thought we would go for a drive down to Nhill and bought it.”

With a Cum­mins NTC 290 mo­tor and 15 speed Road Ranger driv­e­line, the White was in fairly sound or­der when Leigh pur­chased it in 2014 and brought it back to Katunga for an over­haul.

“It had no rust or any­thing like that in it and it blew bug­ger all smoke when we fired her up,” he said.

“We thought it was worth do­ing up so we paid five and a half grand and brought it home.

“I have al­ways liked West­ern Stars and Whites, the old Road Boss in par­tic­u­lar – I like the shape of the ’70s era trucks, so when it popped up I grabbed it.”

As a ‘fleet’ truck, the ve­hi­cle is of a fairly rudi­men­tary spec­i­fi­ca­tion, with Leigh find­ing out a bit about the truck’s pre­vi­ous work­ing ac­tiv­ity by ac­ci­dent when restor­ing it.

“We found out it had been a heavy haulage truck when we stripped it down – all the over­size per­mits and pa­per­work had been shoved down be­hind the dash,” he said.

“It’s a very ba­sic truck – K&S didn’t over spec their trucks so its ba­sic in­side the cab, and only one air horn and ex­haust stack and so on – it’s a ‘poverty pack’ ba­si­cally.”

With restora­tion com­plete and the truck put on club reg­is­tra­tion, the White took its place among the sta­ble of trucks at the Rankin Trans de­pot, which con­sists of a num­ber of West­ern Stars, a Ken­worth and an Iveco, with the line­haul trucks cart­ing hy­dro­ponic toma­toes from Katunga to the mar­kets in Mel­bourne and Syd­ney, along with hay and ma­chin­ery cartage.

As an his­toric truck, the White has been dis­played by Leigh at a num­ber of shows and ral­lies around the coun­try, and in a busy week­end had been on show on the way through to the Urana event.

“Yes­ter­day we gave her a run at the Nu­murkah Food Bowl Fes­ti­val – we were go­ing to give her a wash to come up here so we put the fridge van on the back and ran it in the street pa­rade through town,” he said.

Leigh also has a re­stored In­ter­na­tional ACCO 3070, which like the White clocked up 40 years of age in 2018.

He is look­ing for­ward to do­ing more shows with both trucks, with the bi-an­nual White Truck Muster com­ing up in March this year a high­light.

“We’ll get her out again for Kyabram... she’s been a good old banger and tak­ing it out gives us some­thing to do of a week­end!”

❝ It had no rust or any­thing like that in it and it blew bug­ger all smoke when we fired her up.

— Leigh Rankin


THE BOSS IS BACK: The White has been fin­ished in the Rankin Trans­port colours.

Leigh Rankin with his re­stored White.

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