Mick Clee­land’s el­dest son passed away at age 17, but with com­mem­o­ra­tive mu­rals adorn­ing the com­pany’s Ken­worth K200, it seems he’s never too far away. Peter and Di Sch­lenk write

Owner Driver - - Contents #305 - Op­po­site: Classy Ken­worths – the K200 along­side its 1997 sta­ble­mate Right: Jake Clee­land is driv­ing the big Ken­worth K200

Mick Clee­land’s colour­ful Ken­worth K200 salutes his late son

AROUND 18 MONTHS AGO, Mick Clee­land de­cided to make an ad­di­tion to his fleet and went out and bought a sec­ond-hand 2013 big-cab Ken­worth K200. Al­though the truck had a fairly flash paint scheme, Mick wanted some­thing more. So the K200 was re­painted and mu­rals por­tray­ing im­ages of his late son Mike were added. Mike passed away in Au­gust 2012 at age 17, a vic­tim of a car ac­ci­dent. Ac­cord­ing to Mick, his son was more into cars than trucks, al­though he had his heart set on be­com­ing a diesel me­chanic. Mick says the art­work on the K200, which re­placed the “ugly red flames”, is out of re­spect for Mike, with the im­ages de­pict­ing dif­fer­ent phases of his son’s life.

“The crusher is there be­cause he was work­ing on a crusher up in Rock­hamp­ton and it’s great that he is out there and

with us in a way,” Mick says. “There is no bet­ter way to com­plete a trib­ute to him and it’s turned out to be a real head turner. Peo­ple are tak­ing pho­tos of it all the time.”

The K200, nick­named ‘Mike’s Ride’, has a GVM of 160 tonne with a big Cum­mins EGR pump­ing out 630hp. It had 290,000km on the clock when Mick bought it; now it’s well over the 315,000km mark.

It is set up with all the push-pull gear in the front, clips for fit­ting the bal­last box and a 10-tonne front axle plus six-rod rear end.

“It is a lit­tle bit big for around town at times, but I’ve had a few Ar­gosies and it was just time for a change,” he ex­plains.

Fam­ily busi­ness

Mick and his wife Kar­lene run Mick Clee­land Ex­ca­va­tions in Bris­bane with a fleet of four trucks and eight pieces of ma­chin­ery. The cou­ple’s son, Jake, is also a mem­ber of the team.

The bulk of the com­pany’s busi­ness in­volves home build­ing plat­forms and ex­ca­va­tion work for pre-cast tanks in both sew­er­age and rain­wa­ter ap­pli­ca­tions.

“The tanks would be 80 per cent of our work, al­though the wa­ter tanks have slowed down a fair bit but the sew­er­age side has pow­ered on,” Mick ex­plains. “Ev­ery­one with lit­tle acreage blocks can’t be on sep­tic any­more.”

“It is a lit­tle bit big for around town.”

Mick has been self-em­ployed for about 22 years, orig­i­nally start­ing out with his fa­ther Doug, who was in the earth­mov­ing game as well.

“It has grown into a lit­tle earth­mov­ing busi­ness around Bris­bane,” Mick says. “We’re just plod­ding along and try­ing to up­grade a few trucks and make it a bit dif­fer­ent and more pre­sentable. Pre­sen­ta­tion is a big thing as we turn up at our cus­tomer’s site.”

The K200, which gen­er­ally pulls a tri-axle float, has a big bed al­though Mick prefers sleep­ing in his own bed at home. “Some days the K200 would only do 50 kilo­me­tres,” he adds. At present Mick is look­ing for an­other big-cab Ken­worth but if his youngest son Max has any­thing to do with it, it will be an old SAR. “The youngest one, Max, is truck mad,” Mick smiles.

“For Max, ev­ery­thing has to be big with flash­ing flights. He wants it to be done up with Cap­tain Amer­ica.”

Trib­ute truck on show

With Jake be­hind the wheel, ‘Mike’s Ride’ takes in the show cir­cuit, in­clud­ing last year’s Casino Truck Show. That was Mick Clee­land Ex­ca­va­tions’ sec­ond ap­pear­ance at Casino, the K200 joined by an­other mem­ber of the fleet – a ’97 Ken­worth K100.

How­ever, it was the fin­ished paint work on the K200 that in­spired the Clee­lands to dress up the old Ken­worth.

“This one is a trib­ute to my great un­cle Keith, who never came back from World War II,” Jake says.

“He was in the air force so it’s the same idea again; to pay some re­spect to him and all the other blokes that served and did their bit for peace for our coun­try.”

The ’97 Ken­worth had al­ready been stretched when Clee­land bought it. With a 12.7-litre Detroit en­gine pro­duc­ing 500hp, it is cou­pled to an 18-speed gear­box and an eight-bag rear end.

Jake found out about the truck’s his­tory when he was fu­elling up one day at Heath­wood near his home.

“A bloke came up to me and said it was his old truck,” Jake re­calls. “I replied that it couldn’t be and he went on to tell me about a dent that he put in it, so he knew it was his truck.”

The old Ken­worth was pre­vi­ously an overnighter for TNT, hence the or­ange colour cab, do­ing Port Mac­quarie to Bris­bane overnight.

“It has done a few hard yards but is still in very good con­di­tion,” Jake says. “Now with the mu­rals, it at­tracts a lot of at­ten­tion. It’s all free­hand air­brushed.

Jake says he has en­joyed be­ing around ma­chines and trucks all of his life. “Since I could walk I would go with Dad and, when­ever I could, spend af­ter­noons and Satur­days in the shed. I would move the trucks around and play in the ma­chines be­fore learn­ing how to op­er­ate them,” he re­calls.

“It’s pretty awe­some; I’m 20 and get to drive a big cab K200. It does make you take a step back and I think I’ve got it pretty good,” Jake con­tin­ues. “Truck driv­ing is so hard to get into and I was able to walk straight into it.”

“Ev­ery­thing has to be big with flash­ing flights.”

Be­low: Mick Clee­land’s Ken­worth K200 is a trib­ute to his late son Mike

Above: The old Ken­worth re­calls Jake’s great un­cle who passed away while on duty in World War II

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