My truck rocks

With a rig like this you’ve got to ex­pect loads of at­ten­tion

The Courier-Mail - Motoring - - Working Wheels - JAMES STAN­FORD james.stan­[email protected]­

PO­LICE pulled Lau­rie Read over the first time he took out his re­born 1966 Load­star.

“They checked that I had a truck li­cence, but then said they just wanted to check out the truck,” Read says.

When you drive a truck like this, you have to be pre­pared for at­ten­tion.

The one-off In­ter­na­tional will be one of the favourites for the Show and Shine event at the Mel­bourne In­ter­na­tional Truck, Trailer and Equip­ment Show on April 5.

Read runs a fleet of Volvo FM rigs in his road oper­a­tion, Belly Dumpers Aus­tralia, us­ing spe­cial trail­ers to drop gravel and other ma­te­rial quickly and evenly for road build­ing.

The 57-year-old favours mod­ern Volvos for his work but clas­sic In­ter­na­tion­als are what get him go­ing at the end of the day.

“Back when Dad was around, we al­ways had In­ter­na­tion­als,” Read says.

This is the fourth In­ter­na­tional Read has had re­stored, with much of the work done by his com­pany’s me­chanic, fel­low In­ter­na­tional tragic Andrew Henry.

Read says the truck started its work­ing life cart­ing ma­te­ri­als for the run­ways of Mel­bourne’s Tul­la­ma­rine Air­port, which opened in 1970.

It had been brought into Aus­tralia in kit form and as­sem­bled at the In­ter­na­tional fac­tory in Dan­de­nong, which built In­ters un­til 2010 and now pro­duces Ive­cos.

The orig­i­nal truck was a 12‒tonne rated tan­dem drive with a small 345 petrol V8 that not only strug­gled to move the rig at a rea­son­able rate but also guz­zled fuel with a vengeance.

The body was rusted and the truck was gen­er­ally stuffed. Read says: “I went and drove it around a pad­dock and thought the project wasn’t go­ing to hap­pen, it was that bad.”

Henry was con­fi­dent he could work his magic, so Read res­cued the truck and brought it home.

To turn the Load­star into a one-off ute, the de­ci­sion was made to shorten the chas­sis and re­move one of the driv­ing axles.

It is now rated as an eight‒ton­ner.

Read started look­ing around for a tray op­tion and found one from a 1994 Dodge Ram pick‒up. “It was per­fect,” Read says. “It had all the right curves to go with the cab and it went to­gether re­ally well.”

Read just couldn’t bring him­self to put the orig­i­nal un­der­whelm­ing en­gine back in his beau­ti­fully re­stored truck. He went look­ing for some­thing spe­cial and set­tled on the iconic two-stroke GM Detroit Diesel 653 su­per­charged V8. These make plenty of power, but are also known for their fan­tas­tic and unique en­gine note.

Read opted for an Al­li­son au­to­matic to make life a lit­tle bit eas­ier.

Hav­ing taken a 2000 Volvo FM off the road for parts a few years back, Read de­cided to use some of the parts for the In­ter­na­tional build.

A Swedish dif­fer­en­tial did the trick as did the Volvo front axle. Big Volvo brakes were used front and rear to give the truck much im­proved stop­ping power.

Henry fit­ted airbags on top of the ex­ist­ing springs, some­thing that has cre­ated a smooth ride.

“It drives so well,” Read says. “You can just sit back, re­lax and do 500km with­out a prob­lem.”

When it came to the cabin, Read wanted to re­tain the look and feel of the orig­i­nal truck. He had it re­uphol­stered with replica ma­te­ri­als, us­ing grey seat fab­ric and door lin­ings.

There was no such re­straint shown when it came to the ex­te­rior. Read chose one of the bright­est or­anges known to man, you might re­call it from the orig­i­nal Ford Fo­cus XR5.

Read is thrilled with the truck and says the key to a good restora­tion is us­ing the best parts you can.

That might ex­plain the mu­ral on the tail­gate that reads: Blown Budget.

In­ter­na­tional as­pi­ra­tions: Linda and Lau­rie Read with their much mod­i­fied truck, BIGZZZ Pic­tures: Aus­tralian Cus­tom Trucks

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