Inters holding court in the Riverina

While the International brand name is no longer represented in the new truck marketplace, for Tom and Letitia Harrington, the International product keeps the wheels of their business turning across a large part of the Riverina in New South Wales. 

“I have always had a bit of a passion for the old Internationals, and we have a truck for every job – they all have their specific use – they all run pretty much all year round,” explained Tom Harrington. 

Operating as Riverina Sporting Services (RSS), the Harrington family undertakes the construction of tennis courts and sporting arenas, with the company’s fleet of four trucks all utilised across various aspects of the business. 

Three out of the four trucks in the RSS fleet originated at the International Harvester plant in Dandenong, and despite their advancing years are all solid trucks with plenty of work left to give, with a 1986 Atkinson tipper at the top of the pecking order. 

“We got the Atkinson off a farmer in Queensland, it has an 8/92 Detroit in it,” explained Tom.

The cab and so on was pretty ratty so we gave her a respray and a new tipper body. ‘Spider’ (David Webb) over in Wodonga does all our GM work and has done for years, he fixed the engine up and he reckoned it was one of the best ones he had seen in a while.

“The gearbox has just been done with an overhaul on the springs next up and we should get another 10-15 years out of that.”

The Atkinson tows a super-dog, mainly hauling gravel and sand and Tom reckons the old ‘Silver 92’ hums along pretty well for its age.

“We will get 32 tonne on it, it’s a bit allergic to hills but its good out here on the flat country! We have a bit of country at Tocumwal, so it sings on its way out there – it’s still a comfortable truck to drive.”

Keeping the Atkinson honest are a pair of Cummins powered 2700 Series T-Lines, a 1992 rigid with a tipping body and a 1996 prime mover, both of which have also stood the test of time as Tom detailed: “The T-Line tray was originally an army fuel tanker and had only done 110,000 k’s when we got it. We took the tank off it and Nixon’s in Wagga put a tipping tray on it. There’s nothing wrong with it – everything like the air conditioner and so forth works properly still. It’s a bloody handy truck.”  

Towing a drop-deck trailer with ramps, the T-Line prime mover was purchased out of an auction.

“We use it to pick up grass and hay off farms, being a 1996 model, it was one of the last of them built, and now they are pretty rare to find. They have proven the test of time they are still a good-looking truck on the road,” he said.

Employing a staff of six, RSS operates with a 300–400-kilometre radius of Albury-Wodonga, working as far afield as Echuca, Leeton, Ivanhoe, Orange and Canberra. 

As such the transport tasks differ and versatility is a key factor for the Harringtons trucks.

“They are a necessity for our business, and they are all used just about every day one way or the other.  It just takes the hassle out of organising someone to deliver stuff – our business wouldn’t survive without the trucks,” Tom explained.

For Tom, the International connection stretches all the way back to his grandfather’s 1954 model AS154, which is currently sitting in the shed at the RSS Culcairn depot, with a restoration on the cards in the future. 

“He bought it brand new on the farm at West Wyalong and it will do up really well one day – I will spend a bit of money on it and it will come up a million dollars,” he said.

“My father had an ACCO 3070 with a little GM in it which he used to cart all the wheat with on the farm also, so it all sort of started from there.”

Also in the RSS fleet is a 2013 Kenworth SAR which is painted in the yellow colours of its previous owners, Daisy’s Landscape Supplies of Melbourne. 

Having clocked over 1 million kilometres, the SAR often works in tandem with the Atkinson on the sand and gravel haulage. 

Given the choice of the two to jump behind the wheel however it’s an easy decision for Tom: “The Atkinson is my pick. Just get in and send it – it’s a beauty! She’s pretty bloody good.”

The RSS operation is proof that older, well-maintained trucks can still be good servants for many years and it would seem that the trucks working in the Harrington’s business will be out earning their keep for a number of years to come. 

Tom is firm in the belief that the International product has always been a smart choice.

“Pound for pound, the Inters are still a good thing as I can fix them and you keep the maintenance up to them and away you go. 

“They are good Australian made trucks, and they are not costing us a lot of money to run. It’s nice to have nice new ones sitting in the shed, but a truck is there to make you money, not have you working making money for the truck.”

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