Boss of the road gang was going strong for 25 years

To notch up 25 years continuously operating the same truck on the same job is quite an achievement, and it is one that Mick Hayden, who worked in partnership with his trusty 1978 White Road Boss, can look back on with a great deal of pride.

Both truck and driver only retired in 2022, having had their quarter-century association with the NSW RMS (and its previous incarnations) working on the road sealing crew based out of Bega on the NSW South Coast. 

In March this year, he loaded the Road Boss on a trailer and headed over the Great Diving Range to attend the White Truck Muster in Kyabram, with the truck taking its place among a myriad of other White models on show.

The White had already had a varied working life with a number of owners before Hayden purchased it as a replacement for his Diamond Reo, and in the years following it proved to be a sound investment. 

“Originally it has was based in Sydney pulling a float and then the Mathie family bought it to haul logs. I bought it off a young fella with the tipper body on it and worked it right up until Mach last year when I got crook and had to park up,” he said.

The White is equipped with all the running gear that is consistent with the era in which the truck was built, as Hayden explained.

“It has a Cummins 400 Big Cam Series 1 with a 15-speed Roadranger, and it now has a Hendrickson 4 spring back end where it used to have a Chalmers rubber block setup.   

“I have rebuilt the motor, clutch and the gearbox but have never had the diffs out of it. She has been around the clock more than once, but she will sit on 1700 revs at 100 km/h, it just rides and pulls so well and there’s not a rattle in it.”

From his home at Bunyan, which is just north of Cooma in the Snowy-Monaro region of New South Wales, Hayden worked the Road Boss across a large part of the state on a range of road sealing projects. 

“It was fitted with a Cockeral aggregate spreader, and I also towed a plant trailer with it, she certainly has carted a lot of blue metal from the stockpiles to the job sites.

“From the depot in Bega we covered the area down to the Victorian border, up as far as Wollongong on the coast right over to Khancoban in the mountains, we used to get all around the place though, even out as far as Broken Hill. We did a lot of miles, but it was light work really, the hardest work it did was pulling the plant trailer.” 

Originally painted white in colour, the Road Boss received a respray when owned by the Mathie operation, with the addition of some orange highlights around the bonnet and doors. 

In recognition of its rugged and solid construction, ‘Classic not Plastic’ has been scrolled along the side of the bonnet.

“An old mate of mine put that on it one morning at Berridale, we were having smoko and I saw him hanging around the front of the truck. I didn’t notice he had done that until I got home that night!” said Hayden with a smile.

Ill-health saw Hayden’s full-time duty at the helm of the Road Boss come to an end, and having started out working with as an apprentice fitter with Caterpillar he was soon getting behind the wheel of a truck.

“I first drove a KB-5 International and later a KB7, I worked for my father in the earthmoving game for years driving dozer, scrapers and so on. 

“He had an old V8 petrol Inter. We used to cart a D6 dozer around on it and think nothing of it, you probably wouldn’t be able to do that today!” 

Currently Hayden also has a 1998 Western Star Heritage which he used to ferry the Road Boss firstly up to Canberra and then down the Hume and across to Kyabram.

“That’s just a toy for me, it runs a Detroit Diesel Series 60. I bought it over here with the White on the trailer as it has a sleeper so I can camp in it. We will have a few beers and a bullshit here and head back home tomorrow,” he said.

The Road Boss is now on club registration and Hayden has a few ideas about what will happen to the White in the future, but in the meantime, he was going to put it in his shed for a spell while he once again took to the road to Western Australia with his caravan. 

But given the opportunity he wouldn’t have any issue with pointing the bonnet of the White out the gate and down the road.

“I wouldn’t have a problem driving it. I would get in now and go to Darwin if I had to. In all the time I worked it, it never let me down once.”

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