Features, Shows, Truck events, Vintage

Squeeka’s rolling truck show

“I did 50 years in trucks. I’m not one to be playing lawn bowls or anything like that so while you can do it, you might as well be out there.”

And being ‘out there’ is something that Chris ‘Squeeka’ Overend does from behind the wheel of his 1989 Mack Value-Liner, loaded up with two lovingly restored 1965 B-Model Macks.

Chris, from Barinsdale in Victoria, was on an extended road trip, taking in a number of truck shows in both Victoria and NSW.

With one of his stops taking in the Lockhart Truck Show in early March, the three Macks on display were popular with visitors and all having their own story to tell.

Overend Transport was a well-known operation working out of Gippsland for a number of years, with the late Bert Overend (Chris’s father), running a mixed fleet of trucks including Macks and Internationals hauling all manner of freight.

With Bert wanting to restore a truck, Chris tracked a B-61 down in Dalby in Queensland. Bert took on the project at the age of 79, completing it in under 12 months. The truck today serves as a tribute, presented today in the same state as when Bert finished the overhaul.

“I have hardly touched it, that’s how he had it when he finished the restoration on it, all I have done is put the stainless guards on it,” Chris said.

The B-61 restored by the late Bert Overend. Image: David Vile

Carrying on the tradition, Chris was also on the lookout for another ‘B’ model to restore, which led to the B-75 finding its way into a shipping container from New York to Melbourne, with the deal being done through Ian Lee of Kyneton.

“The B-75 was totally different to anything else I had seen with the longer bonnet and so forth – the ’70’ series is a beautiful shape; they are a beautiful looking truck. I bought it off Ian Lee when it was still in the United States, and it took about six months to arrive.

Apparently, it had been towing a tipper around New York City – we took it all apart and it took about five years to get it all back together,” he explained.

The B-75 was taken back to the rails and given its quite short wheelbase and longer bonnet, the chassis was extended.

The B-75 was fitted with an extra exhaust and air cleaner and resprayed in ‘Heritage Red’ which is a Ford factory paint code with Gordon McCracken doing the signwriting and scrollwork.

While both the B-61 and the B-75 share the same engine and diffs that’s where the similarities end – the B-61 runs a quad box and a ‘traditional’ air starter whereas the B-75 has a duplex transmission and an electric start.

“They only made around 1300 B-75’s all up so that’s why I have left it in Left-hand drive configuration. It was pretty sad and sorry when we got it, it was frustrating  at times rebuilding it but very rewarding to look at it now,” Chris said.

With the two ‘65 Macks in the stable Chris was in need of something with which to haul them around the place, with his next purchase a 1989 V8 Mack Value Liner which had been initially built for IPEC and painted in their bright yellow fleet colours.

As Chris explained: “The IPEC order was originally for 13 trucks which they built, they had two of these on trial but Scania won the contract so there were a few of these sitting  around. It has ‘fast’ diffs in it, so it is a bloody quick truck.”

The Value-Liner went through the hands of a number of owner-drivers, clocking up around 1.5 million kilometres before Chris purchased it from Pat Martin in Brisbane.

At time the motor had a crack through the block, necessitating a major rebuild for the E9-V8.

“We got a new block and all the good bits out of the old motor, spent over $50,000 on it and got it back on the road around 2014, ready for the Alice Springs reunion in 2015,” he said.

Fast forward to 2024 and Chris’s rolling truck show is still clocking the kilometres up and having looked at the calendar, the opportunity to take in a number of stops had Chris loading up and hitting the road.

“I thought we could make a good trip out of this – we went to Lardner Park and Lancefield, up here to Lockhart and will go down to Clunes, back to Kyabram for the Mack Muster and then home, thinking we will be away for around five weeks all up,” he said.

Having just completed a restoration of an International R190 for a mate, Chris can now turn his attention to the next project, a 1960s ‘Seattle’ Kenworth, however he might need to think about transporting it around in the future.

“I will head home and make a start on that….but I might have to go and get myself an ‘A’ trailer to hook on so I can cart it around as well,” he said with a grin.

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