Features, Shows, Truck events

Ol’ Dynamite a blast from the past


Over the different eras of transport in Australia, the ‘peaches and cream’ fleet colours of TNT were a regular sight and readily identifiable Australia-wide. 

Today, under the ownership of FedEx the TNT branding is slowly disappearing off the road, however the TNT name and paint scheme will still be seen with trucks such as Mark Fitzgerald’s 1980 W-Model Kenworth maintaining the link to times past.

Based at Junee in southern New South Wales, Mark has been the custodian of ‘Ol’ Dynamite’ for the last five years, with the truck having been largely overhauled by its previous owner. 

Having hooked on a trailer on the first weekend in March and travelled down to the Lockhart Truck Show, the growl of the Detroit engine signalled his arrival to the town’s showgrounds, with the truck having a steady stream of admirers.

“I’ve got a bit of a thing for W models, I just love them,” Mark enthused. “There’s’ something about them and I was always going to have one. I had another one with a 400 Cummins in it, but my young bloke wanted one with a Detroit, so we sold that and got this.”

The appearance of the Kenworth today is somewhat different to its original guise, with Mark having a good knowledge-bank of the trucks’ earliest working days. 

“Once you buy an ex-TNT truck you can generally find out a bit of their history.

 “TNT apparently brought six of these at the time; two with Detroit’s, two with Cats and two with Cummins to compare the engines. 

“I believe they ran them express between Sydney and Melbourne as a slimline with no sleeper. 

“Back then they were experimenting with fuel economy and apparently they had an aero engineer working with them- these trucks were some of the first ones to run a roof spoiler which was adjustable, they just fitted the three lights across the roof and had the air horn on the side of the cab.”

Mark Fitzgerald with the Kenworth at Lockhart.

Post TNT the W-model had a stint working out of Dubbo where it was painted white before being sold to Victoria where it was again painted in the TNT colours, right down to the ‘Advance Australia’ stickers and original TNT unit number. 

Along the way the W-Model’s original 9-speed Road Ranger has been swapped out for a 13 speeder and has gained the sleeper cab and the extra exhaust pipe.  

Since Mark purchased it, the truck has had a number of jobs undertaken in a gradual overhaul and freshen-up. 

“We just drove it around for a while once we got it – the rust had started getting into it a little, so we got a new firewall from Kenworth and fitted that. 

“We got the engine out but it didn’t need too much work. We have also replaced a fair few of the airlines and so forth as it was losing air, so we have just been ironing out the bugs in it a bit and getting it right.”  

The Kenworth has participated in Crawlin’ the Hume in years past and, having had its first run for some time down to Lockhart, Mark had attached a trailer to give a bit better ride along with a bit of weight to make the 8v92 Detroit stretch its legs. 

‘She’s pretty noisy but it’s a Detroit!” he said with a smile. “It’s only putting out around 400 horsepower which isn’t much today but would have been a lot of power back in the day. But she’s all mechanical, none of the electronic stuff- with the air start and so on it makes a bit of a racket but Detroit’s are no good just idling along, they need to be worked hard.”

Mark is looking at pointing the Kenworth north up the Hume once again this year to the Kenworth Klassic at Clarendon and as such has a few more jobs lined up for the W-Model and is on the lookout for some extra componentry to make the truck period correct.

 “I’ m good at pulling things apart but it takes forever to put them together. We couldn’t get it ready for the Klassic last year but for sure will get there this year with it, I want to get the diffs out and paint them up.

“I would also like to find an old ‘hospital bed’ bull-bar along with an original Pantech trailer to work on and hook on to as well. But in the meantime, we will keep at it and get it to where we want it to be.”

Mark reckons he is looking forward to retirement one day to tinker with his collection of variety of cars and motorbikes. 

On a larger scale he is of the opinion a B-Model Mack would be a good resto project for the future, along with keeping the wheels of the old W-Model rolling, if somewhat slower than back in the heady days on ‘Sesame Street’. 

“I can remember back when I was young, at night on the Hume you would get about six in a row pulling out and rounding you up – it would have got a fair old hiding back in the day, if it could talk it would have some stories to tell.”

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