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Albury operator carries on proud family tradition

In a lot of situations, particularly in road transport, the connection to a brand or product can be forged over a number of years and in the case of Tommy Carr of Albury, the association he has with the Kenworth brand extends back three generations to his grandfather David Findlay.

With his father and uncle also running Kenworths over a number of years the link has been maintained with Carr buying his first truck, a T401, last year as part of his TC Steel fabrication business.

David Findlay, Carr’s grandfather operated trucks for 39 years.

Inducted into the Road Transport Hall of Fame in 2011, David Findlay was active in road transport for just shy of four decades.

“He started out in old trucks, with an ACCO then a MAN which was the first truck he bought new. He reckoned MAN stood for ‘Many Adjustments Needed’” Carr said with a smile.

Hauling everything from potatoes to roller doors and steel, a Detroit powered Kenworth joined the Findlay fleet in 1978, with everything from one of the first Aerodynes in Australia through to a 1986 Gold Nugget W-Model all wearing the Findlay name in the years following.

Carr, now 31, spent his younger years on the family farm near Narrandera and with a move to Albury helping foster the interest in trucks he had been exposed to by his grandfather.

“My dad Rick got into trucks with my uncle here in Albury, moving agricultural machinery around and then got into subbing with his own truck with McColl’s and Mainfreight. He had a Kenworth T404 which was the truck I leant to drive in,” he said.

“As a kid, from about 10 through to 14, I used to ride my bike down to South Albury with the keys to the yard in my pocket and wash my uncle’s trucks. My uncle, Steve Beaumont had firstly a K100E cab, then a 104 Aerodyne and he now runs a couple of T909s out of Albury in the Mainfreight colours,” he explained.

While the connection to road transport was there, Carr was not planning on taking up a career behind the wheel but always reckoned trucks out feature at some point along the way. Having qualified as a boilermaker and establishing TC Steel, road transport was soon on his radar.

“I did my trade and started my own business. We do so much structural steel work here and having used subbies for such a long time it was a perfect opportunity to get our own truck and trailer for moving our own steel around. Having the truck out and about it’s got to the point where we need another truck because we are knocking work back,” he explained.

When it came time to buy a truck there was only one main consideration for Carr – it had to be a Kenworth. Having long favoured the T4 range for the late 1990s as his favoured style of Kenworth truck Carr soon found himself the owner of a 1997 T401 which he purchased from Shackell Transport of Pottsville on the northern NSW coast.

The TC Haulage T401 still looks immaculate despite being 24 years old.

“I knew I wanted a 404/401. My uncle’s first bonneted one was a T401, I fell in love with it, and I learnt to drive in my dad’s T404. I looked on the Internet and I hadn’t even heard of Shackell Transport, they were having a bit of a clear out of trucks and I made my mind up. I bought it sight unseen and went up and drove it home.”

Powered by a C-12 Cat the T401 pushes out just over 400 horsepower and with a 15-speed Roadranger is well set up to tow Carr’s 45’ drop deck trailer. The Kenworth had been thoroughly maintained by its previous owner and despite its age still presents well.

“Shackells had it from brand new with full printout of everything they had done to it mechanically. It had done a lot of tanker work and general freight but the way they looked after it is a real credit to them. I love the old school colours too which are similar to pop’s old W-Model Gold Nugget,” said Carr.

The Findlay W-Model Gold Nugget in the 1980s.

Having purchased the T401 in 2020 and running it under the TC Haulage banner, the Kenworth was soon put to work hauling steel and fabricated framework and clocking up the kilometres across a wide reach of the country.

“We have done Broken Hill and plenty of running to Melbourne. We did three buildings in a row down there which seemed like load after load after load, for three months there it was flat out. The 45 ft drop deck trailer with ramps can fit on a lot of stuff. We have done heaps of ag equipment and so forth, virtually anything you can just roll up on the back,” he said.

With the increase in the workload Carr has recently expanded the fleet, with another ex-Shackell Kenworth, this time a T404, about to head south to join the operation.

“We are subbing loads out to Brisbane and Sydney, and we are knocking work back – the problem is I need a truck here on the ready in case I need to shift steel out of here. We have now had the T401 for 12 months and are just in the process of buying another 404 off them – a bit newer with the C15 at and an 18 speed in it. They do everything we want to do with a single trailer and the Cat motors pull so well.”

As the transport requirement grows, Carr is also fortunate to have a few people close by to call on for advice, including his grandfather who is now enjoying his retirement on the Sunshine Coast.

“Dad has a lot of involvement in our truck decisions. If I’m not sure of anything I will just call him, or my uncle or my pop.”

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