Regular readers of Big Rigs with a good memory may recall a chat I had back in 2018 with the Geehman family from Gippsland, who had just undertaken the Crawling the Hume event with ‘Dusty Tracks’, their ex-Ascot NT 1979 model Kenworth K125.
At the time, the youngest member of the Geehman clan, 13-year-old Kade reckoned his ambitions were to become a diesel mechanic and find an old, bonneted Kenworth to restore as a stablemate to their cab-over.
Well, fast-forward three-and-a-half years and he has pretty much ticked both boxes: today working as an apprentice mechanic in Bairnsdale and also being the proud owner of a 1974 S2 Kenworth which he has begun restoring at home on the farm.
Having bought the old Kenworth earlier this year, Kade is at the start of a project that will no doubt keep he and his father Alf tinkering in the shed for a while and add another chapter to the truck which ironically began its working life in the Gippsland region nearly 50 years ago.
“It was bought brand new by Murray Goulburn in Leongatha to pull a milk tanker and a few years later as far as we know it was bought by BHP for carting steel in Brisbane,” explained Kade.
“The chassis was extended, and it’s got double railed chassis for the heavy steel work. Some time later it ended up back in Melbourne carting containers off the wharf.
Kade’s Kenworth is actually the sister unit to another S2 which has survived the rigours of road transport and has been restored and today is a regular sight on the historic truck show circuit.
“This one is a sister to Gordon McCracken’s; it is one chassis number different. They were both at Murray Goulburn at the same time, when they were sold by Murray Goulburn they were bought together by BHP,” he said.
The Kenworth along the way had returned to the Gippsland area via a couple more owners and an overhaul had started and then stopped a few years previously.
The truck had now been painted black and was showing a bit more wear and tear after spending a few years out in the elements.
Through family contacts the deal was made earlier this year and Kade soon had the keys of the S2 in his pocket.
“I was asked if I would like to buy it. I had been looking for a W Model or an S2 or a T600, basically anything with a bonnet – it was just down the road, and they are getting hard to find so I thought it would be a good project.
“We talked about it for a bit and didn’t have to go far to find it! It hasn’t been registered for a few years now, but I have seen a few of these in a similar condition for a lot more money.”
The S2 still has the original engine and driveline, with a 903 Cummins married up to a 15-speed Roadranger driveline. With the chassis alterations being done for the BHP work the factory torsion bar suspension was swapped out for a Hendrickson rear end.
“She runs alright!” Kade said with a smile. “I have run it up and down the driveway a few times – I have got the floor out of it at present but the interior otherwise is all there. There is a bit of rust in the firewall to tackle also so I am just making a start on cleaning up the chassis and go from there,” he said. Having picked up a lowline 36-inch sleeper for $1000 recently, he reckoned that it would sit behind the cab on the extended chassis fairly nicely.
In terms of the overall project, Kade thinks he will try and keep the truck in line with its ‘old school’ styling and has plans to add an extra exhaust pipe and down the track add another air cleaner unit also. He also has some ideas in regard to a paint scheme but that is still down the track a with the cab and panels needing to be stripped back and overhauled.
“The main thing is to get it all sanded back and painted to protect it a bit, Only the first coat had gone on in black and then it had sat out in the weather for a few years, so the paint has deteriorated a bit.
I’m still contemplating the final colour scheme. Dad had a few nice colours on his trucks back in the day.”
With truck shows once again on the calendar, his plans for 2022 are to take the S2 on a trailer behind the K125 to Lancefield in March.
“We can get it off there for people to have a look at it – I reckon I will have it cleaned up a bit more by then.”
Longer term aims include a trailer, possibly a fridge van, which will serve as somewhere to roll out the swag when the Geehman trucks are doing the show rounds.
In the meantime, Kade (and Alf no doubt) are justifiably proud of their Kenworths and the work planned on the S2 will no doubt be worthy of another check-in down the track as Kade turns his old truck into something special.
For the time being he is happy to put in the time to see his efforts come to fruition and see the old Kenworth hit the road again.
“I’ve always liked tinkering with stuff, so I like getting things and working them out. It’s a good little project to have.”