Many have followed the journey of the full restoration of a 1946 International K5 by National Transport Insurance (NTI). The truck was subsequently raffled as a fundraiser for research into Motor Neurone Disease (MND) in September.
After the overwhelmingly successful public relations exercise of displaying the Green Diamond at the Brisbane Truck Show, back in May, it was time for the real deal – a complete strip down with no nut or bolt left unturned. For this to happen, Iveco Trucks generously offered the use of its Brisbane workshop and apprentices as well as technical information about the truck, dug up from the old International Harvester archives.
“Iveco offered the use of their apprentices and all the equipment which is just fantastic,” says Peeter. “Without that assistance, Don and I probably wouldn’t have been able to achieve the outcome we wanted.
Don adds that it was then time to deconstruct the truck. “It was gearbox out, engine out, bits going everywhere, and we pulled it right down to the bare chassis and rebuilt it as a full restoration,” he shares.
The cab was sent to specialist truck accident repairer Royans for a complete panel and paint job that included removing various dings and rust before applying several coats of the classic green.
“PPG has come to the party with all the materials for the painting which is really good on their behalf, and Royans is supplying all the labour to do this,” Peeter explains. “Re-Car painted all the black bracketry and off the chassis stuff; the fuel tank, steps, stay brackets, fan and all the incidental brackets. They also did the dash panel, fitted the gauges and even repaired the diff housing which we discovered was cracked when we pulled it out originally.”
“There’s been some real metalwork and old-fashioned craftsmanship go into what both of these organisations did for us,” Don adds. “I think everyone was pretty impressed with the end result.”
The original front axle was also found to have a hairline crack, meaning what was intended to be a stand-in to get the truck to the show became a permanent fixture.
“It’s fortunate we did buy Big Red because its front axle was only meant to get it to the Truck Show but it turned out we had to use that part as the real deal,” says Don. “Things like that have been a hiccup but it’s turned out okay and that tends to be how this sort of thing goes.
“For NTI, Peeter and me, this project is all about being able to help out with MND and follow Wayne through his journey.”
The race is on
With each of the major components having been rebuilt at different locations, and the cab and chassis repaired and painted, the race was on to get everything back into its original position in time for the big day – 1 September – when one lucky individual would receive the keys to this classic truck.
“We’ve still got a little way to go, there are some tricky bits and parts that are difficult to get, but it’s been an outstanding effort by everyone involved,” Don says.
“Parts have been good, parts have been bad and parts have been indifferent,” Peeter adds. “We had problems sourcing several parts, main bearings and tailshaft universals in particular, but I think overall things have gone fairly well and we’ve achieved what we set out to do.”
Ostensibly, the most difficult and time-consuming part of the project fell to the team at Royans, with the preparation of the cab and its various components for painting.
“Originally, when we saw the vehicle in its battered state, I knew there wasn’t going to be any sugar coating, that it would be a bit of a struggle,” says Barry Blomeley, Manager of Royans’ Brisbane workshop. “But we have the right people here, we have a good team.
“Here we are nine weeks and 400 hours later, it’s been a bit of a struggle mainly because of the extent of not being able to buy panels and parts,” Barry confirms. “There was a huge amount of preparation before we got to paint stage – it’s just the nature of the beast and there’s no way you can shortcut it and still get a decent result.
“With a vehicle this age, all the parts are hard to source and we had to do a fair bit of research to find things like door handles. And getting specific shapes for the panels proved difficult. Some of the second-hand panels weren’t from the identical model and had to be modified to suit in order to keep it as authentic as possible.”