Asked about his penchant for Mack trucks, Steven Thurston, who, with his wife Kate operates Thurston’s Transport says the B-Model that his father bought second-hand in 1970, and that he has recently restored back to its original glory, probably had a fair bit to do with him being bulldog to the bone.
“My old man didn’t have Macks for a long time, he’d buy whatever he could afford like the original Thames Trader and various International C-lines with Cummins 160hp and 180hp engines,” says Steve.
“The B-Model came after that and he also bought a Volvo G88 and put a driver in the Mack, but that didn’t go too well because the driver didn’t know how to drive it properly. Then he bought an F12 Volvo brand new, which was a very good truck.”
The first Mack that Steve and his brother Allan bought in 1989, a year after they took the reins of the business, was a 1983 R-Model with a 350hp two-valve (per cylinder) engine, 12-speed Mack transmission and 44,000lb diffs on Camelback spring suspension. The truck had been bought new by MacInnes Transport at Dubbo and featured dual headlights, dual air-cleaners and the luxurious ‘Western Trim’ velour interior.
This was the truck that started the ‘Mackopoly’ at Thurston’s that continues unabated today.
“In 1993 we bought our first V8 Super-Liner which is an ’85 model with a 400hp rating, and in ’97 we bought a second V8 Super-Liner, a 500hp ’88 model,” Steve says.
The flagship of the fleet is a 2000 model Titan that was bought in 2014. Powered by a Cummins 600hp Gen II Signature driving through a Mack 18-speed ‘box, it is the truck that Steve, mostly, drives all year round.
The others, including a ‘94 model E7 400hp CHR with an 18-speed Roadranger that Kate Thurston drives, mainly used in the busy periods including harvest, and then only when Steve can find drivers who, like himself and his wife, are sufficiently skilled and caring to be trusted with piloting the precious metal, bulldog to the bone.
One such driver is ‘Burr-Cutter’ who was there the day PowerTorque called in, ready and rering to resume pride of place behind the large black steering wheel of the Titan for the remainder of the harvest period.
A veteran driver, having started his trucking career in 1965, Burr-Cutter is now retired and lives in Queensland, but returns when needed to assist in the Thurston’s operation, particularly during the busy late spring harvest season.
“This old girl was brand new when I started driving,” says Burr-Cutter, gesturing proudly to the bottle green ‘Flintstone’ R-Model that has been lovingly restored by Steve.
“We’re very fortunate to have ‘Cutter’s help and we only get the other trucks out when there’s plenty of work and I can find the right people to put in them; if not, they stay in the shed,” Steve remarks resolutely, agreeing that finding suitable drivers is one of the biggest challenges of running the business.
“If you put the wrong person in it can cost you a lot of money,” says Steve, adding that keeping up with the ever-changing rules and regulations is another constant battle.