Skip to main content

My F117 RST Nullarbor Adventure - Part 15

Before David’s mate joined us, we talked about our combined knowledge of some very early road trains in South Australia circa WW2. It was nice to finally meet someone that also knew about them, as I had seen personal pictures from one of the then drivers who was an old family friend.

After breaky, I followed David out to his workshop at Mangoplah, where I found myself in F model heaven. We probably walked around his yard looking at his various F models, parts and comparing it to mine for a good two hours. He also kindly gave me a few pointers on my truck, maintenance wise. Then he opened the shed for me to look at his beautifully restored red Flinstone Mack with a Thermodyne V8. He even offered for me to take it for a drive. I declined, but will take him up on the offer if it arises again. I settled to just start it up and sit in the drivers seat. Did I say it's a beautiful truck? We went through the photo album of the build as well as its history and former driver. Can't remember if he was the owner…

David has scanned hand written delivery documentation of many old Macks and we found F711RST3114, which is my truck. It was originally a Wrights Cattle Transport ENDT673C motor of either 237 or 250hp with the lower torque rating at 1,600rpm. Twin stick Triplex transmission, 244” wheel base rigid with 34,000rears. Since then, she's had a new T673 motor, but this time upgraded to Maxidyne specifications, 9speed RR OD and the back breaking 44,000lb rear on a very short wheel base.

We then had a look at his F Model of which was his first restoration project. It's also a beauty.
Back out in the yard, we got to talking about another really tidy F model that I had seen on gumtree, but was out of my budget. Turns out, it's his dad's truck that I had sat in earlier. Such a small world. I looked at my phone and it was after 1pm already and I had told Patricia I'd be home by 3pm… so we bid each other farewell and I worked my way back via Wagga Aerodrome. I really enjoyed spending time with David and look forward to catching up with him again. That guy’s living the dream in my opinion.

The road out of Wagga, was quite a nice drive. Some hilly sections and a few curves thrown in and it wasn't long at all before I was back on the familiar Hume. This is where I was surprised that the old girl couldn't hold full speed up some of the longer steep grades. I suppose 237hp can only do so much, but what I really enjoyed was how she'd start to die back and then just growl down around 1,300-1,400rpm and stayed there. Sorry to any motorists following as there was lots of smoke, but she was loving it! I fully expected to have to go back a gear at one stage, but the low end grunt of the Maxidyne showed its worth. Looking at an official Mack service and specification handbook since this journey has been completed I was wondering why I often saw almost 2,300 rpm unloaded on flat terrain. My truck has an American Bosch fuel pump and it's no load governed engine speed is 2,280rpm.

The road side inspection station was open and I slowed as per the lit up signage, but then the continue signal lit up.

I continued on towards Gundagai where I was planning to refuel and grab a healthy late lunch from Oliver's. Upon pulling in, I discovered the fuel stop closed for upgrades, but thankfully Oliver's was open. I grabbed some lunch, side serve of beans and a juice and went and sat in the sun on the rustic old benches out front. My adventure was almost over and it was certainly a bitter sweet feeling.

I still had a reasonable amount of fuel remaining, so I wasn't at all concerned about reaching Yass as my alternative refuelling point. I refuelled in the car area, as I could easily fit under the annex. The truck refuelling area was quite busy, so I gained a little time there. Then a travelling couple in front of me held us all up, because they couldn't decide which flavour chips to buy, as what they wanted didn't fall into the two for reduced price deal. Then the guy walks off to get see cash as their card wouldn't work. I was standing there wondering why such a busy fuel stop would only have one cashier open…

I sms'd Patricia my revised ETA and put on my thick old wooden hi vis jacket as I could feel a cool evening coming on again. I worked my way back onto the Hume and got up to speed, regularly sitting on 2200 where the Ol girl seemed happiest. This gave an indicated 67mph, but realistically was only about 97-98K’s as all the highway runners were walking past me gradually. They'd then hit a hill and start to fall back to me quite dramatically, especially if they were pulling a B double. The first couple of times this happened, I eased off and even had to change back a gear to stay behind them as I didn't want to make them re pass me on the flip side. I then found if I managed to gap them on the longer grades, it would take quite some time for them to re pass me. As the day turned into night, the road really came alive with so many semi's and B doubles, not to mention motorists. I passed and was re passed by some powerful units and as the gradients eased after Goulburn, there was one loaded B Double that could almost stay with me up the two main longer grades and then easily passed me on the flat. The guys passing me were very generous with the extent of their left right left right indicators, perhaps seeing an old girl going hard gave them some entertainment.

Marulan was open, but as I eased into the inspection station the continue light came on, which may have saved me some explaining re permits etc. I did have quite a bit of paperwork and receipts to show for what might be conceived as a far fetched journey these days.

Nearing closer to home I was once again thankful of living in Sydney's South West, as it gave me an early escape off of the M5 and then just a couple minutes home. That was it, I'd made it. I was grinning when Patricia greeted me at the door, so she came out for a look and I took her around the block. She couldn't get over that I'd driven so far without a seat belt.

I was home, glad it was over. But I want to do it all over again, anyone buying a truck from Kalgoorlie???