If you dream it, we'll make it!
1906 Trentham Road
My name is Ian Lee and I am a late comer to the old truck collector’s movement, and that’s a regret. I grew up in Castlemaine in Central Victoria where my interest in trucks and earthmoving equipment go back to my childhood days riding out to the bush in Mr.Taylor’s Diamond T wood trucks. In the late 1940’s at 15 years of age I was driving my father’s Bedford wood truck in the bush and down the back roads. My working life started out as a plumber, but I was looking for something a little bit more adventurous. In 1955 I got my first break with Utah Constructions driving an International L190 and then moving on to Allis Chalmers HD20 dozers, next were LeTourneau Dumpers, then onto twin powered Euclid scrapers and twin engine dozers, working on large projects in Victoria, NSW and QLD. In 1960 I decided I needed a change and started a new adventure and went on interstate, first driving a Diamond T 531 (we now have one in our collection), and later a Thames Trader diesel, where I travelled to all mainland states. Most of the roads to Brisbane and Perth were gravel and extremely rough with potholes and corrugations.
Newell Highway between Moree & Bogabilla in 1962. The road to Alice Springs in most parts was a two wheel track and on that road you could drive all day without seeing any other vehicles. I then went back to earthmoving. In 1962 I decided to buy a tip truck, it was an Inter R180 with a lazy axle, what a lemon this truck was, after two years I had replaced almost every moving part, including the cabin, tipper body, and the petrol motor with a Perkins 6 354. It was the second Inter in Victoria which the agents, Queensbridge Motors, supplied a motor and adapter plate. No one at that time realized that this little motor would be fitted to so many trucks in that period. Later on I removed the troublesome lazy axle and fitted a semi tipper. My second truck was an Inter AB180 semi tipper, then a new AACO 180 with a Perkins motor and a new Evans semi tipper and later a new Loadmaster semi for interstate, when no suitable tipper work was available. Most of the work I had was in Northern Victoria or interstate with nothing close to home and my new family in Castlemaine, so in 1968 I decided to buy a backhoe, the first in the Castlemaine/Maryborough district and started a small excavation business based in Castlemaine. In 1970 we started a completely new adventure, a Readymix concrete business at Tylden near Kyneton in Central Victoria, with just one agitator truck and one tipper, within two years we had opened a second plant at Sunbury and now operated nine agitators trucks and one tipper, a Diamond Reo with a 250 Cummins and dog trailer, later we purchased a Kenworth 125 with 8-71GM for tipper work and changed the Diamond Reo to the first privately operated bulk cement tanker to supply its own plants in Victoria with a special permit. In 1976 we purchased a new Mack R686 RST with TB676 engine with Maxedine motor for $54,486 and later on bought three more R series Macks for tipper and bulk tanker work. The agitator trucks were Inter Load-Star and butter box AACO with both 345 petrol and Perkins 6 354 engines , then with changes to GVW from 17 to 17 ½ tonnes we purchased AACO A update models, then with the change to 20.5 tonnes GVW, AACO B models with further increase to 22.5 tonnes GVW, the new 2250 series. We later purchased concrete plants at Romsey and Castlemaine. After a period of time we sold off the concrete plants, firstly Sunbury to Boral, then the remaining plants to Pioneer in 1988, allowing us to expand our engineering business, Tylden Equipment with a full range of transit mixers, selling mixer and truck packages, concrete batching plants, silos and later developed a mobile batching system on the back of a truck for use in remote regions.
This unit transported and mixed concrete on site as required. This demo model batcher we used for promotions and later sold to the Northern Territory. We also developed a body exchange system to allow a truck to tipper, mixer, prime mover, tray etc, this system was very popular in the transport industry and now many people offer this system with various improvements. We also starting importing equipment from Italy, this company WAM Australia is now in Bayswater Victoria, which our eldest daughter now operates. In 2000 hearing about the reunion in Alice Spings we restored a Mack B61 for the big trip. We have since restored a 1956 Diamond T 531, and are currently working on a Mack AB of the 1920’s, and a 1958 Diamond T 950, which is well advanced. In 2002 we sold the engineering business to two of my senior staff members, I have concentrated on collecting items of historical interest especially, oil and garage collections, smaller military items, Furphy water tanks, and my main focus on Mack and Diamond T trucks, and Caterpillar tractors, I am also a keen collector of screw and bolt-on hub cap. My life has been a long adventure and I have recently completed a book called “Ups and Downs”, which is the story of my life to date, however, my greatest achievement has been my family, many friends and our home, these are certainly my greatest achievement.