Max Keogh's Kenworth

P1010670 - Copy Well, it's been a long time coming...34 years in fact. When I was a young kid I grew up backing onto an oval in suburban Sydney and was truck obsessed (I'm simply older now) and during cricket season, more often than not one of the cricketers would turn up driving one of his prime movers. It was Max Keough and he would normally be driving his 8/53 powered Crackerbox Dodge (which now resides in the RTHOF) or his early Scania with 8/71 power. I'd always ride up on my push bike and do a few laps around them, waiting for them to fire up and leave.



In 1978 he appeared with a new truck, a K125CR Kenworth with an 8/92 and 13 speed and I was smitten. I didn't know much about it at the time (I was 8 years old) but I would ride to the oval every Saturday during cricket season to see if he was there over the next few years and would hang there most of the day waiting for him to pull up stumps and head to the esky so I could assume my position at the end of the driveway. Once he fired up he would stop next to me and have a quick chat, blow the airhorn at my request and then pluck every gear as he took off up the hill into the distance.

Being a Movin On and B.J & The Bear fan I realised that the early Alcoa rims were something special and the distinct airfoil with 'MAX (picture of a key) O' looked brilliant. I was given a copy of Jim Johnstone's 'Big Rigs Down Under' for my ninth birthday and lo and be-hold, there was a black and white picture of it.

I always used to see the truck and dreamt daily of life as a truckie steering that cabover on the highway, something that my parents , especially my truck driving old man, dreaded as they watched my obsession grow. Once I got my car licence I would drive up to Thornleigh where Max lived and see if it was stopped overnight, I simply thought it was a great looking old truck. I learnt later on that Max original-ly carted for Kelloggs along with a bit of general and would often have a driver running around Sydney loading a trailer with the Dodge so that he could swap over trailers and keep going. He ended up subbying to Don Turner for years carting pipes all over the place.

In the early nineties Max decided to rebuild the truck and sent it to Detroit engine & Tool Co. where GM guru Kerry Balgowlan replaced the 8/92 with a brand new Silver 92 D-Dec along with a brand new radiator system. He had Eaton install a new 18 speed double over-drive box, still retaining the torsion bar rear suspension. As work ramped up, Max purchased a K100E Aerodyne extended cab with a Series 60 and painted it up the same. Max's nephew Reg (dec) had been driving with him for years and at that stage and they would often drive the K125 and the E up to Dubbo where they'd hook the trailers together and run two-up to Darwin etc delivering pipes for Turner's. His E is still running and is in it's original paint but with a 600 Signature now pushing it along.

As time went on I had a career as a Motor Trimmer, spending most of my working years on Richmond Road near Flemington Markets, where I'd get excited over the Ianelli's Kenworths that came past the workshop, much to the amusement of the guys I worked with. I learnt along time ago that if you need to explain to someone why you like trucks, it's simply not worth the effort because they wouldn't get the answer, right? The flame always burnt fairly bright and as time went on I got into transport, and still wondering what had hap-pened to the truck decided to try and contact Max, this was about seven years ago. He answered the phone which was lucky as it turned out that he had been living in America driving trucks all over the 48 states (still does)and had gone from being a 'truckie' to a 'trucker'. He was simply out on a visit and once I explained who I was he came over to see me. He is a true gentleman, at one time being voted 'Australian Driver of the Year' and it was great to catch up and find out a bit more history of the old cabover. I suppose deep down that I was hoping that he may of still owned it and had it sitting in a paddock but not to be. Anyhow we kept in touch and I kept thinking that I would find it one day........

Then in late 2009 I was working with an employer whose Uncle did some driving with us. He was an old interstater and had owned a few nice trucks and it turned out that he used to drive with Max and they knew each other well. I mentioned that I'd love to find the old cabover one day and he told me that Don Turner had bought it from Max, which I knew, but that he had sold it two months earlier at auction and it was somewhere on the Gold Coast. Although I was in no position to by it I was relieved that it was still running. I left there soon afterwards and went to my current job. I soon had my Commer restored and also owned a D2F Dodge with a GM which I couldn't fit at home. While negotiating with my boss on a new role I threw in that I needed somewhere to house the Dodge and restore it which he agreed to then I thought, if I can fit the Dodge there, I can fit a Kenworth.....things began to heat up!

 I started researching it, turned out it was a special order after Max had been to the States in the mid 70's, alloy wheels, hubs, rails etc and paint design. It tared just over 7.5 ton on the road. It was in a bad accident around 1980 and had one of the rails replaced after they tried straightening it and it broke. It was around this time that the company I work for bought four new SAR's and the dealer gave my boss a new book on Kenworth that they'd put out for their 40th Anniversary. I near wet myself when I was flicking through when I saw the legendary K-Whopper W model at the Yennora Wool Sheds 1978 truck show with Max's Kenworth parked alongside. I didn't know that one!

I then put a request on the HCVC forum requesting a photo and a member came through with a beautiful colour photo that he took in 1978. That was all I needed!!

I put the feelers out big time, contacting Max in the States, his nephew Reg, numerous people who had worked at Turner's before I finally got onto Don himself. I spoke to Cam McFadyen a number of times knowing that it was on his turf and thought that some of his customers may know the truck. He came up with another great photo. I pestered Cam a bit, knowing that Don had sold it at auction and that it was pulling a semi tipper around Brisbane area but had then disappeared. Cam was putting a few calls in to some contacts to shut me up when he decided to call up Dave Collard, a vintage truck guy from Yatala to see if he knew it's where abouts. He says g'day, what have you been up to, Dave reply’s that he'd just bought an old cabover Kenworth to 'play' with and that it had an 8/92 in it. Cam asked if it was an old Turner's truck with alloy rims...of course it was.

 We have a match!!!! He had bought it five weeks earlier…was I excited??? Understatement of the year! Dave wanted to use the truck for a while and have a bit of a play which kind of suited me so I kept in touch with him. I was itching to get it, telling my wife was the hard bit though, however she is fairly used to me now and thankfully agrees with my thoughts that life is too short. I finally heard from Dave a few weeks ago and arranged to fly up there on Friday afternoon. You couldn't find a nicer more accommodating bloke. He picked me up from the airport, drove me to his house to drop my gear off and then over to David Sauer’s house where they he was servic-ing the truck so that I could drive it home to Sydney

Dave put 10 litres of oil and 20 litres of water in drums for me, a funnel and watering can and also some safety triangles. It was the best transaction I have ever made, he is truly an awesome fella. He recognised the passion I had for this truck and actually replaced it with another truck so that I could live my dream. If he hadn't bought the truck from the previous owner I doubt it would still be here and if he hadn't been the type of guy he is it wouldn't be sitting in Sydney waiting to be restored! I'm indebted to his generosity. We had a great night out on the Friday and there was a night with Cam and the 2 Dave's doing what we know best, drinking and talking! So Saturday morning, I headed off and met another Kenworth enthusiast, Dave Chapman from Sydney who happened to be in Brisbane for the week and we drove home together. This truck will be restored to its former glory and I can't wait to get it done. It is magic mechanically and will be mainly a cosmetic restoration. I'm in awe of the generosity of a few people with their efforts to help this happen, namely Dave Collard, Cam McFayden, Dave Chapman, along with Max Keough and Don Turner. All have contributed to make this come true. Most of all is Rachel for not being difficult about something that just ain't her thing. I'm a lucky boy.I'm not the owner of this, simply the caretaker but hopefully, in time, I'll manage to do it justice.