Restoring a classic truck Part 2

1985 V8 Mack Cruiseliner

Graeme purchased the Mack Cruiseliner in 2006. Although It was looking pretty rough after spending the previous years outside and not in a shed, it was still drivable and Graeme drove it home from Auckland, parked it in his shed where it stayed until 2009.

Graeme tells me this particular Mack Truck is very rare. Another interesting fact is that the purchase price in 1985 was $226,325, back then you could possibly buy 10 houses for the same price!

Before owning this Mack, Graeme owned another years ago and had originally wanted to buy it back, but it was unavailable.

Graeme & his grand children Sylvie 5, Franck 8 and Otto 10 yrs

When this one came up for sale, Graeme bought it.

In 2009, Graeme decided it was time to start working on restoring the truck. After sitting for so long untouched, it was not driveable. Luckily, Graeme owns a fleet of trucks (GK Skou Transport Limited) and was able to transport the Mack himself. It was taken to Jackson Enterprises in Paihiatua and dismantling began.

For about a year, most weekends were spent working on the Cruiseliner. Graeme was able to do a lot of the work himself, but he did have some help from James Rook with some of the larger jobs.

Many, many long hours were spent sanding, cleaning and polishing what seemed like endless parts. He managed to keep most of the original parts, with exception of the front seats that were too far gone to be repaired. New seats were sourced from a Hino and Graeme re-covered them in a material of his choice. The headlights are Holden Gemini, but rumour has it the original ones are too. The brakes were done at Rangitikei Truck and Diesel. The chassis was sandblasted and painted red by Total Truck Spray in Palmerston north. The mudflaps are all stainless steel, not chrome. Graeme says this is because they don’t rust and stay shiny longer! The wheels and the chromed grill are all original. The cab was stripped back to metal before getting repainted – the first time in five different paint jobs – and the thickness of the paint they took off reflects this.

The colour scheme is very similar to the original colour of the truck when it was new at Total Transport. This is a coincidence as the colour scheme Graeme chose is that of his existing fleet at GK Transport, which consists of 12 trucks – 8 livestock and 4 tippers. The engine, a E9 V8 440 (uprated to 500 hp) Mack motor, was painted blue. Graeme chose blue because he is sure that is the original colour. Running alongside that is a 12-speed Mack gearbox. Both are the original parts from new.

The gold Bulldog emblem in the steering wheel was custom made and put in two of Total Transport’s Macks when they were built. Pretty cool!

Graeme and his wife Raelene took the Mack for its first run as part of the North Island Northern Classic Commercials. It is a rare occasion that it gets taken out for a drive. They have now been on five runs including both the North and South Islands.

Graeme took the Cruiseliner to the Tui Truck Show and Shine at Mangatinoka in 2011 where it won “Mack of the Show” – this is the one and only show he has attended with this truck.

Mini Truckin

Hey kids, wanna drive your own rig? Check this out!

Have you guys seen this cool mini rig on social media yet? Owned by Heikell Transport in Whakatane, the mini ride-on Scania is made by a company in Ireland called Scaled Rigs, and Heikell’s added it to its ‘fleet’ in 2020.

Then, early this year, stock- crates builder Nationwide Stock Crates from Mount Maunganui (which builds all the crates for Heikell’s fleet of stock trucks) handed over the custom tri-axle semi-trailer, completing the rig. Nationwide made sure the trailer is all kid-friendly, ensuring there are no sharp edges or surfaces that could cause harm – just like it does for the real crates that cart animals.

Marley, a Bernese mountain dog, is 7 months old and already two-thirds of her 45-50kg adult weight

Both the truck tractor and trailer are done in full Heikell Transport livery. The awesome graphics on the side of the mini-Scania are a replica of that on fleet No.16, a Scania S650 8×4 known as ‘Legend II’.

There’s even working lights behind the cab and on the trailer – just like the real thing! It has real pneumatic tyres (meaning they’re filled with air), is battery powered and has forward and reverse gears. It’ll do a top speed of 6kph, more than enough to have some good fun. And, when you put your foot down, the truck makes a realistic sounding engine noise.

Now that’s a cool toy!

Restoring a classic truck Part 1

1997 Kenworth W924 – A labour of love with Graeme Skou.

We all enjoy seeing trucks on the road and at shows that make us go WOW!

Have you ever wondered how they get them looking so flash? How much work goes into them? How are they put together? I may be able to answer some of your questions!

I met Graeme Skou and he has shared two of his rebuild stories with us. Today we will look at his 1977 Kenworth W924.

Graeme has always been a Mack man at heart, but he chose to rebuild a Kenworth W924 because they look good and have strong bones. He bought the truck in 2016 and it took him five years to restore. It was never his plan to take that long, but due to the truck previously living near the ocean there was quite a bit of corrosion/rust that needed to be repaired.

Different parts

The original 350 Manual engine was replaced with a 620 Signature Cummins electronic engine. This was sourced from a 2011 Freightliner that had previously caught fire and sold as parts. The radiator and gearbox also came from the Freightliner. The gearbox is an 18 speed Roadranger. All the original steel suspension was replaced with air suspension for a softer ride. The front springs were also swapped to air.

The sleeper was imported from America, it was originally black, and the paint was so thick they had to scrape it off! Graeme extended the bonnet by 300mm, purely to look good, then also extended the chassis by 2 metres to balance how the truck looked with the longer bonnet. To do this a new beam was cut and welded onto the existing chassis behind the cab. Alister and Geoff Duffy from RMD Marton helped put the cab on the chassis using a Hiab.

There was quite a bit of corrosion that needed to be repaired

The original cab steel frame was rusted so was replaced with alloy and came from America. The upholstery was ordered and came from Seattle, USA then fitted in New Zealand. This process took two years! The cab is 1524mm wide.

The gauges, suspension and various other parts came from a Kenworth T404 in Tauranga. The air tanks also came from Tauranga out of an international truck.

The Kenworth W924 in all its new found glory

The finish line

Although Graeme did a lot of work on the W924 himself, it wouldn’t have been a success without the help of many others.

Graeme spent many hours making cardboard cuttings for various parts including fabricated guards and the dash for the gauges. The cuttings were taken to Matt and Nick at Roadrunner Manufacturing in Bulls.

As the W924 started coming together, Graeme had mixed feelings of excitement and nerves. Excited because it was nearly complete and looking fantastic, and nervous because so much time and effort had been put into restoring it. He just wanted it to be a success and it was!

Driving it for the first time, Graeme can only describe it in one word – “WHEW!”

The first trip Graeme and his wife Raelene took was all the way down south to Invercargill. Graeme laughs that he took an abundance of spare bolts and tape just in case.

What a stunning transformation



*Brennan Chapman/Amerikiwi
Cab and chrome parts

*Geoff Duffy/TWL
Brakes and air

*Hugo and Peter/ Autokraft

*Gwyn Bliss-Bennett & James Rooke/ Rangitikei Truck and Diesel
Setting up chassis with motor, gearbox and diffs

*Tony Poynter/Total Truck Spray

*Willy Malcolm/ Malcolm Cab Solutions
Refurbished cab and fitted upholstery

*Tony Walton/ Custom Art
Artwork and signwriting

*Matt Avery & Nick Webster/Roadrunner
Stainless and chrome fabrication

Graeme and Raelene have entered this “labour of love” in two truck shows and took away awards at both.