Calling it a day after five decades

By: Greg Bush

Driving their Kenworth Series S900 since the mid-1960s, 2016 makes the end for Harry and Marj Brown

Calling it a day after five decades
Harry Brown and his Kenworth S900.


This year is proving to be a significant one in the lives of Harry and Marj Brown.

For starters, the couple will be saying goodbye to their Kenworth Series S900, which has served two purposes since Harry bought it in the mid-1960s. In addition, he will be handing in his heavy vehicle licence at year’s end.

The couple live at Stockinbingal, only 22km away from Harden. Up until the year 2000, Harry had spent his entire life at Cootamundra.

"I bought the Kenworth off Ansett Freight Express quite a long time ago and I’ve had it ever since,"

Harry says. "I used it until about 1985, parked it in 1990 and I decided to make it into an articulated motor home."

However, Harry says the highway authorities remained unconvinced that the old Kenworth was a recreational vehicle only.

"The way the act is written, the moment you put a packet of Weetbix in the back, it’s a goods-carrying vehicle," he explains.

In 2010, Harry converted the S900 Series Kenworth — one of only 40 that Ed Cameron imported into Australia in the early 1960s — into a rigid mobile home.

With its well set-up interior, the couple have travelled all around Australia.

"I did have trouble with the police and the RTA about logbooks, even after that," Harry says. "So I went to Marulan and explained to them what was happening.

"Everyone I complained to said you don’t need a logbook. I said ‘I know that, you know that, but there’s a lot out there that don’t’.

So they printed up part of the act for me and I carry it in the truck now.

"And the act says ‘heavy vehicle drivers must have a logbook, except motor homes which are exempt’. And I haven’t been pulled up since."

The Kenworth, nicknamed ‘Mechanised Swaggie’ after the old Slim Dusty song, has had "a couple of engines" in its lifetime, the latest being a Detroit 471T with Allison transmission. But despite its age, Harry says the S900 has proved economical to drive.

"It’s got a three-speed Joey behind the Allison," he says. "I do 10mile to the gallon, which is as good as some Toyota Land Cruisers do with a caravan.

"But I worked at it. I’m a motor mechanic so I fiddled around with the diff ratios to get it to where I want it."

At the Harden Truck and Tractor Show, the Kenworth bore a ‘for sale’ sign. "I’ve got one bloke fairly interested, but I don’t know whether he wants to pay the money," Harry says.

After appearing at the first Harden Truck and Tractor Show in 2014, the year is almost certainly the last for the Kenworth S900 – under Harry and Marj’s ownership anyway.

"I missed last year, I was in Kyabram," Harry says. "I get invited to different ones, because of what it is. We go to as many as we can."



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