New kid on the block

By: Warren Aitken


It’s hard to believe this immaculately restored, rare 1982 Canadian Cab K100 is 12 years older than the young man who put it together

 AAP_0926-Edit-2.jpg

Welcome to what may be my shortest story to date. It’s not that it isn’t interesting, because it definitely is! It’s not that I don’t have much to say, because I definitely do! It’s actually because the man behind the stunning 1982 Canadian Cab K100 you’ve been drooling over is only 26-years-old! He’s only a kid, barely a year or two younger than I wish I was. So, whilst he has produced one of the coolest classics to be tearing up Victorian roads, he hasn’t been around long enough to even remember a time when ‘Home and Away’ wasn’t on our TV screens. Poor bugger.

Back to the point I’m making. The young fella in question is Jake Thompson and the truck he has brought back to life is the first ‘official’ restoration out of the Ricoshay Customs garage. The first of many to come I would say.

Now before we look at the history of this cool cab-over it would pay to learn a little about Jake himself. He is kind of a B-grade celebrity already, having appeared in almost more issues of Truckin Life magazine than some of the advertisers. If you are into the kitset model building world (personally I’m not, because I have NO patience, none, steps 1-48 were done in a matter of minutes not days, no patience), then you may class him as more of an A-grade celebrity. Jake has been building kitset models and modifying kitset models since before he was able to spell kitset models.

As a young kid he was first published for his drawings of trucks, then was regularly featured with his box build and then custom-built kitset trucks. I was lucky enough to be shown around the ‘Man Cave’ he shares with his father and must admit just a pang of jealousy at the collection he had acquired. A pang might be a little of an understatement. Jake won many awards for several of his model trucks and become very well known for them.

Jake not only picked up the fuel tank but made an offer on the old K100 and walked/drove away with the whole lot

MOVE THE REAL THING

It would come as no surprise to his family then when his future lay not in the classroom but out in the work force putting those creative and practical skills to good use. Jake left school early and undertook an apprenticeship with Frank Christie in Riddells Creek, between Bendigo and Melbourne. He enlarged his scale model skills from small-sized plastic models to life-size full metal models. Well technically, the Christies were one of the top Peterbilt conversion companies in Australia, so there was still more than enough plastic for Jake to feel at home.

Jake spent six years at Christies and was involved with some of their most epic big bonnet turnouts. His skills were honed and expanded, and his years of meticulous attention to detail on his own scale replicas were carried over to the full-scale models he was preparing for customers.

After six years it was time for a change and Jake ended up back in his hometown of Castlemaine where he picked up a job at the Slim Dusty favourite Double T Transport – officially known as Thompsons Transport. It was here Jake increased his skills set, with a lot more mechanical work as well as a fair bit of driving mixed in too.

The original 400hp Cummins engine may have done more trips to the moon than a Juicy rental van but is still humming away

Having the ability to fit into multiple roles ensured Jake was never stuck in one position too long. He worked on the varied fleet of Thompsons’ Kenworths as well as jumping behind the wheel and peddling them throughout Victoria.

This role at Thompsons suited Jake perfectly as it also allowed him to spend a fair bit of his off-duty time at home, pottering around working on other people’s trucks. His creative flair was never more evident than in the big-bonneted Mack Superliner that his father drives for S&S Tyquin in Sunbury.

Now let’s take a little detour from the Jake Thompson story and squeeze in a little confession. I originally got hold of Jake after he posted photos of his father’s stunning Superliner. It was this truck that I had my Nikons lined up for when I went chasing the Thompsons down in Castlemaine. I knew nought of either Jake or his father ‘Chooka’, and admit I was purely mesmerised by this classic Superliner that was still earning its keep, three decades after it hit the road.

It wasn’t until I pulled into the Thompsons driveway and saw the jolly green Kenny that I was open to a different angle, and a different leading man, for this story. Don’t get me wrong, we could have had a few laughs telling the tale of Chooka as well. I mean, when you’ve grown up working on a farm and go to see the local cop to get your full car license and he asks, "So do you want a license for that truck you’ve been driving up and down the road as well?", then you can bet there’s a fair few stories there. Most may not be suitable for mature audiences. 

It’s appearance at the 2019 Castlemaine Truck Show definitely garnered some attention

BITTEN BY THE BUG

I did get some time with Chooka and I learned that Jake had grown up with trucks around him and trucking in his blood. It wasn’t a matter of being forced, as Jake took to the trucking world like an Aussie takes to beer. Chooka ran his own truck for quite a while, getting into it at a time when he remembers he could fuel his K125 Kenworth for 40-60 cents a litre.

By the time Jake was born the days of land-speed record-setting cab-overs were coming to an end, though there was still plenty of black coal-blowing rigs. You know the ones designed to give the greenies nightmares. So, it’s no surprise the Jake has inherited his father’s passion for the loud rumble and classy lines of the old-school trucks. It also stands to reason then that as Jake wanted to get Ricoshay Customs off the ground he would start with a flat-roof K-series, about as Australian as Mick Dundee at the AFL grand final.

The 1982 K100 that Jake managed to pick up was the perfect project for his one-man outfit. The hard-to-find 86-inch Canadian Cab Kenworth was definitely a little tired, Jake admitted, when he first saw it down in Adelaide a few years earlier. He ran into it a second time not so long ago in Melbourne when he was looking for a fuel tank for an SAR he was working on. Jake not only picked up the fuel tank but made an offer on the old K100 and walked/drove away with the whole lot.

Jake stripped out the interior so new insulation could be laid inside the cab and all the trim given a thoroughly new lease on life

The truck originally came from South Australia running for Peter Horne Transport. It has worked most of its life and had been lovingly looked after. interior wise it is all still original. Jake did strip it out so new insulation could be laid inside the cab and all the trim given a thoroughly new lease on life, but that was the extent of the interior work.

The running gear on the truck has also been meticulously maintained as well. The original 400hp Cummins engine may have done more trips to the moon than a Juicy rental van but is still humming away. Jake says the previous owner did set it up with a new rear end and somewhere along the way the factory fitted nine-speed box got replaced with a 13 speed.

The hard work went into all the stuff that you don’t see in a casual walk around. Many lines, looms and hoses were all replaced to get the rig up to top-notch running condition.

Where Jake’s updates are most evident is in the exterior appearance. While the cab’s paintwork was still reasonably good, there have been a few repairs in sun-baked areas. The roof, air cleaner tube and spoiler got a respray, while the rest just got a heck of a lot of polishing. The chassis and running gear got a whole new coat of paint and new stacks, guards, air intakes and rims were fitted. The tanks are still the K100’s originals, with a heck of a lot of polishing and sanding to make 38-year-old tanks look brand new. Jake fabricated all new decking plate and stainless brackets for the rear end and for the new guards.

Jake admits he bought the truck because a lot of the internals were all in good nick and it allowed him to put his efforts into more of the cosmetic side for Ricoshay Customs’ debut truck.

Job done I would say Jake. It’s appearance at the 2019 Castlemaine Truck Show definitely garnered some attention. There’s a massive fan base for the old cab-over Kenworths and when they look and sound as good as Jake’s, well it’s a recipe for success. Just hard to believe the truck itself is 12 years older than the man who put it together. Well done young fella, well done.

Jake’s creative flair is never more evident than in the big-bonneted Mack Superliner that his father drives for S&S Tyquin in Sunbury.

You can also follow our updates by liking us on Facebook

 

Trucks For Hire | Forklifts For Hire | Cranes For Hire | Generators For Hire | Transportable Buildings For Hire