STANDING out among the number of Kenworths, Macks and Western Stars at the recent Riverina Convoy for Kids was the 27-year-old International Transtar, owned by the Patten family of Leeton, NSW.
Stephen Patten had the truck on show in Wagga Wagga, with the family having re-purchased the truck and undertaken a detailed seven-month restoration.
Purchased new in 1990, the big International was the first Transtar 4670 bought by the family, who over the next few years bought six more as part of their 12-truck operation.
With a Cummins N14 power plant rated at 400horsepower and 13-speed Roadranger driveline, the International was kept on the go hauling rice and canned fruit out of the Leeton region to Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.
With the closure of the Letona cannery in Leeton in the 1990s and the resulting loss of work, the company was wound up after 61 years of operation and all the trucks sold.
A trip to Alice Springs to the Road Transport Hall of Fame reunion in 2015 prov- ided the catalyst for getting the International back with the Patten name on the door.
"We were in Alice Springs for the reunion and my father, Jack, said 'we should look for one of our old trucks with a view to doing one up',” Stephen said.
"A fellow had this one in Shepparton and I used to go and see him every now and then - I rang him and said how about we have a chat?”
With a deal duly done, the International was returned to Leeton, where Stephen started overhauling the truck.
Having only covered 930,000km over its lifespan, he reckoned the truck wasn't in too bad a condition despite its age.
Having refurbished the mechanicals, the Transtar was sent over to Kuchel's in Nurioopta, where a full restoration was undertaken of the interior and bodywork, including a full repaint in the distinctive Patten red, grey and blue.
Included on the roof of the sleeper cab is a tribute to William "Bill” Patten, who started the transport operation in 1938.
Stephen has the truck registered on club plates and the Wagga event was the second show to which he had taken the Transtar, having been to Echuca to the International-themed American Truck Historical Society event in early September.
He is currently restoring a former Patten's trailer to hook onto the prime mover.
"I'm doing up a trailer my father had, the first McGrath trailer he bought in 1976 - I managed to track it down via the McGrath Trailers Facebook page,” he said.
"I have it at home pulled apart at the minute and will hopefully have it all together for Crawlin' the Hume next April.”
The restoration of the Transtar has been a labour of love and Stephen and Jack are happy with the final result, with a lot of people in Leeton still familiar with the Patten name and colour scheme.
The trip to Wagga for the Patten family was a successful one, with the Transtar taking out the award for the Best Truck in the 20-plus-year category at the Riverina Truck Show, which ran at the conclusion of the convoy.
The final word goes to Stephen, who on describing the quality and finish of the paint on his truck, said "look at that finish - it's an art in itself doing this work on trucks and she's bloody immaculate”.
It's hard to disagree with that.
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