Cover story: Mack CH restoration

By: Vivienne Haldane, Photography by: Vivienne Haldane and supplied

The team at Hastings Demolition have breathed life into a 1999 Mack, which will be put to good use in their business

When Hastings Demolition managing director, Dylan Hemingway, drove through Waikato on a work trip, he spotted a Mack CH in Tirau sitting in a paddock rotting away. Clearly, it was not the best state of affairs for the old girl, so he tracked down its owner who sold it to him.

Now sporting Hastings Demolition branding, the Mack CH is ready to get to work

That was in March 2020, before lockdown.

"After arriving on the transporter, we pulled the Mack apart to see what state it was in. Then with lockdown, everything slowed down, but over that time, I was able to plan what was needed to be done and figure out what parts we required," says Dylan.

The truck had three owners previously: Provincial Freight who had it for two years before being sold to NZ Van Lines. After that, Steven Clothier of Corrugated Creations (Tirau)—well-known for his work in that medium—owned it.

Hastings Demolition are keen on the Macks; they already have two of them. Dylan says they’re built to work, are tough as nails, and are good value for money. "There’s nothing they can’t do. Getting this one was timely as we needed another reliable back-up truck."

Major restoration

Down but not out: the Mack as it was when Dylan bought it

The upside of doing a major restoration was that it was the perfect opportunity to customise the truck. No expense has been spared, says Dylan.

"I don’t want to see it back in the workshop for another five years. We’ve built it to our requirements. We can interchange our trailers, and it has all the necessary hydraulic systems on it. It’s versatile, too. It can go from carting a transporter to carting concrete in the tipulator bin.

"One of the first jobs we’ll use it for will be to cart our new Sunward digger to a building demolition site."

‘Diamond in the Ruff’—as the Mack has been tagged—has now had months of work done on it.

"We’ve done everything you can think of. The boss had a big list of what he wanted, so we’ve worked our way through that," says the company engineering manager, Karl Fagence, who, Dylan says did all the hard yards to get the Mack to where it is.

"Karl’s a bit of a one-man-band; not only is he an engineer but he’s also a panel beater and painter by trade. He did all the paint stripping and reassembly of the Mack. Craig at ProBlast in Hastings sandblasted the chassis and underbody," says Dylan.

Some of the other modifications included the engine and gearbox fully renovated, suspension bushes replaced with new wheels, re-wiring of electrics, custom exhaust system, and airbags. Additionally, the fifth wheel has been checked over and has new scuff plates. The cab was stripped apart and repainted and plastic and fibreglassing repairs done too.

"We’ve modified a few bits and pieces and have changed things we didn’t like such as the front bumper, front rims, and tyres. We took off the side skirts and instead put on new tanks, steps, and lights."

We sourced all the parts from Truckstops in Napier and through Ben from Cavanagh Truck Spares in Te Puke.

Now repainted in the company colours and sporting new graphics, Dylan says "it has come up a million dollars."

Change of ownership

Calvin Naumann, Dylan Hemingway, and Karl Fagence

Hastings Demolition has a long history in Hawke’s Bay having been started by the previous owner Graeme Hall’s family in the early 1970s. In 2019, Dylan bought into Hastings Demolition and says he’s currently in a buyout process in which he will eventually own the company 100%.

He started working at Hastings Demolition at the beginning of 2008 as a labourer and concrete cutter. From there, he worked his way up, learning the ropes of demolition such as asbestos removal, truck driving, and digger driving before becoming a site foreman and project manager. Dylan’s passion for the demolition business hasn’t waned.

"There’s always a new challenge, new people to meet. The feeling of completing a large or challenging job is unmatchable. We have a team of around 35 guys now, and we are flat out every day. The team we have are just awesome; a great bunch who all get stuck in and can take a bit of stick."

Dylan and his partner Chrissy recently became parents to five-week-old Parker. Operations manager Dan Johansen has also just become a dad to Peyton, so when both arrive at work bleary-eyed from lack of sleep, they understand where each other is coming from.

"We’re on the same page, and it’s a bit like that around here. We’re a tight-knit family business (Dylan’s brother, James also works for Hastings Demolition as an excavator operator) and are all around the same age."

Road ready

The truck has been customised exactly to how Dylan wanted it

In the next week or two, the Mack will be ready to rock ‘n’ roll.

"It will cart around the large excavators (Hyundai 1.7-tonne and 23-tonne Sunward) with the three-axle transport transporter behind it as well as scissors lifts, front end loaders, bobcats, and a two-axle tipulator," says Dylan.

"Even though it’s first and foremost a workhorse, it’s a bit special; it will be the pride of the fleet."

And no doubt there’ll be a race to be first to hop in the driver’s seat?

The last word goes to the boss: "About three drivers want to drive it, but I’ve already told them I’ll be making the maiden voyage. Yeah, but it will also keep the guys keen. They will take pride in it and look after it."

1999 Mack CH688 specifications

Transmission  13-speed Roadranger
Engine Ea7, 12,000cc
Tare weight 7640kg
Max rated tow mass 80,000kg
GVM 24,800kg
Wheelbase 4500mm

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