CONVENTIONAL LEGEND: THE ACCO’S RICH OZ HISTORY

By: LLOYD REEMAN


The legendary ACCO recently celebrated a major milestone when the 90,000th truck was handed over to key customer Solo Resources. Here, we delve into the make’s rich Australian history

 

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International Harvester (IH) Australia commenced its operations in 1912. From this time up until 1950 IH had created a large dealer network and opened its own retail outlets in all major cities of Australia.

It also purchased land at North Shore, Geelong, in Victoria in 1937 with the intent to build farm implements and the first IH tractor in Australia. The factory/foundry was opened in 1939 but due to the start of WW2 the plans were put on hold as IH was requested by the government to assist the war effort by making guns, bullets and equipment for the Australian Army. This would later prove very beneficial to the company.

Lloyd Reeman

A LEGEND IS BORN

It was not until 1949 that IH built the first tractor at Geelong and the following year purchased land at Dandenong to build the first Australian-made trucks. The plant opened in 1952 and the Internationals started rolling off the line.

In 1953 the Australian Army approached the company to design and build a suitable troop carrier and after prototypes were tested at Monegeetta the unit was approved and the first Army units rolled off the line in I959 as part of an order for 700 units.

The roots of the ACCO name as we know it today can be traced back to the first ‘A’ series that went commercial after the success of the Army unit. Many believe that the first AACO units were named after ‘Australian Army Cab Over’ but in fact the acronym came from ‘Australian A Line Cab Over’ because they were built on line ‘A’ at Dandenong, one of three lines operating 24 hours a day across three shifts.

The AACO was widely accepted and with the plant in full operation the chances of employment were good at Dandenong, which also had on offer two other major factories next door: GMH and Heinz.

The product took IH to be leader in the over five-tonne markets and the truck was affectionately known as the ‘Butter Box’ because of its stubby, full width protrusion ahead of the windscreen that looked like the remnants of a bonnet or a butter box.

The AACO continued through to 1968 with a few changes, including the adoption of a single-piece windscreen, a new mesh grille and a step to enter the cab instead of putting your foot on the centre of the front wheel.

ACCO celebrated a major milestone in September 2019 when the 90,000th truck was handed over to key client Solo Resources

NEW LINE, NEW NAME

The biggest change, however, was to the name which changed to ACCO due to the unit being built on the ‘C’ line.

Combinations of 4x2, 6x2, 6x4 and 8x4 were added, so the line-up was impressive and gave all customers a choice.

Buyers also had the choice of well-known engine brands including Cummins, Perkins and IH’s own V345 and V392 V8; as well as Eaton and Allison transmissions, Rockwell axles, Hendrickson suspensions and Spicer drivetrains.

The ACCO quickly became a household name, with more than 39,500 units sold from 1961 to 1972 – including the ACCO DF 1840 8x4 twin steer with the new Allison automatic which agitator operators lined up to purchase. Hundreds, if not thousands, were sold and the resources industry fell in love with this work horse.

After lengthy discussions with waste operators and agitator clients the unit was built to suit the application and the first dual-control factory-supplied unit was tested

FRESH INVESTMENT

In 1970–71 a huge investment was taken by IH to completely revamp the unit and take it to a new design. An $11 million investment was made and the first manufactured, designed and tested AACO ‘A’ units rolled off the line in 1972.

Some of the well-known suppliers were kept but some new ones were added, in particular the Neuss engine which replaced the Perkins. The take up was fantastic and well-known models were introduced including the ACCOA 4x2 (1710, 1730, 1810, 1830, 2050 and 2150); 6x4 (F1910, F1930, F1950, F2050, F2150); and 8x4 (K1912, 1952, 2052, 2152).

International’s first involvement with V8 motor racing came with the ownership of the Allan Moffatt Racing Team back in the ‘70s.This Transporter carried the Falcons all around the country and International has been associated with V8 racing ever since (including the Holden Dealer Race Team, 888 Racing Craig Lowndes and Tick ford Racing).

More updates occurred over time along with the introduction of new models, with one of the most memorable the 76-inch (193cm) reduced cab in a version called the ACCO 510 and also the ACCO 610, a smaller unit to combat the large 4–6 tonne market plus 4x4 versions.

The Dandenong site was purchased in 1950 for truck manufacture

THE MIGHTY 3070

After some concerns with the ACCO 2150 as a highway unit at 225hp (168kW) the truck was nicknamed the ‘Cray Fish’ (all shell but no guts) and although it went through a huge rework program it was battered in the market by Mercedes and Isuzu until IH introduced the mighty ACCO 3070 with a Cummins V903 engine at 320hp. It became a "must have".

The heavy-duty 3074 followed along with the unforgettable 3070 Eagle. This was a high 320hp (239kW) unit with many standard features ex-factory, including special red-and-white paint, roof-mounted Kysor Mark 4 air conditioning, tailored lamb’s wool seat covers on a new Derby seat, radio cassette and CB radio, extensive carpeting in cab, chromed exhaust stack, tail pipe, rain cap, air intake, air cleaner canister and fuel straps, twin air horns, roof-mounted bullet and last but not least the highly popular ‘Eagle’ badge on the door.

The 3070 Eagle was to have a limited run of 100 units but became so popular with small and large operators that more than 400 units were produced. This was the start of a trend to add items ex-factory rather than retrofit prior to production (and save money).

Updates and improvements came quickly with new versions introduced, including the ACCO B-1977, ACCO C-1980, ACCO D-1985, ACCO E-1992 and ACCO G-1995.

Major companies such as Linfox, Scott’s, K&S Frieghters, Boral, Melbourne Metro Fire Board, Pioneer and Brambles, to name a few, at some time owned an ACCO.

ACCCO 3070/B – the ‘Eagle’ landed with all the bells and whistles

TOUGH TIMES

Problems hit in 1982 as International worldwide ran out of money and was considering filing for Chapter 11 in the US (bankruptcy) but this was avoided. International in Australia decided to go it alone under a scheme of arrangement that saw a receiver-manager appointed to run the company and look for a new owner. The factory was now under pressure of closing, but great support from customers gave it a huge lift to carry on local manufacturing. The name was changed to International Trucks Australia and the business traded on for 10 years until Fiat’s commercial division IVECO purchased the Australian company in 1992.

ACCO/E – Perkins and Cummins options with dual controls. The best ACCO to date!

ONWARD AND UPWARD

During this time things were still happening to the ACCO and in the late 1980s and early 90s the company decided that the ACCO was to become a true factory-built vocational truck. After lengthy discussions with waste operators and agitator clients the unit was built to suit the application and the first dual-control factory-supplied unit was tested along with many lightweight components to suit the tare-conscious concrete industry.

International’s aim was to supply a unit ex-factory that didn’t require modifications before having a body mounted. The company listened to customers and produced units that truly reflected what the customer wanted. Wheelbase modifications were introduced so major compactor and agitator body builders didn’t have to make alterations, and on some occasions the body mounts were fitted whilst the unit was in production.

As new requirements and especially emission changes were introduced International (now owned by IVECO) introduced further updates, including Euro 3 and 4-compliant engines.

The unit had the IVECO name on the grille in 2003 but the ACCO name still appeared on the side of the doors. The biggest change came with Euro 5 and the new introduction of AdBlue in 2010.

The last update to the unit came in 2015 and the ACCO celebrated a major milestone in September 2019 when the 90,000th truck was handed over to key account Solo Resources.

With more than 4,230 updates since its introduction, the mighty ACCO has certainly earned its great reputation. The current shape unit was unit 51,000 and with 39,000 of the ‘Butter Box’ manufactured the ACCO product has certainly been a survivor.

Although it’s the last year of the current shape as an all Aussie-made unit, the name ACCO will live on with the just-released IVECO X-Way which has been especially designed for the waste market.

Importantly, it will feature the ACCO name proudly on its doors; and will continue to be assembled and at the Dandenong factory – in both 6x4 and 8x4 versions. Long live the ACCO!

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