HAYDEN HARDGRAVE - KENWORTH GURU

Monday, January 4, 2021

In Hayden’s own collection awaiting its turn for restoration is one of the original pair of 848 Kenworths imported for NZ Forest Products that were the first of the marque to hit the road here in New Zealand.

When we asked Hayden where it all started for him, a very familiar theme came through, being strong influences from those he looked up to in his childhood. His Dad, Ray Hardgrave, who is a panelbeating magician and allround mechanical whizz, taught him an immense amount, as well as his Uncle Ron Hardgrave, who also has the family mechanical DNA. Hayden remembers at eight years of age he wanted to buy a car. His Dad said ‘no, you can start off with something more useful’, and with that they found an old International Cub tractor in need of love, sitting at a local scrap metal merchant’s yard. A discussion was had and a deal made with the merchant whereby Hayden would pay off the $250 purchase price for the tractor by collecting alloy cans for recycling. Hayden got to work and grabbed all the cans he could, especially the Steinie green and blue ones from his Dad’s panelbeating workshop. Hayden would always have a bag hanging from his bicycle’s handlebars so he could pick up the ones he saw on the side of the road; every can was another step closer to the tractor.

Eventually the day arrived and Hayden, together with his Dad, delivered $190 worth of scrap alloy cans to the merchant, to which the merchant said, “that’s more than enough, the tractor’s yours!” The rebuild started immediately under the watchful guidance of his Dad, and a little over a year later it was complete. “Dad has always told me ‘get into it boy, and rebuild it as if new or better’, and those words always guide me on what ever I am working on,” Hayden said. An example of this was at the age of 14 when he purchased a 1959 International AA120 4x4 truck to do up. The old cab was so rotten Hayden had to source a replacement. This proved impossible, so a new plan was hatched and a C series cab and bonnet was acquired. A little creativity later and a restored AA120 rolled out of the workshop, resembling the later C1300 model, and near 30 years on this truck is still in Hayden’s care. In fact, it is about to have a freshly rebuilt Detroit Diesel installed into it. After leaving school at 16 Hayden started a heavy diesel mechanic’s apprenticeship with Fairview Motors Ford heavy workshop. Unfortunately it was only six months later that Ford globally decided that the company was exiting all heavy vehicle production so Hayden was without a job. Chatting to a family friend, he was given the contact details for Dave Asplet of Dave Asplet Machinery Services Ltd.

A 10-minute interview with Dave led to an immediate job offer and the opportunity to continue his apprenticeship. “They were a fantastic outfit to work with, and being Paccar agents this is where my introduction to the Kenworth product came in. We worked on the likes of T600s, T650s and K104s and I quickly formed a passion for the product – just how robust it was, but also how easy it was to work on,” said Hayden. After nine years with DAMS, an opportunity to be semi self-employed arose within the film industry working on all manner of heavy equipment. “One of the films we were on was The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. For this film we were based on 20 acres of land on Flock Hill in the middle of the Porters Pass, and if something broke down you just had to make it go again, immediately, no stress. We had in our care 105 individual truck and trailer pieces, and a couple of CoFs per day as well as regular servicing was not unheard of; busy times but a lot of fun,” said Hayden. In terms of the Brute project, the strong influences in Hayden’s formative years are clear in the quality of workmanship and minute attention to detail in this build. What he and Karl have achieved here is genuinely something extremely special.


THANKS
Hayden wanted to pass on his sincere thanks to Mike, Tony, Tim and Simon Ross for allowing him the opportunity to take on the project on their behalf, also the many hands that pitched in with the various stages of the project, including; White Bros Panelworks Ltd, Scotty of Leamington Auto Electric, Marc and Gully from United Sheetmetals in Hamilton, Grumpy’s Sign Shop, Gavin and Tony of Truck Centre BOP, and Southpac Hamilton branch parts department. “Without everyone’s assistance it just would not have turned out the way it has, so a big thanks.”