Hugh MacLennan and his grandson, Levi Kingi (13), have taken on a new hobby that transcends generations – hand-building models.
Levi Kingi must be one of the most enthusiastic youngsters to have contacted us in recent times. Following our Lego lockdown competition, Levi sent us some pictures of the models in his collection – models made by him and his granddad. Levi’s passion was palpable, and so we got in contact with granddad Hugh to find out more. Hugh’s a retired truckie and was most recently an ownerdriver for Neville Brothers (operating as Tarewa Haulage based out of Kaukapakapa), having sold off the rest of his own fleet bit by bit. Hugh says his time at Neville Brothers kept his interest in trucks going, but once he eventually sold his truck and retired he turned to model building to express his passion for trucking. “Now I’m retired I thought I’d quite enjoy doing them, just pottering around and keeping the mind busy,” Hugh says. Like his granddad, Levi’s interest in model building stems from a passion for trucks entrenched by Hugh taking him on jobs when he was still driving. “He’s always been mad keen on trucks – really truck-mad and farmmad,” says Hugh. Hugh tinkers away on the models in his shed in Te Kowhai, with help from Levi on the weekends and during school holidays. They’ve made nine so far. “The first couple I built I made out of wood. They were stock trucks and trailers fashioned on the Neville Brothers fleet,” Hugh says.
It’s fair to say the models have become technically more advanced over time. They’re now mostly made from aluminium, which Hugh folds and rolls by hand. They all have steering and some have suspension springs. More impressive is Hugh’s technique. “I get a picture of the truck and scale it to what I think is balanced, all with the eye. Some of them are not totally uniform because of the aluminium being hand-rolled, but that’s all part of it,” he says. The build process takes a week to 11 days, depending on how complicated the individual model is. The latest is an 8-wheel milk tanker with independent suspension. Echoing the sentiment of veteran truck model builder Gordon O’Riley in the story ‘A lifetime of model building’ published in the September issue, it’s great to see model builder hobbyists sharing their passion and enthusiasm for the vocation we call trucking, and the hobby of model truck building. Hugh and Levi’s story proves that, young or old, that passion and enthusiasm is best shared.