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Kamaz Trucks: From Russia with Love

Trucks 2 hours ago

You might have heard more about these trucks if you lived in Russia. Or even Africa. Or Vietnam.

Americans who are aware of the famous Peterbilt trucks will see something familiar with them though: long, distinctive bonnets

KAMAZ trucks are Russian made. And they are driven not just by civilians but also by the military.

But if you think that makes them blob-like non entities, or tank-like. Or capable only of brute strength (similar to what many Americans think about Russia-made products), please reconsider.

A site called Red Bull in reviewing a 2016 model found:

“The new Kamaz Master truck is quite literally not just a pretty face. The elongated snout hides a plethora of new technology.”

Recent news accounts said that the Russian KAMAZ-Master truck was equipped with sensors capable of detecting road signs. But also other vehicles. And even people.

The auto-pilot version is a joint project between the company’s Cognitive Technologies and Russia’s National University of Science and Technology.

Russian trucks go well beyond its borders.

Other news reports said that negotiations were underway recently to make Morocco the main platform of KAMAZ exports to Africa.

According to the Russian minister, negotiations are underway for the installation of Russian facilities which will make Morocco their platform for exports to Africa.

Too hot for cold-accustomed Russian trucks?


An African deputy minister pointed out the Russian trucks performed very well in hot weather, showing “very good performance in our climatic conditions.”

A news report found that Russia was already supplying trucks to ten African nations.

In Vietnam, meanwhile, the truck manufacturer was looking at the possibility of getting preferential tax treatment.

In fact, a lot about the Russian company may be a surprise to many.
Russian failings such as supplying mass consumer goods and vehicles such as their cars are well-known.

Russian-made Ladas are commonly found in long-time Russian ally, Cuba. The joke there, where Cubans have long been famous for their classic American cars, is that people who drive Ladas’ “don’t have a car, you have a Lada.”

Russia may not be the world’s leading manufacturer of cars, “But it is certainly very good at making trucks,” writes the site “Russia Beyond the Headlines.”

What is this Kamaz company?

Read on in Part II (click here).

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Kamaz Trucks: From Russia with Love (Part II)

Trucks 2 hours ago

Go back to Part I of this article (click here). 

Its first truck rolled off the production line on Feb. 16 of 1976.

Today, it produces more than 40 models of trucks, as well as trailers, buses, field engines, power plants and tools. Trucks include armored trucks, cement trucks, concrete mixer trucks, ready-mix trucks, garbage trucks, firefighting trucks, etc.

Its trucks can be found not just in Russia, Africa and Vietnam. But also in Eastern Europe, Latin America, China, the Middle East and Indonesia. And the world.

Reinforced KAMAZ trucks can also be found in the Russian army.

And they have won the Dakar Rally a record 13 times, according to the company.
Moreover, in 2011, 2013 and 2015 the team’s drivers completely occupied the winner’s circle for trucks.

Even the first models of KAMAZ trucks became “legendary,” according to the company.

Their history goes back almost half a century when Russian bureaucrats approved construction of a complex of heavy duty truck production plants. Since this was a communist and collective effort, more than 70 potential sites were studied.

The decision went in favor of Naberezhnye Chelny, then a small town on the Kama River with only about 27,000 people.

Its advantages were obvious.

The main reason, however, was its location by navigable rivers  —  The Kama River and the more famous Volga River.

Those bodies of water made it easier to ship readymade trucks to customers. There were also nearby railway lines to carry the necessary construction materials and equipment.

The fact that the huge construction company “KamGESenergostroy” existed in the region allowed construction of plant buildings and apartment blocks for prospective KAMAZ employees.

Globally known corporations began to be represented here. They included Swindell-Dressler, Holcroft, CE-Cast, Ingersoll Rand, Ex-Cello (U.S.A.), Hueller-Hille, Liebherr (West Germany), Morando, Fata (Italy), Renault (France), Sandvik (Sweden), Kamatsu and Hitachi (Japan).

Social challenges were also met.

Hundreds of thousands of people had to be provided by KAMAZ with housing, modern educational facilities, hospitals and clinics, numerous cultural, sporting, recreational and leisure centers.
KAMAZ was instrumental in transforming the Kama River Area into an industrial and scientific research hub.

The city of Naberezhnye Chelny grew to a population of more than half a million.

Perhaps to be expected, the company itself is similar to American counterparts in its lack of modesty.

The company itself says is trucks are created in the Republic of Tatarstan “at the bank of Kama River, created to deliver the goods all over the world.”

KAMAZ claims its trucks offer “high load capacity, good maneuverability, economy, reliability and low – maintenance powerful engine.”

The company says its trucks have “proven to be as adept at maneuvering in narrow streets and loading yards as at coping with country lanes.”

Their claim is that the trucks are “durable, economical and robust. It’s a vehicle you can rely on day by day.”

And adept at rallies as well?

Sure, why not?

“Kamaz-Master race trucks are conquering the deserts and hard landscapes during the off-road rallies,” the company says.

As noted, they have won more than a dozen times.

As Red Bull pointed out in its account of what is new at KAMAZ, their new rally machines are designed to again be winners.

They boast an all-new 980-horsepower diesel engine, capable of reaching speeds of 160 miles an hour via a 16-speed gearbox.

And the biggest hero in Russian truck racing, and seven-time winner Vladimir Chagin (known as the ‘Tsar of the Dakar’ and now Kamaz team principal), points out: “We’re at the dawn of a new era of race trucks. Cab trucks demonstrate a number of technical benefits, and an important goal for us this season is to innovate as much as possible.”

But more recent news found that their Russian KAMAZ-master truck racing team might miss the next race set for January of next year in South America.

KAMAZ’s problems are due to the departure of its main sponsor, the Russian Vnesheconombank, whose contract expired in December 2015.

However, the famous driver Chagin hinted in a Kommersant FM radio interview that the sponsorship issue might be resolved at the Russian presidential level.

If they can win again, it will certainly be a case of Russia…”with love.”

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Custom Peterbilt — Check Out Those Doors

Trucks 2 hours ago

Guest post by Rick Trego

1997 Pete ,the name of the truck is Spur of the Moment , 600 Cat & 18 speed tranny & 355 rears , custom interior , custom paint by the the guys at Big Truck Paint & Body , 8″ smokers ,drop visor ,custom front & rear fenders , suicide doors , one off hood ornament , t- bar , wide fuel tank straps & air cleaner straps . Just some off the things that I have done to the old truck !

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Victoria Trucker Christmas Light Show

Trucks December 4, 2016

Here’s the streets of Victoria, BC, on December 4. We captured this footage from the 15th floor of a downtown apartment.

The video has 3 parts, so you don’t have to watch them all at once. There’s a wide range of trucks, and a wide range of light displays.

In the photos, there’s also a gallery of images of some of the trucks that participated.

The event is the 2016 IEOA Truck Light Convoy and Food Drive.

Subscribe to our YouTube channel (click here).

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This truck is in the Pink

Trucks November 29, 2016

The first thing you notice is the color: Not exactly dull gray. Try bright pink. For a truck? And yellow, too.
Why not?

“There should be zero debate on this if this is blue and black or white and gold. The truck and trailer combo is a bright pink and yellow, and the vehicle description states that it’s probably the most unique and most interesting (vehicle) you have ever seen.”

“And we completely agree.”

So says a site in 2015 called “Weird Stuff Wednesday” about one of the vehicles found at Carsforsale.com.
It’s really a modified 1948 Chevrolet 3800 COE. At the time, it was for sale in Calabasas, CA.

“The trailer is about 44 feet long and has not only room for you and your family to sleep in while traveling the country, but the rear has enough room to haul a vehicle or any motorsports equipment,” Weird Stuff says of it.

Its color will certainly attract families. It has room for seven.

Other details:

—It should be easy to shift for even younger members of a family since the transmission was described as automatic.
—Steering, too, should be easy for everyone. It has power steering.
—A tilt wheel,
—Power windows, too.
—Described as having “premium” when it comes to paint and interiors.
—Wheels are also described as premium.
—The condition at the time was described as “excellent.”
—Mileage was 66,618.
The color was described as multi, but pink and yellow might be more accurate.
Other features include:
—A 10-cylinder 502 cubic inch engine.
—A satellite dish.
—Sleeps six in the trailer.
—Freezer and refrigerator.
—A large shower.
—Air conditioning.
—Even the sleeper car has air conditioning.

Background includes this:

Chevrolet trucks from 1947 to 1055 were number one in sales in the US.

They used the same basic design family for all of its trucks, including the Suburban, panel trucks, canopy express and cab overs, according to several accounts.

The “unique Cab Over” fenders and hood required a custom cowl area,” said one description.
“Fully loaded with all the features that make traveling fun…

You and all your friends could have a perfect trip,” says another description of the pink and yellow modified truck.

Another site says of it:

“Spring break is right around the corner and this custom classic with matching trailer is just begging to be taken on a road trip.”

The advertised price was $76,500.

Another popular 1948 3100 Chevrolet truck was the Thriftmaster. Where color was also a consideration.

“Coated in new bright red paint, this 1948 3100 retains its utilitarian good looks and features added touches that make it a hot rod in farmer’s overalls,” it’s said of the truck.

The model recently for sale was equally bright with brisk red paint.

It was described as having a “great looking grille that appears to be original, traditional round headlights trimmed in chrome, and a new, curved chrome bumper.”

The sea of red color is broken up by a left fender mounted filler cap.

The truck’s description goes on:

“Raise the hood on this ’48 Chevy truck and in place of its original Thriftmaster 235 inline six-cylinder you’ll find a completely natural looking small block Chevrolet 350. At the top of the motor, a polished Demon carburetor wears a small round chrome air cleaner, is fed by stainless fuel lines and feeds a Holley Procharger supercharger.”

That bright red color here stands out as much as the pink.

Inside the truck, a restored interior mixes modern elements with traditional 40s design.

“The bright red from the body is present on the dash and contrasts well with gray seats, gray upper door panels, a gray headliner and a gray floorboard,” the description says.

The seats and steering wheel were taken from a 90s Chevrolet and are much easier to live with than the trucks’ original flat bench and huge, thin-rimmed wheel, it adds.

Safety is also a consideration.

For better visibility, Beede gauges have been installed in the classic red dash and display a speedometer and readouts for the engine’s vital readings.

“This 1948 Chevrolet 3100 is a highly drivable truck that follows a simple but proven formula. Take classic good looks and mix a lot of power with nice modern conveniences to get one extremely fun vehicle that can be enjoyed as it was meant to be enjoyed,” the description says.

By David Wilkening

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House on Wheels (Train Houses)

Trains November 29, 2016

House on Wheels (Train House)

How about life in a railroad caboose? For some, the even mention of the name does not mean anything, since they started to see a decline in usage or elimination on U.S. railroads by the mid 1980’s and Canadian railroads following suit by the 90’s. In short it was the mobile office on the back of the train for the Conductor and Brakeman who would sit up high in the “cupola” and people would wave at him as the train passed. Such a perch higher above the train was designed with safety in mind; such as to watch for potential problems along the way for the train. This maybe unauthorized riders or damaged equipment and therefore could radio the Engineer. It could be a full-time dwelling, vacation home or roadside business site.

First, before putting down the railroad ties on your property, find out the zoning requirements in your area. Most owners choose to purchase their own land and many times property taxes do not apply, in many instances when the car is put back on wheels and this can classify it as a portable structure. For a permanent home, several modifications can be made to include solar power and extreme makeovers in the interior for greater use of space.

If used for a vacation home you will still have to hire a crane to set it on a small set of rails if desired, which can be upwards of $300 per hour.

A roadside business idea could be a store or café since you are certain to have the only one around for miles.

Most of such cars when found are pretty used up. The purchasing agent on a railroad is a good resource to start with to locate your caboose and it had been reported prices started at $2000 and even less if wooden cars could be found.

By Willys6

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Oldest RV was part Model T

RVs November 23, 2016

Model T

The RV industry is almost as old as the car business: More than one century. And if you want to see the very first of its kind: take a trip to Elkhart, Ind., to see the 1913 Earl Trailer and Model T Ford.

It’s generally recognized as the oldest non-tent travel vehicle in existence.

You can find it today at the RV/MH (Recreational Vehicle/Manufactured Home) Hall of Fame Museum.

It’s appropriate that it’s in the museum in Elkhart, because so many RVs have been built there. More than anyplace else in the United States.

Estimates are anywhere from 50 to 85 percent of them came from there.

“The RV industry began 100 years ago,” RV Life wrote in 2003.”And within its first decade, nearly every type of RV we have today—tent trailers, travel trailers, fifth wheels and motorhomes” were introduced.
So said RV historian Al Hesselbart, who was involved in the museum which opened in 2007.

Not a lot of information is available about the first RV vehicle other than it was ordered by a Cal Tech professor to be attached to a Model T.

But the museum and other accounts trace the history of RVs in general. And provide more information about the legendary Model Ts.

Some history highlights:

RV historians have pinpointed 1910 as the start of the RV industry. That was when companies in Los Angeles and Saginaw, Michigan, began selling camping trailers.

That was also the time when Pierce Arrow introduced its Touring Landau. The Landau was definitely upscale. It was driven by a chauffeur.

The truck camper in its current form was introduced in the 1940s. Its pre-1920s predecessor: the Automobile Telescope Apartment, mounted on a Model T Ford Runabout.

It even had a modern version of the “slideout.”

The price of that RV was only $100.


Read more in part II.

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The First RVs

Trucks November 23, 2016

Click here to return to Part I of this article

Since hotels were expensive in those days and towns were friendlier to traveling salesmen and unaccustomed to families, RVers began modifying campers to sleep in them. And cook their meals.

Companies began adding equipment to make them more comfortable like stoves and beds.

Henry Ford, inventor of the Model T, was among people who helped popularize campers in the early years.
A major difference was that many celebrity campers in those early days stayed overnight in tents.

The next move was perhaps predictable.

Auto campers started heading for Florida in the winter.

So-called “Tin Can Tourists” became popular in the 1930s,

For a while, anyone associated with the industry got the “tin can” designation.

We know that camping began to catch on in the 1920s when The New York Times reported that about half of the 11 million vehicles on the road were used for camping.

Campgrounds designed for tourists began in the 1920s. Some of them came with amenities such as golf courses. And even electricity.

The US depression that started in 1929 helped the industry in a sad way: some people who lost their homes moved into campers.

That helped create a boom in sales.

In 1936, the New York Times estimated there were 100,000 trailers on the road. “A new industry is rapidly coming to the front,” the paper said.

One of those manufacturers was the Covered Wagon Company in Michigan. It was the first to build trailers on a large scale.

Naturally enough, they started using the same production techniques of the automobile industry. Its founder, Arthur Sherman, has been called The Father of the RV Industry.

And Elkhart? It began emerging as the center in 1933, according to Hesselbart. That was when the Chicago World Exposition first featured a trailer industry exhibit. That so impressed some Indiana state residents that they began making RVs.

Soon, there were 300 manufacturers within a few miles of the city. Elkhart was being called “The Trailer Capital of the World.”

But not just there.

In Southern California, Wally Byam founded Airstream in the 1930s. He began by building his own trailer and selling the plans for $1 each through Popular Mechanics magazine.

There were other companies like it, but Airstream’s streamlined metal design outlasted most of them.
Another familiar name in the industry, Winnebago Industries, started production from a former trailer factory in 1958. They began selling for as little as $5,000 from the Forest City, Iowa factory.

Another famous company, Fleetwood Enterprises was created in the 1950s. Founder John Crean is given credit for introducing Venetian blinds for trailers. The California based company became so successful they sold $1 billion in manufactured homes and RVs in 1989,

The RV business has had its ups and downs since then.

Henry Ford’s Model T has a firm place in American history. When production started on October 1, 1908, it introduced mass production and opened travel for just about everyone in the country.

The model was variously known as the “Tin Lizzie, T Model Ford, Model T, T, Leaping Lena, or flivver.”
By 1918, half of all the cars in the US were Model Ts. Not much longer after that, Ford made his famous statement about the car’s color.

“Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black.”

The Ford Model T was named the most influential car of the 20th century in the “1999 Car of the Century” competition, ahead of the BMC Mini, Citroën DS, and Volkswagen Type 1.With 16.5 million sold it stands eighth on the top ten list of most sold cars of all time as of 2012, according to Wikepedia.

The history of the RV goes back even farther than a century when you consider that the covered wagons seen in western movies may have been the forebears of the movement. A company called Covered Wagon Travel Trailers in the 1930s became one of the largest manufacturers of RVs until it became a casualty of World War II.

Information about that company and many others, including the Model T’s role, is on display at the museum.
One other “can’t miss” for those who make it there:

The once-famous actress Mae West owned a 1931 Chevrolet “house car” on display at the museum.

No, she didn’t drive it herself. She had a chauffeur who regularly took her from home to the movie studio.

By David Wilkening

Return to part on (click here).

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