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53 C600 FORD TRUCK READY FOR YOUR RESTORATION OR CONVERSION TO STREET ROD HAULER SHOW TRUCK Someone put a great running 302 in this, still […]
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What other trucking company can boast a vehicle on permanent display in the Smithsonian? Freightliner Trucks (child company of Daimler Trucks North America) not only has one of their first vehicles on display, they are largely responsible for creating the higher powered trucks that traverse the Western United States.
The company was officially created in 1942, after a decision was made to reconstruct the Fageol to suit the needs of those living in the Western US — other big trucks did not have enough power to climb the mountain ranges so prevalent on the west coast. Freightliner did not, however, have the sort of network required to make a profit off of this brilliant idea, so an agreement was entered into during the 1950’s with the White Motor Company. With plants in British Columbia, Indianapolis, California, and Oregon, the trucks became a familiar sight on the highways across the US.
Though World War II halted production, Freightliner managed to hang on long enough to outlast the war and began building trucks in Salt Lake City, Utah soon after. The very first vehicle they sold outside the company went to Hyster (a fellow company based in Portland), which is the vehicle now on display in the Smithsonian.
Unfortunately, the White Motor Company began having money trouble and in 1974, Freightliner terminated their distribution agreement and sought to step out on its own with a conventional cab-over-engine (COE) model that performed extremely well, especially in the west, where easy access to the engine, a smoother ride, and smaller size were of high importance.
Only a few years later, however, President Jimmy Carter signed into law a deregulation of transport, and in 1982, the Surface Transportation Assistance Act’s relaxed standards and heavier taxes proved fatal to smaller trucking companies, including Freightliner, which propelled the company to sell off its trucking production to Daimler-Benz. New plants opened up in Ontario and Mexico, and the Business Class FL-Series did very well in the 1990’s.
Now, after the turn of the century, Freightliner provides commercial vehicles (classes 5-8) to the North American and European markets, and leads the industry when it comes to diesel fueled recreational vehicles and walk-in vans. It even partners with Tesla Motors, which provides battery packs for the Freightliner’s Custom Chassis Electric Van.
Freightliner also makes buses, cargo vans, low COEs, conventional trucks, and regular cabovers, as diesel engines or natural gas engines. Some of these were popular in Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa as of 2012. The Cascadia Evolution, revealed in 2014, became the 3 millionth truck produced by Daimler-Benz, but the first to use a Detroit powertrain.
At the time, between 140 and 150 trucks were being made each day, including those with natural gas engines. A regional headquarters and logistics center were added to the company’s property in 2015, though this did not create more jobs as might have been hoped.
Though the current plants in Ohio and North Carolina have seen some downsizing, there are still five Freightliner models being produced, along with three Western Star models, with a total of 2200 employees working to provide trucks to both the US and Europe for the foreseeable future.
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The Euclid Company of Ohio was in operation between the 1920’s and the 1950’s. It later became part of General Motors, and later acquired by the Hitachi Construction Company. Euclid Trucks produced heavy equipment for places like mines and quarries, specializing in dump trucks and scrapers that were made to move earth in large quantities in off-road settings, unlike other vehicles that were modified to be used off-road.
Originally, the Euclid Company was created by a father and his five sons, the Armington family, as the Euclide Crane and Hoist Company. The eldest, Arthur, eventually succeeded in persuading the rest of the family to turn the business from cranes to earth-moving, convinced that in the future more jobs would benefit from dump trucks and scrapers. Three very popular machines were built from the family’s prototypes to begin the new venture, and, just as Arthur imagined, the need was so great that the company even survived The Great Depression with little to no impact.
Euclid is known for producing the first 50-ton, 3-axle dump truck in 1951, as well as being the first to adopt the heavy duty Allison automatic transmission, and pioneered both the use of twin engines (Cummins diesel and then later Detroit diesel) and the high speed tractor belly dumper. They were also known for being the first major manufacturer to commercialize the articulated rubber tired loader, which is now used by everyone, especially the Caterpillar, Inc. brand.
The growing corporation was offered a deal by GM in the 1950’s, which was accepted in 1953. Though the Armington family continued working for GM and Euclid for the next several years, by 1960 the entire family had retired from the business.
The brand continued under the GM label until 1968, after GM acquiesced to the anti-trust lawsuit leveled at the business by The Department of Justice, who demanded they relinquish some of their power and property. They agreed to sell Euclid, and did so to the White Motor Corporation. Euclid suffered somewhat under the White Motor Corporation label, but seemed to recover after being sold to the Hitachi Construction Company Between those two acquisitions, it was passed from Daimler Benz AG, Clark Equipment Company, and Volvo Construction Equipment, with no real changes or direction until it was bought out by Hitachi Construction Company.
There are currently two types of Euclid rigid dumpers available as mining, quarry and construction trucks and are in use in strip mines, quarries, heavy construction sites, and military outposts in the US, Canada, China, Australia, South America, Indonesia, and Africa, though the Euclid name and standard color have been phased out by the Hitachi Construction Company since 2004.
The Hitachi Construction Company slowly took complete control of Euclid, desiring its vehicles to round out their mining vehicle package. After a join venture in 1993 and a complete takeover in 2000, they moved the original facilities from Euclid, Ohio, to Guleph, Ontario, Canada, and rebranded the vehicles. Despite the erasure of the Euclid name, these vehicles are still being made, sold, and used around the world.
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The Marmon Motor Company has ties to several Marmon brands from the span of the late 19th century to the 20th century. Though there is no direct link between them except the name and product, the Marmon Motor Car Company (which produced luxurious cars such as the legendary Marmon 16), Marmon-Herrington (which began by producing military vehicles), Marmon Motor Company, and the current Marmon Group produced premium trucks for over one hundred years. The name was used, repurposed, and passed around from company to company, but always stuck with the commercial vehicle business.
The Marmon Motor Company was around from 1963 to 1997, when it was dissolved. Navistar purchased the construction plant, which is in Garland, Texas, for their Paystar division. While it was around, however, the Marmon Motor Company was known for its handmade, low-production vehicles, which were dubbed “The Rolls-Royces of trucks”. Unfortunately, the quality and unique look of the trucks were not enough to compete with the lack of a national sales network and the more well-known, mass produced truck brands such as Peterbilt, Kenworth, and Freightliner.
The trucks made by Marmon were suited for a variety of tasks — cabovers, as well as trucks with towing and hauling capacities were most common, some of which have been gathered and curated in a collection of photos by enthusiasts such as Wayne Crane and Russ MacNeil. Of course, some owners hired their own mechanics to make parts in order to put the trucks to other uses, such as logging. There are several Marmon vehicles today that are comprised of various other vehicle parts and even specialty parts to suit their owners’ purposes.
Marmon only made around 100 trucks a year, contributing to the hand-made image of their vehicles. Each one was put together using aluminum and fiberglass, materials that made the trucks pretty light on their wheels. Though there are very few Marmon trucks still on the road, there are still so many enthusiasts that a group gets together every year in Texas to show off their finds and swap stories.
The P57 (P as in “Premium”) seems to be a popular model with the fans, some of whom have purchased their own Marmon truck and refurbished, upgraded, or altered the vehicles, which are now considered classic cars. They attend shows throughout North America to meet other fans, see who has which Marmon truck, and get pictures taken of their vehicles, which are then posted online for those not fortunate enough to attend the various festivals and meets.
The Marmon has been used for film (most notably the Transformers franchise), and it has also become popular as a model car kit, including one for the Transformers vehicle, available in pewter. There are several other models available as well, such as the aforementioned 57P, a 110” cabover, and an 86” cabover. There are plenty of fans who may not be able to afford a Marmon or the cost of refurbishing one, but the kits are often less than one hundred dollars, making them a more cost-effective way of showing off a love of all things Marmon.
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Last year, Caterpillar shocked the heavy equipment world by announcing their retirement from the game, even though a year previously in 2015, they had committed to building their own trucks. The CT660, CT680, and CT681 will no longer be produced, though there will be support for those vehicles already being used. The vehicles, sold only through licensed Caterpillar Inc. merchants, will continue to be used on the road until they are no longer capable of being repaired.
The CT660, a class-8 vocational truck, is used for highway trucking and was built using Navistar’s facilities in Garland, Texas. The specifications for this particular vehicle include axles from either Meritor, Dana, or Fabco, fuel tanks with the capacity to carry between 60-120 gallons of fuel at a time, multileaf shackle or slipper type suspension, heat-treated alloy steel frame rails, and Set-Back Axle (SBA) (166 or 122 inch available). It comes with a Cat CT13 diesel, 4-cycle engine (365-475 horsepower), a Cat CX31 Automatic Transmission ( with maximum input speed of 2500 rpm).
Since 2011, Caterpillar has partnered with Navistar to produce its vehicles. The plan in 2015 was to separate from Navistar and set up a manufacturing plant in Victoria, Texas, in order to commit fully to creating their own trucks, which would allow for more control over the designs and specifications. Unfortunately, the move, time, and finances that would have allowed Caterpillar total control were deemed to be too high, and the company has decided to shut the project down.
Ramin Younessi, the Vice President for the Caterpillar Industrial Power Systems Division, stated, “Remaining a viable competitor in this market would require significant additional investment to develop and launch a complete portfolio of trucks, and upon an updated review, we determined there was not a sufficient market opportunity to justify the investment,” which led to the decision to cancel the move to Victoria, Texas, as well as consolidate the number of employees to cut costs, which will happen gradually throughout the next year at least.
If Caterpillar’s history is anything to go by, however, we will still probably see plenty of their class-8 trucks remain on the roads for some time. Caterpillar is known for its rugged, heavy-duty equipment as well as its maintenance and support available to owners and operators, both of which ensure the longevity of Caterpillar’s popular vehicles.
Despite the decision to forego building their own production facilities due to a lack of ability to compete with larger brands who produce more popular class-8 trucks such as Freightliner and Kenworth, Caterpillar will still remain as one of the most reliable producers of other heavy-duty equipment for building and transportation. It remains to be seen, however, whether Caterpillar will find another niche to fill or if it will just stick with what it knows best, which is nothing to sneeze at, since Caterpillar is the largest construction equipment manufacturer in the world, producing vehicles, engines, insurance, and even a clothing line for its loyal customers. Dedicated to environmental concerns, economic developments in developing countries, and innovation will continue to sustain Caterpillar beyond the present day and into the future.
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Brockway Motor Company, originally the Brockway Carriage Works, began producing vehicles in 1875 in Cortland, New York. It passed from father William Brockway to his son George Brockway, who shepherded the company through the change from building carriages to trucks in 1912. Though the Brockway Motor Company became part of Mack Trucks Inc. in the 1950’s, and closed its doors in 1977, it remains as a beloved part of trucking history, celebrated every year at the Central New York Living History Center in Homer, New York.
Represented by the Huskie (hence Cortland’s nickname of “Huskie Town USA”), Brockway Motor Company’s dogged determination and devotion to producing quality custom-built trucks and military vehicles is still appreciated by fans today. There are several models available to view at the Living History Center, along with a documentary from Wiffle Ball Productions. There’s also a yearly Brockway Truck Show in Cortland for those who are nostalgic enough to make the trip to appreciate these beautiful vehicles.
During World War II, Brockway Motor Company joined the war efforts by building bridge erectors and cranes to accompany their B6 heavy truck and the 6-ton 6×6 bridging trucks. Their vehicles were equipped with Cummins engines, Detroit Diesels, or inline six engines, which were often paired with Rochester 2G carburetors.
Interestingly, Brockway was one of the first manufacturers to include sleeper cabs and quads with their class 3, 4, and 5 vehicles. Provided mostly to municipalities as road maintenance or show shoveler vehicles, or to various businesses such as breweries, dairy farms, oil companies, and meat packers, Brockway trucks were proven to have quite a bit of longevity, some even lasting 40 years after production ended. Used up and down the East coast, the Brockway was popular with conservative businesses that appreciated the Brockway commitment to consistency in specs and design, which helped keep the cost of maintenance and servicing to a minimum.
Its reputation for quality along the Atlantic seaboard helped keep Brockway in business for one hundred years, despite its “assembly” style and unique look due to its backward fenders and hood-top vents. These helped create its singular look, which it kept for its entire run. The majority of the vehicles were put together in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, and then sent out to businesses on the North American East Coast, South America and the Middle East.
“The Right Way” slogan of Brockway Motor Company proved true for decades as the popularity of their vehicles remained steady. Unfortunately, Mack Truck Inc was not able to uphold its reputation and after being sold to the Mack Truck company, the Brockway Motor Company became a small division before being shut down in the late 1970’s for good.
Despite the fact that Brockway Motor Company is no more, people still gather yearly to remember its long history, its unique and sturdy vehicles, and its contribution to America’s bridges, buildings, and businesses. If you’re ever in Cortland for the National Brockway Truck Show, you can see the evolution of the business in over 100 vehicles, from the carriages that were made in the late 1800’s to the military vehicles and commercial trucks that served communities along the coast for decades after the manufacturers closed their doors.
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Elon Musk has now revealed the new Tesla semi truck, a tractor that’s more aerodynamic, more environmentally friendly, and faster than any semi truck ever built, showing graphs that made regular tractors appear to be barely moving compared with the fast-accelerating Tesla option. Truckers, can you imagine a fully weighted 0-60 in 20 seconds?
Of course, the first thing people wanted to know was how expensive it would be — how could semi truck owner/operators and companies purchase such a truck, given Tesla’s high price tags? While the final cost of the vehicle is unknown as of yet, Musk gave out an estimate that because of the lower costs associated with owning one of the semis, owners could make back what they paid in two years or less.
The loss of the engine is the truck’s gain, as it allows the vehicle to be roomier. It is also upgraded with the Tesla AutoPilot feature, with two screens on each side of the driver (the driver will be seated in the middle of the truck as opposed to the left side). With the ability to go from 0-60 in five seconds as an empty truck, and 0-60 in twenty seconds with a full load, the semi’s appearance and performance put it squarely in the future of trucking.
While truckers still hold some reservations (the biggest being that the truck can travel for 500 miles without needing a recharge while diesel-fueled vehicles can go for much longer and take a shorter time to fuel), Musk continues explore how best to serve the trucking industry in ways that will make it more efficient and better for the environment. If he manages to solve the fueling issue, we might well be on our way to highways full of responsibly fueled semi trucks. Another issue is the lack of a sleeping area, but since this is the first step in introducing the world to an electric semi, it is assumed that there will be arrangements and redesigns made in the future.
With the drive system guaranteed for a million miles and future upgrades in the works, Tesla might just have created a vehicle that will compete with the likes of Peterbilt and Kenworth. Though the semi will not be available until 2019, there are already large companies like JB Hunt, Loblaw and Wal-Mart that have signed on to try out a limited number of these trucks.
Musk also showed the updated Tesla Roadster, which can go from 0-60 in under two seconds, which gives it the distinction of being the only production car ever made to accelerate at that speed. It’s to be expected that Musk and Tesla would want to improve on the sports car — there are plenty of people with enough money to buy these beautiful, environmentally friendly vehicles to make it profitable. What was unexpected about the night was that this was not the only announcement made about a new Tesla vehicle.
Tesla already has orders for at least 45 vehicles, some that will be put to use in Canada and others that will be driven in the United States. Whether they will continue to be sold and used, and if they will be sent elsewhere remains to be seen, but Musk’s confidence in the product and the innovations used seem to have inspired a new wave of exploration into environmentally conscious products.
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I wrote about the Kenworth corporation and their K-series a few months ago, but this time around I’m going to talk about the W900, a model so popular that it is still being produced despite its classic design.
The Kenworth W900 is produced in North America and Australia, and has been on the market since 1961. It’s a Class 8 truck along the lines of the Peterbilt 379, with a 180-600 engine available from Caterpillar, Cummins, Detroit Diesel, or PACCAR, in a variety of sizes ranging from 9 to 16 liters. There are three transmissions options, all automatic: the 10-speed, 13-speed, or 18-speed. The wheelbase averages around 285 inches. There are several sleeper options available for the W900, ranging from a 38” Aerocab Flattop Sleeper to an 86” Studio Sleeper, making this a convenient way to watch a budget or upgrade to something a bit fancier.
While the W900 (The “W” stands for Worthington) has undergone major updates through every decade, it’s still the same quality truck underneath. There are a few versions of the vehicle, including the W900L (The “Long” version), and the “V.I.T.” (Very Important Trucker), which was introduced during the American Centennial. The V.I.T. came with double beds and a refrigerator, and these options began to be included in later versions of the W900 as people began to want more extras for traveling longer distances.
The W900L is one of Kenworth’s top sellers, especially for owner-operators. It was at first intended as a special edition version of the W900, which had made an appearance in the James Bond Film “License To Kill”. However, due to its popularity, it became a regular option rather than merely a short-run special edition. The “Long” version has a 10” longer BBC for a total of 130 inches. It officially became a regular sale item in 1989.
For the W900’s 25th birthday, an ICON900 was released, complete with its own special badge and almost all the brightwork or chrome options available. In the late 80’s, the T600 was created as a more aerodynamic cousin of sorts to the W900, but the W900 continued to be so popular that it was never retired. There are also two versions of the original W900, the W900A and the W900B, the biggest difference between them being one as round headlights (the W900A), and one has square headlights (W900B). The round headlights, of course, became more popular as time went on, but the early W900B could still be ordered with the specification of round headlights.
As the W-series waned (there were buses similar in appearance to the K-series, as well as other interurban vehicles like mass transit buses), the W900 continued to go strong, its quality, durability, and comfort popular with drivers nationwide. Showing no signs of stopping, this truck looks like it will be around for a very, very long time. With their focus on special orders (like fleet of trucks for the Great Northern Railway) and popularity with small businesses, they have a good grasp of what the market wants, and the W900 provides.
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What comes to mind when you hear the words “Super Truck”? Do you picture a Superman-esque cape flying behind a speeding pickup, or a Batman-like cowl draped around a truck slowly, quietly moving through the city? While super trucks don’t really wear capes, nor are they used for search and rescue missions, they are bigger, more powerful, and able to take more wear and tear than the regular truck.
Super trucks are typically commercial trucks, used in a myriad of ways that utilize their heavy-duty status. There are several companies that manufacture these big guys, including, Nissan, Denby, Daewoo, Samsung, and Bering HDMX, and some make multiple versions of the trucks to enable clients to choose what works best for them, whether they want an 8-ton truck or a 25-ton cargo truck, an 8-ton or 24-ton dump truck, or a mixer or tractor.
Hyundai’s super truck is just such a product, a line of vehicles rather than one particular model. They’re usually rear-wheel drive, with a manual or automatic transmission, and are capable of hauling up to 25 tons. They’re used for all sorts of commercial work, and are competitive with other brands such as Samsung and Daewoo. They’re available in North America, South America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.
Nissan’s Diesel Big Thumb was popular in the 90’s and early 2000’s, competing with such vehicles as the Hino Profia, the Isuzu Giga, and the Mitsubishi Fuso Super Great, which were also made available in Australia and New Zealand. After the Big Thumb retired, the Nissan Diesel Quon took over.
Hyundai’s New Power Truck became available in 2004, again with a variety of options, including different transmission packages, engine options, and cargo availabilities. Whether buyers wanted a truck to haul cargo, dump, mix concrete, or work as a tractor, Hyundai provided an array of possibilities with four or more choices in each category.
The Denby Eco-Link, another super truck, hails from the UK and is designated as a super lorry, and although it has been tested for quite some time, is still the subject of much debate because of its size and weight. Embroiled in a legal battle since 2004, it is not legal to be sold in the UK, although a loophole was found that allowed it to be tested on public roads. It remains to be seen whether the Denby Eco-Link, a truck that was built to answer the need for an environmentally friendly, productive, safe cargo vehicle, will at some point in the future be able to service the UK. It is, however, legal in the Netherlands.
If you are not familiar with super trucks, they are worth looking into and I recommend learning more about them. They are an interesting group of vehicles, and without recognition of all they’re capable of, they are sometimes looked over for flashier models. Without them we would not be able to keep large areas clean, we could not put down new roads, and we would be unable to haul cargo over long distances. Without them, commerce would be nigh impossible. So when you see a super truck next, be sure and notice just how much they’re capable of — they’re pretty heroic in their own right.
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