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Mack Trucks Pt II

Trucks October 28, 2016

Mack truck

Right after World War I, the US Department of War organized a cross-country trip involving Mack trucks.

A young unknown offer named Dwight D. Eisenhower was part of that convoy.
As probably few recall these days, President Eisenhower as the 34th occupant of that office is generally known as the creator and promoter of our present-day Interstate Highway system.

The Encyclopedia Britannica describes Mack trucks this way:

“A prominent fixture in the U.S. truck industry, Mack Trucks, Inc. is one of North America’s largest producers of heavy-duty trucks and major product components. In 2000 Mack became a wholly owned subsidiary of AB Volvo.”

The runaway history part of the trucking company’s story came from Jack Mack. The youngest of five brothers, he was said to be 14 years old when he ran away from his Pennsylvania home in 1878. He joined the Teamsters and worked as a mechanic.

Later, his brothers joined him in a small wagon-building firm in Brooklyn, NY.
According to company history:

After eight years of testing, brothers Jack and Augustus Mack produced “Old Number One,” a chain-driven vehicle that features a Mack-built four-cylinder engine, a cone-type clutch, and a three-speed transmission.

Their first vehicle came out in 1900. It became a truck 30 years later.

Mack and other historical accounts tell us the young company pioneered the design of custom-built, heavy-duty trucks. This ran against the prevailing wisdom of the time.

Automakers at that time considered trucks a poor relation, and did them only when times were slow.

But founder Jack Mack, however, anticipating that the days of the horse and wagon were numbered, decided to make trucks with a capacity of one to seven tons. He introduced the “seat-over-engine” truck.

He also is given credit for making a seven-ton, five-cubic-yard dump truck for the construction of the New York City Subway.

Return to Part I (click) or continue in Part III (click).

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Mack Trucks Pt III

Trucks October 28, 2016

By 1911, the Mack Brothers Company called itself the “Leading Gasoline Truck in America.” The company had 825 employees, producing about 600 units a year.
Good times and bad ebbed and flowed over the course of the next decades. But Mack is generally given credit for continuing innovations.

Just one example was when a new chief engineer, Edward R. Hewitt, designed a medium-duty AB Mack truck. It became a mainstay of the market from 1930s.
Eventually, Mack became famous for building not just heavy-duty trucks. But also small delivery trucks, buses, fire trucks and others.

t one time, Mack offered the most comprehensive product line of any truck manufacturer (during World War II and in the post-war years).

John “Jack” Mack, founder of the company, did not live to see all of this.

Ironically, he was killed when his car collided with a trolley in Pennsylvania on March 14, 1922.

By 1986 Mack announced that it was finally moving its main production plant from Allentown, PA.

The Allentown plant, built in 1926, was so old that trucks were still spray-painted by hand. Parts had to be moved by forklifts (since there was no robotic technology).

In recent years, Mack stopped doing group tours at its Mack Trucks Historical Museum in an out-of-the-way location behind the Allentown Airport. But individuals are still welcome as visitors to see company history (though since the Volvo Group took over, Mack’s headquarters moved to Greensboro, NC).

Vehicles on display include the oldest Mack product, a bright red, 40-horsepower, 28-passenger sightseeing bus.

Mack today may be even better known for its more modern slogan: “Born Ready” found on most of the various products it sells.

But the Bulldog remains associated with the company. And visitors to the museum today still find miniature bulldog ornaments located behind the security guard’s desk.

By David Wilkening

Return to Part I (click) or Part II (click).

Gallery of Mack trucks:

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