Summer is here and that means vacations as kids have no school. Maybe a beach day or a museum if it is too hot, but is there anything for diesel aficionados to get their kicks off? Perhaps so, as it appears that this time of the year various organizations like the American Truck Historical Society is organizing events, specifically in the Midwest or New York for its annual weekend shows.
But are they worth even visiting? Oh yes! Let us give you just one example: the 19th Annual Truck Show in Long Branch Park in the Township of Liverpool, just north of Syracuse. Organized under auspices of Central New York Chapter, the spectacle took place on July 10, 2016. We were there to capture all of the glory for our Diesel Army.
Upon our arrival, we caught show participant Mr. Hodge with his truck. The driver’s cabin was pure Chevy 1940, but under a long haul truck hood, we heard the distinctive sound of a six-cylinder Cummins B 5.9-liter.
The Cummins was attached to a no-name manual transmission, connecting via the driveshaft to the only driven mid-axle. Right behind the cabin was a built-up sleeper that mirrored the style of modern long haulers.
The frame holds a gooseneck coupling, and that’s it. The owner was a bit shy to answer what the towing load was, so we assume there is not much loading on this 3/4-ton 18-wheel hauler, but what it was a great piece of homemade machinery it is.
Another pearl parked on the grass knoll was a 1949 Ford F8 named “Big Job Ford.” When the hood opened, there was big Detroit Diesel 871 V8 9.3-liter. There was a long flat platform behind the cab already loaded with a vintage pickup truck. It appeared the Ford F8, despite its date of birth, was still useful hauler.
Next to the Ford F8 was a new Peterbilt. As it happens, this semi and the Ford F8 both belong to the same very unassuming man, Rick Patterson. We open the Peterbilt hood and find no Paccar MX-13, but another Detroit Diesel.
It was a Series 60, revolutionary six-cylinder, 14-liter with 490 horsepower and 1,650 lb-ft of torque on tap. Its appetite is characterized by the 2.5-inch fuel feeder hose from the bottom of huge fuel tank.
In the background, Andy, the owner of a 1963 Mack B73 showed us what was under the hood — a large, vintage Cummins NH220 with approximately 250 horsepower from the 14-liter six-cylinder. Despite Andy’s desire to leave the grounds, we had extensive chat about Cleese Cummins, the founder of the company and his son, Lyle. We discussed whether Cleese converted a Cadillac or Packard to his diesel engine in 1936. We thought the Caddy, while Andy argued for Packard.
We chased a departing ex-military 2.5-ton AM General M35 A/2, and caught up with two gentlemen who smiled and apologized that they could not stop for long. We heard no whistle from the engine bay and relatively quiet diesel, so we guessed they had a naturally aspirated multi-fuel six-cylinder diesel LD-465-1 with 478 ci and a manual five-speed transmission.
Up the hill was another deuce and a half that had a whistler. Why are they called whistlers? Well, they, or rather their turbos, have a noticeable whistle, in upgraded LD-465-1c motors. Another three axle, deuce and a half, was also up on the hill. Talking to the owner, he was proud to show us his whistler — a 2.5-ton with dual rear wheels and a rare 10,000-pound pull hydraulic Garwood winch in the extended front bumper.
“Yes, the winch is working,” he answered. “It took me eight hours to release the safety lock pin on its bobbin. The army had never used that winch, so it got all rusted. The hydraulic pump has been working since I purchased it from the Army. It must have been quite a few years back since for many years the direct sale of military vehicles went to private parties, civilian parties were not possible. I got it perhaps 15 or more years ago”
Our favorite ex-army three axle AM General sat nearby, but this time, it was a five-ton on single 14.00R20 Goodyear war tires. Kip, the owner, gladly reclined the huge front engine cover revealing a six-cylinder, 8.3-liter Cummins turbo diesel. We spoke to the owner and joked about having the five-speed Allison auto transmission. He also let us know that he can go over the Army prescribed 55 mph, achieving 66 mph.
There were many other interesting trucks on the lot: several fire brigade trucks, old vintage machines with hand bells, and modern machines with six-cylinder Caterpillar turbo diesel engines. We admired a 1946 Dodge Power Wagon which was the perfect machine for the Cummins diesel transplant.
We could write a booklet about all of the exhibits, vintage parts, country stores, and country music at the show. All of the exhibitors were quite down to earth, pleasant, and knowledgeable people, some of them shy of their names, some true artists, and craftsman who created the most unusual working hybrids in the full sense of the word.
One can also see, modern, but still upgraded trucks like 2016 GMC 3500 with a 4.5-inch lift kit, crew cab, and of course a Duramax diesel. New, similar diesel Fords and Rams were also on display.
The point is, if you have a vacation, or believe that summer is a dead season, please check the local news wherever you may be. If there is anywhere in the vicinity that has a similar truck show do not hesitate to see it. Bring the family and enjoy the summer day.