Old Internationals. New Internationals

Just in time for winter! New snow plows for the New York State Department of Transportation. Stopping by a surplus auction earlier this month I couldn’t help but grab a few shots of the new trucks lined up and waiting for delivery to their respective locations. As discussed before International and Viking wrestled the contract away from Mack and Henderson for the next three years for what is multimillion dollar contract.

NYSDOT Internationals

International N13 diesel engines with SCR and automatic transmissions complete the most basic setup of these new trucks. Despite so many of these being housed at the Region 3 HQ I have yet to see these be distributed to the local barns across the area. If anything, the Macks seemed to have been contracted in the CNY area from other locations. Of course, this is just my layman’s view.

NYSDOT Snow Plow

Hanging around with the new Internationals were some older 02 or 03 models as seen in the gallery below plus one single axle Mack.

With snow starting to fall this very morning it only seems fitting that for the rest of the week we’ll be talking plows both old and new. Fun!

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The History of Diamond Reo Trucks – Part IV

Editor’s Note: Welcome to Part III of the continuing series, The History of Diamond Reo Trucks, by M.E. Follsom. Today we begin to explore the Reo side of the Diamond Reo story. Click here for Part IPart II, and Part III. If you have photos of Reo, Diamond-T, or Diamond Reo trucks in any age, shape, or condition please feel free to share them for possible inclusion in future articles. Email to eric@dailydieseldose.com.

Diamond Reo: The World’s Toughest Truck

By: M.E. Folsom


Reo Motor Truck Company

Part One of Three


Reo Motor Car Emblem (Circa 1905)

The history of Reo Motor Trucks is not as straightforward as Diamond -T. There are many more twists and turns involved in this account. The chronicling of Reo starts back in 1864 in Geneva, Ohio with a small boy by the name of Ransom Elli Olds. The youngest son of a blacksmith and pattern maker, his parents would move the family to Cleveland Ohio in early 1870’s. The family would eventually move again to Lansing, Michigan in 1880, there his father would establish a small machine shop. Working alongside his father, Ransom developed and started to manufacture small steam engines, he would eventually turn to gasoline powered engines. This early foray into engine building naturally lead to building automobiles and in 1897 the formation of the Olds Motor Vehicle Company was brought about. By 1899 the Olds Gasoline Engine Works, which was the name that his father had used for this earlier endeavor, was incorporated into the former and the Olds Motor Works was formed. By 1901 Olds would have built eleven different prototype vehicles, including one for each type of power mode; steam, electric and gasoline. It should be noted that he is the only American automotive pioneer to have built and sold at least one type of each mode of automobile.

The junior Olds sought out investors for this fledgling enterprise. His uncle Samuel L. Smith who was a copper and lumber magnet in Detroit Michigan area fronted the substantial portion. Smith’s son Fredric L and another gentleman Henry Russel provided the remainder. The senior Smith would become president. R.E. Olds would become vice president and general manager and the junior Smith acted as secretary and treasurer. A new plant for operations was built in Detroit at the corner of East Jefferson Ave and MacArthur Bridge. Tragedy would strike this operation early in its inception when in 1901 a worker mistakenly set fire to the plant causing it to burn to the ground. Many Olds Motor Works prototypes were in the factory at the time, only one dubbed the “Curved Dash” was saved by wheeling it out from the inferno by two workers. A new plant was quickly established in Lansing Michigan and manufacture of the new Curved Dash auto commenced. The success of this automobile was made in part by this accident with the fire destroying all other prototypes prior to any approval for production leaving the Curved Dash with no internal competition.

Officially the cars were referred to as The Olds Automobile but the moniker of Oldsmobile began to be colloquially applied to the make and it stuck. The Oldsmobile was truly one of the first high production volume gasoline powered automobiles manufactured and by the end of 1901 production numbers were well over 400 cars. With the introduction and mass manufacture of the Curved Dash, the Oldsmobile was truly the first mass produced car on a stationary assembly line. This invention is often miscredited to Henry Ford and the Ford Motor Company with Ford being the first to manufacture on a moving assembly line. By 1902 with the assembly line in place Olds production rose to over 2500 units produced.

In the beginning of 1904 Ransom E. Olds would leave Oldsmobile because of a dispute with his financial backers. Fredric Smith and Olds clashed quite a bit and the reasons are unclear but it has been suggested that Smith wanted to see larger and more luxurious automobiles introduced. Olds wanted to continue with the less expensive types similar to the entry level runabout Curved Dash. Smith would remove Olds from the position of general manager and take over the position himself. Smith and another gentleman by the name of William C. Durant are credited with forming the General Motors Corporation and this new entity would buy The Olds Motor Works in 1908 and have it folded into one of its first divisions as Oldsmobile.

On August 16th, 1904 Olds incorporated the R.E. Olds Motor Car Company as a Michigan corporation. The name soon had to be changed because the owners of Olds Motor Works objected and threatened legal action. Olds chose to use his initials REO as his new trade identification for his fledgling company. The pronunciation would be toted as one word, and the REO Motor Car Company was born.

In the fall of 1904 two prototypes of automobiles were built and tested and a new plant was built on South Washington Avenue in Lansing Michigan. 1905 brought full scale production of the autos and they were subsequently shown at the Madison Square Garden Auto show of that year. By 1907 over 3900 autos were produced with gross sales of $ 4.5 million thus making Reo the third largest automobile manufacturer in this new United States industry.

1910 would see the introduction of a 4 cylinder shaft drive Reo auto with the new F-engine which was left hand driven. More importantly for all us truck aficionados the Reo Motor Truck Company was formed which as a subsidiary of the Reo Motor Car Company. Land was purchased on North Grand Avenue and new plant was built for truck manufacturing. Olds realized that the large share of automobile market that his company had, was changing due to competition from the likes of the newly formed General Motors and Ford Motor Companies. The new truck market was a fledgling industry and Olds along with his protégé Richard H. Scott seized upon the opportunities it presented. A small chain drive solid rubber tire unit named the Model H, but as toted in sales literature as the “Reo Delivery Wagon”, was soon introduced. Another plant in St. Catharine’s Ontario would be built in anticipation of growing orders and to tap into the Canadian market. An independent annual national transportation tour called The Glidden Tour, which promoted better roads and legislation favorable to the fledgling automotive industry, utilized one of these early Reo model H’s with pneumatic tires as the tour participants luggage carrier.

The first big truck produced was the 2 ton capacity 4 cylinder Model J introduced in 1913, sales were very good. A Model J sold for around $1800.00 depending on the options. (The price in today’s dollars would be around $42,500.00) In September of 1916 The Reo Truck Company was consolidated into its parent motor car company. By 1919 truck sales were outpacing auto sales by almost a 3 to 1 margin.

Ransom Eli Olds 1864-1950

Ransom Eli Olds 1864-1950

The famous Reo-Speedwagons

The Kleenex brand of trucks

Prior to the company consolidating into its parent, Reo would introduce the ¾ ton Model F in 1915, designated ‘The Speed Wagon” this would become a colloquial term for all delivery size trucks. Not only identifying Reo but also non Reo trucks as the moniker would began to be applied ubiquitously like Kleenex is universally related all brands of tissue paper.


One of the first Reo Motor Truck sales literature covers

Throughout the 1920’s many different variants of the ¾ ton Speed Wagons were in production. Reo would provide trucks for all types of industries, not only general freight delivery, but lumber, building materials, and passenger transportation was catered to. By 1925 the Model G Heavy Duty Speed Wagon would be introduced with a 6 cylinder 50hp Reo T-6 gasoline engine. The truck had a 2 ton capacity and toted many new innovations like a double frame for superior strength and an oversize radiator for superior cooling. The even larger capacity 3 ton Model GA would be introduced in 1929. This was the first Reo truck to have a dual wheel rear axle. The truck was powered by a 6 cylinder gasoline Reo Gold Crown Engine which the company plugged “As a truck engine – not a passenger car engine- such as the industry has never known before”. Still an even larger 4 ton Model would be introduced; options included a tandem rear with power provided to only to the front axle. The extra set of dual wheels providing extra capacity for bulky loads. A 101hp 6 cylinder Reo built engine was provided featuring seven main bearings.

Early Reo dealership advertisement

Early Reo Ad

During these ambitious times for the company Ransom Olds would resign as president and Richard Scott would take over that position in 1923, Olds would remain on as the chairman of the board. Under Scott’s leadership the company embarked on an expansion program for both cars and trucks. 1927 would see an all-time high for Reo production, both automobiles and trucks numbered over 40,400 units. These aspiring times would lead to calamity in 1929. The Great Depression reduced sales for both cars and trucks. Reo’s stock price at the beginning of 1925 was $31.87 a share but by the end of October 1929 it was barely trading at $11.50 a share. As sales continued to slip through the early 1930’s Olds would come out of retirement at the age of 70. In the beginning of 1934 he replaced his former protégé Richard Scott as President. By the end of 1934 the company was on a firmer footing and under the direction of Donald Bates as President. R.E. Olds would retire from all active management of Reo Motors. Some sources cite he left due to his failure to get a new small 4 cylinder automobile approved. Clearly Olds still liked car building.

1930's era Reo sales Literature

1930’s era Reo sales Literature

By the end of 1936 Reo would abandon automobile manufacturing altogether and concentrate solely on truck production. Truck production for that year was 11,662 units as opposed to automobile production of only 2,950 units. Undoubtedly building trucks was the way to go but still more upheaval was right around the corner for the company.

Next month the coming of World War II rescues Reo and “the golden era “of Reo with the famous Gold Comet Engine.

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Autocar Mondays – Gerosa 1952 Autocar DC200

Autocar Trucks have hauled plenty of heavy loads over the centuries but few have shouldered the load like this 1952 DC200 that once belonged to the fabled New York City heavy haul firm of Gerosa Haulage Corp.

Gerosa Autocar

I have not be able to find the exact specs on this truck but I think we can agree that this truck most likely has the heaviest rears, the lowest gears and the largest displacement engine available for the times. A little poking around the web reveals this truck, original number 176, in more than a few heavy situations. One of my personal favorites is this shot of a steam locomotive being hauled through the streets.

Gerosa 176 Autocar

A strong back is necessary for any sort of hauling and this rig has it. Oh if those frame rails could talk. According to some, this truck was one of the first built in 1952. The sheer size of this truck is not easily comprehended through normal photos, the tires alone make an average size man seem small by comparison.

Dave happened to see this truck at the most recent Gerharts event and was kind enough to snap off a few photos. Thanks Dave, we are in your debt.


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Better Days

I don’t have to tell you that this old Mack has seen better days. I really don’t know much more about it other than it’s currently for sale. I didn’t notice a number but then again I didn’t really look to hard. Snap the picture and roll on. That’s how it happens sometimes. I’ve gone by this location on RT 11 in Syracuse many times and can tell you there are a few other neat trucks lurking around. For example, this B-model featured in the post Vintage Mack Trucks from October, 2014.

Mack Truck

And since we’re on the topics of Macks, I might as well share this shot of another R-Model from Purcell’s Paving of Watertown, NY. The years have been much kinder to this truck.

Mack R-Model Dump Truck

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At the Dealer – International HX

Earlier this week the local International Trucks dealer, Stadium International, held an coming out party for the new line of HX and LT trucks. Not one to pass up free food and trucks in the same day I happily stopped by to browse the offerings. The nature of the event didn’t lend itself to good photos so we’ll just have to make due with this truck spotted on the lot a week or two before the actual event. Speaking with a few of the staff at the party I learned they are excited about the prospects of these news trucks. It’s been a difficult number of years with the Maxxforce engine debacle and these trucks with SCR, a new interior, and a host of other features represent the chance to win back lost customers. Based on the looks alone I think International will do a little better than gain lost ground.

International HX

While automatic transmissions are certainly the wave of the future this particular HX comes with an old school manual. Peaking through the window I couldn’t tell exactly what type of gearbox was selected but options in this truck can be anything from an Eaton 8LL to an 18 speed.

International HX620

The Bibeau BMT-450 body sits on top of some form of Hendrickson suspension. What do you think? Does International have a competitor here?

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Still Working – Ford and Freightliner Dump Trucks

Here is another truck from the Lake Placid file in the form of a well maintained Ford 9000 dump truck from R. Conklin Excavating. This line of truck must have been a popular seller for Ford Heavy Trucks as they are a still fairly common find around construction sites and even a few municipalities. It makes  you wonder if Ford really thought out their decision to sell the line to Daimler.

Ford 9000

For sometime now I’ve been keeping tabs on this split window Freightliner dump truck of Binghamton Road Electric. I’ve seen it sitting in the middle of an off ramp clover for most of the summer. Many times I was tempted to take a closer look but that would have meant trespassing and trespassing is wrong. My moment finally came when the truck ventured downtown for what seems like a never end series of projects on West Street. A few days after this photo I spotted this truck again pulled over by DOT Police. D’oh!

Freightliner Dump Truck

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Concrete Transactions

This past summer there has been some rehab work done to the concrete walkways that ring the Everson Museum of Modern Art. There was some pretty intense demo work in one section that eventually turned out to be something a little more unique. It took me awhile to put put all the pieces together but my biggest clue came when I saw the All Ways Concrete Pumping truck on the scene. A truck like this is typically overkill for pouring sidewalks. Turns out a deep vault had been constructed that will be soon filled with soil so the Tree of 4o Fruit can take root. I know you have to be wondering what that means. The Tree of 40 Fruit is a hybrid fruit tree that through a process of grafting is able to grow forty different types of stone fruit from one tree. Nearly everything from peaches and pears to cherries and almonds are expected to flourish. Due to the variety of blossoms from each fruit the tree is a vibrant explosion of colors in the spring.

Concrete Pumping Truck

A little over a month ago my wife attended a business conference that in Lake Placid, NY. Tagging along for the journey I found myself without much to do over three days so I did what any sane person would do. I sat on a bench in the beautiful weather and watched as life passed me by. If you’ve ever been to the Adirondacks you know there are only so many ways to get the various small town of the regions. State Route 86 is one of those paths and I was treated to a steady stream of trucks most of the day. I don’t where these Graymont trucks were coming from or where they were going to but they appeared like clockwork all day long.


Small town living at its best!

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Autocar Mondays – Holmes W70

Pretend for a moment you work for Holmes, the world renowned manufacturer of towing and recovery equipment. You just finished the design for the W-70 that ultimately will turn out to be the largest and most powerful mechanical wrecker ever built. Your final challenge is to figure out is what truck can handle this behemoth. Thankfully you’re a smart engineer and you start at the top of the trucking alphabet with A for Autocar.

Holmes W-70

Thanks to the bluster of Hurricane Matthew, Ed was forced to take a detour on the way to Florida via Tennessee. Chattanooga to be specific. While in town he stopped by the International Towing and Recovery Museum. Among the many exhibits one truck stood out not only for its size but for its history. This 1961 Autocar DC-9764SOH has the last remaining Holmes W-70 mounted to its chassis. One of four units produced in the early 1950’s for the  U.S. military, the W-70 while powerful and capable, was deemed insufficient for the plans Uncle Sam had for it and the truck entered into life of heavy towing.  A 180 Cummins connected to a 5 speed with a 4 speed auxiliary was and remains the beating heart of this truck. The W-70 was one of the first to use a PTO for boom swing and extension and has a 500ft drum capacity of 7/8ths steel wire. Unbelievably this unique truck was destined for scrap but was saved by the efforts of Ken Cruse, Donnie Cruise and Terry Humelsine. Bringing this truck back to original condition was a costly affair but one that is appreciated by all towing and trucking enthusiasts worldwide.

Below, a nicely done video by American Towman TV that takes us through the history of the truck including before and after shots of this amazing combo.

Thanks Ed!

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International Loadstar Drill Rig

Just past the Brockway Truck Museum is a Cortland County Highway Department garage. Despite being tucked down a side road I was able to catch a glimpse of this rig parked near the front gate. On my way to the National Brockway Truck Show I didn’t have enough time to stop so I made a mental note to return after the show was over for a closer inspection. To my pleasent surprise I found an AWD International Loadstar owned by Silverline Construction. I think this truck fits the bill perfectly for the Still Working portion of this website. After spending a sweltering day on main street and trying to avoid a massive storm I didn’t take a close look at the details but it’s a safe bet that a gas power plant can be found under the hood. I like the look of the six spoke wheels and the single tires out back. It projects a capable presence without overcompensating. What do you think?

International Loadstar

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Milling and Chilling

Phew, that was close. An entire road construction season almost passed by before I got chance to see any milling action take place. I didn’t have to travel far for this job as the road under construction is the main street that cuts through my small part of the world.

Roadtec RX900 Suit Kote

Running east to west, RT 290 on fall morning is a horrible place to take photos but a few came out fine. Obligatory International truck shot.

Road Milling

The Suit-Kote crew running this job made it look easy. The road was milled, swept, oiled and paved with little to no delay between each transition. An old Ford L9000 was running point as tanker truck for the miller. There was no mistaking the power plant under the hood thanks to missing internal fenders that provided an easy glimpse of a bright yellow Cat.

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