Still Working – Mack RL700L

Take a look a this pristine Mack RL700L still working for a living. You could take this truck to any classic truck show and tell people it was a barn queen and they would believe but would probably scoff in disbelief when you told them the real truth. For reasons unknown I took a completely different way home from work one day and came across this find.

As a refresher the RS/RL line of Macks were originally produced in the Hayward, California plant for the western market. As such they tended to use lighter components than their heavier Pennsylvanian produced brothers. The S in the nameplate indicates a steel frame while the L indicates an aluminum frame. Also of obvious notice is the longer western style hood. These trucks are generally considered the precursor to the Superliner.

As far as the true vintage that information remains unknown but a reliable sources does tell us the bulldog is gold indicating an all Mack powertrain beneath the sheet metal. 

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Autocar Mondays – Heavy Haul of the Netherlands

Greetings from the Netherlands! This picture perfect A-Car and backdrop could grace any postcard. In 1979 this DC10364B rolled out of the Autocar plant in Belgium after being equipped with Cummins NTC350, a Fuller 13 speed and a Rockwell 65,000 pound rears. Running on 12.00 x 24 this DC is vintage Autocar at its best.

Right from the start this truck hauled the heaviest loads in Holland. During the breakwater construction of the Zeebrugge harbor this truck hauled 30 and 40 metric concrete blocks. As current owner Frans tell us the blocks were placed directly over the drive axles a position impossible for any European truck to replicate.

Once the breakwater construction was finished a fifth wheel was installed along with ballast box and the DC continued hauling the largest and heaviest loads. Eventually time took its toll and the truck was left to the elements for several years. Thankfully Frans found the truck and began a full restoration.

All that hard work resulted in the best and only Autocar still to be found in Holland. Frans loves the truck and has taken it on vacation through Europe and and England.

I’m sure you’ll agree that this Autocar is a perfect example of what made the legendary brand of rugged trucks so universally beloved. Thanks for sharing it with us Frans!

Do you have an Autocar you would like to see featured in Autocar Mondays? Email today!

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Sun Spots

This is the one. If I could bring back any truck from the rows of old ‘Binders resting at the Tackaberry Collection this would be the one. I can only imagine what this truck looked like back in its prime but it must have been a thing of beauty. The elongated sheet metal up front tells us that big power (for the time) is lurking under the hood. In this case, a Cummins HRBB. I didn’t do too much investigation into the model but a flip through the pages of International Trucks by Frederick W. Crimson suggest this rig is of the LD-300 model line and was produced at International’s west coast truck factory in Emeryville, California. Typically trucks produced out west stayed out west so seeing this one on the right coast only increases its coolness.

Or maybe I would like to bring this one from the back. This heavy spec’d KB with a wing plow would look fantastic in factory new condition.

And now that I look through the gallery below I seen even more trucks on the restore list. Hmm, why choose just one?

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Center Point Steering

Now that I’ve moved to a new home my morning commute has increased by 25 mintues. That’s a big jump from the ten minutes it used to be on a bad day. But don’t shed a tear for me yet. My new route into work takes me by some of my favorite locations in the area on a daily basis. Yes, I can now keep twice a day tabs on Tracey Road Equipment and Allied Spring. There is a silver lining to every cloud.

Passing by the other day I noticed out of the corner of my eye a large blue truck with an even longer hood. My gut said Hendrickson but mind said no way, they went extinct decades ago. Stopping by on my way home my gut was proved victorious by the sight of the “Hankasaraus” Hendrickson.

Truly, this is one of the find of the year. It doesn’t take much too make me happy. Over the decades Hendrickson was a regular user of International cabs from the ComfoVisions of the 50’s to the S-Series of the 80’s. The particular model is sporting the Fleetstar cab so we can peg the age of this truck to the early 70’s.

Take a moment to check out those front hubs. I’ve often seen that style on Hendricksons and Emeryville Internationals but never thought much of it. I just figured it was certain style of hub and nothing more. As with most assumptions they tend to be wrong. Those pointy looking hubs are the predecessor to power steering known as Center Point Steering. Now I’ve never stopped to think about how a wheel turns on a rim before but apparently it makes a difference to how it is mounted and that in turn makes a difference to how easy a truck steers. In a center point system the weight of the wheel and the front steer axles is balanced near perfectly between the inside and the outside of the rim. This balance in turn makes the truck easier to steer to at highway speeds. Rockwell was the producer of such axles and they were popular among older truckers of the time who were wary of relying on the up and coming invention of power steering.

Apparently a truck with center point steering and power steering was impossible (from the factory) as these two mechanical forces when joined together collapse the truck in on itself and create a black hole. But seriously, the two are not mutual technology. If you have clearer thoughts on center point steering or Hendricksons let me know with a comment.

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Electrify It and They Will Drive

The other day I was watching Field of Dreams (for the very first time) and there was a scene depicting a MBTA electric powered bus fed by an overhead catenary system. It was moving slow and shooting off sparks while generally looking ancient. Imagine my surprise today when I came across this press release depicting an electric powered Mack Granite and International Prostar working the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

Siemens working in conjunction with the South Coast Air Quality Management District have completed the first electric highway in the United States. The one mile stretch of road is piloted by three trucks equipped with an overhead catenary system that can raise and lower at will allowing trucks to change lanes to avoid slower moving traffic. When not attached to the overhead lines power is supplied through onboard batteries or even CNG systems. 

In heavily congested areas with high truck traffic an eHighway could be a viable way to reduce truck related emissions. Click here to read the entire article. Below, some B-Roll footage of the system in action.


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Autocar Mondays – What’s in the Garage

What do you see when you look into your garage? Maybe it’s organized. Or maybe it’s an organized disaster. Unless you’re one of the lucky few you probably don’t have this type of view in your shed.

Do you have an Autocar you would like to see featured on Autocar Mondays? Email today!

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The Way Back Forty

The more I look at these photos the more I realize the International K-Series line of trucks were sharp looking rigs. Even if their rusted state they are head turners and I wish we saw more of this vintage rig at truck shows. The squared nose trucks of the 70’s are the current hot trend but you can’t go wrong with the classic style of these 40’s era trucks.

With everyone freaking out about the return of winter (polar vortex will be our doom) it seems appropriate to lead off the photos with a shot of an old plow truck. As you can see the over all concept in plow equipment hasn’t changed much but the technology sure has. Check out those valves on the passenger side. Either they are connected to one hell of a heater or we’re looking at the wing controls.

The more things change the more things DON’T stay the same.

Moving backwards along the International Harvester trucks timeline we enter the 30’s and the age of the D-Series, the inspiration for the current halo truck, the LoneStar. Back in its heyday this truck must have been a real looker. Actually, I think it still is.

Alright, I know not all of you are International truck fans so here are two White Trucks, arguably two of their more successful models if you exclude the 3000.

Believe it or not this only covers two rows of classic trucks tucked away in the back corner of the Tackaberry collection. Take time to savor them before we move on.

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Round and Round

Well, this is probably the last of the Trucktoberfest coverage unless you have the desire to watch a twenty minute long video of trucks slowly crawling pass the camera like they are stuck in rush hour traffic. Below is the condensed and spliced together version of events that took place once the track cleared up and the dogs were able to stretch their legs. For me the best part of the video is hearing all the various engines at work. The Thermodynes of the B-Models, The E-9  in Superliners, the Econdynes in the R-Model and even a few gas engines here and there. The Detroits need no special mention. As the trucks blast past they sing the song of highway days long gone. It’s a wonderful tune.

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Autocar Mondays – Bob Lees Autocar

Editor’s note: Today we feature a special contribution from long time truck enthusiast Frank Leparik.  

Anyone who is involved in trucks no doubt will have a sentimentality – perhaps even a fondness – for the iconic, long-snouted Autocar. I can trace my roots in the truck hobby back to a sunny day in 1973, when I was a 12 year old 8th grader. In those days I was an avid truck model-builder, and I often would take walks across the tracks to a somewhat industrial neighborhood in Mineola, here on Long Island, New York. Mineola was an exciting place for me in those days, as a variety of Midwest rigs would arrive on Monday mornings, delivering swinging beef to the coolers of five meat packing houses, each a stone’s throw from the other. On this particular day, just as I had crossed the tracks, I was stunned to find a rig backed up to the Swift’s cooler – a rig that was ancient – in comparison to the fiberglass and aluminum rigs of the day. What caught my eye was the bright red day cab, the rusty chains draped across the bumper, the shiny stainless steel Great Dane reefer, and the nameplate: Autocar Diesel. As luck would have it, the driver was perched on the fender, his head under the butterfly hood. Ignoring all my parents’ admonitions concerning not talking to strangers, I was drawn in and just had to approach this still -working antique. It took a moment, but the driver eventually hopped down from the fender, and found me staring, awestruck, at his rig. I recall asking, “How old is this truck, Mister?” The driver – a wiry, bald fellow with blood on his lower lip – appeared to be as ancient as his rig. He looked me up and down and then declared, “Older ‘n YOU!” And that was it – the beginning of my friendship with Mr. Bob Lees of Des Moines, Iowa, and his classic 1951 Autocar with a 220 Cummins, R-96 Roadranger, and a tag axle – all very primitive compared to the Peterbilts, Kenworths and even the new Transtar conventionals that frequented the packing houses in the early 1970’s.

A young Frank and Bob Lees – Click to Enlarge

Bob had a regular run to Swifts, and would arrive early Monday mornings and back up to the cooler, parallel to the adjacent railroad tracks. I typically arrive to visit him before 7 AM, finding him asleep across the generous buddy seat as I looked into the passenger window. Bob was in his late ‘60s when we met initially, and he was a good family man who was proud of his three sons. As time went by, I would visit Bob as often as my school schedule permitted, and we would stay in touch via letter writing. Bob learned of my model building – much later he would be tickled when I presented him with a 1/25th scale model of his tractor –and he was very much impressed that I knew trucks as well as I did. Realizing my enthusiasm, he introduced me to his friend Bill Drew of Melrose, MA. I would learn that Bill, who was disabled from childhood polio, corresponded with truck enthusiasts world-wide, and possessed a huge photo and literature collection. Bill later played match-maker, and introduced me to my life-long friend and fellow Long Islander, George Fiebe. George was in his early twenties when we met, and I was thirteen, and my life was forever changed. Through George I was able to get a taste of the trucking life, and I followed George’s lead in the truck photography hobby. I have amassed a large collection through the years – both my own photos, and photos shared with me by the dozens of pen pals with whom I would correspond during my high school years. Forty-five years later, I count George as my closest friend.

Bob’s 1951 Autocar with 220 Cummins and a R-96 Roadranger,

While Bob was trucking, I invited him to our home at the suggestion of my Mom. He would often park his rig at a small motel, a couple of miles east of our home. I look back now on the few occasions that Bob was able to join us, and find it all very curious. Despite being educated in accounting, Bob opted to pursue a career in trucking; it was his belief that he could better support his family as an owner-operator. So here was Bob, in his flannel working man’s attire, joining us at the table for dinner. My Pop was a trial attorney for All State Insurance in those days, and we often felt like we were being “cross-examined” during dinner conversations. I remember him inquiring of Bob whether or not he typically checked an intersection prior to passing through a green light. Bob’s answer was a flat no, and my father was taken aback by that. I recall thinking that if I were driving that battleship of an Autocar, I probably would not bother to check either! On a couple of occasions Bob used our guest room, and it made me feel good as a kid to offer some New York hospitality to my friend from a faraway locale.

Frank and his Father along with Bob and Alberta

Bob along with Frank and his kid brother Paul

Bob retired around the beginning of 1976 as I recall, and his Autocar was parted out. I believe his Cummins went to powering a pump. We continued to stay in touch, and I was pleased to learn that Bob and his wife Alberta planned to visit our area, as they would be touring the northeast in their Mercedes. I have included photos from that brief visit; I’m sure Bob took Alberta over to Swift’s for a last looksee at what had been his regular drop for so many years. When I think of old -time truckers, I think of Bob – men of responsibility, grit, and loyalty – and Bob was most definitely loyal to his old Autocar. He was rewarded by a tractor with an amazing lifespan of service. I lost track of Bob after his visit I’m sorry to say, and I’m not sure what became of him and Alberta. Perhaps it is better that way – Bob made an indelible and positive mark on my young life, and I would prefer to remember him during those truckin’-crazed, carefree days.

Bob and his wife Alberta

 Do you have a truck you would like to see featured on Autocar Mondays? Email today!

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The Final Stop

Old trucks. You can’t save them all. Sometimes the best you can do is give them a dignified final resting place and perhaps use a part or two to save a more fortunate truck. I honestly think some of these old hulks rival a freshly restored vehicle. For someone of my age who was born decades after these trucks were removed from the roads they are the closet thing to time travel that will ever exist. It’s fascinating to look them over and take in all the details.

Thankfully there are folks in the world like the Tackaberrys who not only save these old trucks but openly share them with the world. Once again I was fortunate to receive an invite to their property and allowed to take in the sights. We’ll take a closer look at more of these trucks very soon but until then here is another photo to tide you over.

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