Thursday, July 22, 2010

It's How Vampires Die!

What? Vampires?? What in the world are vampires doing here, ruthlessly invading this blog, which is supposed to be about big rigs?

Despite the serious topic of the following post, I couldn't help but post the photo of this
"vampire truck" that I found on the web... very clever observation by whoever took this photo!

I do enjoy vampire literature, it's a fantastic and imaginative world that I often visit through books. (And no, I have not joined the Twilight epidemic... I do prefer more mature vamps ;-))

Throughout these vampire books, the vampires vary quite a bit in the way they live & what powers they possess. Some can tolerate a few rays of sunlight, some die on exposure, some have beating hearts still, some eat regular food in addition to sucking blood.... I could go on and on. The one thing all of them do have in common is that they are very hard to kill. There are in fact only a couple of ways a vampire can actually die and that is something that most authors seem to agree on.

So... how does a vampire die?
Simple ... tailgating a big rig at 60 mph should do it. Not even a vampire can survive decapitation.

What prompted this detour of my mind you might ask.

Well, on my way in to work this morning, I spotted a Ford Focus that was literally glued to the bumper of an 18-wheeler. The traffic was moving at about 65mph, the semi may have been at 55. This Focus was following the semi truck so close, I just had to shake my head at how little the driver of this Focus must respect his life. Or perhaps it is a lack of respect for death? Surely the Grim Reaper is not someone you want to play with and this Grim Reaper is probably not someone who should be mocked so blatantly?

I don't get it. What exactly is a 4-wheeler trying to accomplish by tailgating a semi truck so close? Do they REALLY think that by tailgating so closely, the truck is going to get out of the way? Excuse me while I chuckle a little.

First of all, trailing that closely behind a big rig means the truck driver cannot see you. You know that sticker that says "If you can't see my mirrors, I can't see you"? Well.... that sticker is there to inform you that when you're trailing behind 53 foot semi, there's no way the truck driver can see you if you drive that close. (And the sticker is in fact slightly misleading as well ... it's in fact only when you can see the TRUCK DRIVER in his/her mirror that he can see you.... only catching a glimpse of their mirrors does not guarantee that you can be seen by them....)

The blind spot to the rear of a big rig is about 30 feet ... and I'm guessing that those 30 feet covers more than frontbumper-to-rearbumper of your car.

ALSO ... let's say the truck driver COULD see you when you drive that close ...
Do you REALLY think that your little, tiny Ford Focus can bully that 53', 80,000lbs vehicle out of the way?? Or perhaps you think your "sup'd up" F-350 can make that semi move out of the way...

Uhm. No. Maybe you can bully a Prius out of the way. Not an 18wheeler.

So... I think we've established that there's really no logical point in tailgating an 18-wheeler... not to mention it's rude (as is tailgating anything with less wheels too by the way) and last but not least ... this activity could be lethal!
What if said 18-wheeler has to come to a sudden stop? There's no time for a tailgater to react. You can't see ahead of the trailer... unless you have x-ray vision ... so you don't know what's going on up ahead. The only warning you get is the brake lights on the semi... which, if you're as close to the truck as this Focus was, will not going to give you any time at all to react... which means you'll be slamming face first into the truck, going at least 55mph, maybe more.

But wait.... did I say face first? The fact is, you won't actually be slamming face first into the rear of the truck. No... you'll be under the truck. Your Focus will promptly become topless.
And so will you.

That, my friends, is how you kill a vampire. Decapitation.
And if you're thinking right now "yeah but vampire's aren't real", then you completely missed the point. The point is, you don't want to lose your head & if you play with the big guys this way, chances are you literally will.

(What's that? You weren't tailgating, you were drafting? Um ... yeah ... first of all, Mythbusters proved that even if you are in fact drafting, if you get THAT close to the big rig... you are no longer saving any gas! Furhermore, those couple of dollars you could potentially save on gas by drafting won't mean much if you are dead... no matter where you think you're going in the afterlife, I doubt the currency there will be American dollars....)

I'm not going post any grotesque videos or photos here to illustrate my point.
Personally, I would think the word decapitation is a strong enough deterrent so I'll just put that in here a few more times:

decapitation, decapitation, decapitation!
Translation: It's what happens when you slam into a big rig @ 60mph!

Don't tailgate 18-wheelers!!! It could very well be your last mistake.

(Not to mention that the truck driver has to live with that for the rest of his/her life, even though it was not their fault... That hardly seems fair....)

Now ...... go play nice!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Big Rig Chronicles: Mack Trucks

"The first Mack was a bus and the first bus was a Mack"
True to my word and as promised, here's a post NOT about Kenworth! :-)

This post is kind of long and includes the following:

1. Brief history of Mack & some of their more popular truck models
2. History of the Bulldog (Was the first Bulldog really carved out of.... SOAP??
3. Major "firsts" by Mack
4. Collection of Mack truck photos - some from me, some from

I've been forever trying to put together a "Big Rig Chronicles" piece on the Mack.... Never in my studies of trucks and truck history have I seen such a complete & detailed history. I know the Mack is known far and wide across the world as a solid & well established truck, and boy has this Mack crew been busy since the two Mack brothers formed their company in 1893. (Granted, I realize the crew itself has changed over the course of the 117 years.....)

(MACK Granite )

I must have started compiling info for this post 3-4 times over the course of the past year. Each time I just wound up knee deep (no, forget the knees.... more like "eyeball deep") in info and time lines and I ended up shaking my head & putting my notes away. This time I was determined to at least get some history down in my blog. The Mack is too big of a name and too big of a trucker tradition to leave out.

So I've severely compiled the info I found on I've left out a lot of the company history (name changes, change of owner ship etc etc....) and some of the truck models that came out over the years.... If anyone wants to read more detailed information about the history of the Mack trucks, please visit the Mack website ... trust me, you'll get enough to last you for years :-)) It's a really good read and very interesting, just very hard to compile into a brief blog post ...

Here's my kind of brief compilation ... The photos I've included in the story itself are all borrowed from ...

At the very end of the blog post, I have some MACK photos that I've shot myself along with some genuine MACK photos from .

Enjoy the read!



I don’t know when the phrase “being hit with Mack truck” came into daily usage, but I do know that it had to be after 1893. That’s when 2 Mack brothers, Jack and Augustus, bought out a company that made carriages & wagons and started their own company, only to be joined by a third brother, William, in 1894. Following a steady stream of technological inventions, the Mack brothers wanted to follow suit by producing the more powerful heavy-duty trucks in the world. That was their dream.

In 1900, the Mack brothers introduced the very first Mack to the world. It was a bus! It was used for sightseeing for 8 years.After 8 years, it was converted into a truck and by the time this bus/truck retired, it had 1 million miles of service under its belt (hood, engine … insert your own mechanical part here….).The truck brought Mack into the spotlight and was a major part of its establishment as a reputable truck manufacturer.

1904 Mack Bus (not the one mentioned above)

In 1905, the Mack brothers made Allentown, Pennsylvania, the home of the Mack.

Mack was the very first company to mount the truck cabin over the truck engine. The first cabover saw the daylight in 1905 and that was the “Manhattan” cab-over model.

“Manhattan” was the name the Mack Brothers decided to use for their company’s motorized vehicle
In 1910, they finally dropped the Manhattan name and started putting MACK nameplates on all their vehicles. The Manhattan Motor Company officially became the Mack Motor Truck Company in 1914.
In 1910, Mack produced its first hook & ladder firetruck.

1910 Hook & Ladder Mack Truck

In 1911, the Mack brothers sold off their company and Mack went into “joint custody” to a Mack holding company, International Motor Company, and another truck manufacturer, Saurer Motor Company. John and Joseph Mack continued as directors of the International Motor Company until 1912.

The first standardized Mack was the medium-duty AB that was introduced in 1914. The first model had a chain drive (worm drive), and throughout the next 23 years, it was continually modified and upgraded and a total of over 55,000 units were produced over the course of those years.

1914 AB "worm drive"

In 1916, Mack introduced the AC model. The AC model rose to fame due to its reliability and durability as a truck, it was known for its ability to accomplish nearly impossible tasks, both for civilians as well as military usage. According to Mack, this is the truck gave Mack a degree of international fame that is unmatched by any other truck in history and was manufactured through 1939.

Mack AC truck 1918

Over the next few years, Mack came up with a lot of automotive improvements that became very popular with the automotive industry, I have a brief list of some of them at the end of this post.
In 1927, Mack introduced their BB and BJ series. The demand for trucks with larger storage capacity and higher speed, along with new state regulations for truck sizes and weight limitations, prompted new designs and finer engineering technologies.

BB Mack Truck 1.5 Ton 1928-1932

In 1936, Mack’s E-Series was introduced. It was a series of medium-duty streamlined trucks, gross vehicle weight up to 23,000 lbs. Through 1951, over 78,000 units were produced.

During the 1940s, WW 2, Mack built heavy duty military trucks to support our armed forces.

Mack 1940 NR Model for Allied Forces

1940 DE Mack Model Ambulance

Significant product advancements came from Mack during the 1950s.

The G series was introduced with an 100% aluminum cab for lightweight and ability to carry bigger loads.
The H series, “the Cherry pickers”, had really high cabs but short front-to-rear-bumper dimensions. It was a response to the 45 foot legal limit, so that trucks could still pull 35 ft trailers without exceeding the length limit.
The B series came out in 1953, it had a more rounded appearance and this style seemingly more pleasing to the eye than what was currently being produced, it became a styling standard for all new trucks.

1953 BGI with the rounded body style

Mack built off-highway or mining trucks from 1926 to 1972, from 15 to 100 ton capacity. It's first model was a Mack AP model

1960 M-series off-highway mining truck

Mack LF Coal Hauler

In 1966, the B series was replaced by the R series. Just like its older sibling, the R series became one of the world’s most popular heavy duty trucks

RS 700 Mack Truck - 1966 (starting to look more familiar now? :)

RW Super Liner 1977-1990

Mack F-Model, all-steel, no-sleeper COE, 1962

1990 – After years of Renault gradually buying up stock in Mack, Mack finally becomes a subsidiary of Renault.
1999 – Vision by Mack is born! Commonly seen on the freeways today, the Vision by Mack truck is sleek & stylish, featuring aerodynamic styling & high-tech technologies

Vision by Mack

The Bulldog:
The MAck AC model(ca.1916)is the truck that is credited with giving Mack its bulldog identity.

Here’s a direct quote from explaining how Mack earned its Bulldog reputation:

“The story goes that the British soldiers ("Tommies") would call out when facing a difficult truck problem, "Aye, send in the Mack Bulldogs!" The primary, and generally universal, story is that the British engineers testing AC's and the Tommys in France said that "the Mack AC's have the tenacity of a bulldog." At that time, the symbol of Great Britain was the bulldog, and this was high praise for the trucks. American "Doughboys" expressed the same opinion of the truck.”
The Bulldog was adopted as Mack’s company symbol in 1922. It was drawn first in 1921, showing a bulldog tearing up a book named “Hauling Costs” and the name of his collar is “Mack”.

The first Bulldog AB name plate

Mack’s Chief Engineer, Alfred Masury, was admitted to the hospital for surgery. The engineer wasn’t one to lie about idly while recovering, so he decided to carve a bulldog.Some rumors say that his first bulldog was carved out of a bar of soap, some say it was carved out of wood. He received a patent for his design and this is the bulldog that is being used for Mack hood ornaments today.

Bulldog patent illustration

A few of the many technologies & improvements introduced to the truck world by Mack:

In 1918, Mack became the first truck manufacturer to apply air cleaners and oil filters to trucks.
In 1920, they also came out with the first power brakes on trucks, using a vacuum-booster system.
In 1921, they greatly improved shock resistance by coming up with rubber isolators as cushions in mounting chassis components. This invention became so popular, they had to form a separate company, the Rubber Shock Insulator Company, in order to handle the demand for license agreements with other car companies who wanted to apply this technology to their vehicles.
In 1938, Mack was the first company to produce its own heavy-duty diesel engine, by which they established a tradition of “balanced design” (Quote from in which the integration of the powertrain and vehicle design maximize performance). This is still in use today.
In 1953, Mack introduced the Thermodyne open chamber direct-injection diesel engine, further establishing Mack’s leadership within the diesel technology and fuel efficiency.
1967 – Maxidyne engine is introduced, improving fuel efficiency and reducing the need for shifting by leveling the horsepower curve. With this type of improvement in engineering, a truck with 5-speed transmission could now be used for over-the-road applications, instead of the 10-speed trucks that had been used up till now.
1967 – Maxitorque transmission – first triple countershaft, compact length design for Class 8 trucks, providing a 5-speed transmission only 2/3rd the length of the multi-speed transmissions, welcomed among truckers who were concerned about the gross weight of their vehicle.
1969 – pioneered & patented cab air suspension
1971 – introduced & patented the Dynatard engine brake, the very first engine compression brake.

I'm sure there have been many more patents since... especially in the way of technology.

At last, here are some random Mack truck photos...... because a truck blog isn't really a truck blog unless you include some truck photos :)

The MACK below was photographed one afternoon at a local quarry (Holliday Rock). I see this faithful steed pulling loads up and down the streets a lot, it's almost like we're friends now. lol.

The MACK truck below is one I posted about in May, it's a 1918 MACK truck, now retired & on display @ Griffith Travel town museum. The info I got on this truck did not include the model name, however judging by the time period and the description, I'd say it's probably an AB (although, judging by the strength & the work load this fellow was able to pull, I'm tempted to say it's an AC.... however the grill on the AC photos I've seen don't look like this so I'll stick with the AB for now.... Anyone reading this, please feel free to verify or deny :))

The photos below have been borrowed from

I really hope these truck sites don't mind me using their photos in my posts, it's just that nobody else can do their trucks better justice than they can themselves! I love posting their pics in these blogs so people can get a nice, up-close view of their models.

A lineup of MACK's Pinnacle Series

MACK Pinnacle Smartway

MACK Pinnacle Sleepers

MACK Pinnacle Rawhide Edition

MACK Rawhide

MACK rocks! One simply can't argue with tradition. Their new Highway series looks very nice, I hope to see many more MACKs on the freeway so they can be thoroughly admired up close!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Custom Rigs - 2005 Kenworth

I haven't made a secret out of the fact that the Kenworth is my favorite truck, but I promise that I really don't go out of my way to post this many articles about Kenworth in a row! lol However, all the photos I've received lately have been exactly that.... Kenworth. So here's another one ;-) hehe.

Actually, my own photos are currently being held hostage by a PC that's not functioning as it should ... I do have other truck photos on my camera & on my PC that I'm waiting to use once my PC is up & running again.

Also, a brief disclaimer, I'm not in the habit of advertising on this blog, but when someone sends me nice photos like these, of trucks they've been working on & restoring, I think they deserve to be credited for the nice work that was done (plus, I do get inquiries regarding some of the trucks that I mention in this blog, so it's nice to know where to direct people if they are interested in that...)

These photos are of a custom truck, originally a 2005 Kenworth.
The paint job was done by Mayes Truck & Trailer Repair & Sales, and Ed Mayes helped customizing the truck with many of those gorgeous Chrome parts. They are located in Central PA, so if anybody out there needs a hand with their truck, I'm sure they'll be happy to help :) They can be contacted @ (717)463-3042.

Anyway, below are the photos that were sent to me. I can't tear my eyes away from the shiny chrome. Wouldn't mind seeing that in my rear view mirror :)


Ok, despite the fact that I do have more Kenworth photos in my mailbox, I promise I'll focus on posting a non-Kenworth post next .... Scout's honor! :-)

Friday, July 2, 2010

Truck Replica: Snowman's Rig from "Smokey & The Bandit"

The following post has been one of the most fun ones I've delved into since I started this blog!
It turned out to be about much more than just the truck (and I don't mean to downplay the importance of the truck here... this IS a truck blog after all!!).
What I mean by that is, once I started digging in and reading up on info that was provided to me regarding this truck project, I kept finding so many new & interesting facts and I have been introduced to a whole new world I knew nothing about prior to this. So cool! This is the very reason I started this blog in the first place, to learn stuff!!

Anyway, I hope you find all this as interesting as I did and if you don't, then at least scroll down and look at the photos of this awesomely fabulous truck that is a direct replica of Snowman's Rig!! It's gorgeous and deserves to be ogled!

It all started with an email I received from a gentleman named Greg and he had included some awesome photos of a truck he has been working on (along with other crew members).
It is a beautiful replica of Snowman's rig from "Smokey & the Bandit"!
And who, first of all, doesn't love Smokey & the Bandit! Seriously ... if you're into trucks at all, you have to love this movie ... I believe that's a requirement :-)I loved the photos of this truck and as soon as I was done admiring the truck and had wiped the drool from my keyboard, I emailed Greg back & he gave me more links & more info about this truck & their project. That's when I realized that this truck is not just about the truck itself. These guys have embraced the entire Smokey & The Bandit theme to its fullest and not only that, they are keeping Jerry Reed's memory alive by aiding projects he was passionate about, and these are project who doubt are near & dear to most truckers & Americans in general.

Jerry Reed
(I purposely chose a non-Snowman pic of him, as his accomplishments in life were many & mainly in music!)

Portion of the proceeds that are received from shows that they participate in go to charities that were near & dear to Mr. Snowman himself, Jerry Reed. These charities mainly revolve around raising funds to aid veterans and their families. I find it pretty amazing how their interest for the movie has led them on this journey together, to replicate not only the truck, but other vehicles from the movie as well (some are included in the photos below), and then giving back to charities that Jerry Reed himself was passionate about... it's a complete circle.

One of the main projects in focus is the Wounded Warrior Project.

I had heard about the WWP packs before, which are backpacks delivered to wounded soldiers who end up in military trauma centers. The packs include comfort items such as phone cards, clothes, toiletries etc, things that will help make a soldier's stay at such an institution a bit more comfortable.While reading about the WWP, I found that they offer a variety of other services for wounded veterans and their families, such as counseling, mentoring, programs that help wounded veterans get back to work... as well as many other programs and projects.
One of their most intriguing projects is the one called "Project Odyssey". It's a 5-day retreat designed to help soldiers deal with combat stress by putting them to work in an environment where they are surrounded by nature, for instance they'll stay at a ranch for a week, herding cattle . In case you want to read more, I will post the link to the WWP website at the end of this post.
(After all, I don't want you running off to other websites before you've seen all the fabulous photos of Snowman's rig!! :))

ANYWAY, back to the truck!! This truck was a collaboration between several individuals. People from all walks of life joined forces and made this truck happen! According to Greg there were a lot of obstacles and problems along the way, but he says he'll do it all over again in a heart beat! :) (Sounds really cool ... I'd love to be a part of something like that at some point in my life... sounds like a great time despite all challenges that came along.)
The group met at the Bandit Run in 2007 and the dream of a full-size replica started over a 1/24 scale model... now it's a reality, isn't it! :) (See that? Everything is possible!)

Because the truck is being used for the Wounded Warrior Project, the Kenworth was purchased by an anonymous Bandit Runner and given to the "Snowman" team in order to complete Snowman's rig.

Both this KW and the other cars in the photos below attended the Bandit Run in 2009.
The Bandit Run is a re-enactment of the "Smokey and the Bandit" journey from 1977. The first reenactment happened in 2007 and the event has become an annual tradition since then.

(A link to the Bandit Run will be posted at the end of this blog...)

This is so cool... through this blog, I've been introduced to an entirely new world I had no idea existed! Makes me wonder what else is out there.... :)

Ok, let's see the photos!!

All these photos are of the replica, all vehicles in these photos are replicas, none of these shots or vehicles are from the movie itself!

Buford's car, the famous Trans Am and Snowman's Rig

I cropped out & inserted this close-up of the grill ... I really love the worn-out KW emblem...
Is that bullet hole by the way?

As far as I know, this is from a show ... & he didn't really get pulled over by a cop ... (Although if I was a cop I'd be tempted to, just to get a look at this truck :)

Jerry Reed's family, which are very much connected with this project, checking out the truck
(or are they waiting to raid the Coors crates? hehe :))

Love the Jerry Reed graphic on the door panels.

A closer look at the Jerry Reed graphic that is displayed on the door panels of the truck. Looking really nice!

Ok, here are a few links where you can read more about the WWP, as well as the Bandit Run and this truck, including info on how to get in touch should you wish to book them for a show.

The Snowman's Trailer - Official Snowman's Trailer Graphic (website still under construction). Available for sale will be t-shirts, posters & you can also get a quote for your very own custom Snowman Trailer Graphic :)

Smokey and the Bandit Models - info, photos and also info on how to get in touch with these guys to book them for shows.

The Bandit Run - photos, videos & lots of info about past & upcoming runs!

Wounded Warrior Project - more info about the WWP.

Kevin Morgan Designs - website of one of the co-owners! And I must say, for having 4 wheels only, this Concept TransAm is sweeet :)

Creative Color Graphics and Print Studio - the custom vinyl graphics for Snowman's rig was printed by this company.