So many of you have terrific truck stories and we want to hear about them! It would be great if you can write to us with a little history of the truck, how long you owned or drove it, as well as any restorations, upgrades or goodies you added to personalize the truck. Include the year, make and model, any cool specs, what it cost new (or new to you), what you used or are using the truck for, and anything else that you think would be interesting to folks. Email your write up (large or small) along with some pics to email@example.com. We’re hoping to share stories of trucks and trucking days gone by. Just a few quick rules:
Tony Bullard, owner of Bullard Welding Co. in Chelsea, Vermont was kind enough to provide us with some photographs and specs on his beautiful vintage Autocar. You can see the care that has taken with this vehicle. Tony notes the truck is always stored indoors and covered to protect the paint from the light. Bullard Welding Co. is a metal working and welding business that offers metal roofing, blacksmithing, and other services.
Autocar DC87OH #53125:
This story begins in 1983 when the town of Batavia, New York took delivery of an Autocar DK42 single axle dump truck for the sole purpose of plowing snow and salting their roads. The truck’s specifications were very important since Batavia sits directly in the snow belt of upper New York State where heavy snowstorms are a frequent regular occurrence.
The truck, originally painted yellow, was equipped with a large front plow and a wing plow to push the snow further off the road. The low dump body had a salt spreader installed in it.
The cab of the truck had several unique features specifically designed to deal with the snow. The wipers were mounted above the windshield so snow wouldn’t build up and prevent the wipers from doing their job. Also, the air filter was mounted in a housing on the outside of the cab, but the intake was run back into the engine compartment to prevent clogging and to allow the engine to get warm air.
The truck’s power train included a 240 horsepower Cummins PT240 motor, 8LL Fuller transmission, and a 29,000 lb. rear axle with double reduction. The Gross Vehicle Weight of the truck is 40,000 lbs. with an 18,000 lb. front axle (unusual for a single axle truck with this high of a GVW rating).
The suspension was compatible in rating to the axles, however, the rear springs had additional helper springs and huge torque arms running from the double channel frame perpendicular to the rear axle.
Our former employee, who has since passed, Carl Dorsey located this truck in Maryland where it resided with its second owner. They had it for approximately 20 years. Even though it only had about 90,000 original miles on it, the truck was very worn and rusted.
Though the condition of the truck was quite poor, it was very appealing for two reasons. First, the truck was unique and reflected the type of rugged trucks Autocar manufactured in the early 1980’s. Second, Autocar played a big role in our history as a company. North Jersey Truck Center was one of the original Autocar dealerships in the United States and maintained a leadership position with the company as the third largest in sales. Not a small feat!
We brought the truck back to New Jersey and began the hard work of restoration. First, we removed the plow frames and took off the huge hydraulic pump that was mounted on the front of the engine that required the bumper to be cut out to accommodate it. Next, we removed the almost completely rusted low side dump body and replaced it with a standard high dump body.
We came to the conclusion that even though the power train was very sound the cab, frame, and many other parts of the truck were rusted beyond repair. To really do the restoration project justice, we would have to dismantle the entire truck and replace all of the rusted parts. The truck was transported to our sister company Moretran Lease Services in Elmwood Park for the restoration. The truck was completely dismantled. The only thing left standing was the engine sitting on supports! We installed new double channel frame rails, which had to be very carefully matched, and drilled new holes. What we couldn’t buy new we fabricated. The process continued on and off for six years under the guidance of shop manager Bob Vanderway, who unfortunately retired before he could finish it. It was handed off to the newly promoted shop manager, Bob Devries. Under his capable hands the restoration project was completed in the seventh year!
Like most hobby projects we did go a little overboard, by putting in a full leather interior with Autocar inscribed, but this restoration was something that made all of us very proud. The ability to not only renew this truck but make it even better than when it rolled off the assembly line was a tremendous accomplishment. The truck is in storage now, but when we have occasion to look at this beautifully restored vintage beauty it helps us reflect on our 83 years of serving the trucking industry and the great relationships we have built with our customers over the years.