It looks like mild weather is here to stay, a fact hardly lost on the many motoring enthusiasts among us. Motorcycles and convertibles are out in all their glory; the car shows have begun.
But for a growing segment, it’s antique trucks that get their motor running. Perhaps 15 gears and 14 wheels satisfy your soul a bit more than a little deuce coupe? The Hillcrest Farm Antique Truck Show showcased a dozen or more vintage trucks in Windham last Sunday. There were long haulers and short haulers, dump trucks and pickups. Everything from the 1920s right on up were shined and sitting pretty along River Road. 

The star of the show was a two-and a-half-ton 1928 “Mack AB” owned by Frank and Marcia Nudd of Brownfield. Nudd acquired this in 1989 and its restoration, done in Massachusetts, took some five years. Like most old truck enthusiasts, Nudd likes these oldies because they embody a time when machinery was solid, simple and straightforward to work on.
This old Mack spent its days as a New York City coal truck. Like many of the time, instead of headlights, it came equipped with a pair of kerosene “side lamps” mounted on the cab near the base of the windshield that threw very little light. The truck was not intended to be operated at night.
“When these came from the factory they didn’t have a lighting system,” Nudd said.  They also had hard rubber tires.  In 1932 this went back to the Mack factory; they installed pneumatic tires and the electric lights.”
Today, this truck is 100 percent functional. Nudd starts it with a hand-crank on the front of the engine. It may have been produced during the “roaring ’20s,” but this baby certainly wasn’t built for speed.  With a 284 cubic inch four-cylinder governed to around 1,800 rpm paired to a very low axle ratio (8.31:1), it has a top speed of  only about 30 miles per hour. It took Nudd almost two hours to make the trip from Brownfield to Windham. Earlier in the restoration process, he contemplated installing a rear end from a firetruck with a more modern ratio of 4.10:1 that would effectively double the speed. “But I didn’t want to get too crazy,” Nudd said. “It doesn’t have front brakes.” Instead, Nudd is happy to enter this old Mack in parades and leisurely putts about town. 
This immaculate truck has received many trophies. 

From 1928 we fast-forward through 30 years of Mack history to Gary Pitt’s 1959 B-73, dubbed “Phantom 309.” Pitt, of Windham, got this heavy hauler in Auburn in 2003 after finding it on eBay. He decided to name it after the popular 1960s trucking song by Red Sovine.
The song, about a down and out hitchhiker who happens upon a ride with a mystery trucker who turns out to be a deceased local legend, is just one of many in the genre of truck-driving tunes from the ’50s and ’60s that became popular after the interstates and CB radios made long-haul trucking a culture all its own.
“This truck was originally built for a lumber company in Texas,” said Pitt, who’s driven big rigs himself for the last 35 years.  “When Mack made their trucks in Allentown, Pennsylvania, nothing was put on the lot like you have today.  Everything was preordered.”
In 2006, Pitt arrived in style when he drove Phantom 309 to the National Convention and Antique Truck Show in Baltimore. Legendary photographer Ozzie Sweet, who gained notoriety shooting images of John Wayne and Albert Einstein, included Pitt’s rig on a calendar he produced.
“I like having conversations with old truck drivers at certain events,” said Pitt. 
“I don’t care what state you visit, there’s always someone whose brother or father drove a truck like this; talking to people can be quite an experience.”

Don Perkins is a freelance writer who lives in Raymond. He can be reached at:
[email protected]

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