Photo Gallery
Powered by Squarespace

Entries in Trucks (17)


Vroom Room

Good Morning,

Its Friday, its the Vroom Room, enjoy the cappuccino and biscotti, join the conversation. can leave a comment.

A couple of weeks ago The Colonel discovered a brochure dating back to 1979 on the GMC Truck Centre, took the time to scan it, and we published the brochure last week. A brochure back in the day was the equivalent of a web site today. Some things change, while not changing.


Years ago The Colonel concluded "We are in the people business through cars". Between the Internet, technology, social media, all sorts of plug in apps. Have we lost sense that in 2015 we are even more in the people business?

We have all sorts of elaborate, sophisticated technology to deal with a bunch of routine stuff. We get so immersed in the technology, that we forget what business we are in. Think about this for a moment.


We refer to the Ahhh moments as epiphanies. Especially when we put ourselves in different positions that we are supposed to know and understand.

> The metal must resonate to close a deal, if the metal does not resonate, its dramatically more challenging.

> We are clueless into what is going on with the software code in any vehicle.

Yes...just 2 epiphanies this morning.

Did you ever think for a moment that the VW "thing" was being conducted several layers down the management structure, that it might have been a rogue employee, that no one really knew about it. Its emerging that it was well thought out...lets leave it at that for now.

Make it a point to vote on Monday.

Our usual old cars from the Chantilly Concours d'Elegance...stunning photography.



GMC Truck Centre-Montreal

Some truck nostalgia from 1979...

The Colonel uncovers a brochure of the GMC Truck Centre in Montreal.




GMC Astro 95

A bit of nostalgia this morning.

Do you remember GMC Astro's the cab over truck, not the van of later years.

If you have ever been in the truck side of the business you encountered or perhaps even sold Astro's way back in the day.

This morning The Colonel is jogging his memory about Astro's.

The idea of a cab over (hinged truck) was simple, in the US back in the day the overall lenght for a truck and trailer was 55 needed a cab over to haul in the US...yes 80,000 lbs GCW which by Canadian standards was "light".

Back in the day an Astro was a popular truck. While the styling was appealing compared to other offerings in the segment.

In the truck business for a sales consultant to sell an Astro was comparable to today selling a top of the line luxury car or was HUGE to close a deal on an Astro.

Some perspective computers, no word processors, no showroom software for the product. It was a voluminous "data book", accompanied by a comparable price book, to "spec out" and price an Astro or any truck for that matter.

When you hear today about product knowledge, back in the days of Astro's it was product knowledge, and application knowledge. You were the wikipedia of both product and application knowledge. A myriad of exchanges were going on a daily basis among sales consultants exchanging knowledge among themselves regarding applications, usage, fuel economy, speeds, gear ratios...and on and on.

It was a prime example of humans curating, disseminating the knowledge to prospective customers. Not software, not the Internet. It was and still is with trucks..." I'm hauling this from here to there, my GCW is so much, and I want to travel at that speed"....from there the sales consultant would always ask additional questions to uncover the finer points of the application, and expectations.

In trucking terms...the Astro had to lift the load, move it, and overcome wind resistance". Put this into perspective of when HD trucks had about 300 HP to do all of this and no turbos.

Back in the day when folks acquired an HD GMC truck, it had a GM diesel, you did not sell many Astro's without a Detroit Diesel.

These trucks were assembled in Pontiac, Michigan literally hand made in an aging truck plant, which was fascinating to visit and see all the manual operations from riveting aluminum, to bolting various components.

What were the "specs" of an early Astro?

Detroit Diesel 8V71 with 65mm injectors 318 HP, a Fuller RTO9513 13 speed transmission with a 0.85 overdrive ratio, a 12,000 lbs front axle with soft ride springs, and a 38,000 lbs rear tandem either Rockwell or Eaton, and either an Hendrickson extended leaf (Canada) or a Reyco (US) rear suspension. Depending on how fast the truck had to travel it was a 4.11 or 4.33 or 4.44 rear axle ratio.

The specs on the later versions

A Royal Classic cab, Detroit Diesel 8V92 TT or T (365 to 430 HP), a Fuller RTO 12513, and a 40,000 lbs rear tandem usually a Rockwell SQHP with the oil pump to lubricate the power divider, same rear suspensions, the gear ratios were 3.70 or 3.90 or 4.11. The turbo motors had dramatically more torque, and metallic clutches which presented a learning curve for some old school drivers. "Release to clutch and lift the load with the engine, do not try to slip the clutch as you are accustomed with a non turbo motor".

Today cab over trucks are a rare sighting, having been replaced by "conventional" cab trucks with a hood.




Vroom Room

Good Morning,

NostalgiaIts Friday, last day of the month, a long week end on the horizon, and its the Vroom Room, enjoy the cappuccino and biscotti.

Join the conversation.

We just had a warm (understatement) week, in the Dog Days of Summer, its all good...

Fascinating that Sergio Marchionne seems to find that everything is expensive, and there is always a place on the planet that is less money for one reason or another. At the same time FAC gets hit with a 105M fine for mishandling recalls. Think about that for a moment...105M fine.

An informative article on how to save money assembling vehicles Japans Back Door.

The thought vector in the auto industry is to use universal components, and increasingly with the smaller size of vehicles sharing even more of these components. One common platform, common components, with different bodies, finishes, interiors to uphold the branding.

It all makes a ton of sense to save money...and perhaps, hopefully, presumably provide more value to the customer. Better yet...perhaps customers don't even care.

Here is the deal...

We will see cases where the concept will be stretched, especially within the "premium economy" segment. Customers will pay a premium for the brand, a better interior, the touch points, and have a common money saving platform that perhaps does not fit the brand.

Here is another deal...

How many combinations of a 4 cylinder with a turbo coupled to a multispeed automatic do you think we will see? Agreed there is already a ton of 4 cylinders with a turbo. As well as a wide variety of multispeed (more than 5) automatic transmissions. The torque curve of these 4 cylinders is fascinating since each manufacturer has their own vision of how their engine should torque up.

Are we finally witnessing the demise of the manual (with a clutch pedal) transmission? Would you really prefer padelling around to shift gears?

Think of this...the old rule of thumb was that if a manual had X gears, an automatic could have X minus 1 with the torque converter compensating for 1 gear. Now that automatic transmissions have 8 gears a manual would have 9 gears...who will actually use and shift a manual transmission with 9 gears?

Agreed its also getting into truck territory with a 5 speed and 2 speed rear axle for a total of 10 if all the shifts would be split. Or a 13 speed, or delete the overdrive splitter on the 13 speed and its down to 9 speed. Think of have comparable gears to medium and heavy duty trucks.

Our usual old race cars from Monza Historic 2015.





The 4.10 Gears 

A few days ago momentarily watching Barrett Jackson and hearing the 4.10 and some with 4.56 gears it struck us that way back in the day we were pretty limited in our choices while being content.

The healthy engine under the hood was a given.

The transmission choice was usually a 4 speed, the by now famous Muncie Rock Crusher had stouter gears and synchronizers while making a ton of interesting sounds.

Now we come to the gears, if you were seeking top end speed you had a high 2 or a low 3 something in the differential. If you were seeking acceleration you had a 4 something in the differential.

In most cases manufacturers made a choice for you with the various packages of the day. You wanted a drag pack with a smaller displacement engine it was 4.56 gears in the differential, a 4 speed with a lower 1st gear ratio to provide the reduction to generate strong initial acceleration.

Now imagine cruising at 100 KPH taching close to 4,000 RPM with 4.56 gears...what an unpleasant experience.

Back in the day trucks with diesel engines also had 4.11 gears with a 13 speed Fuller RTO 913 Roadranger transmission. With spur cut gears and no synchros...human rev matching was essential.

With all the technology there are still mechanical aspects that have not changed for decades, gear ratios are one of those.

Today's blinding acceleration of cars...put more splits in the transmission while keeping the 4.10 gears or close. The 4 speed has gravitated to 6 and even 7 speed in the Corvette, or 8 or 9 and possibly 10 speed automatics.

Are we getting close to the old RTO 913 in trucks?

In a car you can go either way, bigger engine or more blower, more splits, phenomenal acceleration and speed. The other way is small engine with a blower, more splits, improved acceleration and fuel economy.

Trucks are similar to cars with small engines, you need to "lift the load" similar to acceleration in a car, and power the load down the hghway overcoming wind resistance with exceptional fuel economy.

In both cases the splits in the transmission will keep the engine in the ideal power band, in both cases the car and truck will cruise at 100 KPH at around 1,500 RPM. Perhaps we should give the 4 cylinder with a turbo a few more revs to be on the safe side...or some blinding fast downshifts.

A couple of generation back, if anyone would have hinted that cars would have a similar set up to a truck with an 8V-71 Detroit, RTO 913, 4.11 gears, and start splitting shifts to stay in the power band...we all know the answer to that one.



427 Truck Engine

A bit of nostalgia this morning. If you have been around this business long enough you remember, and perhaps you even sold GMC trucks with 427's way back in the day.

Here is the deal:

Back in the day a GMC or Chevrolet truck with a 366, 5 speed, 9 front, 18,500 2 speed in the back, 10.00x20 tires and a 27,500 lbs GVW was the standard of the industry. These trucks sold by themselves, they had such a reputation of being the best.

At one point GM truns the 366 to a 427, as an aside this was not the same 427 as in cars, it had a tall deck block, and was used in trucks and marine applications. Although the 366 was bullet proof. The 427's were not lasting as long. 

Numerous folks at GM were scratching their heads as to why a 366 would easily last over 200,000 kms in a truck and the 427 was barely lasting 100,000 kms. 

Here is another deal:

Been in the business long enough you hopefully remember a company called McCallum that was transporting GM vehicles from the factory or rail heads to GM dealers in eastern Canada. McCallum had a numerous tractors with 427's pulling their trailers. Yes...they did not last very long the 427's.

GM in Canada enlisted McCallum to run various tests on various configurations of 427's. GM will install an engine in a McCallum truck, have the truck cover a speciifc mileage, take the engine out, replace it with another engine. Obvious do a meticulous tear down of the engine taken out of the truck. Yes...the old tachographs were helpful during the tear down.

The conclusion...not enough gas flow, the 427 required appreciably more gas than the 366. The by now iconic single 200 liter step tank with an electric fuel pump for the 366 created instances of fuel starvation with the 427. The solution...dual step tanks with dual fuel pumps.

Another deal:

In Canada, a 427, with a 5 and 4, 12 front, 38,000 in the back, with an Hendrickson suspension was the standard dump truck for countless years.

At the time GM had the medium duty truck market "locked up" with the 366 and 427.

The last deal:

Yes...the 427 were strong performers on the highway, very strong. Fuel economy...don't ask.



The Joys of Winter Driving

What starts out as another winter road trip...with the exception that its a "little colder"...

Nothing out of the ordinary, the usual stretch of the 401 travelling east is very good...its all cool.

Now the return a few days later on the 401 west starts very innocently...and gradually deteriorates

The interesting feeling that what looks like cold wind blown pavement, is not what it seems..."why does the car seem a little loose..."

To being stopped on the 401, having an opportunity to get out of the car and confirm that the car is loose, since its ice, to the closing of the 401 from Prescott to Kingston in both directions. Its all cool fortunate to take an exit and spend time in a McDonald.

Then driving a distance on Highway 2 which is the original 401 from way back in the day.

To getting back on the 401, and then its shut down again near Napanee...another mission to discover, and follow the 401 EDR signs.

At Napanee on the 401 east bound its a war zone in all the lanes...

Trucks strewn all over the place...

Wondering what the 401 EDR looks like in full use?

The 401 when its shut down...

Yes we made it back in close to double the amount of time, and a few "white knuckle" moments.

Gaining more appreciation for the work all "first responders" do in inclement conditions.

As silly and old fashioned that it might sound, helpful to have a heavier coat, boots, gloves, windshield washer fluid, charged up smart might just all be useful on a road trip when you least expect it.




Bitumen Bubble

This morning we have The Colonel with us, our conversation revolves around the "Bitumen Bubble" and cars.

Q- Colonel Good Morning...what is the bitumen bubble?

A- Connect the dots, and its becoming more transparent that there is a lot of oil available, more than we thought a generation ago. Bitumen is the tar sands.

Q- Between the tar sands, fracking, shale, is North America floating on oil?

A- Its starting to look like it.

Q- If its becoming obvious that we are floating on oil, why are we paying so much for gas?

A- Taxes, upholding an infrastructure, we have shut down refineries, a whole bunch of reasons, but we are not running out of oil.

Q- What was peak oil? 

A- Imagine immense oil tanks in the earth, at some point one would reach the top of the bell graph, between finding new oil, consumption, and depletion. Once you reach the peak its a downward slide on the depletion side (emptying the tanks).

Q- Its no longer the case?

A- Does not look like it for the foreseeable future.

Q- How about the price of gas?

A- We have known for several years that when gas gets close to $1.50 a liter its the pain treshold, it will not go down to uphold the infrastructure, but it will not go up. Who am I to speculate on the price of gas.

Q- Will more stringent fuel economy progress?

A- Absolutely...its the right thing to do...from several perspectives...congestion being one.

Q- How will the auto industry adjust or cope.

A- Pick ups will keep on selling, small cars (fuel economy) might just stabilise.

Q- How about hybrids?

A- Hybrids are a propulsion mode, folks that prefer an hybrid electric propulsion will continue to acquire hybrids.

Q- Where do you see diesels?

A- Diesels, catalytic converters, urea injection, 1,000 kms on a tank, at some point the trade off, to not really needing a diesel in any passenger vehicle will be debated. 

Q- Are you implying that if a vehicle is not working/pulling a load a diesel is not required. 

A- Precisely, at a GVW of 3,000 kilos you don't need a diesel, cars, and SUV's do not reach 3,000 kilos at 3,000 kilos and higher a diesel becomes a consideration and at a certain point an absolute necessity.

Q- Where do you see gas engines?

A- We have known for some time that V12 would become V8's with turbos, V8's would become V6's with turbos, V6's would become 4 cylinders with a turbo, and 4 cylinders would become 3 cylinders with a turbo. Its all there with various manufacturers touting what fits for their particular applications.

Q- These turbo motors how good are they?

A- In cars they work fine, in trucks with light loads they work fine, once the loads start getting up there, would you rather have a V6 with twin turbos working away, or a naturally aspirated V8 working away, or perhaps a diesel.

Q- Where is fuel economy headed?

A- It will progressively improve, especially in city, congestion, surface street applications and usage of vehicles. 

Q- On the highway?

A- We all know that you need a certain level of power to overcome wind resistance, time is an increasingly precious commodity, folks tend to drive faster than slower, highway fuel economy ratings are calculated at speeds that no one drives.

Q- Is it fair to say that we might have to re conceptualise some of our thinking?

A- Some...we will have to re evaluation many of our established assumptions and beliefs.

Q- We can keep on going...but Thank You or your thoughts this morning.

A- Fascinating subject, its a start, although we had better stop for this morning.




Virtual Technician

Interesting...when will a virtual technician be on cars?



Big Rig

Yes...its all hauled in trucks...enjoy!