A LOT of my life has been spent behind the steering wheel of an 18-wheeler. In “those days” as I began my life on the road part of my education came from listening to the “old timers” I hung with in the shop as we worked on our trucks. Or over the radio as we traveled up and down the road. The stories continued during those hauls where we’d stop in the diner for the best “home cooked food” you’ve ever had. The tales were never-ending. Storms they endured, places they’d been and the trucks they’d driven. They’d tell you about the ‘ole single-stack-Mack they used to drive with the “five and-a-four” in it.. If Merril was around, he’d call this painting:
“A Single Stack Mack With A Rack On The Back”!
this is shown as a 48 x 40 on canvas. It is available in smaller sizes and print material such as heavy weight poster board or paper
According to my mentors, I was just a “spoiled rookie” when they learned the first truck I owned was equipped with a thirteen speed. The old timers wouldn’t let me forget they’d cut their teeth on a two-stick transmission. At 21 years old, I listened to my friends talk about the two-stick and the “Suicide Shift” gear boxes with which THEY fed this country. The reason they were called “Suicide Shift” was because the driver would lean forward while draping one arm (the left) through the steering wheel to grab one stick while the other hand (the right) was shifting the other stick! I DID in fact have the opportunity to drive a two-stick from time to time. If MY truck was in the shop, and there was some extra work available, I could take Merrils “extra truck” on a run or two. MAN was I ever grateful to climb the ladder back into my COE Kenworth and that simple 13-speed!
I wish I would have recorded the conversations I shared with ‘ole Burt and Merril and Clem and the others as we sat around the diner or the shop… There would be so many tales to pass on. Not that I don’t have plenty of my own from MY millions…
AND I wish I’d have had something like this (the painting) for them to hang on their walls at home or the office of the shop. Burt and Clem and the others are long since gone, AND the history of American Trucking is disappearing with their breed.
“Kids” today are faced with automatic transmissions, GPS, Electronic Logs and an entire variety of technology never imagined in my day. As the industry continues to leave more to computers and less to the driver, they’ve created “Steering Wheel Holders” instead of thinking, hard-working men and women. As I’ve been forced to slow down, I try to do justice to the drivers and the trucks they used to drive with my art. I don’t mean insult to the newbies, it was just a different time, a different day and certainly different equipment!
HERE is the shift pattern for one of those old 5 x 4 trannys:
Main Box Pattern:
Upper Left = Reverse
Lower Left = Ist
Upper Centre = 2nd
Lower Centre = 3rd
Upper Right = 4th
Lower right = 5th.
The Auxiliary Box:
Upper left is Low =(Deep reduction)
Lower left is = 2nd
Upper right is = 3rd
and lower right is 4th.
You started with the main box in first and the aux. in second. As you sped up you shifted the aux to 3rd, sped up and shift aux to 4th. Sped up and shift the main to 2nd while shifting the shift aux to second and keep repeating pattern all the way up to 5th in the main and 4th in Aux. THEN, you were finally cruising! The deep reduction was used only for pulling away on a hard pull only. Usually it was called a 90 under or 60 under deep reduction depending on the tranny ratios!
Got it? Oh, and don’t “get lost” in the gear pattern as you’re heading down the road. There was nothing more embarrassing than having to stop on a hill somewhere and start all over again! Merril was always skeptical of sending me to the mountains with the two stick, AND I admit, I did that a time or two in his truck. I’d think “Aww crap, what gear was I in…?
Well. I’m out of here for now. Thanks for listening and as usual, this painting is also available on United States First Class Postage! Thank you for the visit!