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Calvin Cochran and a Few Old Trucks  

by David A. Bontrager

Photos by Author

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These photos of Calvin’s B-61 Mack and Great Dane trailer were taken in June 2000 just prior to him selling the Mack.

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Calvin purchased the 1959 B-61 Mack from Chuck Hancock, a produce hauler from Carlisle, Indiana in August 1979. At that time it had a worn out 673 Mack engine and a Triplex transmission. The trailer that Calvin uses for display purposes along with the Mack is a restored 1964, 38’ Great Dane ice bunker reefer which he purchased from Hoskins in Advance, Indiana. The original owner was Daum Trucking, Plainfield, Indiana. As a combination the integral sleeper Mack and Great Dane ice bunker represent an icon of southern produce haulers of the fifties and sixties.

 

Calvin rebuilt the Mack for it to continue being a working truck hauling steel coils. He rebuilt the rear end as a single drive with a Neway air tag axle. The 673 engine was replaced with a Mack 711 engine and an 18-speed Quadraplex transmission was installed in place of the original Triplex. It should be noted that an 18-speed Quadraplex is similar to a 13-speed Triplex inasmuch that fifth gear in the main box is overdrive only.

 
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The B-61 was retrofitted with a B-75 hood, radiator and headlight panels, which combined with the integral sleeper B-61 cab, gives the truck a unique appearance. Eventually Calvin replaced the 711 engine with a Mack 237 Maxidyne engine. Before retiring the Mack in July 1992 a 300 Maxidyne engine was installed in the summer of 1990 and it remains in place today.

 
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Calvin’s “new” working truck to replace the old Mack is a rebuilt 1972 Model 359ST Peterbilt, which he purchased in 1991.

 
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This tractor is one of the early 359’s which used the small cab, also known as the “little window” cab and the (then new) wide hood with the wide radiator housing. However, if you take special notice of the truck you will recognize it as having an extended hood. Calvin fabricated the new longer hood himself, which in turn became quite an involved project. The hood was extended 8”, but rather than move the cab rearward on the frame Calvin extended the front of the frame rails. This in turn meant that everything ahead of the cab needed to be moved forward, which of course includes the entire front suspension. Calvin admits that it was quite a job to get all of this done and have everything line up perfectly, but doesn’t regret doing it.

 

The Pete is fitted with a 400 Cummins and 9-speed Fuller RoadRanger transmission. Calvin also replaced the original rear spring suspension with Peterbilt Air Leaf. As before, he hauls steel coils week in and week out with the old Peterbilt.

 

Hauling steel is hard duty on a trailer so it’s not an antique...but yet isn’t new either. The Pete pulls a 1991 Fruehauf 45’ spread-axle flat with sides.
 
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The love of old trucks does indeed become a passion, and so is the case with Calvin. Waiting to be restored is a 1967 Model 351 “needle-nose” Pete, which he says (with a grin) that, “It and the ‘72 will make a good pair.”

Despite his fondness for the old Mack he sold it in June 2000 to ATHS member Jack Hess of Byron, Illinois. After selling the Mack he had planned on spending his spare-time efforts restoring the ‘67 Pete, stating that it will look good hooked to the Great Dane trailer. But now since selling the Mack Calvin has up and bought a 1947 Model 910 Diamond T!

As the title states: “Calvin Cochran...and a few old trucks.”