Trucking from “Back in the Day”

The comments on this movie could’ve been written by me! My favorite tractor WAS a 1959 281 Pete 2-axle, no sleeper, owned by Binswanger trucking, SantaFe Springs, California. I started driving in 1971 and much of the nationwide fleet was old, 60’s models. Complete with with leaky fuel caps, engines, diffs and both trannys. I didn’t see any shifting in this movie, which is what driving was all about with the  low power compared to today’s trucks! Didn’t see any 23 channel crystal CB’s, either. The shutters in front of the copper radiator were before fan clutches had been invented, the tank bearing the Pete logo is cast aluminum, and is filled with water!  Few trucks had air ride, or air-conditioning and some had heaters that actually worked. Didn’t matter, so much heat came off the engine into the cab. Tires were 20 ply nylon recaps, with inner tubes on split rims, and they blew up a lot.  Batteries were always dead, and generators would not charge at idle, so engines had to be left running at all costs! Flames and copus amounts of smoke came out of the stacks. The air horns were loud and tuned. Some companies preferred air starters, which would freeze in the winter, due to water in the air, from not draining your air tanks enough. The sound they made would stun small animals and scare the hell out of anyone unfortunate enough to be nearby when one was starting! Oh, yeah; if you did not drain your air tanks several times a day, they would fill up with water and oil from worn out compressors. All brakes had to be manually adjusted, most drivers carried a 3/8 x 7/16 wrench on their belt. Truckstops were on DIRT, pavement was a dream.  Most were just a tire shop with a coffee pot!

Most dispatchers were cigar chomping alcoholics, like their drivers. Anyone  caught driving with liquor would be told to empty his drink out, and give the unopened ones to the officer, who would take them home. Little white pills were a requirement; as was a complete set of tools, and mechanical skills; if you wanted a job. Food was based on where you could park, no McDonald’s or Starbucks. All coffee had to taste really bad for some reason, and donuts were an important part of the major food groups, the ones with the most icing being prefferred. All drivers suffered from sleep deprivation. Few women would even come near a truck, let alone want to drive one!


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