By on April 24, 2010

Did this old Mack ever bring a smile to my face when it pulled up next to me in traffic at a light. Macks of this vintage were my favorite trucks during my east coast years, as they predominated the truckscape back in the day. This B77 has the bigger radiator. The more common and classic B61 had the more delicate curved radiator that would have looked right at home on a classic car (see below). But my smile got even bigger when the light changed to green and he took of in his utterly un-muffled, un-sanitized hard working Mack, belching the kind of black cloud that used to be ubiquitous in the good old days. Did you know Mack trucks could shoot flames too?

As a teen, I had a brief stint as a gardener’s helper for a former truck driver, who was a little worse for wear having abused his body for decades with bennies and and rough-riding noisy Macks like this one. He told me that under the right conditions, at night you could see flames coming out of a hard working Mack exhaust. Right.

A few years later, hitchhiking through mountainous western Pennsylvania at night on the Turnpike, I saw it: one or more old Macks laboring up the steep winding freeway at maybe twenty five or thirty, and a beautiful orange flame about a foot or two long sitting at the top of their exhaust stack, burning off the excess hydrocarbons that otherwise would have been seen as an extra-black smoke cloud. A catalytic converter without a catalyst.

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15 Comments on “Curbside Classic Outtake: Mack B77...”

  • avatar

    Shoot, that second picture makes me want to go get a ladder and a can of simonize (circa mid last century) and polish the hell out of that thing from sheer love.

  • avatar

    I don’t doubt the flames at all. Those big radial piston engines that powered the great prop planes like DC-3 and WWII bombers routinely belched flames out the exhaust. The flight engineer could control the length and color of the flames by controlling the fuel/ air mixture

  • avatar

    Mack wasn’t the only big truck with beautiful compound curves, but their ‘horse-collar’ rad shroud really was a crowning touch. A small windshield visor can be nice too, but it has to be proportional and match the existing curves.

    Is that a split rim wheel on the green truck? – Those things scare the hell out of me.

  • avatar

    Paul, do you remember that compression release some of those old Macks had? That long knob that pulled out from under the dash I think? I don’t know enough about them to know which models had it and with what engines. But my boss in Atlanta years ago was an old trucker and he showed one to me when an ancient Mack showed up in our yard one day. Referred to it as a donkey dick.

  • avatar
    the duke

    Next time you’re in Portland Paul, this truck has been at the Ross Island Sand and Gravel Truck yard (99E, just north of the Ross Island Bridge) ever since I can remember. Still gets used to my knowledge.,+or&sll=37.0625,-95.677068&sspn=35.547176,79.013672&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=Portland,+Multnomah,+Oregon&layer=c&cbll=45.492336,-122.656455&panoid=gGGLFMuJ3t-KVj6d061jjQ&cbp=12,225.7,,0,9.75&ll=45.492412,-122.656506&spn=0.003843,0.009645&z=17

    Maybe they’d let you drive it – you could do a review and fulfill a lifelong dream!

  • avatar

    I rolled outta’ Pittsburgh rollin’ down that eastern seaboard……

    The quintessential truck driver’s tune, ye scurvy 4-wheelers.

    Get outta’ my way!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • 0 avatar

      The talk about flames and soot put me in mind of that very song:

      “my rig’s a little old but that don’t mean she’s slow. There’s a flame from her stack and that smoke’s a-blowin’ black as coal…”

  • avatar

    Seen around Woodstock (yes, that Woodstock) in good weather is a lovely old (I’d guess around 1910) medium (I’d guess 3-5 tons or so) utility truck with a side mounted chain drive and sort of buggy roof over the bench seat…maybe solid rubber tires.

    • 0 avatar

      I just photographed a truck such as that in Moriarty, NM., Lewis Antiques…on I-40 (old route 66). What a collection, and what a great place for a gearhead to spend a week or so! He has several Macks of various vintages, as well as the best selection of ’40 and early ’50’s cabover Fords, GM’s, and other makes, I have ever seen.

  • avatar

    Mack trucks are noted for their extended torque range. They got by with a 5? speed transmission when the others needed 10 or more.

  • avatar
    johnny ro

    I stumbled across the truck museum in middlebury connecticut. Wonderful place. I think trucks were more attractive than cars from the beginning, up to couple decades ago. They reflected nice design without the superficial stuff cars often have.

  • avatar

    While not as malevolent appearing as the 1956 Peterbilt 281 used in the made-for-tv movie Duel, I always thought one of these Macks would have been a good alternative due to their classic, period styling.

  • avatar

    Maybe these guys can hook you up with something. They are just up I5 and one of their exhibits is a 3/4 size Freightliner made by Hyster and actually used for deliveries.

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