Diamonds are a girl’s best friend: 1974 Diamond Reo conventional

user-gravatar
Updated Jan 11, 2021

Trucker-photographer Don Christner is chronicling the past and present of rigs he found parked in the former small fleet yard of Junior Elmore in Cheyenne, Wyo. The journey began two weeks back in the post at this link.

This week’s installment:

This 1974 Diamond Reo is one among several classics Christner photographed.This 1974 Diamond Reo is one among several classics Christner photographed.

Junior Elmore’s daughter, Machelle, got a Wyoming chauffeur’s license at 16 years old. It was a different time, with different qualifications. It was Wyoming, and she got it! 16-year-old Machelle and her dad would go cross-country, team truck driving in the Diamond Reo when it was new. I guess she could just really drive. Her mother hated trucks, and really worried that she would never grow up and be a girl.

They would go to Washington State and Idaho to haul for Taco John’s. Showers at the truck stops were more like a men’s locker room, so Junior would stand at the door and keep everyone out while she took a shower.

Machelle well remembers a phone call from George Markle, the Diamond Reo dealer over at Laramie, Wyo. He said he had a lazy man’s truck he wanted Junior to come take a look at, a brand-new 1974 Diamond Reo conventional.

Why a “lazy man’s truck?” It had a 4×4 air shift transmission.

Elmore's 1974 Diamond Reo cab from passenger's side seat

After hauling freight with it, the Elmores painted it white and had a tow-truck body put on it. Machelle ran the Reo as a tow truck, too. She and the Diamond could do it all. “We picked up everything with that truck, even overturned railroad cars from train wrecks,” she says. The tow-truck body was eventually removed, and the Reo went back to hauling freight.

Junior Elmore owned many trucks over his years in business, but the Diamond Reo conventional was his favorite. At a certain point, he hired a temporary driver, Ralph Pike. Ralph married the boss’s daughter and became permanent!

Junior Elmore’s Diamond Reo Conventional C11664D is a 1974 model year.Junior Elmore’s Diamond Reo Conventional C11664D is a 1974 model year. I’ve only ever seen a few of these on the road, and this is a one-owner rig, an un-restored survivor. It is complete, and still runs.I’ve only ever seen a few of these on the road, and this is a one-owner rig, an un-restored survivor.  It is complete, and still runs. This truck was built in a time when most trucks on the road were cabovers, given length laws in many states. It was thus unusual for the time, and really stood out.This truck was built in a time when most trucks on the road were cabovers, given length laws in many states. It was thus unusual for the time, and really stood out. The Transmission is a 4×4 air shift, TRP87163. (Not very many left that can run one of these.)The Transmission is a 4×4 air shift, TRP87163. (Not very many left that can run one of these.) The Diamond Reo runs on Cummins power. The engine is a good ol’ Cummins NTC 350.The Diamond Reo runs on Cummins power. The engine is a good ol’ Cummins NTC 350.

It is set up for cold weather operation with a starting fluid assist system that you run with a switch from the dash. (You had to know what you were doing to run that or you could blow up the motor.)

Shutters on the radiator were controlled by the thermostat (pretty neat). It also had an air clutch engine fan, a Racor inline fuel heater that has engine coolant circulating through it to keep the fuel from gelling at the fuel filter. External inline engine block heater. Jacobs engine brake. Dual stacks, dual air horns, and air-operated windshield wipers. (I always liked those.) It has power steering and the big steering wheel like a truck that doesn’t have it (I love that, too). Headache rack. Kysor air conditioner on the roof. It has a hand throttle with a center button release (a lot of drivers, me included, used those for a cruise control).Shutters on the radiator were controlled by the thermostat (pretty neat). It also had an air clutch engine fan, a Racor inline fuel heater that has engine coolant circulating through it to keep the fuel from gelling at the fuel filter. External inline engine block heater. Jacobs engine brake. Dual stacks, dual air horns, and air-operated windshield wipers. (I always liked those.) It has power steering and the big steering wheel like a truck that doesn’t have it (I love that, too). Headache rack.  Kysor air conditioner on the roof.  It has a hand throttle with a center button release (a lot of drivers, me included, used those for a cruise control). The sleeper is a 36-inch accessed with a crawl through the back window.The sleeper is a 36-inch accessed with a crawl through the back window. Twin screw SQHD rears, 11-24.5 tall tires on steel chrome bud wheels. (Yeah, get this: Junior Elmore took the steel bud wheels to Denver, Colo., and had them chrome plated. They are really cool and would still polish up!) It has an aluminum frame, and the Hendrickson walking beam suspension finished it, giving it a solid chassis and suspension platform to work from.Twin screw SQHD rears, 11-24.5 tall tires on steel chrome bud wheels. (Yeah, get this: Junior Elmore took the steel bud wheels to Denver, Colo., and had them chrome plated. They are really cool and would still polish up!) It has an aluminum frame, and the Hendrickson walking beam suspension finished it, giving it a solid chassis and suspension platform to work from.

I love this truck and can’t wait to see what the Diamond Reo might do in it’s next life!

Next in this series: First time for Everything: Bearing witness to Junior Elmore's 1977 Marmon cabover 

The Business Manual for Owner-Operators
Overdrive editors and ATBS present the industry’s best manual for prospective and committed owner-operators. You’ll find exceptional depth on many issues in the 2021 edition of Partners in Business.
Download
Partners in Business Issue Cover