Home on the Road

Lucinda Coulter | December 01, 2010

From back-road mom-and-pops to today’s Interstate franchises, truck stops have played a colorful, key role in the trucking lifestyle.

In 1962, the Hungry Truck Café served truckers breakfast on 15-inch platters filled with a stack of hot cakes, an egg and six pats of butter – for 70 cents. The California stop on near U.S. Highway 50, 34 miles east of Oakland, was one of many praised in early issues of Overdrive for good service, great food and easy access.

The magazine sometimes rated truck stops for their cleanliness, services and attention to comfort. Such reviews were important to truckers in the decades before full-service truck stops along Interstates dwarfed locally owned diners and fuel stops.

The November 1961 Reader’s Digest featured The Truck ’Otel, now razed but then 5 miles south of Fayetteville, N.C., on U.S. Highway 301. Overdrive described it as “one of the newer, better truck stops on the East Coast” in the Feb.-March 1962 issue. Services included new showers, a large lounge, a barber shop, warehouse storage, ice and scales.

Truck stops still show some diversity. Some offer old-school quirkiness, such as the Tiger Truck Stop at Grosse Tete, La., with its controversial Bengal tiger, or the dinosaur replicas at California’s Cabazon Truck Stop. The mega-stops, such as Iowa 80 and Portland’s Jubitz Truck Stop and Travel Center, are marvels of size and services that provide not just a fueling point, but a virtual community catering to the many needs of long-haul drivers.

The Mass 10 Truck Stop, owned and operated by Gene Murphy in the 1960s and ’70s near Auburn, Mass., featured a lake bunkhouse eight miles away. It slept 10 and had a telephone, kitchen, cabana and showers. Murphy provided drivers with transportation to and from the lake house, once his vacation home. The “loudest noise in the pine-shaded grove is the television,” according to Overdrive’s July 1965 story. Murphy lived at the truck stop and was “available at any time to talk to truckers over a cup of coffee.”

Let us know your favorite truck stop memories. Write Lucinda Coulter at lcoulter@rrpub.com or Overdrive, P.O. Box 3187, Tuscaloosa, AL 35403.












1965: The Mack Maxidyne high-torque-rise diesel engine



In an era when turbocharged diesels were just beginning to catch on, diesels had always run best up near governed rpm. Then Mack researchers, led by engineering vice president Walter May, tried putting a torque curve into the injection pump that caused it to increase the fuel metered in during each power stroke as rpm dropped. They called this “torque rise” because torque increased significantly as rpm dropped, which was not how most mid-1960s diesels behaved.

This normally would have produced black smoke. But with a powerful turbocharger properly matched to the engine, the higher exhaust heat created by the additional fuel under lug conditions increased the speed of the turbo. This, in turn, jammed enough air into the engine to prevent smoke. The result was an engine that could operate from about 1,050 to 2,100 rpm, rather than the traditional 1,500 rpm and above. The Maxidyne, even at low rpm, would produce almost as much power as at governed speed.

The design matched well with a five-speed transmission. While other engine makers refused to design for five-speeds, they developed engines with torque rise while the transmission makers designed wider and wider gearsteps. Had Mack not pushed the industry to develop torque rise, today’s trucks would probably need at least a 14-speed range-type transmission rather than just the common 10-speed. n

50 Years of Equipment Innovations

Visit OverdriveRetro.com to view some of the top 50 equipment milestones during Overdrive’s 50-year history. New items will be added through September 2011.

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