Russell MacLeod Middleton - Examples of Trucks I've Driven
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Examples of the trucks (not the actual vehicles) I drove in the USA.
(Right Click image for a larger picture.)


The beginning: 1976 - 1978
Sun Prairie Wisconsin
Truck Driving School
1960's GMC LCF steel tilt
Marquette Fabricators
(wood trusses)
Sparta, Michigan
Early 1970's GMC Brigadier
Spring Air Mattress Co.
Grand Rapids, Michigan
Late 1970's GMC Brigadier
OJ Trucking
over the road,
subcontracted to
CDB Inc.
Kentwood, Michigan
Kenworth K100
Dave Steggerda
over the road,
subcontracted to
CDB Inc.
Kentwood, Michigan
White Road Commander

Over the road trucking for CDB Inc. meant delivering dry freight from the Amway World Headquarters, Ada, Michigan to distribution facilities in Jamesburg(?), New Jersey; Atlanta, Georgia; Arlington, Texas; Portland, Oregon; and Santa Ana, California.


Progressive Heat Treating: 1978 - 1994
Grand Rapids, Michigan

White/Freightliner Freightliner COE Mack F Model GMC Astro Navistar 9700

Note: With exception of the first White/Freightliner on the left, I was consulted as to the type of tractor I thought would be most efficient for Progressive Heat Treating. I chose COE because of manoeuvrability and visibility. As the lead and often the only driver, I was responsible for driving, record keeping (miles travelled & fuel used per state), truck maintenance, and filing 'road tax' forms in four states quarterly.

To facilitate the record keeping and tax payment, I designed and implemented a data collection application using Lotus123(dos) spreadsheet running on an IBM PC AT. Whether this had any significant impact on the corporate bottom line I may never know.

You may notice that while I was with Progressive Heat Treating I drove Detroit, Cummins and Mack diesel engines. Thanks to Brad Nelson's Tales of a Hay Hauler: 'Old Iron' here is a brief description of the different driving techniques demanded by Detroit diesels and Mack's Maxidyne engines. Cummins fell somewhere in the middle.


International 9700 articulated truck
For a brief period during the 1980s and 1990s American truck drivers enjoyed truck-tractors with maneuverability and visibility comparable to European trucks. After the full effect of the Surface Transportation Assistance Act (STAA 1982), removing over-all length restrictions for combination vehicles on the "National Network" (which is comprised of the Interstate system plus the non-Interstate Federal-aid Primary System), worked its way through the transportation industry most American truck manufactures withdrew their line haul Cab Over Engine (COE) models.

Trucking: Cabovers, back when trucking was trucking (by trucker5933). To the song "Prisoner of the Highway" written by Mike Reid, and recorded by Ronnie Milsap.

Great Cabovers of the Past (by John Rutledge)

Tribute to The International 9700 and 9800 COE (by Gear_Jammer24).

Pictures of American made International/Navistar 9700 set-back axle COE.
Thanks to Google Images.
Note: many 9700s where sold abroad after being taken out of service in North America.

Progressive Heat Treating Co, 341 Grant St SW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503, specialised in the heat treating of carbon steels, using the austempering, martempering and normalizing processes. Progressive was founded by David Gaylord in 1976, and he served as its president until the company was sold in 1999. Since Progressive was a small shop it was able to stay non-union and paid approximately 75% of the prevailing union wage. Progressive operated 24/7 manned by less than 20 employees with seldom more than one truck on the road.

"On 15 April 1999, the Bodycote Group the Worlds leading supplier of specialist metallurgical services acquired the entire issued share capital of Progressive Heat Treatment Company ("Progressive") of Grand Rapids Michigan for a total consideration of US$3.9 million (£2.4 million) which was paid in cash. Progressive was founded in 1976 and provides austemper continuous furnace heat treatment for a range of automotive, furniture and stamping industry customers throughout the Great Lakes area. Profits before tax for the year ended 30 November 1998 were $1.1 million (£683,000) on turnover of $3.2 million (£2 million). The net assets acquired amounted to $766,000 (£476,000)."

After the sale of Progressive, David and his wife Mary gifted $1.5 million to Michigan Technological University were he had earned a B.S. in metallurgical engineering in 1964. (In December 1999 the Bodycote Group also bought T&D Heat Treatment Inc., of Cadillac Michigan of which Dave was part owner when I left Progressive in 1994.)

An aside: Heat treatment, the worlds oldest industrial process.


My decision to leave Progressive in early 1994 was driven by several factors:

  1. A change in working conditions. (specifically the addition of driving on weekends)
  2. If I wasn't willing to work weekends, the hiring of a part-time driver to operate (my?) truck.
  3. After sixteen years I wasn't thrilled about sharing my "office" space.
    engine start, 8 sec. size 33 KB 18-wheeler control panelengine start button
    (representation of "my" office)Press the 'ENGINE START' button
    to hear the sound
    I heard over 10,000 times.
  4. Since my late wife, Gail, and I had moved closer to her job in Lansing, Michigan in 1988, I had been commuting 110 miles per day plus upwards of 400 miles in the truck. Working weekends really wasn't an option.

Upon my departure from Progressive Heat Treating in early 1994 I started pursuing, part-time, an Associate Business Degree, which I accomplished in December of 2002, graduating Summa Cum Laude from Lansing Community College.(in the top 1% of my class)

My studies in Microcomputer Support encouraged me to go online just as the World Wide Web was beginning to take off. As I used the Web more and more for research into my many and varied interests I discovered some disquieting data about my life's career as a truck driver.

  1. Truckers are not included under the Fair Labor Standards Act, therefore carriers are not compelled to pay them an hourly wage.

  2. "Truck drivers were fatally injured on the job more than any other individual occupation." ~ Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor - NATIONAL CENSUS OF FATAL OCCUPATIONAL INJURIES IN 2000.

  3. "The Lodge Freeway was closed for more than five hours Monday just outside downtown Detroit following an accident that killed the driver of a semi-tractor trailer. The driver, whose name was not released, was thrown from the truck and hit a Grand Trunk Railroad bridge abutment on the Lodge near the ramp from westbound Interstate 94. The driver of the empty steel hauling truck was trying to merge onto the Lodge about 4:15 p.m. when "he was cut off by a white Chevy," said Trooper Calvin Hart, of the Michigan State Police Detroit Post. Troopers said the white Chevrolet did not stop." (emphasis added) ~ The Detroit News, Tuesday, April 14, 1998

  4. "Tractor-trailers have a higher fatal crash rate than passenger vehicles, even though they travel mostly on interstates - the safest roads." ~ Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

  5. "Truckers are at fault in 29 percent of all fatal crashes involving big rigs, compared to 67 percent for passenger vehicle drivers." ~ Federal Highway Administration

  6. In the article Driver Retention: Truckers try to stop the exodus by Sarah Stone, published in TRANSPORTATION TRUCKING REPORT 1999. "Another thorny issue is the long waits some drivers have at loading docks, for which they are usually not paid. Often they are faced with either doing the unloading themselves or having to hire laborers to unload for them. When former American Trucking Associations chairman Edward Trout talked personally to truckers, they all said that was one of their two biggest gripes (along with lack of respect)." (emphasis added)

Atmosphere Annealing: 1994 - 2001
Lansing, Michigan
generic tandem axle dry van Freightliner FLC 112 Freightliner FLD 120 Manac 5 legger
Starting in a truck of 80,000 lbs. Gross Combined Weight. Ending in a truck of 121,000 lbs. Gross Combined Weight.

This transition to larger capacity equipment occurred as the result of extensive lobbying on my part to allow us (the company) to keep one of our larger customers by increasing transportation productivity as opposed to a rate decrease proposed by the customer. As a result of my efforts I suffered ostracism by the other company drivers for 6 months. And even though I was moving 50% more freight each day and had a perfect work attendance record, my employer could not see any reason to increase my salary.

Even a stubborn truck driver eventually knows when his services are no longer appreciated.


Thanks to Google Street View, here is the actual truck.


AAA study reveals car drivers cause most fatal crashes with big trucks. Canadian Driver July 24, 2002.

And it is getting worse. 80 percent of car-truck crashes caused by car drivers, ATA report says. By James Jaillet @trucknewsJJ on February 14, 2013.

Most curious of all, it is usually the car driver who suffers the fatal consequences.

When does courage become stupidity? With truck driving among the ten most dangerous jobs in the USA I decided enough was enough.


Truck Image Sources:
http://www.rockleatruckparts.com.au/photos/108.jpg
http://www.supplyline.com/equ_gifs/22389.jpg
http://digilander.libero.it/dodgeram/Gmc_Astro_95_6x4t.jpg
http://www.hankstruckpictures.com/pix/trucks/loeb/gmc80001_sml.jpg
http://zoom.sandhills.com/truck/70452677.fpx?WID=908&HEI=600&RGN=0.000000,0.000000,1.513514,1.000000&cache=1&CVT=jpeg
http://www.tristatetrailer.com/images/models/full/dry_freight_vans.jpg
http://www.truckcentersinc.com/images/FLC112.JPG
http://www.selectrucksofsacramento.com/thumbnails/71035639.jpg
http://www.macktrucks.com/assets/mack/history/1962_fmodel_big.jpg
http://www.6066gmctrucks.org/biggmc/1964-LW6500-1b.jpg
http://www.truckpaper.com/images/truck/fullsize/70136339.jpg
http://www.truckpaper.com/images/truck/fullsize/71017509.jpg
http://www.fairground-circus.com/circus/images/c294.jpg
http://www.manactrailers.com/www/emanac.nsf/MA-211.jpg
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:International_9700.JPG

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