During the summer of 2009, Fred Williston of North Saanich, B.C., Canada, made a cross-country drive from Richmond, Indiana, to bring home his “new” 1958 Mack H-673 ST cabover. Expecting to have some issues with a 51-year-old truck that had been parked for at least 12 years, he ended up spending two-and-a-half days trying to make the Mack roadworthy with repairs to the exhaust, wipers, horn and lights, and installed a new steering wheel and two new tires. When he bought the truck, he’d noticed the charging system was not working, so before leaving he’d purchased a cheap 1,200-watt generator. Even though it had a 12-volt output, it didn’t put out enough, so Fred found a great deal on a battery charger to go with the generator. He could run the generator and charge batteries while parked or while driving. He had a digital voltmeter taped to the dash to monitor the batteries, and they would charge in two or three hours – or when the gas ran out! He didn’t try to run after dark, and with the long summer days, he didn’t need to. Since the radiator louvers were not opening on their own, he had to improvise a device to keep them mostly open all the time to get better engine cooling. A mechanic donated an old winter coat, and Fred slipped one sleeve down each of the shifters to keep out the heat and fumes from the engine. He relied on his Garmin GPS for daytime running and speedometer readouts. This old Mack would have originally had a turbocharged Thermodyne 205-hp engine, but at some point it had been changed to a naturally-aspirated 220 Cummins, which still seemed to run well and not burn much oil. The transmission is a Mack Triplex, giving it a 5-speed main and 3-speed auxiliary, for a total of 15 gears. Fred said, “I like to say it is not that hard to drive, but I usually find it is hard to drive well. I did polish a few teeth on the trip, for sure, and with the ‘Armstrong’ steering system, I planned my route through parking lots carefully.” Total miles for the trip were about 2,550, and the total fuel used was about 274 gallons, averaging $2.65/gallon, equaling $726. This worked out to be 9.3 miles per gallon, which is really good. Fred averaged nearly 425 miles a day for the six days on the road, and is very thankful that many things could have gone wrong but didn’t. All-in-all, it was a great adventure, and he now has a very cool truck to play with – and an even better story to tell.
John & Shirley Sponholtz have been involved with old trucks for over 20 years. Shirley was editor at Wheels of Time for 12 years before going out on her own and starting Old Time Trucks magazine in 2004. John is an avid photographer who enjoys taking pictures of odd and/or rare trucks (he provides most of the pictures for this article and their magazine). John & Shirley, who are from Richmond, Indiana, have been regular contributors to 10-4 Magazine since 2006.