Saturday, January 7, 2017

Snowy Star

You have to feel for the driver of this Western Star. With dusting of snow on his drop deck trailer and some snow plastered to the front of his cab, he was in a parking lot this morning - a beautiful sunny day - but with nowhere to go. He will have to wait until Monday morning at the earliest for his load and there could be a couple of feet of new snow before then. Not only will his trailer get a full load of snow, but it may take a while to dig it out (he was in the process of dropping the trailer when I took the photo) and the roads will be miserable too.

The Western Star with impressive moose bar runs for Legacy Express of Woodstock, ON, which probably means he will be picking up a piece of farm machinery imported from Europe.


Friday, January 6, 2017

Scary Star and Big Star

A construction site near my house has a small fleet of dump trucks carrying away the excavated material. One of the trucks assigned to the job is this all flat black Western Star. It sports the classic Autocar cab, but the wider version, and a pair of massive chrome air cleaners.

Scary - and cross eyed too.

It won't be long before they are pouring concrete, and they may be using one of the several Western Star twin steers from Osco Concrete's Bedford Ready-Mix fleet.

The company just added some 2016 trucks to its 2014 collection.


Thursday, January 5, 2017

White and Western Star

As one of the dominant truck manufacturers in the mid-20th century, White's sales were being eroded  by the move toward "custom build" trucks. Up to that point most trucks were built in standard models with few options,  and were built for company operators. However some owners - particularly owner operators - were demanding more choice in terms of engines, transmissions, differentials and cab options. This meant custom frame drilling and other manufacturing techniques that did not lend themselves to the mass production techniques White employed.
Although White's Autocar brand did built trucks to owners' specs, they had the reputation as extra heavy duty and heavy weight trucks, built in the east for eastern operations. In the western US and Canada, where the weight limits were much lower, truckers wanted lighter construction. Freightliner's aluminum cab suited the bill, but they built only COEs. 
To respond to the demand for more custom builds and lighter weight conventionals, White introduced the White Western Star model in 1967, and built a factory in Kelowna, BC to build the trucks. The trucks sported a weight saving fibreglass tilt hood and a variety of options. However they continued to use the famous Comfort Cab, acquired by White in 1953 when they bought Autocar.
There were many tax advantages to bringing in parts and assembling the trucks in Canada, so the Western Star  proved popular with Canadian buyers.
White was still not prospering however, and finally became insolvent in 1980. The Western Star brand and factory were sold to Canadian investors Bow Valley Industries and Nova, both Alberta oil companies. The new owners simply removed the "White" name and continued to produce the popular trucks.
The White Motor Co was bought by Volvo in 1980 but there was still some sharing between the new White and Western Star. Western Star re-badged White COEs to ensure a complete product line, but the trucks were in all respects still Whites. And Western Star continued to use the Comfort Cab.

Delving into my slide collection I have found some late model White Western Stars and some early Western Stars.

On the dealer's lot in Dartmouth, NS, this White Western Star  appears to be ready for a transit mix body. The extended front bumper is the giveaway. The temporary stack will be replaced once the body goes on.

Trimac, a western tank and bulk hauler, used this long hood White in their Nova Scotia fleet. Note the single headlights. Duals were disliked by many since the low beams were not bright enough.

J.Baxter of Cambridge Station, NS liked their Western Star for long haul produce work. It is complete with a painted Mercury sleeper (usually these aluminum sleepers were left unpainted.)

Mahar's Transfer Express Ltd of Halifax ran a short hood version. They would probably have been equally happy with an ordinary White for their short haul work, but the Western Star was the Canadian version.

Now vanished Jumbo Motor Express was one of the big long haul operators in the Maritimes and they had this fine WWS with painted Mercury sleeper. They had white painted trucks before their time, when it wasn't the factory standard colour. Baby moon hubcaps were very popular in the 80s.

Kaizer Construction + Services Ltd had their big day cab tractor on parade duty in Halifax, cleaned up and taking a break from hauling dozers and construction equipment. The bird wing theme hood paint stood out.

Petitclerc Inc ranged all over the Province of Quebec doing independent towing with their White Western Star.

Nova Enterprises was the White dealer in Truro, NS and their big boom Holmes 75 wrecker was called out for most accidents in the area. It had the construction grade checker plate fenders.

The first non-White Western Stars were essentially the same aside from the handsome W logo in place of the White name.

According to most history I have read, White sold Western Star in 1980, however this Western Star with set-back front axle appeared on the dealer's lot in September 1979.

Conrad Transport Ltd of Dartmouth, NS, ran this Western Star for years in its container transport and heavy hauling work. There was enough frame length to install a sleeper, but it remained a day cab.

Heavy hauling specialists Lackie Brothers of Kitchener, ON and Saint John, NB ran this Western Star with set-back axle arrangement. It was often used to haul their off-highway units to heavy hauling projects. I have covered the company before here:

R.S. Coughlan Ltd of Fredericton, NB had this Western Star custom painted and pin-striped. They wanted driver comfort so mounted an A/C unit on the roof. Note the big spread on the rear axles.
They hoped the "Keep Off" signs would discourage over-eager window washers from breaking their plastic fenders.

Western Star applied their nifty logo to these White COEs. Mittens of Red Deer, AB ran this one coast to coast for North American Van Lines.