August 6, 2009
Brockways head to Cortland
More than 100 trucks will take part in 10th annual Brockway Truck Show
James Porteus has maintained and restored his 1929 Brockway “Model 90” since his brother died 12 years ago.
“I think he liked it for the same reasons I do: it’s old, and they’re not making them anymore,” Porteus said. “Anything they don’t build anymore, I like.”
Porteus’ Brockway is a cherry-red two-seater, with ostrich-leather seats (Porteus’ own addition), an in-line six-cylinder engine (original), and a new wood-slat bed (another addition he’s done, made with 100 percent New York oak).
Porteus will be driving his truck, which he shipped here from Montana, in this year’s Brockway Truck Show Saturday as part of the 10th-annual parade showcasing the former Cortland truck company’s distinctive vehicles. It will be Porteus’ eighth time to the show.
The 10th annual Brockway Truck Show begins Friday evening with a barbecue from 5 to 8 p.m. The more than 100 registered trucks will muster for Saturday’s parade at the Brockway Museum at 8:30 a.m., and will head down onto Main Street in Cortland at about 9 a.m.
This year, he may be the farthest-flung participant — Porteus has lived in Columbia, Mont., since he moved from Oneonta 65 years ago.
He said his antique truck is a hit back home.
“I did a wedding not too long ago,” he said. Some friends built a set of stairs that ran from the bed of the truck to almost ground level, and the wedding party — including about 20 bridesmaids and groomsmen — climbed aboard to ride several blocks through town.
Porteus said he does not know how much time he has spent restoring his brother’s truck. He has replaced the tires, installed the seats, had the engine overhauled a couple of times, and repainted the body and wheels.
He spends the winter months of the year in Alaska, building the ice roads truckers use to transport goods to an oil field on Prudhoe Bay.
“After I get back from there, I start playing with the Brockways,” he said.
He took five days to drive to Cortland from Montana this year, stopping at friends’ and relatives’ places along the way. Here, he is staying with Hugh and Judy Riehlman, who Porteus met at past Brockway Truck shows.
Hugh Riehlman, a retired Homer dairy farmer, also is a Brockway enthusiast. He has outfitted a two-stroke engine golf cart to mimic the distinctive Brockway look, down to most minute detail. The front of the cart features the grill and distinctive sled-dog hood ornament, and there is a working air horn on top.
“It’s complete foolishness,” Riehlman said, looking at his creation. “There’s no reason to do it at all.”
He calls it “the Brockette,” and a plate on the dashboard notes its dedication to George Lang, a 30-year Brockway employee, who died in October last year.
Judy Riehlman plans to drive the Brockette in Saturday’s parade, which runs from the Brockway Museum on Route 11 to Huntington Street on south Main Street.
While Porteus enjoys working on his truck — he also has a 1923 model, as well as a 1900-era Brockway buggy, which are future restoration projects — he said one of the main reasons he keeps coming back to Cortland for the annual show is the people.
“This is like an annual vacation,” he said. “I love making the trip out, and visiting with people along the way.”
People see his vintage truck and approach him to discuss the memories the vehicle stirs in them, he said.
“Somebody’s always got a story to tell,” he said. “And if they don’t, I do.”
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