Brockway: a tradition of toughness

Little York man’s rebuilt trucks will be on display Saturday 


Photos by Joe McIntyre/staff photographer   
Ron Shippey works on restoring a 1964 Brockway truck which was found in a hedgerow near Albany. TOP: To mark the 50th anniversary of Brockway trucks, Shippey used a gold huskie logo instead of silver on a truck he recently restored. Shippey will show the trucks at the seventh annual Brockway Truck Show Saturday on Main Street.

Staff Reporter

LITTLE YORK — Behind his home on Route 11 Tom Kile has been restoring old Brockway trucks for the past three years.
Although Kile owns a construction company that he operates out of his shop, which sits on the hill above his house, two bays of the building are dedicated to his hobby of rebuilding trucks made by the Brockway Motor Truck Co. of Cortland.
Currently, Kile has two trucks in his shop. He has a fully rebuilt 1949 model 88WH-41817 and a 1964 model 256. The ’49 has a two-toned blue paint job, a wooden box and frame, with a six cylinder Continental model 38 engine and a 5-speed transmission.
Parked next to the 1949 is the red and black 1964 tractor-trailer cab, which has a 220 Cummings engine with a five-speed transmission and rare three-speed Eaton rear end.
Kile said he is in the final stages of restoration on his ’64.
“This one won’t make it to the show this year,” he said. “We’ll wait until next year when it’s all the way done.”
The 1949, however, will be in Saturday’s Brockway Truck Show on Main Street, just like it was last year.
“The whole cab had to be redone on it. It’s all done in-house,” Kile said about the ’49. “This one came from Montgomery, Pa., it had a street plow on it, then a fellow from Albany bought it. He used it to plow his driveway and I bought it from him.”
Although the restoration was no small project, Kile and workers from his construction company who help him out with the restorations were able to finish it up in seven months, partially thanks to a long winter.
“We plowed a lot of snow and worked on that truck,” he said. “Nobody could believe that we could do a truck like that in seven months.”
Kile said that he has been working on the 1964 for the last two years with the help of his son, Danny, and three employees, John Sevastino, Dick Taylor and Ron Shippey.
“He (Taylor) has sanded more rust off that truck than anybody,” Kile said.
Kile joked that the commitment to start a restoration — a process that sometimes takes years — takes some poorly thought-out planning.
“Just being stupid enough to do it,” Kile said when asked how someone gets involved with the hobby. “You start cleaning them up and painting them and buying new parts wherever you can find them. That’s half the battle, looking for new parts.”
Kile’s passion for Brockways began when he started working construction for local highway departments.
“When I first got out of high school I worked for a municipality that had had Brockways, then I worked for the town of Homer and in the late ’70s and that was all we had,” Kile said. “We had a couple of four-wheel-drives to plow the road with, then everything else in the barn was a Brockway.”
The Brockway family started building wagons in Homer in 1875, according to the Brockway Preservation Association’s Web site, and then transitioned to building trucks in 1910. The company then became a subsidiary of Mack Trucks in 1955 before finally closing in May 1977.
Kile explained that the trucks have maintained their popularity in Cortland because of their durability and local fame.
“Everybody knows somebody that worked at Brockway, either a friend or relative or a neighbor or somebody, and then they were shipped all over the world,” he said. “They were a rugged truck, everybody appreciated them. Not too much from Cortland goes all over the world.”
In front of his shop Kile has two more Brockways waiting for restoration.
“That ’73 on the end used to belong to Cortland County. I’m the second owner on that,” he said as he pointed out of the shop window. “I don’t know if I’ll do the other one or not. I’ll be busy until 2050.”
Kile said that Saturday’s show gives collectors a way to network for parts, adding that he hopes to put his trucks in the Brockway Truck Museum that the preservation association is working to establish.
“There’s a great bunch of people out there that love Brockways and they all help each other try and find parts and trade and swap back and forth and half of that is the fun of doing it,” he said. “It’s hard to imagine the parts that are available.”
With people expected to come from all over the country to Saturday’s show, Kile said that some of the Brockways at it will be fully restored and others will be works in progress.
But no matter what their condition, Kile said there is no reason to be delicate when dealing with a Cortland-made Brockway, even when closing the cab door on a truck that is nearly 60 years old.
“Give it a slam,” he instructed. “It’s a Brockway.”



At Court Street fire station —

Sealant needs to be replaced

Staff Reporter

CORTLAND — Six months after city firefighters returned to the Court Street station, the sealant on the new concrete bay floor will have to be stripped and reapplied.
Fire commissioners were told Thursday night by Assistant Chief Charlie Sherman that workers from Industrial Coatings, the firm that applied the sealant, will begin stripping the top coat of urethane sealant Monday.
The sealant, applied in October of last year, had begun to crack and peel from the floor. The one-year warranty will cover the reapplication, Sherman said.
Although the company had wanted to work on the entire floor at once, Sherman said that the department had directed Industrial Coatings to proceed one bay at a time, and that the city’s ladder truck would be kept at the Franklin Street station while the resealing work is being done.
Industrial Coatings owner Keith Corey said that it will take one day to apply the sealant to each bay and two days to allow for adequate curing time.



County hopeful state grant will aid with flood mitigation

Staff Reporter

CORTLAND — Seeking all available resources to help prevent future flooding, the county is looking at applying for state low-income housing improvement grants to help fund flood mitigations.
The Legislature’s Planning Subcommittee on Flooding is working to identify areas that have both been hit hard by flooding in recent years and meet the income requirements for the state Community Development Block Grant program, Legislator Carol Tytler (D-3rd Ward), who chairs the subcommittee, told the Agriculture and Planning Committee Thursday.
The subcommittee has already identified the neighborhoods along Dry and Otter creeks, between North Main Street and the Tioughnioga River, as an area that could be eligible for a grant, according to Dan Dineen, director of the County Planning Department.
“Basically we’re looking at Willow Avenue and Samson Street as the main CDBG area for this first grant application,” Dineen said.
The subcommittee essentially did an overlay of three different maps to determine eligibility, Tytler said, one showing areas in the city prone to flooding, one showing public infrastructure that needed repairs, and one showing census data of socioeconomic status in the city.
“When we put it all together, that area just jumped out at us,” Tytler said, noting that the area met the low-income requirements for a CDBG grant and had experienced much flood damage in recent years.