August 11, 2008
‘Huskies’ line up on Main Street
Nearly 100 Brockways roll in to town at 9th annual truck show
Even though new Brockway trucks have not rolled off the assembly line in 31 years, Tom Kile still thinks they are the world’s No. 1 truck.
“It’s hard to believe they built such a great product in Cortland that was used all over the world,” he said.
Kile, a member of the Brockway Museum board of directors, was one of many fans and collectors showcasing their restored Brockway trucks, celebrating a piece of local history Saturday at the ninth annual Brockway Truck Show.
“One of my best friends was into restoring the trucks and the bug bit me, too,” Hugh Riehlman said of his passion for Brockway trucks. Riehlman is vice president of the Brockway Truck Preservation Association. The association was founded to promote the significance of Brockway trucks by preserving their history, according its Web site.
Nearly 100 trucks paraded down Main Street, drawing people from various locations around the state and the country Saturday.
“We grew up with them, and the show’s getting bigger and better every year,” said Vicky Evans of Memphis, Onondaga County. Evans attended the show with her brother Dick. She said they got involved with Brockways after their father restored a 1923 model when they were children.
Don Herbert, from Basking Ridge, N.J., said that as a collector he loves how sturdily built the Brockway trucks are.
“The fine craftsmanship was evident right off the assembly line,” he said. He added that this was largely because these trucks were hand-built.
The Brockway truck history dates back to 1875 when William N. Brockway founded the Brockway Carriage Works factory in Homer. According to the Brockway Truck Association Web site, the factory turned out light and heavy-duty trucks from 1911 until its closing in 1977.
Kile said that he likes the fact that these trucks were built by members of his own community. One of the two trucks he brought this year was a 1949 Model 88, which he spent nearly eight months restoring. He said that originally it served as a plow truck at the Farm Bureau of Montgomery County in Pennsylvania. He added that when it was originally used, operators had to pump the plow up or down by hand.
Not every Brockway model on exhibit was a utility truck. Riehlman was the only collector to show a Brockway buggy, which he purchased at auction in 2004 and spent nearly six months restoring.
Exact dating proved impossible since there were no serial numbers or identifications on it, but looking through catalogues, he estimated it dating back to the late 1800s.
Brockway enthusiasts not only used the day’s festivities to show off their restorations, but to meet new people as well.
The camaraderie among Brockway collectors was what impressed Leslie Taylor the most when she arrived at the first show.
“The first year we drove in we were so surprised at how many people were happy to see us, it was great,” she said. She said that her husband owns two Brockways, one of which has been a major part of their lives.
“The 1971 Brockway we have was the first truck my husband made a living with as a truck driver,” she said.
Her husband, Bruce Taylor, showed off a 1951 model tractor, which carried the Brockway name, but was actually produced outside of Cortland. Approximately 500 tractors of this model were produced, he said.
While he does not own a Brockway truck, Joe Hnatkovich has attended the Cortland show for six years and promotes them in his own way: with his husky named Xena. Huskies are the mascot for Brockway trucks.
“I call us the Brockway good-will ambassadors,” said Hnatkovich.
He said that he likes to attend truck shows to distribute flyers about Brockway trucks to get people interested.
Along with a custom-made leather harness bearing the Brockway name, Xena never fails to make people smile, Hnatkovich said.
“It’s the greatest thing meeting people with the mascot, dogs make people happy,” he said.
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