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August 13, 2012

 

Preserving history

Proud Brockway owners show off restored trucks at show

PreservingJoe McIntyre/staff photographer
Jamie Tinkham, left, his father, James Tinkham, right, and his grandson Brennon Odell, 9, center, stand near their 1958 Brockway named Wanderlust during the Brockway Truck Show on Saturday in Cortland.

By CATHERINE WILDE
Staff Reporter
cwilde@cortlandstandard.net

For the Tinkham family, Saturday’s 13th annual Brockway Truck Show held special significance.
They displayed a refurbished1958 red and blue Brockway truck, the restoration of which was a family affair.
Three brothers worked on the truck with their father, whose father and two of his brothers-in-law worked for Brockway.
New Jersey resident Matt Tinkham said he and his brothers, Jamie of Florida and Jeff of Cortland, together purchased and refurbished the truck with their father, James.
The truck, bearing the name “Wanderlust” across the front, sat on display Saturday after about five years of work, Cortland resident James Tinkham said.
The brothers said the truck required a “ground-up restoration.” Jamie Tinkham took vacation time to fly up from Florida every year and work on the project with his family.
“It was something we could all do together and still have a local tie,” Jeff Tinkham said.
The four men said they were always mechanically oriented, whether it be with tractors, trucks or Harley Davidson motorcycles.
“We were brought up to fix our own stuff and get pride out of doing it,” James Tinkham said of the work ethic he passed down to his sons.
To have the truck displayed for the first time at the Brockway Show was fulfilling after all the work they put into it, he said.
The name Wanderlust came from a Johnny Cash song, said James Tinkham, who chose the name but never told his sons the origins of it until Saturday.
The Tinkhams said they planned to keep the truck in the family forever, handing it down to their grandsons.
Early Saturday, horns blasted through the air as proud owners from all over the country backed their trucks into parking spots along Main Street at the onset of the show.
The event commemorated what would have been Brockway’s 100th year of manufacturing the trucks. The factory was closed in 1977 while it was owned by Mack Trucks, a fact that several of Saturday’s participants lamented.
Dan Schaefer took a break from polishing the fender of a 1976 yellow Brockway plow truck. Schaefer said he drove from Youngstown, Ohio for the event, something he has done for several years since he has owned about five Brockway trucks over the years. Schaefer described the truck, originally used as a plow truck for the New York Thruway, with pride.
“It’s still a work in progress. I’m not done yet. I’m still working on the body and chassis,” he said.
Schaefer also hauled an orange plow truck that had been used on municipal roads up north, he said. The fact that both trucks are 1976 is especially significant, he said, since that is the last year the Brockway trucks were built.
Schaefer said he has been around trucks ever since he was 16 years old and he has purchased Brockways because he has friends in Cortland involved in the recently opened Central New York Living History Center, which houses a permanent Brockway exhibition.
Schaefer said Saturday’s show was about preserving history.
“Kids today don’t understand what Brockway was because they quit building them before they were born,” Schaefer said. “People get to see stuff that doesn’t exist anymore.”
Bill Kober came from Washington, N.J., to view the parade Saturday morning. He stood beside a yellow dump truck and said although he does not own a Brockway truck, he has owned a truck repair business since 1971 and is familiar with the trucks.
“I’m a truck person,” Kober said, explaining why he came. “I like trucks.”
Kober said Franklin Township, in Warren County, always had Brockway trucks as the road department vehicles.
“Brockway always made a large, heavy-duty, rugged truck,” Kober said.
Saturday’s event began with a gathering at the museum in Cortlandville.
The Central New York Living History Center encompasses three separate museum displays: Brockway Museum, Homeville Museum and Tractors of Yesteryear. In 2005, Troy resident Peter Grimm, whose family owns Grimm Building Materials, donated $375,000 toward purchasing the property.
After several years of fundraising and planning, the museum opened June 8.

 

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