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Old 05-21-2014, 07:27 PM   #1
Rob
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Howdy. My name is Rob Swallows located in central Illinois. I've seen a few names on this site whom may remember me from my former presence and participation on the antique and older large truck sites. That participation ran it's course and I withdrew from all but a very limited online personality.

I have an older four axle Mack semi tractor and have been wrestling with what to do with it for just over three years since acquisition. I have yet to drive it off my property although it runs very near perfect. The thought of converting it to a motorhome seems appealing as I from time to time think about purchasing one of these. Having right at 40 years in the auto body and heavy truck collision repair industry, along with nearing retirement age gives me the inkling I may be able to do this myself although I've never been involved with camping other than using a tent. It is however an uphill battle as my wife swears she'll "never sleep in the back of a truck." My own thoughts on this are she doesn't know what she's missing.....

About the truck: It is a "Western" 1973 Mack R model. Actually it is an RL797LST meaning it is a long hood, aluminum frame, lightweight components, with a 375hp Mack V8 engine, and 10 speed overdrive Mack transmission. It also has Mack rear axles and suspension so is a "purebred". This truck is all original in construction with the exception of paint. There is no rust in the truck at all as it resided it's entire life in the desert of Nevada. This truck has a 27' clear platform, (frame behind cab) and currently is a water spray truck with a 3800 gallon tank and six spray guns/nozzles. My avatar is of the truck.

I have no problem stretching this truck to whatever wheelbase is required of my final decision on a coach length. I have a couple of chassis with good aluminum frame sections to splice in and I've performed several frame alterations through the years in both aluminum and steel so pretty versed in the procedures. I will not cut this original cab back out to make a walk through for access, but would rather swap it out for another in the shop with a rusty rear window trough. This area was a common rust out area and wouldn't be required with the cab back opened up.

I've read a lot of posts concerning other's builds and am always amazed at the talent and dedication to make it all come together. I've never participated in this forum and won't jump into someone's thread offering all kinds of advice but if asked, will answer to the best of my ability. Given the profession I've been involved with all my adult life has allowed a glimpse of a lot. Some of this may be of use to others and if I can help, I will. Of course I'll have questions myself as this is foreign country to me.

Thanks for your time.

Rob
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Old 05-21-2014, 07:49 PM   #2
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Hi Rob, welcome to the Forum...great to have another knowledgable member......
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Old 05-26-2014, 08:31 AM   #3
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Welcome aboard Rob !
With your background you should have no problems building that "R" model. Those V-8 Macks have a sound all there own. Of course if it has the old camel back suspension that will have to go. Those things will beat you to death. I have seen a couple of "R" models converted as well as a B75 to motorhomes. Really cool.
I still have my first truck, a 1954 KW Bullnose, a 1974 K100 and the 1994 W900 I am converting to a toterhome. Told the wife I needed a 2014 KW to complete the package...she didn't buy that. Plan on restoring the Bullnose if I ever complete the W900
May want to pick your brain on extending the frame on it since it is alum. I have stretched steel one before but never an alum one. Great bunch of folks on this site. Lots of talent and great ideas.
Michael
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Old 05-26-2014, 06:48 PM   #4
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Thanks for the welcome guys. I can help you when you get ready to stretch that truck without problem. If I'm in OKC, I'll get on out your way if you'll have me. I do a lot of training there for equipment. I have friends all over the area from Norman in the south, Enid in the north, Hinton/El Reno/Yukon on the west, and good ole Choctaw to the east so plenty to see and do when traveling. I'm always messing with old trucks and that KW is right up my alley so to speak. To me aluminum is not any harder to work with than steel but there are some steps which must be adhered to for a lasting repair/modification. Most anybody can weld an aluminum frame together with a 200 ampere Mig machine and certainly if they have the gumption to build their own coach, they can do the frame with a little guidance. The trick is CLEAN, CLEAN, and then more CLEAN! This means both mechanically, and chemically using a silicone carbide grinding disc, clean stainless brush on a rt. angle grinder, and aluminum prep chemicals. Proper post heat treating is really the secret right after welding and we can discuss that later.

I have read some of the posts and there is a large talent base in existence; I hope to add to it. Maybe learn something along the way myself.

Those V8 Mack sounds being all their own? Must be why I have five of them. Four are in R700 series trucks, and one is a ready spare. I'm always on the hunt for spares and engines as everything on the old two valve engines is long obsolete, and the used parts supplies have all but dried up. I'm not biased or anything like that but is there anything else????? My old work truck is a 1980 Mack R model with a 300+ and 13 speed. It's nothing special but runs well. I also have a few B-61 series Mack trucks but really don't do anything with them except blow my allowance money sometimes skipping dinner to acquire a part. I know that sounds strange but my wife doesn't let me spend money like I could on trucks. She says something about breaking the bank and alimony.....

Oh yeah, I have a nice set of Neway air ride tandems in Mack 3.87 ratio for replacements to the original "Camelback" suspension. I've been yakking with a company in Michigan that says they can build a set of parabolic front springs w/roller bushings and may go that route too to soften the ride. The steer axle is only 12K so may need to come up with something a bit heavier to fit the bill, but not that far into it as of yet.

Thanks again for the welcome(s) and if I can help I'll give a shot.

Rob
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Old 05-26-2014, 10:17 PM   #5
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Thanks for the welcome guys. I can help you when you get ready to stretch that truck without problem. If I'm in OKC, I'll get on out your way if you'll have me. I do a lot of training there for equipment. I have friends all over the area from Norman in the south, Enid in the north, Hinton/El Reno/Yukon on the west, and good ole Choctaw to the east so plenty to see and do when traveling. I'm always messing with old trucks and that KW is right up my alley so to speak. To me aluminum is not any harder to work with than steel but there are some steps which must be adhered to for a lasting repair/modification. Most anybody can weld an aluminum frame together with a 200 ampere Mig machine and certainly if they have the gumption to build their own coach, they can do the frame with a little guidance. The trick is CLEAN, CLEAN, and then more CLEAN! This means both mechanically, and chemically using a silicone carbide grinding disc, clean stainless brush on a rt. angle grinder, and aluminum prep chemicals. Proper post heat treating is really the secret right after welding and we can discuss that later.

I have read some of the posts and there is a large talent base in existence; I hope to add to it. Maybe learn something along the way myself.

Those V8 Mack sounds being all their own? Must be why I have five of them. Four are in R700 series trucks, and one is a ready spare. I'm always on the hunt for spares and engines as everything on the old two valve engines is long obsolete, and the used parts supplies have all but dried up. I'm not biased or anything like that but is there anything else????? My old work truck is a 1980 Mack R model with a 300+ and 13 speed. It's nothing special but runs well. I also have a few B-61 series Mack trucks but really don't do anything with them except blow my allowance money sometimes skipping dinner to acquire a part. I know that sounds strange but my wife doesn't let me spend money like I could on trucks. She says something about breaking the bank and alimony.....

Oh yeah, I have a nice set of Neway air ride tandems in Mack 3.87 ratio for replacements to the original "Camelback" suspension. I've been yakking with a company in Michigan that says they can build a set of parabolic front springs w/roller bushings and may go that route too to soften the ride. The steer axle is only 12K so may need to come up with something a bit heavier to fit the bill, but not that far into it as of yet.

Thanks again for the welcome(s) and if I can help I'll give a shot.

Rob
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Old 05-27-2014, 02:18 PM   #6
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Rob,
Would love to have you come by and visit when your in the area.
That's a slick old Mack you have there. That would be a nice show truck with a little paint and chrome. With that wheelbase it would make a great motorhome chassis as well.
Drove an old B61 for Farmers COOP for a couple of years while in high school. 273? with a 5&2 airshift. Had to push the clutch all the way to the floor to make the 2 speed shift. Topped out at 57 mph.
If your going to be in the area let me know.
Michael
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Old 05-27-2014, 07:15 PM   #7
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Rob,
Would love to have you come by and visit when your in the area.
That's a slick old Mack you have there. That would be a nice show truck with a little paint and chrome. With that wheelbase it would make a great motorhome chassis as well.
Drove an old B61 for Farmers COOP for a couple of years while in high school. 273? with a 5&2 airshift. Had to push the clutch all the way to the floor to make the 2 speed shift. Topped out at 57 mph.
If your going to be in the area let me know.
Michael
That B-61 had a "Unishift transmission. Yes, you had to floorboard the clutch pedal to switch the range in the rear box. Trouble with those as they aged is they would get hung up between the low, and high side, then explode the rear case when power was applied. A nice and easy trans to drive when all was working right however. I have one but it's been converted to a manual "duplex" trans with two sticks. This is probably due to the original hanging up long before I acquired the truck. It is in a 1962 B-67ST. It is possible you had a 237 "Maxidyne" series engine in the chassis but it would not have been original as that series of engine came out in 1965 for the then new "R" series trucks. There were a few B models built as test beds for the 237 engine, (grandpa had two) but Mack only let them out for testing/evaluation as they had five speed transmissions which at the time was an unproven concept.

I do have aluminum wheels and new drive tires for the water truck but not installed. I need to get the rims polished but they're not all scratched up. I'm not settled on a finish color yet either but am partial to both blue hues and burgundy with silver accents. Will probably lose the painted grille plate as I have a nicely polished one to replace it. The truck really is as clean in person as the photos. The tank is old, beat up, and much older than the 1973 chassis.

Here is one I work with when bored. It has a 1693TA Caterpillar and is kinda rare. The truck itself is a 1978 Western RL-755LST. Not many of these around as few were actually built. It runs well but will hardly pull itself the clutch is so worn out....

Rob
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Old 06-02-2014, 05:44 PM   #8
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Welcome to the Fray
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