Back in the 1930s Henry Ford accepted an award from Adolph Hitler, and that event has haunted Ford Motor Company ever since. Today Nuss Trucks made the same mistake by hosting Donald Trump for a media event at their Burnsville, Minnesota dealership.

I (used to) like Nuss, always had good dealings with them and they keep a nice collection of classic Macks. Nuss has been an up and comer in the heavy truck and construction machinery business here in the midwest, expanding to eight locations in Minnesota and western Wisconsin and carrying the full line of Mack and Volvo trucks and construction equipment.

That means a lot of their customers are governments agencies run by women and sensitive men that can’t stomach Trump’s policies. And while I doubt Nuss will get banned from any bidding, when it’s time to order up parts Nuss may no longer be the go-to vendor. Couple decades back women managers in public fleets forced NAPA to kill off their exploitive “parts pups” girlie calendar, Nuss is about to see the same mysterious (to them) sales shortfall.

Nuss, you might want to take a hint from the real “big dog” in the midwest trucks and parts business, Boyer… Stay outa politics and concentrate on giving ALL your customers good service. And don’t let Trump anywhere near a truck!

 

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Couple years back I took Florida and a few other southern states to task for shuttin’ down I-10 for days because it was below freezing, might rain, and they had no salt. To further shame them I used the example of my home state’s snowplows on steroids, installed by MNDOT themselves with the reinforced snowplows supplied by an outfit a snowball’s throw from the Mighty Mississippi and a rail siding who couldn’t build lightweight if they tried. Seriously, the massive reinforcing on the back side of a Falls plow suggests it was designed for ramming snowbanks at full speed.

That’s the legend, the reality is becoming something else… Minnesota’s strange bipartisan coalition on highway underfunding where the democrats think we have to many roads and the republicans don’t want to spend money on them seems to have infected plowing too, and the tandem drive dump truck that used to push those Falls plows and ballast the secret weapon of ice control, the underframe plow, have been replaced by “cheap and cheerful” underpowered single drives. Thus a foot of “snowcrete” means wait for the loaders and any aging Oshkosh snowblowers that can still sorta move under their own power.

So no wonder that 48 hours ago every east-west interstate from Kansas to Canada was closed and some of them just reopened in the last few hours. Same story a couple weeks ago when I-90 across southern Minnesota was snowed under for two days, although some of that can be blamed on the too confident engineers who routed I-90 across the ridges rather than the through the valleys route of US-14 which followed the route of the Chicago&Northwestern, who probably followed the native americans. Suffice to say, the old truck drivers are still shaking their heads over that one…

So if this country still wants to be an industrial powerhouse we’d best invest in truck mounted snowblowers instead of waiting decades for Air Force hand me downs, loaders, big trucks, and skilled people to operate all of the above. Or better yet, put our freight and passengers on the railroads… BNSF’s Transcontinental Routes remained open through this blizzard, though the schedule was probably better used as kindling or TP. Heck, South Dakota was so desperate for supplies that CP could have probably sold out an intermodal train outa Chicago even though they have no intermodal yard in South Dakota! Unfortunately, CP’s too buy chasing away customers they only make 30% profits on to be bothered. That infectious profit maximization disease seems to be infecting every major railroad in America except BNSF, whose CEO Matt Rose is bullishly leading the railroad in chasing any freight that turns a profit.

BTW, Matt seems about to retire from BNSF, and would make a great DOT Secretary for the upcoming democratic president in 2021…

 

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db9328What with all the snow we’ve had lately, machines like this have been coming out of hiding. Hiding because a new one like this costs the better part of half a million $$$ and this 30+ year old one with only 4000 hours or miles on it sold for less than $20,000 on a hot august day. If you’re a Public Works, Highway Department, or DOT manager you know you’ll need this ultimate tool in the snow removal arsenal someday, but you hide it in the back of the back lot should some opportunistic politician spot it, declare it a waste of taxpayer dollars, and after it’s sold you know you’ll never have the budget to replace it.

I sense a business plan here, or at least an excuse to horde some neat old machinery. Multi-millionaire Irwin Jacobs got his start stockpiling sandbags, and during flood season he always had them in stock and sold them at profitable prices. Let’s see… A Mack dump truck, maybe a wheel loader, and a mighty Oshkosh…

DSCF2425That cut is even deeper since the last blizzard, and both the county and state DOT are hiring outside contractors to push the snow back. Heck, who’s speculating… We’d be performing a public service!

DSC_2210Then I look at my little low clearance garage and remember that I should be getting my tiny town and it’s seldom used tractor and snowblower signed up to offer mutual aid!

DSCF2296Experimental “modular” Corvair engine at the Corvair museum, maybe GM was sleepin’ around with Deutz too?

Ever since the 911 first saw the light of day over a half century ago we’ve all noticed a certain “resemblance”. Rumors of secret romance flew, usually along the lines of Porsche fathering the Corvair in place of a hapless GM. True, GM engineers made a few trips to Germany to study… Aluminum engine casting techniques. But the “Auto Ancestry DNA” results are in, and the truth is even stranger…

In the late 50s while the Corvair was gestating Porsche made maybe 5000 cars a year, though Porsche’s engineering consulting business was way bigger than similar volume auto makers. Fact is, Porsche owed it’s existence to engineering work for VW and high volume parts production volumes by VW’s suppliers that could be given an extra bit of tuning for Porsche’s 356s. In stark contrast GM cranked out cars, trucks, busses, bulldozers, locomotives, and a few other wheeled things by the millions, producing a cash flow that allowed GM to develop air ride, aluminum V8s, the Scenicruiser bus, and an all new rear engined car that borrowed little from the GM parts bins.

Truth be told, about all GM bought from Porsche was some 356s that became “mules” to test the Corvair engine, which with not much more bulk and much more power proved to be a better bargain that the 4 cylinder Porsche motor. Years later more than a few too expensive to repair Porsche flat sixes were replaced with cheap Corvair power. Come the 60s and it was Porsche’s turn to buy some Corvairs, they especially liked the Lakewood wagon’s easy access to their 911 test engines.

Come late 1964 and both the Corvair and 911 had lost the notorious swing axles and carried six cylinder engines with flat cooling fans, wrapped in swoopy new bodywork. While the Corvair was an economy sedan with sporting options and the 911 a sports car, a Corvair with the performance options could run with the 911 and didn’t try to spin when you made the natural response of backing off the throttle in a turn taken to fast.

Then the sibs went their seperate ways, with the 911 developed into one of the best sports cars ever while GM, afraid to confront Nader, sent the Corvair off to the automotive orphanage. Thus a huckster lawyer who didn’t even drive denied us generations of innovative cars… That engine in the picture with the individual heads was a modular version of the Corvair’s, GM built and tested a ten cylinder version to power the front wheel drive Toronado…

dscf2400Test fitting the Motorvation F2 flatbed ‘hack on the Guzzi Quota. It’s only a test fit ’cause I’ll have to take it apart again to get it out of the living room…

DSCF2087Most of the machines of mobility I write about here have at least wheels and usually an engine too, but the humble horse is a damn good means of mobility too. Put those horses and riders in the snowscape of a midwest winter and it’s too much for this writer to resist. So after writing this post on the 2013 ride and this post on the 2014 ride I spent most of december in Florida the last 3 years and missed the ride.

But this year, thanks to my greedy trailer park landlady in Florida and with due credit to this mild winter, I’m back and enjoying the ride again. The ride has grown bigger and better with a new contingent of walkers and riders from the Sisseton, South Dakota area joining the group midway as well as the runners doing an all night relay from Fort Snelling to join the group for the closing ceremonies in Mankato, Minnesota at the site of the unjustified hanging of the Dakota 38.

So the ride has grown, and for the better- As well as honoring the Dakota 38+2 and all the victims of that sad and uncalled for war, young activists are bringing their issues such as the tragedy of the too many missing and murdered native women and children and the pollution threat of oil pipelines to the ride. Along the way, natives and European immigrants alike are finding common ground organizing support for and enjoying the ride. The ride is also a massive logistical effort with a whole fleet of support vehicles expertly organized and driven by largely native drivers and helpers. Native Americans seem to have a natural talent for driving and fixing vehicles… If you need a truck driven safely through our midwestern winters, put a native behind the wheel!

Hope to see you along the ride next year…DSCF2096