Trailer Talk

Mack Museum Displays Fancy Fruehauf Van

News and Commentary by Tom Berg, Senior Contributing Editor

November 21, 2017

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Mack LTF leads a Fruehauf insulated van at the Mack Trucks Historical Museum in Allentown, Pa. Both vehicles were built in 1950. Glossy paint, chrome trim and whitewall tires make the old Mack look better than new. Photos: Tom Berg
Mack LTF leads a Fruehauf insulated van at the Mack Trucks Historical Museum in Allentown, Pa. Both vehicles were built in 1950. Glossy paint, chrome trim and whitewall tires make the old Mack look better than new. Photos: Tom Berg

Mack Trucks’ museum in Allentown, Pennsylvania, houses more than Mack trucks. For instance, on a tour of the place last September, I found this 67-year-old tractor-trailer rig, and it was a wowzer (if that’s a word).

The trailer's a 1950 Fruehauf insulated van with fluted stainless steel sides and nicely painted sills, undercarriage and running gear. Its maroon color matched the fenders and chassis on the tractor, a ’50 Mack LFT conventional.

Both belonged to F. W. Kyes, a fleet that ran out of Summerhill, New York, and had been loaned to the museum by a descendant of the owning family. Both had been lovingly restored and, it appears, enhanced to better than new. The Fruehauf’s sides had been shined to a mirror finish, though with some dents here and there, and everything else was spotless.

The tractor sported chrome trim that was certainly not original, but who knows, it might have been added along the way. I don’t recall ever seeing fender-mounted auxiliary mirrors in the ‘50s, but then I didn’t grow up in New York. And those whitewall tires will roll right over the proverbial top. Anyway, this rig looked show-stopping, and probably is when it’s parked at truck beauty shows. It’s also photographer-stopping, as you can see.

Like most vans of the era, this one has a rounded nose. Though it might help lower wind resistance, the curved nose’s primary purpose was to allow sharp turns without bumping the tractor’s cab when two units were close-coupled.
Like most vans of the era, this one has a rounded nose. Though it might help lower wind resistance, the curved nose’s primary purpose was to allow sharp turns without bumping the tractor’s cab when two units were close-coupled.

Informational placards listed specifications of both vehicles. One says that the 32-foot insulated van “has all the interior and floor required to make it a refrigerated trailer by adding a cooling unit.” Do that and it might almost be usable today as a city delivery pup. Almost, because its antiquated air brakes wouldn’t be compatible with a modern tractor’s system, unless of course you also used the old Mack to pull it. 

The museum does have a lot of other Mack tractors and trucks on display, and they’re changed regularly. There are also long shelves of memorabilia and drawers of engineering drawings and corporate files. There’s enough to keep a visitor engaged for many hours, or many days if one were researching an article or book.

The museum's also got an original Mack bus, one of the company’s first products, built for sight-seeing duties in New York City, close to Brooklyn where two brothers, Gus and Jack Mack, established the company in 1900. And, did you know that the firm was originally called International Motor Co.?

My visit was with a troupe of other reporters who were in Allentown for the introduction of Mack’s new Anthem model, which has been covered in TruckingInfo.com and HDT. If you’re ever in A-town, the Mack Trucks Historical Museum, faithfully staffed by volunteers who are retired Mack employees, is worth a stop. So are other automotive museums in the area. Find ‘em on line, and plan to spend at least a couple of days enjoying yourself.

Fluted stainless steel sides are highly polished, with only some minor dents marring the mirror finish. The trailer, too, has whitewall tires. Museum’s tight confines made for sharply cropped views.
Fluted stainless steel sides are highly polished, with only some minor dents marring the mirror finish. The trailer, too, has whitewall tires. Museum’s tight confines made for sharply cropped views.

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Author Bio

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Tom Berg

Senior Contributing Editor

Journalist since 1965, truck writer and editor since 1978. CDL-qualified; conducts road tests on new heavy-, medium- and light-duty tractors and trucks. Specializes in vocational and hybrid vehicles.

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