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B61 Cost of ownership/common problems.


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Hey everyone, first post here. I've been shopping B61's and I found one close by me, a 1961 tow truck, single axel 10 speed. It had a restoration in the mid 80's to be used for a city towing contract. It was in service for about 15 years and I would guess it sat around for another 10-15 after the company went under. It does run and drive. I looked for a FAQ but I didn't see one. I'd like to better educate myself on what to look out for. Can you tell me what some common problems are with these old Macks and ball park parts costs to fix them (especially brake work) so I can get an idea if these are real money pits.

The truck isn't for me it's for my dad. He'll be retiring soon after 40 years on the railroad and my brother and I have been looking for something really cool to get him. In my opinion it doesn't get much cooler than an old Mack. He is a mechanic by trade, repairing freight cars mostly. I'm sure it's much different work but the point being something big won't scare him. He's also no stranger to twin stick transmissions and he loves the B series Macks. One was for sale near by about 8 years ago and he still occasionally talks about it. My brother and I are in our 20's and working with a somewhat low budget. Fortunately my dad likes a nice patina. On the other hand I don't want to set him up with a headache. I'm concerned about tools. My dad has some 3/4" gear but I suspect he might need 1" and probably some Mack specific items aswell as a jack that can handle the weight. My dad is always looking for an excuse to buy tools, but I don't want him to have to spend $2000 just to be able to do normal maintenance.

You don't have to dumb down your answers too much, I'm mechanically inclined and so is my brother.

Edited by lbar
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hi!

Welcome to the forum

I love old b models as well as anyone.

you could consider any old truck a money pit

unless you buy one someone else has put all the money into

but then you have to settle for what someone else liked

as far as color choice and such and spend a small fortune to purchase the truck.

so it is a toss up spend it now or spend it later they are fun to restore but thre we go agian

tools tools tools.

cab rust is a big issue rust around windows,door bottoms,cab floors ,rear panel and corners of cab

but they are made of fairly thick material so they can be fixed watch for rust between frame rails on

double frame trucks.

it will spread the rails. main thing is look for the best truck you can afford and go from there.

brake parts are available from napa or our friends at watts mack have fun .

mine looked beter than it actually was

there are pictures in my gallery 5 years and still working on it one dime at a time.

Steve

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As with any old car or truck project, find the best for your budget. Unless you really want a project!!!

RUST is the thing that can kill a budget unless you are good at sheet metal and paint repair. If the engine sounds good and decent oil pres., it will probably run forever as a hobby truck. Brakes really aren't a budget buster even if it needs everything and is not an area where you want to cheap out.

Jim

It doesn't cost anything to pay attention.

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Aside from the rust and obvious problems, I'd look for a good drive train. Rebuilding an engine is costly and time consuming. Find one that starts runs and drives. Watch for trucks that smoke a lot particularly after they are warmed up. Tires and brakes are expensive too. If all the tires are shot you can figure on a big investment to get it road worthy. I'd find one running and driving. You can figure the balance of costs from there before you lay the cash down. Allow money for the unseen too...there are always problems you will miss.

Good luck

Greg

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I would say frame rust or cracks would be the biggest issue and headache and of course how rusted out it is, if it was wrecker it probably was inside a lot, the front pillars get rust in them and the bottom of the doors where it leaks into the cab. All can be fixed but the better it is to start the better you will probably feel about the project also the more you can find wrong may help with the price to a certain point. You can still buy a lot of the small stuff without breaking the bank, and gages and stuff are available.

I would also look at the tires, as they may need to be replaced from sitting. If they are old bias ply tires I would bust them down clean and inspect the rims and put new tubes in them, if they are bad then I would look for tubeless and find some decent used.

I have done both tubes are about $30 ea, have the rims sandblasted is about $25 ea. This past spring I bought 4 tubeless rims and gave $45 each for them from a salvage yard and paid $20 for sand blasting found 4 new recaps on CL for $175 and spent $20 each for mounting.

I also bought some wheel studs and this is what I am talking about, Mack had them for $10 and PAI (Fleet Pride) had them for under $3 each, however I needed 5 now and could not wait 3-5 days. I started switching over from the tube tires to the tubeless to get ready for a truck show, half way threw changing them out is when I found I needed to replace the 5 studs as they were bad.

Robert

"I reject your reality and substitute my own."

 

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In my opinion any old truck is going to require maintenance and it's really up to the owner of ther truck to call it a "money pit" or not. The cost of ownership is going to be based on condition. Some pictures and more info ie engine,trans,rears,etc might help give you a ball park. Owning any antique truck is like owning any big truck, its more expensive than owning a car or light truck. The thing with a B is that one, they made 125k+ of the different varieties so they are pentiful, and two, there is an entire community and network of parts and Knowledge here at BMT. That is not to say there isnt with other antique trucks but I'd be hard pressed to find the same network as for an International Emeryville series truck as there is with older Macks. So to answer your question there is going to be have to be more info provided for the truck in question. Common problems are rust areas at the back bottom of the cab, at the the piller posts below the mirrors.

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Yup, luck of the draw on what you get and how much you have to pay for it.

Over all they are a pretty bullet proof lil truck. They all can nickel/dime you to death if you let them. Get one that is running/driveable and go from there. Little improvements are easier to deal with then one that is a basket case to start with. You can still buy a lot of stuff for them, but some things are getting expensive(like rebuilding motor).

Mines popped a couple head studs in the last few years. Mack gets stupid money for that stud and nut(5/8"). I bought a few extras to have for later but might look at talking to ARP to see what they offer that might fit.

If it's geared right, it can get 8-9 mpg easily running down the road.

IMG-20180116-202556-655.jpg

Larry

1959 B61 Liv'n Large......................

Charter member of the "MACK PACK"

 

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The 1:25 scale B Model wrecker is a nice alternative through First Gear. It will not break the bank account and will not rust and your dad will still love you for getting him that truck. And another thing......you'll not have to buy rare (extremely difficult to find) parts for it. And it will not takeup too much space in your garage. And you will still have the same spouse and more money at the end of the month to meet your other expenses.

Honest!

mike

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the 1/25 version is a good choice also, they don't leak oil, you buy them once and that's the only money you spend on them but they grow on you and you need brothers and sisters for them and before you know it you have a house full of diecast Macks that you cant drive and your better half is sick of them just as much as if you bought the full size version.....

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post-6-0-64947600-1408238925_thumb.jpg

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What a great gift for your dad. He sounds like the kind of guy that would enjoy the real thing. As mentioned before rust is the biggest problem to deal with unless you have the skills to do the work yourself. This message forum is probably the best resource for anyone getting into the fun and enjoyment of B model ownership. When you consider the cost of ownership you have to factor in the amount of enjoyment it gives in return.

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What a great gift for your dad. He sounds like the kind of guy that would enjoy the real thing. As mentioned before rust is the biggest problem to deal with unless you have the skills to do the work yourself. This message forum is probably the best resource for anyone getting into the fun and enjoyment of B model ownership. When you consider the cost of ownership you have to factor in the amount of enjoyment it gives in return.

I can tell this forum is top notch. The three of us have experience fixing rust, welding, doing body work and paint, nothing on a professional level though. The truck does have some rot over top of the windsheild in the cab, I'm guessing it came in where those horns are mounted after the seals went. Otherwise the cab is solid. The bed has rot in one corner but it's flat metal and would be an easy fix. The frame looks good, but it looks like pinion seal started leaking pretty badly after the truck was awakened to be sold. This is the truck in question, hopefully nobody here scoops me.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Other-Makes-B61-Tow-Truck-Green-1961-b-61-mack-tow-truck-/261324166106?forcerrptr=true&hash=item3cd82253da&item=261324166106&pt=US_Cars_Trucks

Edited by lbar
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The replies are spot on, but the one thing no one mentioned is where are you going to keep the truck? If you don't have indoor storage any work you do to it will quickly deteriorate. You also need to ensure that local zoning/homeowner's bylaws laws don't prevent you from keeping a truck on your property.

This hobby is akin to owning a boat. If you like the truck buy it, enjoy it, and have fun, but don't expect to break even financially. As my DW tells me if you played golf it would cost money to play each month and that money would be gone forever, at least the trucks have some value.

Enjoy the truck and the father/son bonding. Great idea.

Money, sex, and fire; everybody thinks everyone else is getting more than they are!

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I agree if it runs good and drives you are miles ahead. A twin line wrecker for that kinda money you better scoop that up!!! But what has been said is true anything can be a money pit from a b61 to a 66 mustang to a 2000 model kia so thats in the eye of the beer holder as they say. If you have any questions on B's or macks in general the amount of information on here is abundant and most is first hand information from members who have been there. As a recent member to the b model ownership world i can say if you have a question it can be awnsered here

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