Gary tetz

Interview by
Published on
May 18, 2022

In this episode...

Many trucks stood out at the 50th Mid-America Trucking Show - massive rigs with bright colors, customized trucks, and eye-catching designs. But those who know their history caught a true showstopper at the heart of the expo - a 1937 Linn Halftrack with a Hercules engine, owned by Mr. Gary Tetz. He also was able to secure a photo of the very same tractor in action back in 1962, working on a town road and snow plowing. While Gary has a decorated story as a business owner, he takes special pride in being a savior of history - he doesn’t just collect trucks for the sake of collecting. He takes their history and passes them on to everyone willing to listen. Do you dream of having your own collection of vintage trucks? Listen to Gary’s story as he sits down with Life By The Mile, delivered by FreightWorks.

Gary Tetz

Truck Driver at Ed Tetz & Sons


you have to remember your history and where you came from i think we're losing that in this country but i i just love the history we're in the santa gravel ready to mix concrete and and i i look at that thing and to use that thing for production was just you had to be a man

i'm butch mulfey this is life by the mile delivered by freight works where it's a mid-america trucking show 50th anniversary and i'm just gonna come right out and say this got gary tetz with us i've never been to a mass before i came around the corner and i saw this truck and it just captured my heart my heart got snagged right away and gary it was a 1937 lin and i'm just going to jump right in we're going to have a great conversation i told you earlier told you earlier it's like we're sitting in rocking chairs out on the front porch you're from new york so uh i just want to ask you the question what is the story of that truck well the story on that particular truck is a 1937 lynn half track it was has a hercules engine in it originally bought by the town of otsigo in middleton in uh in new york yep uh i've got a picture of it in 1962 working on a road with a road grader and they used it for building town roads and snowplow when were they first built what do you know about the lynn company what i know about the lynn company is they started in around 1915 they manufactured on through 1953 uh they're originally uh the lynn number one is still around you've got to be careful somebody owns lynn number one number one yep if you go on uh youtube and type in wind truck there's videos of it lynn was manufactured mainly for snow plowing and the forestry industry was used in construction the tennessee valley authority ordered six or eight of those they had special built for working on a dam and stuff they were using in the mining there's also a video out there of a copper mine that had a bunch of them with side dump bodies on them really yup yup uh 19 around 1936 as they started to make some substantial changes in them like what they made the bigger engine they advertised uh also that it went from nine mile an hour the high speed was 12 mile an hour hugely hugely yeah and then right after that in 1937 they also started putting cummins diesels in it okay uh and at that time what did they have before uh gas jobs waukesha continental mines hercules and they also advertised that they went up to 174 horsepower so they they gave the size loads they could tow uh they were really big in the in the forestry industry they they were uh used because they could be used year-round wet ground rocky ground whatever it might be and they were able to pull some some good-sized loads out of out of the uh now gary what we're gonna do just you know is i mentioned to you we're actually gonna get some video that we're gonna put with this broadcast this is not live but this will be when it's uploaded and it's posted we're going to have video of the truck so everything that you're talking about people are going to have the chance to see yeah now let me let me let me ask you this so keep going through the history of where did they stop making them 1953 they started stop making why because they didn't change with the times they just they stayed with the tracks and there's a there's an article on this website called and it says that one of the salesmen they were in new york by binghamton and they were going to build a dam and he knew that was the end of lynn then because they were competing against uh uh letourneau who built scrapers and bulldozers and stuff and they were out running them like four to one and he knew then that was the end of win because they just didn't update uh fwd and walters they made the snowplows because they were big plow uh sales back then that's so interesting so so they just died they just died not was it a slow death or a quick one uh was fairly slow because they went through till till 1953 so they they didn't go quick but they did go now and the characteristic of it is that it was all terrain all weather multiple uses correct absolutely and back then they had mostly all dirt roads so they weren't worried about the the tracks on them uh and then later on like that truck there the grouse or what they call the grousers are bolted on so right now i have them off so you're able to run that on on i didn't hear because they didn't want to mar the concrete but you can run it on asphalt without ruining the asphalt okay here's the question that's gonna open the barn door and we're gonna have horses that run out free for a while i can tell how in the world did you ever fall in love with the blind trucks what was your story gary how did you get into this whole world where you adopted a truck well my story is we're in the sand and gravel ready mix concrete business and one of the towns in sullivan county which is a county that i live in now uh had a aggregate plant that we bid on they were selling they auctioned off we bid on it and when we went there to take it down there was a lin truck sitting there oh it was there yes but it wasn't part of the deal was it working no it was half a part it was cannibalized so i got interested in them and i started looking and the local the county that i live in also owned two of them and what county was this sullivan county new york okay and you'll see that if you go on coach bill it's it's mentioned in there and i was supposed to get those two but they sent them to a guy who i bought this one from his name was charlie bilby charlie bilby and charlie bilby is the expert on wind trucks you know what's so incredible i love it that there are people that are like a world expert on something yes is he mr lin trucks he's mr is he still alive yes he is he's is he a friend you know he's uh yeah that's who i bought this truck for okay he's 80 some years old he owns he owned 14 of them 14 of these women did he end up being the global expert on lynn trucks he remembers as a kid riding on a lynn truck and he always plowing snow and he always wanted him and over the years he collected him he went all over new york collecting them and he's got some pretty unique ones he's oh that is so incredible you know what we need to figure out a way for him to see us talking about this now you know if we can do that we certainly want to make sure that we honor we honor him because we love history we love legacy by the way real quickly folks this is life by the mile delivered by freightworks if you haven't subscribed to the youtube channel please make sure you do that if you've not liked and shared do that as well i'm here with gary we're talking about a 1937 lin truck now it was cannibalized how bad was it the one that we were the engine was well the hood the radiator part of the engine was gone but it really intrigued me the half track really intrigued me so then i i started looking around but i was never able to really find that was 1992 and i just bought my first one this here one last year so it was a long long time before they they came available but they are out there they are out there now let me ask you this how did you reconstruct and rebuild that truck is there a market out there for lynn parts or how does that work well charlie's the man charlie is the man i mean this one he's got like a bar and he goes out and says sure i've got really yeah yeah he's like i said he's got 14 of them plus parts i was into one building he's got two spare engines because they put hercules and waukesha were the two big gas engines that they use he's got two spare waukesha engines sitting there uh i mean he's got another shop where he does some repairs and he's got parts in there i mean he's in and you know he knows everybody not everybody but most everybody that owns lynn trucks so they're able to to that is so fascinating now do we have any idea how many are still around no the number i heard was 150 is still existing but i don't know if that's a good number or not but it sounds feasible now let me ask you this does yours run yes absolutely wrong did you have what did you have to do ran when i got it but somebody had left the water in it and cracked the block and the heads the block was repaired real good the heads were so so and they were leaking so i decided to take them off so we took them off i wanted it for this show it wasn't going to be in time so i i went online and talked to charlie and he gave me a name of a guy to call and there's a guy out in newark ohio that has hercules parts old new stock by the dozen i love it when people become collectors of this stuff yes and i called him i asked him if he had a set of heads he asked me does it have two spark plugs per cylinder or one i said one he said good i got him and i drove out there the very next week and picked them up and they were new old stock in the box never been opened that is just incredible yeah you know and you wonder sometimes about people that are perceived as hoarders that keep stuff and you don't know why it's in part because every one person's junk is another person's treasure isn't it absolutely and he is the treasurer of hercules parts i went out there and went through his b he's got two buildings full of stuff we're walking around he says do you have any valves for he said absolutely he said what do you need i said well i only need three exhaust valves i said they're good but i'd rather replace them he said yeah he said i got as many as you need so we're also walking around i says you got an oil pump he says yeah i do and i says well how do you keep track of all this stuff and he points to his head like this he said that's how i invented that is such a gift that is so important i said can we look at the oil pump he said i got to think a minute and he was a collector of track type tractors caterpillar cleat track and the he said let's look at them he said nothing so we're halfway through and he says yeah i remember where it is and we went over to the shelf and sure enough he picked a brand new oil pump off you know what people just need to have a memory like that to do that my grandfather on my mother's side was the production control manager for the chick company the razer company they moved from stanford connecticut to lancaster pennsylvania he was the kind of person that could tell you i've got 19 paper clips in my top drawer on the left hand side my number two ticonderoga pencil is probably estimating its use and how quickly it goes down i probably have two more weeks left i mean he was so into all that that's the way this guy and they're they're just people like that sure it's around the corner to the left and it's got a little box and the stories behind it are great because i said how'd you come up with all this hercules part he said well i work for a machine shop in chicago and the guy got old and he was junking a lot of it and he told me he said if if you want it you can have it and he said every weekend i would take my car in a trailer and i'd go to chicago load it up and bring it back as much as i could bring back he said that's how i got this stuff folks i'm here with gary tetz he has an incredible old piece of equipment uh i i love these stories now let me ask you this question what is it about collectors what what is it about all of you that love to collect old stuff is there anything common it's the history you have to remember your history and where you came from i think we're losing that in this country but i i just love the history we're in the sand and gravel ready to mix concrete and and i i look at that thing and to use that thing for production was just you had to be a man you really did didn't you had to be amazing there was no such thing as driver creature comforters were there no no they they i mean that was pretty good the windows the front window opens the back windows open but the thing that amazes me is the gas tank is right under the seat and the gas tank fill in the vent is right there in the cab it sits right there on your right-hand side and when even that little bit that i drive it i can smell the fumes of the gas there in the cab that is just it's like the people that talk about the cab over trucks where you really feel like you're you're driving yeah are there people that have been around driving for 50 years i got a dear friend bud byers 5 million miles he drove not a reportable accident once 47 years i think it was drove for yellow freight and uh i listened to him talk about what it was like when you first started driving yeah you had to fight the machine absolutely absolutely i i started on a b model mac mixer you did ready mix truck yeah what was that like that was it was it was hot in the summer yeah we we delivered concrete with uh we had three b models b61s quadruplexes 673p engines in them 10-yard rec rex mixer on the back just it was it was different how did you let me ask you this gary how did you get into the concrete business how did we get well if i start from the beginning yeah your story i want to know your story my father was a dairy farmer what kind of cows uh milstead house holstein and in 1955 the barn burned down killed all his cows so he had enough of of farming i was only three years old then and so and i often asked him this and he couldn't really remember i said why did you start moving sand and gravel and um he didn't really have an answer so he started moving sand and gravel we put in a wash plant in the early 60s my brother skipped my oldest brother he went to college he went to clarkson college and when he graduated he came home and he really wanted to go in the concrete business so my father said okay and we started out with a one-yard batch plant with a couple small international mixers and then we moved to b model max we had 3b model max and then uh then we bought a crane carrier i don't know if you know we did a crane yeah we had a 15-yard crane carrier and then in 1980 i came home from college in 75 we bought another aggregate plant and that's when we really started to grow then we ended up you know buying a lot of mixers we got uh we've got 35 dump trucks and uh 30 concrete mixtures you do yep yep now i've always i've got a dear friend bryson smith he's he and his dad in western north carolina where we're from have a concrete business what does it take to make good concrete good sand good stone and enough cement that's your three main water that's your four main ingredients what does it take from a labor standpoint what do you have to make sure you're doing to do it right um well there's two things and the two i mentioned make sure there's enough cement in it and don't over water put too much water water kills the strength of concrete that's but today there's so many chemicals out there that that that assist you in the concrete that makes it set up faster in the summer makes it set up slower puts the concrete to sleep it just you know there's just a lot of additives out there that but but again you you remember the day where you didn't have any of that right no matt the first the first well the first concrete that my father and brothers both my brothers were in at that point they actually took a wheelbarrow and wheeled the sand and the stone plant though we mixed the concrete in the truck for the for the original plant have you ever gone back to concrete you poured decades ago absolutely you have yep yep can you tell me about one of the oldest pours that you remember that's still there one of the oldest pours that i can remember is one of the first pours that that my brother did was in a housing development just down the road from where we and we look at those foundations and stuff and they they're they're still there 1965. that is so rewarding to be able to see that now let me ask you a question i've always wanted to ask a concrete expert because now i'm learning you're an expert in several areas why is it people put their signature in a date or i don't know but have you seen that absolutely if you go to all the old railroad trestles that were built that most of them have the year cast in in that they were they were they were put up they were poured well you know what they they got to be people that are students of history like like like you and i are yep now what do you do with your truck do you take it places or how do you yeah okay so talk about that talk about what this is really the first show with the lynn truck i'm into steam i got about 15 steam engines you didn't tell me this what else are you hiding uh well my what i really started collecting was caterpillar stuff and then i kind of got out out of that and then i collect stone crushers i got every kind of stone crusher and range of stone cream you do yep where do you get them from how do you well as a collector once you start collecting and people know that you collect you'll get phone calls i get phone calls yeah where do you store them i've got them in and well we got them in a few different places because my sister she collects horse-drawn carriages my brother collects cadillac's he's got about 15 old cadillac i'm kidding no well how what's the oldest cadillac he's got uh 1908 one cylinder 1908 you are kidding no what do you talk about at thanksgiving everybody yeah so do you display yours well we're gonna put up a building this year we're we're in front of the planning board right now we want to put up a a big building to be able to display it because i was telling the guy there that would stop the at the truck that we have our stuff all over and it makes it makes it tough to be able to show people because my brother rents a couple garages my sister rents a building we have two buildings where we're at already that are packed full and uh we got to put up a big building to be able to show this listen we are definitely going to stay in touch and i'm definitely going to come out and see this absolutely now let me ask you this gary when people come like at a show like this yup and they look at the truck what are they saying what kinds of things you're hearing unusual that's that's probably the first time they ever seen a half track that's that's the most unusual older guys are really interested in the engine and what you know the transmission and all that but the the uh you know what the most amazing part is what is the number of women that are interested in it my buddy united came out with me he said that he said you know there's a lot of women that are interested in this goodness they said yeah there is yeah yeah so we we try to answer as many questions as we can answer and you know keep people enthused about the old the old equipment the old trucks well you know what i'm we're going to chase a rabbit probably right now might be a rabbit but i'm going to give ourselves fruition to do it okay we are not typically political on any of our podcasts but i have to say this and people are going to see it in the video when we import the video in here and i took a picture you had a you had a flag there yeah and you talked about your support forward allegiance to number 45 right okay i i want you to take no more than two minutes and tell me what you liked about that president what i liked about him is he had talking about donald trump donald trump i i the the banner says it all uh he was a jerk personally and being from 60 miles north in new york city and and knowing a little bit about him he was very tough to do business with he was a very tough businessman but what i enjoyed about him and i think the best part he was about the small guy he protected the small person yeah like small business small business individuals the the the thing that for me that killed him was his mouth he just couldn't keep his mouth shut but i i love the guy politically i love the guy i don't think we'd be going through what we're going through right now if he was still president because he didn't he didn't take anything from anybody well i thought it was really bold that here i am taking pictures of the truck and i said you know what there you go and and you know my own personal story uh is is i'm a reformed democrat i'm a republican now and good that's a whole discussion you and i will have over a meal sometimes yeah let me ask you this are you going to collect more stuff in the days absolutely tell me the kinds of things you want to collect charlie bilby and and i think me and him have a pretty good relationship now uh i bought two from him so far how many does he have 14. he says he he donated three of them to a uh a local club there that that um a 503c um that's going to take those three and he said he was going to sell seven more and i told him that if he sells seven more i'll buy all seven of them do you mind me asking what one of these goes for well that one there i paid ten thousand dollars okay i think that's pretty cheap you know uh allman auction sold one off last year totally restored though totally restored uh went for 125 000 plus the commission really and it was a 15 buyer's commission really yeah really didn't that's and was it completely restored yeah it was completely it was perfect but i like what i got i want it i want it in its work clothes that's what i call in its work clothes that's that i to me that's as original as a as a truck can be yeah because if you're somebody interested in the story of the truck you don't want it to be so completely redone that you got to imagine the story you want to be able to see it absolutely and you know what you rolled that thing off a flatbed yesterday did you yeah yep backed her off so you're you're gonna become the new charlie i'm gonna try to because i i really admire the guy because he was saving the history is his health good yes yeah is he still involved with yep the one the one i hope i can eventually get is they made one that was a side dump instead of the rear dump oh was that rare there weren't any of those there wasn't a lot of those made uh there's a youtube video those but the ones that you'll see in the youtube is different than the ones he has okay because the cab on it only had a half cab and the driver could sit on either direction so you could sit in it normal and drive it forward and then when you had it back up you could go to the other side and steer and run it and drive it backwards so it really was innovative in its day but it just didn't keep up did it correct you know and i've been to letourneau the college oh have you there is a school called lieutenant down in texas yeah and and he was an incredible well you'll like this i've got seven laterno turnip holes you do you wore two d4 turnables i got seven of those he was quite the man yes he was he was better than caterpillar or whole or anything was he really i thought so he was more energetic he made innovative equipment absolutely you know a little known fact about him is that of course he was very much a religious person he was very faith-driven and at one point he was giving away 90 percent of his income away to charitable causes very philanthropic but he made good equipment absolutely i got uh i got one of his turnip dozers i got a couple of his scrapers and like i said i got i got seven to the if you look it up the d4 turnips gary i don't think we're going to have another guest that's as interesting as you honestly this has been so delightful we're going to stay in touch with each other absolutely i want to come out and see you i would love that uh and we're going to get you back on life of the mile delivered by freight works on a a remote call at some point we're going to have our team go over during the middle america truck show and get some video actualities and i only have one more thing i need to do you know every guest that comes on life of the mile delivered by freight works gets a cap of course the truck industry is known for caps and you've got a great hat and i'm a native texan by the way so i love it i was born in lubbock i love seeing a cowboy hat good but this is yours it's a life by the mile cap we did it specifically for mats that's yours to take thank you for being a guest we'll be coming over probably tomorrow to get some video good and uh folks this is gary tetz he is an expert not like charlie maybe we're not like charlie but he's charlie's understudy and television absolutely again the piece of equipment that you have that built our relationship to start uh what i have is a 1937 wind half track used for snow plowing the the forestry industry and and mining industry and the the snowplowing was big and all the towns and counties around in new york had them right but you're a collector of so many other things as well total history and you know what i i actually uh loved the fact that you're preserving american history yep for other generations to know how our transportation industry has evolved over i think it's very important very important here at the 50th anniversary of the mid-america truck show gary tetz expert extraordinaire i'm butch malti the host for life of the mile delivered by freightworks make sure that you subscribe to the youtube channel make sure that you like it make comments we're going to have some video of the items that he's talking about the truck that he's talking about but in the days ahead you can grow with us as a tribe of people interested in telling the story of america's truckers they're the last cowboys by the way yep a lot of people absolutely yeah you have a lot of respect for truckers absolutely having having you know 70 some trucks we we know about the truckers we know it folks he's here with his hat he's here with his smile and he's been here today as a guest on life of the mile delivered by prey works gary thank you so much thank you i knew it was going to be one conversation i wasn't sure when it when it started well i i absolutely have enjoyed it and i know that our viewers and listeners are as well so come back and see us every week life of the mile delivered by fragworks thank you thanks for watching this episode you know life by the mile delivered by freightworks is one of the newest largest and fastest growing podcasts actually produced by a trucking company now we want you to like and share this episode if you'd like to see more 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