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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Bob's Log: 1943

Bob's Log: 1943

March 1943. Washington, D.C. "Bob Daugherty filling out his log book after lunch. The Interstate Commerce Commission requires all truck drivers to keep time records." Photo by John Vachon, Office of War Information. View full size.

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Pull your Johnson

The trailer brake valve is called a Johnson bar or johnny. The term might come from railroading, where a 'Johnson rod' was a mythical part greenhorns were sent to find, or was a catch-all phrase for unexplainable problems with the engine.
Until Spring brakes became mandatory in the '70's, trailer parking brakes depended on having air in the trailer tanks. When the air leaked out over time, a driver trying to hook a trailer could end up chasing it all over the yard as it would roll away on contact with the tractor. He would thus back up to the trailer, hook up the airlines (with 'gladhands', another term borrowed from railroaders),charge the trailer tanks, pull his johnny to lock trailer brakes, and hook her up. They are still required on tractors, although seldom used. Using it to get out of a jacknife would only worsen things, like using the handbrake in your car during a snowfall.

Make, year and model of the tractor?

I'm thinking it's a late 30s or early 40's Autocar, before the comfort cab.

Trailer Brake Lever

That trailer brake lever is very useful. It can be used to apply only the trailer brakes if the tractor starts to jackknife. Applying the trailer brakes helps to straighten out the rig whereas if you use the brake pedal to apply all brakes you might increase the chance of a jackknife.


That spotlight is an Appleton, long gone from the stores but a highly coveted find now.
Spotlights (now almost all the generally similar Unity) remain common; you will see at least one on every police car and emergency vehicle out there, and on many taxis and big trucks. Civilian spotlight geeks remain out here, too! I note from my own post that we are at least as obsessed with bizarre obsolescent details as the train geeks.

Trailer Brake Lever

Modern tractors still have the separate trailer brake lever, but it's usually on the dashboard somewhere, not on the steering column as pictured here. It really doesn't serve any purpose!

That lever on the steering column

The lever on the steering column is clearly not a shifter nor a turn signal. It has a little pipe coming out of it.

I'd guess it's for a trailer brake or a compression brake, but someone with more practice driving 1940s big rigs would know better.

Natty Attire

The gizmo just to the left of the steering wheel is the handle for the spotlight.
They disappeared long ago, along with uniformed truck drivers.

Book of lies

Another term for the logbooks was "Book of Lies".

Funny book?

The truck drivers name for the log book is 'funny book'. It probably got that name from the fake entries made in it to conform with the letter of the law.

I am trying to picture

a modern teamster wearing a tie to work.

Bob's brother, Ralph.

Bob had a younger, look-a-like half-brother, named Ralph who also worked as a driver. The last time they met, Ralph was on his honeymoon.

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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