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The song remains the same

8/4/2014 | Words: Chuck Mahnken | Pictures: MTU Archive

2-Cycle engines, Series 71

In the 1950s, every brand of engine produced a distinct sound. And Paul Klontz knew them all, since he spent his teenage years living near a truck route. Paul says, “I grew up to love the Detroit Diesel 53 and 71 engines, especially the sound. The first Detroit Diesel 2-Cycle engine I remember hearing was a 4-cylinder in a Chevy 60 Series. I mistook its high-pitched whine for high RPM. Even when cranking, the sound it uttered was unique.

A few years later, Paul became a truck driver. One night in 1962, he was hauling 36,000 lbs. of wire through the Raton Pass into New Mexico. The 45-minute climb up the mountain—and the temperature inside the cab—was grueling. At the top, he got out to let his 450 IHC truck cool off.

Paul heard a truck’s howl as it climbed the same mountain. It was a “cracker box” GMC tractor in the distance, and Paul knew exactly what kind of engine was providing the power—a Detroit Diesel 8V-71. “A few minutes later she came by me at 15 mph—both straight stacks slightly smoky and singing lovely,” Paul says.

He stood beside the roadway just to hear “that beautiful Detroit 2-stroke at full song” as it passed by and accelerated down the other side of the hill. Paul says, “It has been many years but I still remember that cold clear night in the mountains and that beautiful sound of strength in action.”

The content of the stories reflects the status as of the respective date of publication. They are not updated. Further developments are therefore not taken into account.

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