PHOTO BY EARL BRECHLIN

Dump truck aiming for one million miles



PHOTO BY EARL BRECHLIN

Bar Harbor trucker Bob Mace has kept his venerable L8000 Ford dump truck on the road for more than 27 years. He estimates it is closing in on having travelled the equivalent of 40 trips around the Earth.

Bar Harbor driver Bob Mace’s truck gives new meaning to the expression high mileage.

For the last 27 years, this independent contractor has driven his stalwart L8000 Ford dump truck over area roads carrying sand, gravel, rock, loam – you name it – to construction sites, highway projects and backyard gardens.

The odometer on the dusty and cracked dashboard stopped working when it hit 328,000 miles. “Of course, that was about ten to 15 years ago,” Bob reported with an air of classic understatement.

As close as he can tell, the truck now has at least 850,000 miles and may be closing in on one million. Most of that distance has been racked up just 20 miles at a clip on trips between Mount Desert Island and borrow pits in Lamoine. A bit of quick math on the back of an envelope suggests his truck has travelled across the Trenton Bridge nearly 50,000 times. The total amount of material carried comes to more than 300,000 cubic yards. That’s enough to fill Boston’s Fenway Park to the roof, once – and half way again.

He bought the truck new in 1987 at Whited Ford in Bangor.

Of course, keeping a work truck on the road that long doesn’t come without some attrition. “She’s on her fourth motor,” Bob said. Although the frame, cab and much of the running gear remain intact, he’s also had to replace the dump body itself as the plate steel wore through from being abraded by coarse materials over the years.

During the last 27 years, there have been brakes to renew, hydraulic seals to fix, headlights to change and more than 300 oil changes. Much of that work he’s done himself.

Bob has driven trucks his entire life. He worked for the town of Bar Harbor for 15 years and then signed on with excavation contractor Blanchard and Gray before going out on his own. He’s also worked with his brother’s excavation firm.

In addition to working directly with smaller contractors and homeowners, Bob also has worked as a contract driver with all the major construction firms in the area including Goodwin’s and Nankervis. In recent years, he has been kept busy by MacQuinn Construction of Bar Harbor and Lamoine.

Bob has no plans to retire any time soon. He enjoys what he does and the L8000 is far from giving up the ghost. “I’m 71 and she’s 27,” he said with a laugh. “I’ve met a lot of really nice people over the years,” Bob said. “I’m healthy, and I’d like to go another four years, but as far as the truck goes, I guess it all depends on maintenance. I’m not sure which one of us will need to retire first.”

Earl Brechlin

Earl Brechlin

Editor at Mount Desert Islander
Former Islander editor Earl Brechlin first discovered Mount Desert Island 35 years ago and never left. The author of seven guide and casual history books, he is a Registered Maine Guide and has served as president of the Maine and New England Press Associations. He and his wife live in Bar Harbor.
Earl Brechlin

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