Suderman’s site is world famous. It gets a huge amount of traffic: 1,300 to 1,500 unique hits a day. A quick scan shows photo contributions from Australia, South America, France, Russia, New Zealand and Denmark.
“I was disappointed how few truck pictures were available online,” says Suderman. “So I started putting up a few of my own. Eventually guys started sending me their pictures and the thing just snowballed.”
As with many trucking enthusiasts, Suderman’s connection to big rigs is genetic.
His dad drove truck and pictures of him are proudly displayed on the site. One picture shows his dad at Jones Lake, B.C. with a very serious Hayes logging truck and three massive fir trunks strapped on behind.
The truck is sitting on a trestle, and the load is so heavy that one of the steering wheels is lifted off the ground.
Suderman’s father also ran some freight, as did the younger Hank, who did some P&D work in Vancouver between coach and bus driving jobs. Unfortunately, Hank was sidelined and had to make a career-path shift.
“I drove until I injured my wrist pretty bad and the doctor told me to think seriously about changing jobs. So that was when I started to think about the computer field. It’s probably a good thing too, because this Web site would never have been created if all that didn’t happen,” he says.
Suderman now works as a database administrator for a private university in British Columbia.
Hankstruckpictures.com is so extensive and dense that it will take you more than a day to filter through. Besides historical and contemporary photographs of trucks, the site also posts trucking stories and various industry links.
“I want to track the history of trucking and eventually write a book,” says the 55-year-old Suderman. “But this Web site is keeping me so busy I don’t have time to do my own pictures.”
Personally, I enjoyed the pictures from the early ’70s when I began trucking. Some sections are devoted to “fallen flags”- carriers that are now extinct (so many!). The images of the Astros and Titans, B series Macks and International Transtars, Whites and Diamond Reos, Brockways and Hayes resonated deeply with me – as though they were ghosts calling from another era.
Among the strengths of Suderman’s site are the collections submitted by former and present day truckers. In particular, check out the photo archives of Gary Ellis (retired Molson’s driver), Tony Gussie (former cattle hauler), Doug McKenzie (still driving for Midland) and Chris Hall (currently a driver at Sleeman’s Brewery).
“The Internet has made the world a smaller place,” says Suderman. “One of my biggest thrills is connecting personally with someone I’ve been corresponding with and whose pictures I’ve been posting.”
William (Diesel Gypsy) Weatherstone is another former trucker who’s caught the Internet bug, thanks at least in part to Suderman.
Just a couple of years ago, Bill Weatherstone was still driving tanker. He’d been called back to work after retiring the first time at age 65.
However, his employer Trimac insisted that he put the truck up for sale as part of his terms of recall. Finally in 2001, the International 9000 was sold and Weatherstone found himself at home full time – with quite a bit of time on his hands.
“My wife Muriel told me to get a hobby,” says the 68-year-old from his home in Elliot Lake, Ont. “Up until that time I’d never even held a keyboard in my lap.”
“I didn’t even know how to turn the thing on,” says Weatherstone. “I used to plop down in the living room after breakfast and scan the world. Hank put up a few of my pictures on his site and that got me thinking I’d like to do something on my own.”
Weatherstone’s Web site, at www.vianet.ca/~bw is a personal journey through his rich and varied trucking life.
Although he was “thrown out of school, before my time,” Weatherstone has turned into a good writer, and has lots of life experiences to back him up. At the age of 14, he was already motoring along Ontario highways behind the wheel of an International KB8 tractor while his stepfather slept on the bench seat beside him.
For most of his career, Weatherstone was a contract specialist. He worked for an agency and got paid a premium to take on difficult jobs. In one scenario he’s crashing along bush roads bringing a tanker full of emergency grease to a Labrador City mine. Hunters in a remote camp can hardly believe they’re seeing a Texaco tanker with Christmas lights blazing rolling through the brush in the middle of the night.
There are times Weatherstone wishes he were back on the road. “I’d like to have my old tractor back that I had on with Trimac and just run around empty. For the last five months I’d unload in Chico, California and run empty to New Orleans. I’d cross over to Reno and then roll down the Nevada side. Nothing to worry about. No CHIPs patrols or scale shacks along the way. Then I’d run along the Mexican border to Louisiana. That was the best part of the trip.”
These days, Weatherstone is just as happy piloting a computer as his old International 9000 – almost…