When you love old vehicles as much as I do, antique trucks become a beacon that my lens cannot ignore.  Today’s post is part of our running series “The Toad’s Tonka Toys“, featuring images captured at the BC Forest Discovery Centre in the summer of 2011.  This was a grand day of adventure Mrs. Toad and I shared with our best friends, the Mudpuppy’s.  The truck we feature here today is truly a special one; this is a very rare unit and we were pretty happy to have a chance to capture some images of it to share with you.

1959 Kenworth Chain Drive - BC Forest Discovery Centre, Duncan, BC, Canada

1959 Kenworth Chain Drive - BC Forest Discovery Centre, Duncan, BC, Canada

At first glance you might very well think we’re showcasing another incredible, old, antique truck in a varying state of restoration.  You’d be right, but this is not the entire story.  This is much more than another rusty truck, it’s a very rare chain-drive semi used for heavy-duty applications in the logging industry.  They only made these, as far as our research shows, for a limited time.

The Mudpuppy himself dug into the role of researcher, and was able to find these details to share with us all:

…this is an example of what that chain drive 1959 Kenworth was used for HEAVY loads!

The last chain drive, I believe, was the model 848S, on which chain drive was an option right into the early 60’s.  I have been unable to uncover any reference to an 849S with chain drive, but I wouldn’t be surprised if some were built.  The original reason for going with the chain drive, as stated by KW, was to allow enough gear reduction to turn the huge 16.00-24’s.  I believe that another reason was the huge supply of Knuckey bogies that Pacific Car & Foundry had left over after the war…  No chain drives were built in Seattle after 1956, but it seems that Canadian KW was building them later than that.

1959 Kenworth Chain Drive - BC Forest Discovery Centre, Duncan, BC, Canada

1959 Kenworth Chain Drive - BC Forest Discovery Centre, Duncan, BC, Canada

In this shot we take in a multitude of colors and textures.  Simple in design, but a truly elegant solution to transporting seriously heavy loads, this staple of the logging industries fleet must have seen some pretty great action in its time.  The rain forest climate that envelopes Vancouver Island tends to be harsh on metal and wood built structures, and this truck is literally dripping rusty goodness.  That’s not to say that it wouldn’t flash up; the diesel engines in these trucks are notorious for being built like a tank and being indestructible.

1959 Kenworth Chain Drive - BC Forest Discovery Centre, Duncan, BC, Canada

1959 Kenworth Chain Drive - BC Forest Discovery Centre, Duncan, BC, Canada

The men who operated these units deep in the woods on the island here were as rugged as the machinery they commanded.  This is a dangerous job, made more so by the unrelenting and sharp edges of all the metal that made up the machines, as well as the sheer scale and force of falling timber.  This was, and is, not a job for the faint of heart that is for certain.

1959 Kenworth Chain Drive - BC Forest Discovery Centre, Duncan, BC, Canada

1959 Kenworth Chain Drive - BC Forest Discovery Centre, Duncan, BC, Canada

In this parting shot for today’s post we take in the chain-drive mechanism.  As mentioned, this is a pretty simple design, but undoubtedly highly effective.  Mudpuppy found this old black-and-white image online of one of these trucks with a full load.  A formidable sight, for sure.  He also found a video of this very truck before it was moved and parked under the special cover we found it in.  As the creator of the video notes, the chains here must have made quite the unique sound when the truck was traveling at speed.  Also, the engineer in me cringes at the notion of what would have happened had one of these chains broke, especially under load…  no doubt a flying chain would have the force and ability to cut a man in half.

Both Mrs. Toad and I just love antiques and pieces of our local history like this.  It brings us a lot of joy to have a chance to photograph these wonderful old items, and bring them here to share with everyone.

Thank you so very much for your visit today, we sincerely appreciate it.  As always, we encourage you to leave us any comments you may have as we love to hear from all our visitors.




  1. Fantastic images Toad. I love the colors and textures. You’re processing of these is outstanding.

  2. avatar ChrisdMRF says:

    Love the textures and tones in the images Toad old chap. The backstory on these beasts is pretty special. Glad to see you getting another post up as well

  3. This is great Toad 🙂 I really like that 1st shot!

  4. avatar Curt Fleenor says:

    Wow, the climate really is rough on metal! Love the composition of the last image.

  5. avatar Jim Denham says:

    Only a truck this masculine could offer such a bright and colorful paint scheme as this! What a vehicle, and chain driven too! Amazing find my friend and thanks for sharing!

  6. avatar Len Saltiel says:

    Great textures and colors Toad. Terrific processing. A man has to have his toys…

  7. avatar Jim Nix says:

    lovely HDR work my friend! old stuff like this is so fun to shoot, and you have done it much justice!

  8. avatar Fred Norris says:

    This is a monster of a lorry mate!Love the rusty goodness and character you have presented with your images.Thanks for sharing Toads and Mudpuppies.

  9. avatar Mike says:

    I laughed when I saw this at first because my twisted sense of humor concocted that this must have been the Mary Kay version of the chain drive!! 😀 This is a great set of images Toad. Well done!

  10. Nice work Toad, I love that second image!