1980-1990: The Krug Years

Route Chief, Dempster's new mid-range rear loader for the 1980s

    In December of 1980, Carrier Corporation sold its Dempster Systems division to Technology Incorporated (TI) of Dayton, Ohio. Founded by the Krug family in 1959, TI made its fortune in the aerospace industry, most notably with food products for use in space missions. During the decade, TI also acquired UK refuse truck manufacturer Shelvoke & Drewry (SD), gradually transforming the famous brand into a kind of British Dempster, with American-designed front and rear loaders adapted to the home market. Also added to the family was C & O Manufacturing of Sante Fe Springs, California, a small concern that built lightweight front loaders. C & O would give Dempster a foothold in southern California, the biggest truck market in the US, which was still dominated by a handful of local specialist builders.

    At the beginning of the decade, the Economite mid-range rear loader was renamed the Route Mate, available in sizes up to 20-cubic yards. The Route Mate is not listed after 1982, but may have remained in limited production for some time afterward. The Route King II remained the heavy-duty rear loader of the Dempster line, with a new 32-cubic yard body size which would find favor with big national hauling companies.

    1983 brought a new mid-range rear loader, the Route Chief, a swing-link model which replaced the aging Route Mate/Economite/Ranger line which had been around since the acquisition of Cleburne in 1973. The Route Chief was very similar to the Route King II, but featured a different packer geometry with the packer cylinders "in line" with the swing links, instead of side-by-side. The light weight Route Chief was rated at 700 pounds per cubic yard, and its a 3-cubic yard hopper was the largest of any mid-range rear loader at that time. It was soon joined by the Route Chief II, which added higher pressure hydraulics for a 900 pounds per cubic yard rating.

    The Dumpmaster XHD continued the basic full-pack front loader platform around since the mid-1970s, but with increased densities achieved with changes to the packer panel and a curved tailgate section. C & O front loaders, now a Dempster division, were available where lighter weights were needed, with a range of half and full-pack designs featuring cross-mounted cylinders.

    A short lived Royal Dumpmaster was introduced around mid-decade, looking like a cross between the XHD and the C & O Ultralight. Very few Royal Dumpmasters seem to have been sold, and this may have been a quasi-expermental model. Among national haulers, BFI is known to have used them in New England.

    Technology Incorporated changed their corporate name to Krug International, after the name of the family that had founded the company. Labor troubles and declining profits marred the decade for the refuse body division. Following a 1987 strike, the Dempster assembly plant was moved from Knoxville, its home since the 1930s, to nearby Toccoa, Georgia. The British Shelvoke Dempster division was shed in 1988, being sold to private inverstors. Within two years, Krug would be out of the refuse industry altogether when they sold Dempster Systems to Wastequip of Cleveland, Ohio.

Mighty Route King II added a big 32-yard size body in the 1980s

Rare 80s Dempsters: Route Mate (left) and Royal Dumpmaster (right)


    Introduced in the early 1980s, The Route Chief series was created to fill the mid-range packer slot. Unlike the Route Mate, the new model utilized the swing-link geometry of the high-compaction Route King II. The Route Chief was of somewhat lighter construction, and differed from its bigger brother in the placement of the lower links, which were "in-line" with sweep cylinders instead of beside them.

    The Route Chief was sold in England by Shelvoke-Dempster for a time, replacing the Shelvoke Revopak and Maxipak models. In the USA however, it never sold as well as the heavier Route King. By 1990, it had been renamed the MR60, but was subsequently discontinued within a few years.

Mid-1980s vintage Route Chief on the job in Southern California

BFI and other "national" haulers were big users of Dempster rear loaders during the 1980s

Although both employed the same packing method, the tailgates of the mid-range Route Chief and high-compaction Route King II
were completely different. The Chief had a lighter swing links located behind the sweep rams, whereas the King had a heavy-duty
link assembly between its large bore rams and extra blade reinforcement. None of their components were interchangeable.

Route Chief II featured up-rated hydraulics and packed 900 lbs/cubic yard.
Its close similarity to the Route King II may explain explain why it never sold as well.

Video of a Route Chief picking up in California in 1992 (Courtesy of Eric Haas)

Dumpmaster XHD heavy-duty front loader

Dumpmaster XHD's "Roto-Dor" compaction system

Dumpmaster XHD on the job, including packing cycle
Video courtesy of North 40 Refuse and George Lanoszka

The Royal Dumpmaster, a lightweight 33-yard high-compaction front loader appearing around 1985

Reverse-mount cylinder, with the big end up front, delivered 189,500 pounds packing force throughout entire stroke

Royal DM lift arms rated at 8,000 pounds capacity

Royal DM features

Lightest Dempster Front Loader: The 38-yard C & O Ultralight body weighed in at 12,800 pounds


Video of a rare C & O Ultralight front loader shot by George Lanoszka

Original Dumpster System remained in production: this is a 1988 model LFW-503C built in Toronto, Ontario

2/22/13 (revised 12/28/14)

© 2006, 2013 Eric Voytko
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