The Ever Expanding History of the Front Load Refuse Truck
By Zachary Geroux
and Eric Voytko
The American industrial machine went into overdrive during World War II, with the entire country dedicated to producing new technologies and weapons for the war effort. When the conflict ended, that same tenacity continued, and the economy saw a strong growth that was not expected by many skeptics, who had feared another Depression. Many industries grew by leaps and bounds, experiencing a technological boom, which resulted in many of the products we still use to this day. Refuse haulers and body manufacturers saw the need for a better way to contain and streamline collection methods, especially in bigger cities where populations were ever-expanding, and where public health was a growing concern. Pre-war technology had already brought forth the bucket-type rear loaders, and even the first primitive packer-type bodies. These offered a cleaner solution than open-type dump bodies, and had started to gain favor with haulers, but still required a multi-man crew to hand-load the refuse. Even though Dempster Brothers had developed a revolutionary containerized method of refuse collection in 1937, it was a short-haul system; the 'Dumpster' refuse containers could only be carried one at a time to the disposal point. In this regard, the early Dempster system may actually be seen as the forerunner to the contemporary Roll-Off truck.
Though not a self-loading refuse truck, the Dempster Dumpster pioneered the principle of detachable containers, which could be used
to store refuse on site for later collection. When containers were later combined with the efficiency of a self-loading compactor truck,
the modern front loader was born. Shown here is a Dempster hoist truck and six-yard refuse container from the early 1940s
Self-loading garbage bodies like the ATIA (left) and Colecto (right) introduced basic features that would lead to
front loaders of the future: the loading trough and power-operated lift arms
1945 truck loader attachment made by Western Industrial Products of Los Angeles was attached to a standard dump truck
Hoist cylinders mounted under the body actuated rigid lift arms
Holmes would soon lend their loader-arm technology to Dempster, and continued production of their attachment through the end of the decade. During the 1960s, Holmes concentrated on their well-known line of vocational equipment for vehicle towing and recovery, and seems to have discontinued their loaders altogether. Brisson Brothers Machine eventually adopted the "Lodal" name as its corporate identity, and would go on to become a full-time builder of refuse equipment, still operating out of Michigan to this day.
The Holmes-Owen Loader was introduced in 1951 as a general-purpose municipal workhorse,
with its unique articulated arm (hinged at the mid-point) that was operated by two sets of hydraulic rams.
It undoubtedly inspired the first generation of dedicated front load refuse trucks built between 1952-1956
Brisson Brothers Machine Works supplied this Lodal loader to Marysville, Michigan in 1952.
This was a technically an attachment, using rigid lift arms powered by parallel-mounted hydraulic cylinders
Its primary duty was garbage collection, but the versatile unit could load virtually anything, including snow.
© 2012 Zachary Geroux and Eric Voytko
All Rights Reserved
Logos shown are the trademarks of respective manufacturers
Photos from factory brochures/trade advertisements except as noted