Chapter 10
Load-Packer 600 Series

    Introduced in April of 1959, The 600 series Load-Packer was basically a continuation of the successful LP-500 "Cyclomatic" packers. However, there were significant changes to the construction of the packer mechanism, control system and the dumping hoist, which warranted the new series designation. Body sizes were the same as the LP-500, at 10, 13, 16, or 20-cubic yards capacity, with the addition of a new 18-cubic yard model. The smallest was the LP-610, which was narrower that the rest, with a smaller one cubic yard hopper. Among all models, the most notable outward change was a more compact chain drive for the rotary sweep panel. The new assembly hugged the sidewall more closely, with twin access covers replacing the bulky canopy of the 500 series. This freed up more room on the left-hand riding step, and would remain unchanged for the next twenty years.

    The biggest change was in the operation of the packing panel, which was now powered by hydraulic cylinders located behind the panel and inside the body. One end of each cylinder was mounted to the body structure, and the opposite ends were affixed to the inside face of the packing panel. With the tailgate locked to the body, the cylinders moved the panel forward and backward as part of the packing cycle. With the tailgate unlocked, the cylinders could extend further and raise the tailgate to allow discharge of the load. Tilting the body was accomplished by way of a dual-acting telescopic hoist mounted vertically at the front of the body. This replaced the under-body Twin-Arm hoist, and was better suited to lift larger bodies and heavier loads.

    The Cyclomatic control linkage was also modified on the LP-600, with a crank arm now directly connected to the packing panel stub shaft. Packing panel movement was now partially controlled by this linkage. The sweep panel cam wheel still controlled panel timing throughout the cycle. Located on the right-hand side of the tailgate, these control linkages worked in tandem to operate control valves located inside the upper tailgate structure. Like the LP-500, it was fully automatic with manual control possible including reverse. The Load-Lift container attachment carried over unchanged, and was now available with Pax-All containers up to three cubic yards capacity.

This 1961 model LP-616 was owned by the City of Buffalo. It shows the revised chain drive for the conveyor panel, which replaced the bulky and protrusive version used on the 500 series. This new drive made it easier for crewmen to use the left-side riding step, and would remain unchanged through the late 1970s. The hopper door was optional equipment.

A 1959 model LP-600 in Baltimore, Maryland. On these early versions, as with its predecessor the LP-500, the conveyor panel automatically rotated a few inches at the completion of the cycle to "block" movement of the packing panel. This was to prevent it from creeping back under pressure from the compacted load as the body became filled.

Side view shows the triangular tailgate bracing on the right-hand side of the tailgate, a feature unique to the early 600 series.

Low loading height was a Gar Wood exclusive. This LP-616 on a GM truck chassis has a hopper sill height just above the knee-level of the crewman. Hopper opening was 74" wide, still the best in the industry when it was first introduced.

Early LP-600 "Big Six" demonstrator in front of Baltimore Truck Equipment

Hand-loading doors were optional on either side of truck, or both sides

Early-model LP-620 used by a contractor in the Buffalo, NY area

    Although little known today, radical new compartmented versions of the LP-600 were available by 1960 for multi-stream collection, perhaps the first such models in industry history, and decades ahead of their time. Two, three or more compartment splits for the hopper/body could be ordered. Hand-loaded front and side compartments for salvage were also available, split any way the customer desired. Had the early recycling efforts of the era come to fruition, these models might be better remembered as the pioneering recycling bodies that they are.

The Cyclomatic packing mechanism was fairly easily converted to multi-stream collection, while still retaining all the features of the standard LP-600. Internal retaining panels with single-action catches allowed for separate discharge of collected materials.

Variations of compartmented Load-Packers: Top left and top right: cross-body divider ordered by New York hauler, with refuse packed in rear compartment, while salvageable items were hand-loaded in the front section. Bottom left: dual compartment Load-Packer used by New Jersey rendering contractor. Fats were loaded on one side, bones on the other. Bottom right: Special swing-away side door for loading junk TV sets or other salvage items.

    For 1962, the hydraulic valves for the sweep panel and packing panel were relocated to the outside of the tailgate, further simplifying the control linkage and improving service access. This resulted in a return to the "radial" bracing pattern on the right-hand side of the tailgate, similar to the LP-500. A large access door easily identifies these later models, and this change was carried over to successive series. That same year also saw the return of a 25-cubic yard model for the first time since 1956. The LP-600 was also offered in semi-trailer versions for use in regular collection or as stationary packers.

    The LP-600 was an excellent packer, and sold well for Gar Wood. It was designed to be their packer of the '60s, and for a while, it probably looked like the Load-Packer would remain the industry leader. But once again, the competition was not complacent, and would not only equal Gar Wood, but leap past them in engineering. The Leach 2-R Packmaster and Heil Colectomatic Mark II were both released within a year of each other in 1960, and would completely change the school of thought about rear-load refuse packers. As good as the LP-600 was, it would never be able to match the crushing power of the slide-sweep 2-R, nor the compaction densities being achieved with Heil's Duo-Press compaction/ejection system. As the sales leader, Gar Wood Industries was undoubtedly aware of this reality, and new management would counter with an even more radical concept in refuse trucks. Unfortunately, rather than saving Gar Wood, it was a concept that was to ultimately doom the company.

1962 LP-620 showing side access door on hopper, which protected external control valves.
Linkage was simplified, and hopper bracing returned to radial pattern of 1957 model.

Left-hand side of 1962 models remained mostly unchanged

A direct-lifting telescopic hoist was needed for the ever larger and heavier bodies, especially the big LP-620 and LP-625 models.

A pair of late-model LP-620s for the City of Chicago

City of Chicago LP-620 loading

1962 saw the partnership of Gar Wood with Fuji Heavy Industries, bringing the Load-Packer to Japan. Starting with the LP-101,
Fuji has produced the rotary-blade packers ever since, adding many technological improvements along the way.

An LP-620 semi-trailer unit with its own gasoline engine and hydraulic pump could be used for mobile collection or as a stationary packer

Special 600 series semi-trailer with electric motor-driven pump, used as a stationary packer

600 series body with wheel well cut-outs for tandem-axle truck chassis

The small LP-610 was different from all other models. It was six inches narrower, and had a 58" wide hopper that held only one cubic yard.
All other LP-600s, from 13 through 25 yards had the full size tailgate assembly.

The Load-Lift system was an option for the LP-600 packers, which handled one yard wheeled Pax-All containers.
Two and three yard containers were added in the 1960s. The simple kick-bar hoist is extremely efficient and has been widely copied ever since.


A rare film (shown in two parts) of a Gar Wood LP-600 in action at a U.S. Army base in Augsburg, Germany circa 1962

Courtesy of Michel Ferro


© 2014 Eric Voytko
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Photos from factory brochures/advertisements except as noted
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