Chapter 20
FL-3000 Front Loader

    With the successful introduction of the new high-compaction LP-900 rear loader and updating of the LP-700 series, Gar Wood division turned its engineering sights on the front loader market, a segment that it had abandoned since the demise of the T-100FL in the late 1960s. By 1975 however, with the talented Fred Smith at the engineering helm, Gar Wood introduced a more viable design in the new FL-3000 series. Unlike the unit-construction T-100, the new model was a 30-cubic yard body for mounting on any suitable truck chassis, and eschewed any rear-loader tailgate combinations as in the past. It was a solid and practical design, and was to be the only successful Gar Wood front loader during its short production run of about four years.

    The distinctive slant-pillar body sides instantly identify the FL-3000 as a Fred Smith creation. However, his front loader featured a reinforced flat roof section, as opposed to the curved dome used on the 9-series rear loaders. The leading edge of the body was truly slanted, to correspond to the angle of the packer panel, while the opposite end terminated in a large bustle tailgate, top-hinged and equipped with a liquid sump base. External lifting arm cylinders of 8,000 pounds capacity were standard, with 10,000 pounds optional. A unique hydraulic circuit used pressure-sensing pilot operated valves and a rotary valve and cam arrangement to automatically keep loaded containers level during the lift cycle. A regenerative fluid circuit used expelled oil from the lift arm cylinders to open twin hopper doors automatically as the arms raised. The doors were powered closed after dumping, which aided in compacting and retaining refuse dumped in the hopper area.

    The packer panel used was powered primarily by a single, angle-mounted telescopic cylinder, which moved the blade back and forth in the usual manner. However, mounted to the packer panel were two narrow short-stroke "stuffer" panels, each with its own cylinder, which applied a secondary pack to the load. The idea behind the system was to achieve a more equal load density throughout the entire body. Since refuse at the lower part of the body tends to be denser due to the gravity, the stuffer panels were used to help lift and pack the load upward after the main panel had completed its stroke. A pilot-operated reciprocating valve automatically shifted oil from the telescopic cylinder to the stuffer panel cylinders once a pre-set pressure threshold was reached. As the stuffer panels pushed deeper into the compacted mass, they created voids which allowed the main panel to creep back further, automatically reversing the valve. This reciprocating action, automatically alternating thrusts by the packer and stuffer panels, continued until the panel could move no farther, and maximum density had been achieved.

    For the most part, the FL-3000 incorporated practical features, avoiding the gimmickry that pervaded the T-series models. With the exception of its packer blade, it was very conventional in most respects, and perfectly complimented the product line. One really good idea from the T-100/LP-800 that was carried over to the FL-3000 was the automatic tailgate latch system, powered by the movement of the lift cylinders. With the addition of the front loader, Gar Wood had at last achieved a balanced line up of residential and commercial refuse bodies, competitive and often superior to their competition. The dark days of 1970 were becoming a distant memory, and the future of the company was looking better all the time.

The triple-blade packer panel of the FL-3000

Packer blade face of the FL-3000 showing unique 'stuffer' panels pivotally mounted to main panel

Cut-away side view of the LP-3000 packing panel   LEFT: Main panel (red highlights) makes first thrust into refuse
RIGHT: Stuffer panels make second, upward thrust, "densifying" refuse towards top of body


The FL-3000 design is currently produced in Germany as the FAUN Frontpress.
This modern animated film shows the operation of the packer and stuffer panels.

Courtesy of Willem Bikker

1977 Gar Wood FL-3000 beautifully preserved at the Le May Museum in Washington


© 2014 Eric Voytko
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Photos from factory brochures/advertisements except as noted
Logos shown are the trademarks of respective manufacturers