Founded by Ed Kouri, Bemars Inc. began building a broad range of front loaders in Montebello, California, just 25 miles southeast of the S. Vincen Bowles factory. Bemars offered buyers a choice of front loaders with full, partial or top-pack bodies. The photo above is reputed to be the first Bemars ever built, a 1962 half-pack front loader delivered to Obradovich Disposal in El Segundo.
Regular CRT contributor Scott Blake identifies the truck above left as a half-pack model. The unusual bracing/construction of the hopper side walls indicates this was probably a wide hopper version, to accommodate lift arms that were fitted with side-forks. The truck at right is an an early Bemars top-pack with horizontal cylinders mounted in the cab shield.
The firm enjoyed a reputation for high quality construction, and the Bemars half-pack front loader, as typified by the above example, was extremely popular in California and several other western states. Twin, single-stage pack cylinders were angle mounted at the front. This style was built right through the 1970's, and many examples remain in service to this day.
Vintage video of a 1964 Bemars front loader owned by Haul-Away Rubbish of Montebello, California
Special thanks to John Beliakoff, Sr. and Zachary Geroux
Here's a rare shot of a big Bemars big full-pack. These were basically the same as the half pack, except full-travel, telescopic packing cylinders were used in place of the single-stage rams, and the body panels were heavily reinforced to withstand the high pressures encountered in this type of front loader.
This 1966 Bemars top-pack owned by Southern California Disposal is actually still in reserve duty today! The packer panel is actuated by a single ram which can be seen protruding through the cab shield, just above the windshield. A complete photo and video documentation of this truck is available here at CRT in the SCD Classics album.
Above: Demonstration of auto-retract mirror system on a Bemars FL (requires Quicktime Video)
This later model half-pack has over-the-cab arms and side forks
Another half-pack with flat forks, which were more commonly used in western states
The Kouri family sold Bemars to Maxon Industries of Huntington Park in 1972. Soon after, the Kouris went back in business when they founded the Able Body Company. Meanwhile, Maxon had already purchased Western Body & Hoist two years earlier, and now owned two of the premiere names in California front loaders. Some consolidation occurred, but the the models were badged as Bemars-Maxon for many years, such was the reputation of these trucks. The half-pack model (shown above) had scarcely changed since the first models of the early 1960's, and would remain that way for several more years.
The top-pack also remained in the Bemars-Maxon stable for a few more years. These weight-saving bodies used a short blade which kept the top of the hopper cleared and would pack the load in a circular fashion as the body became filled.
A video below shows a Bemars-Maxon top-pack in action from the inside:
(Our thanks to CRT contributor Bill Tetreault for the film)
The Bemars-Maxon full pack front loader of the early 1970's shows the most amalgamation with the old Western Body & Hoist division. This looks like the old Bemars full-pack from the outside, but the twin, angled pack cylinders have replaced with Western's old rail-guided horizontal ram which dates to the late 1950's. Note how the cylinder projection through the packer blade has been reduced somewhat, when compared with the old Western Full-Pak.
By the end of the decade, the Bemars-Maxon name would be replaced by simply Maxon, and all-new designs would begin to emerge. Bemars founders, the Kouri family, continued to build refuse equipment for many years under the Able Body name. Their firm is currently based in Texas and trading as Bridgeport Manufacturing Company.