Cook Brothers Equipment Company
Los Angeles, California

By Zachary Geroux and Eric Voytko
With photos from the Bowles Archive, courtesy of Duane Bowles and Digitized by Bill Tetreault

    Cook Brothers Equipment Company of Los Angeles had been a manufacturer of a wide variety of products including hydraulic hoists, dump truck bodies. cement mixer bodies, cranes and even complete motor trucks. Their brief foray into refuse equipment was primarily the work of Henry Harbers, who patented (US 28284655) a front load truck in 1956 which used only two double-acting cylinders to both raise the lift arms and tilt the body. The purpose of this design was meant to be a cost effective way to actuate the movements necessary in front loader operation. He felt that multiple cylinders moving the individual components (i.e. arms, body lift, forks/broken arm) added unnecessary weight, and left more parts to maintain on his non-compaction body. Also in his patent, he offered two different styles of arms; the early Holmes-Owen 'broken arm' and a rigid arm with forks connected to a cross shaft and actuated by two small cylinders. From all apparent data known, it seems the Holmes-Owen style arm lasted for only a few years, with the much more efficient fork and cross shaft style becoming the dominant design.

    What little information that survives about Henry Harbers and the Cook Brothers front loader has been obtained from pictures in the S. Vincen Bowles archive and Harbers' patent. Cook Brothers had already established a solid name in the construction equipment industry, and it seems their front loader was short lived. Whether this was due to never creating a compaction body and lack of sales, or possible patent infringement of the Bowles front loaders is unknown. It does seem however that Harbers multi-function cylinder design was only built on a few trucks, with the remainder of their bodies built with separate cylinders that actuated the arms and the body. A trailer dump body was also designed by Harbers.

    In 1960, Cook Brothers merged with Challenge Manufacturing of Bryan, Ohio, after which no refuse bodies appear to have been built. The two firms had been in partnership since 1954 marketing cement mixers, which would become their specialty as Challenge-Cook Brothers. By 1979, C-CB was the worlds largest manufacturer of cement mixer bodies. Henry Harbers continued to design equipment for the company and holds numerous patents. Despite Cook Brothers short time on the refuse body market, Harbers' cleanly designed rigid lift arm with pivoting fork shaft was a significant achievement, and quickly became an industry standard.

Circa 1957 Cook Bros front loader: Multi-function cylinders operated both lift arms and body hoist

Another early model: To dump, arms were locked and cylinders hoisted body. To load, body was locked and same cylinders operated lift arms.

Truck 22 of Benz Disposal Co. was a REO with an early Cook Brothers unit

Cook Bros front loaders also used more conventional independent lift arm cylinders as on this fixed-bucked residential front loader

This unusual CB design could handle flat-bottom containers that lacked fork pockets....

....note the mounting of the tilt cylinders to 'side wings' that restricted lateral movement of the container....

....then retainer chains hooked to the container to keep it from falling into the truck body when inverted


    A trailer dump body was also designed by Henry Harbers. In his patent he explains that his trailer body was created for the transport of dry, pre-mixed material for making concrete or paving roads. Photos from the Bowles archive illustrate its effectiveness as bulk refuse hauler for construction debris and industrial rubbish.

Cook Brothers dump trailer with White 3000 tilt-cab tractor

Details of the hoist and stabilizer links

Drawbar dolly

Drawbar dolly uncoupled for fixed-location use

Hook for hydraulic lift cylinder

Loading factory refuse through side barn doors

Loading demolition debris from a refuse chute

Unloading at landfill

© 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