The photos below are dated March, 1957, and were most likely taken as part of a media campaign to familiarize citizens of Los Angeles with the new citywide refuse collection service to be provided by the Bureau of Sanitation. The closest the city had ever had to uniform collection was by private contractors, but all had defaulted during the Second World War. Publicly operated collection service was formally adopted in 1956, which was soon followed by the abolition of household backyard refuse burners, which were not only a nuisance, but a major contributor to air pollution.

    The early Los Angeles trucks were painted battleship grey, and had tilt-to-dump style bodies. The 20-yard capacity was somewhat unusual for the time when 13-18 yard size was somewhat more common among municipalities using rear loaders. Smaller, shorter bodies were more maneuverable, had greater stability when tipped, and packed out denser. The length of hauls in sprawling L.A. County probably dictated the 20-yard size for the BoS, and even larger bodies would follow.

    The first group of 13 photos mostly documents a ride-along type demonstration with truck 3609, bearing California tax-exempt license plate 72 061. According to Scott Blake, this White 3000 tilt cab with 20-yard Leach Packmaster was part of a small group of the first rear loaders purchased by the Bureau, and initially collected in the Harbor district during a pilot program started in 1955. The yellow license plates were first issued in 1956, and used until 1960 with add-on decals. Exempt vehicles would not have to display the decals, so this truck may be a 1956 or 1957 model. When the first large-scale vehicle purchase was made, the International Harvester CO-190 tilt cab was adopted, also with the 20-yard Packmaster. Los Angeles stayed with International trucks almost exclusively until the late 1960s, when White Compacts began to appear in the fleet.

    None of the persons are identified in these photos. Obviously there are two Department crewmen manning the truck, and the others are most likely municipal officials, civic leaders and citizens. Hi-resolution images are approximately 2000 pixels wide/tall, except as noted.


    Possibly from the same day as the pictures above, the following depict a tour of a transfer station, where we see the White 3000 (truck 3609) along with later model International CO-190s. Two pictures on bottom row show a newly arrived order of Internationals with right-hand drive.

New Fleet Inspection, IHC CO-190/Leach Packmasters

    1948 Ford with enclosed body for garbage (food waste) collection. Even before citywide collection was established, garbage (separated from combustible rubbish) was sometimes collected and sold to hog farmers as feed. The practice gradually fell out of favor for many reasons, including the problem of disease transmission which necessitated the "cooking" of raw garbage before it was fed to the animals.

Another enclosed side loader for collecting unwrapped garbage, on a White 3000 tilt cab from the late 1950s

    A modified Hydro E-Z Pack side loader which has been fitted with front loader arms and a fixed container bucket. It is not known who modified this body; it may have been done by a truck body builder or "scratch built" in the City garage. It may have been used during the pilot program in harbor areas.

    One of the rarest LA BoS models was the Gar Wood LP-520, a short-lived addition to the fleet in 1958, using the same CO-190 chassis as the Packmasters. The example shown here was bought at auction in 1971, and was used by a private hauler into the 1980s. Truck 172 had been repainted cream-over-brown when the department changed colors in 1962. The inset photo shows how the truck would have looked when new in its original grey.

    Truck 377 shows the post-1962 paint scheme and the 25-yard Heil Colectomatic Mark II. . The department changed from grey as a result of the movie "Oceans Eleven", in which a BoS Packmaster was loaned to Warner Brothers studio. It was repainted with a yellow cab and white body (Southern Nevada Disposal Service) for some of the trash truck scenes filmed in California. Before the truck could be returned to its drab grey, a citizen saw it and wondered why the city's refuse trucks didn't look as nice. The result was the tan-over-brown scheme which lasted until the late 1960s.

    Truck 348, 1963 International with a 25-yard Heil. This not only has the tan & brown paint job, but also has an extra pair of headlamps. Virtually every truck manufacturer aped this automotive gimmick in the late 1950s, and IHC was one of the last to give it up.

    Another rare truck was the Pak-Mor RL25, starting in service around 1965. The truck shown here was photographed in 1972, and sports the all-white paint look adopted by the early 1970s.

    White Motors returned to the LA fleet in the late 60s or early 1970s with their Compact series tilt cab. These worked side-by-side with International CO's, all using the Heil Mark III 25-yard body.


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