Southern California Disposal & Recycling Co.
Santa Monica, California USA

An album of classic trucks owned by SCD, documented by Bill Tetreault

Special thanks to the Kardashian family and everyone at SCD for this look at some of their classic iron

1966 Bemars Top-Pack

    Finding pictures of Bemars trucks built during the 1960's has been difficult, despite the rather good reputation enjoyed by the firm. Later models, most built after the company was absorbed by Maxon Industries are somewhat easier to find, many of them still working routes on the west coast, but images of the early models seem to be few and far between.

    It was therefore a pleasant surprise indeed to learn that one of these beasts was not only located, but in good working order as well! This big top-packer was special ordered by SCD and mounted on a White Compact cabover truck chassis. It was originally equipped with a six-cylinder REO gasoline engine (REO was at that tima a subsidiary of White) and Allison automatic transmission. It has since been re-powered with a GM 427 V-8.

    As originally built, this truck had "over-the-wheel" lift arms, which passed close by the cab during lifting operations and were somewhat dangerous. This also required that automatic folding rearview mirrors be installed, which could be retracted during the lift cycle. Here's how the truck looked in its original form:

    The truck was re-fitted with the safer over-the-cab arms as we see on it today. It is not in every day service at this time, and a fleet of modern AMREP Octos handle the bulk of the work. However, it is running and in good working condition, as the folks at SCD happily demonstrated. This truck could be be working a route tomorrow. Quite commendable for a 41-year-old veteran packer!

With the body hoisted in the dump position, the reinforcing braces for the packer cylinder can be seen:

    Here's what separates front loaders from other refuse trucks; the container lifting mechanism. The twin hoist cylinders are conventional for 1966, carried parallel under the body, and pushing against bell-cranks welded to the torque tube. Though not entirely obsolete, underbody cylinders have mostly given way to the use of side-mounted, direct pull type cylinder arrangement.

    A closer look at the rear lift cylinder mounts. Attached to the center of the cross-shaft is a body prop, on which the body is lowered during service to prevent injury or death in the event of a hydraulic leak. In between the frame is the main operating valve, where hydraulic oil is routed to specific circuits. A set of outside and inside-the-cab control levers directly actuate the spool valves. Running between the frame channels are the pressure/return lines for the body hoist and packing cylinders.

    Given the opportunity, Bill rarely fails to document the inner workings, and happily this day was no exception. We are looking through the rear doors and towards the hopper area. At the upper front of the body, we see the shallow "top-pack" blade, so called because it trims refuse only from the top-most portion of the load. The reasoning behind the top-pack is weight; with this simple, compact packer blade, a substantial amount of dead weight is eliminated when compared with full-pack and even conventional half pack designs. Along the roof edge are finger stays, which help keep compacted refuse from falling back into the upper hopper area.

    Now here's the really interesting part; a follower plate formed into the packer blade, which is shown here partially extended into the hopper area. The follower was a feature specified by SCD when the truck was custom-built by Bemars. It prevents refuse from falling in the area forward of the packer panel, thus allowing the blade to cycle continuously, even while a container is being emptied from above. This is a great feature , especially as the body becomes filled. This feature was surprisingly not found on most top-packs of the day.

    Next we see a view from the bottom of the hopper area, looking up at the underside of the fully extended packer blade, and towards the front of the body. The shield also performs the vital function of protecting the hydraulic cylinder rod from damage. Nicks or burrs in the surface of the rod, as well as grit, will damage oil seals on the cylinder and cause fluid loss and premature failure.

A good look at the extreme edge of the follower plate, with packer fully extended, where it passes through the cab shield and into the hopper area.


Of course Bill always brings back video from his missions, so enjoy this six minute video tour of a vintage Bemars front loader in action

1967 Bowles Top-Pack

    Unable to obtain another top pack from Bemars, SCD turned to the S.Vincen Bowles Co. of Sun Valley, who produced this nearly identical copy of the Bemars. Mechanicals are the same; White Compact CO with V8 gasser engine and automatic transmission. Unlike the Bemars, this truck came with over-the-cab lift arms as original equipment. This special-order truck is the only Bowles top-pack ever documented here at CRT, and it is probable that this truck is a "one-of-kind" from Bowles.

Finding any working Bowles from 1967 would be remarkable find in itself, but this rare truck is especially nice!

SCD Photos

A true yard gem: 1957 Chevrolet Apache with unknown model roll-off

Photos from the walls of the SCD office: A big White with a Bowles half-pack FL...

...and the view from the back end...

...and another 1960s Bowles half-pack on an MB series Mack...

...half-pack with vertically-mounted packing cylinders, probably by Bemars...

...and the unmistakable Western Shu-Pak side loader

© 2008 Eric Voytko
All rights reserved
Photos from factory brochures/advertisements except as noted
Logos shown are the trademarks of respective manufacturers