GAR WOOD LOAD-PACKER 900: PREPRODUCTION MODELS, 1970-1972
Warren Seward lived in the Buffalo, New York area during the 1960s and 1970s and has a working knowledge of many of the area refuse haulers during that time. As was the case in many larger cities, Gar Wood refuse bodies had a strong presence there. Additionally, Warren has first-hand knowledge of prototype or pre-production LP-900 packers, which were in use during the early 1970s, a full two years before the official nationwide rollout of the 900 series in September 1972. These early versions of the 900 packer were much different than the final production models, and were in fact coupled to the Gar Wood ejector bodies of the 1960s style as used on the 700/800 series Load-Packers.
In 1970, Gar Wood Industries was purchased by, and became a division of Sargent Industries, an agglomerate that had a reputation for turning a profit from failing companies. Undoubtedly, Gar Wood had indeed fallen into the failing category by 1969, after years of virtually dominating the refuse body industry. A disastrous foray into building unitized refuse trucks of immense proportions (the T-Series) had fallen flat, and was followed by the hastily-conceived LP-800 bulk packer. The 800 was the first ever swing-link packer, and had good potential, but was dogged by quality-control problems and may have been hurt by its resemblance to its predecessor.
To turn Gar Wood around and restore it to its former glory, Sargent Industries was faced with a choice to either "fix" the troubled LP-800, or replace it with an entirely new model altogether. Ultimately, the decision was made to kill the 800, at the behest of engineer Fred Smith, who would be tasked with coming up with its replacement. That replacement was the LP-900 series, which is today well known as the Formula 5000 by Heil. Despite the urgency of getting the new Gar Wood high-compaction rear loader into production, some field-testing would certainly be needed, and this is where Warren Seward's recollections get interesting.
A 1960s White Compact with Gar Wood LP-725 body owned by Niagara Sanitation Company.
Click here to download the original ad from 1969.
"When Nick Bodnar bought out Roy Wingdale Disposal in January, 1970, he ran Roy's old trucks for about six to eight months, and phased in the new units in the summer of '70. I distinctly remember seeing that summer, the first of three new White Compacts with the new Gar Wood 900 tailgate mounted on the old 700/800-style ejector bodies T.L.C. Disposal had purchased. Nelson Miller, who owned Amherst Disposal, also bought a new White with the 900 -700/800 style body in early 1971."
If the first LP-900 tailgates appeared in Buffalo during mid-1970, that would be a full two years before the 900 was unveiled in a national advertising campaign. The use of the LP-700/800 ejection body gave Gar Wood a ready platform to which the new tailgate could be "bolted on" for tests under actual working conditions. The popularity of Gar Wood in Buffalo, and its close proximity to Gar Wood's Detroit-based operations would have made that city a logical choice for testing. The fact that Nick Bodnar was in the refuse hauling business and also owned a full-service truck repair facility would have probably made Buffalo and Niagara Sanitation even more attractive choice for experimental models. Being new designs and probably hand-built at Gar Wood's Wayne factory, the prototype tailgates would undoubtedly need occasional repairs or modifications, which could be done at Buffalo White by their own technicians or in conjunction with Gar Wood personnel. These pre-production tailgates may have been installed on new or used 700 bodies in the field. But the use of the 700 series body wasn't the only difference, as Warren continues:
"One other thing comes to mind on the early 900's I worked on: all three had the electrically-operated packer controls. It was odd because they didn't have any levers to override the travel of the packer during cycling, only a 'jog' switch that you could manually adjust the packer in travel. I personally didn't like them, and most of the other guys didn't either. I heard they had problems with them shorting out in heavy rains. Roy's 800 model had both the electrically operated packer and levers...But for some reason, the early 900's we had didn't have any levers."
The use of push-button electric controls would seem to indicate that Gar Wood intended to try and work the bugs out of their system, which had been used on both the T-100 and the LP-800. Electro-hydraulic controls had been used by Heil throughout the 1960s, as well as in Europe, where such systems are today in greater use than in America. For whatever reason, the push-button controls never made it to the production model LP-900, which used conventional mechanical linkage to operate the packer control valves.
Composite of a 1976 LP-900 tailgate and a 1960s LP-725 body on a White Compact chassis
to illustrate what the pre-production prototype LP-900s looked like in 1970-71
CRT wishes to thank Warren Seward for sharing this valuable information.
This color image of a Gar Wood LP-500 with Pax-All container lift has been added to Chapter 9 of the Gar Wood Album:
NEW ALBUM: WALKER BROTHERS / PAGEFIELD PALADIN
Almost a decade before front loaders appeared in California, or the introduction of the Leach Packmaster container system, the Paladin was collecting bulk refuse in the densely populated cities of England. In its home country, the ubiquitous round Paladin bins were so popular that they survived well into the modern era, long after the collection vehicle that spawned it had become obsolete. Brian Carpenter has written a brief history of Walker Brothers' Pagefield Paladin system for Classic Refuse Trucks, and I've added some photos and even a few video links to this informative article.
NEW PICTURES ADDED TO THE GAR WOOD ALBUM
Show above is the T-140FLR, which has a front container lift which was heretofore entirely unknown. The centere-mounted vertical rails and chain-drived horizontal slide are a complete revision from the original 1965 models. You can compare them to each other in chapter 12 of the Gar Wood Album, where this picture has also been posted. Also note the "Dempster" style hopper door visible on the side of the body.
This truck is equipped with an external exhaust pipe and muffler, and an extra air intake over the engine compartment cover. I believe this indicates that it is equipped with a Cummins V-8 engine, which appeared in late-1967 spec sheets and replaced the original Toro-Flo V-6. None of the early T-series factory images show this air intake of external exhaust system.
In chapter 11 I've added three images of a 1968 T-140RL which also has the revised exhaust system, as well as an enlarged rear hopper by way of extensions of the side walls. This may have been done only on models with the rear container lift (which that example has), or may have been a running change on all of the rear loaders.
These pictures offer a rare look at the T-series, and point to Buffalo, New York as a location for possible surviving examples. Finally, there is a nice color picture of an early LP-620 in chapter 10, owned by Eggertsville Disposal Service. Interestingly, this company appears to still be operating in the Buffalo area!
A note from Warren Seward mentions that Eggertsville-Snyder Disposal has long ceased operation (1973), so the company I found on my web search is probably a different outfit with the same name. Coincidentally, Warren knows this particular White 3000/LP-600 quite well: it is the first truck he ever worked on when he lived in the area. Imagine seeing a truck from your past suddenly show up on the pages of CRT? Now, does anybody out there remember those T-series trucks.....
(August 9, 2014)
TRUCK RESCUE: LEACH PACKMASTERS
E-mail: King REO
TEN YEARS OF CLASSIC REFUSE TRUCKS
Yes, that's right...ten years on the World Wide Web. CRT officially launched on July 30, 2004, so this 10th anniversary edition is being posted mid-week to coincide with that date. To further commemorate this milestone, the Gar Wood LP-900 makes its second appearance as the featured truck, only now in color, as opposed to the black-and-white version which was the first ever classic refuse truck.
It's been a great ten years, and a lot has changed since 2004, when old trash tracks were not all that common on the Internet. Today, I'm happy to report that enthusiasts have an endless amount of material available, including a wealth of video documentation, and a growing interest in the preservation of historic vehicles. I'd like to think that this website, and its many contributors and followers, have been instrumental in "mainstreaming" vintage refuse equipment, and I can't thank you enough for making this the enormous success that it is.
Now in the last year and a half, I've not been making regular updates to CRT the way I did in the beginning. Nevertheless, I have still been busy behind the scenes, and the result is available now in the form of an all-new complete history of Gar Wood industries. This is the biggest undertaking in the history of this website, and comprises 22 chapters with over 300 images. When formatted in PDF form, it totals around 170 pages, so you may need time to digest this one!
This project started as the new Heil album back in 2013, but it soon became apparent that the Gar Wood story, which is at times somewhat related to Heil, had to been told in its entirety, so I set about to replace the piecemeal album that existed at that time. As far as I know, the finished product is the first ever in-depth history of the most important player in refuse truck history ever published. From the hydraulic hoist to the curved-shell body, Gar Wood Industries was there, and if not for the company's untimely demise in 1979, it might still have been the most recognized name in refuse trucks today.
So enjoy the Gar Wood story, and let's look forward to another ten years of Classic Refuse Trucks!
For previous news items, visit the CRT Archive
© 2014 Eric Voytko
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Photos from factory brochures/trade advertisements except as noted