Jim Stolth Truck Pictures - Commercial Truck Company Ltd.

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Commercial Truck and Crane

Commercial Truck got its start in 1932, in New Westminster B.C. when R. Gaden Legge bought his first truck a used GMC. His first job was hauling lumber from Fraser Mills of Canadian Western Lumber. Gaden Legge as he was known was firm fair friendly man of iron will in a velvet glove. By 1937 he had defied the depression and expanded to three trucks. The phone answering service was at Royal City Motors, ( Does anybody know of a truck dealer today that would provide a answering service for people that purchase a truck?) Mr. Legge incorporated Commercial Truck in 1937. In 1939 came the first of many expansions into what is the Commercial truck corner stone, the marriage of cranes with flat deck trucks. Legge married a second hand dragline to a 6-wheel Maple Leaf ( Chev), he then bought his first trailer a 20ft and moved into the "heavy machinery" hauling business.

First big job was the erection of aircraft hanger trusses at Victoria's Pat Bay Airport. A second crane mounted on a conventional truck came when they received a contract to assist in construction of the emergency wartime merchant marine at the North Vancouver Ship Repairs.


From this beginning, Commercial Truck and Crane grew, to what by 1968 where they operate ten cranes ranging from 15 up to 62 ton capacity a trailer fleet comprising of 34 flat decks, largely Willock, three low beds, four pipe and three steering trailers. Highway tractors are basically Kenworth 16, with the latest KW additions to the fleet feature GM diesel 8V71, SQHD rear axles, and Page & Page Suspension system.

Quietly competent Commercial Truck and Crane operates a happy house. It is essentially a family firm- it extends beyond blood or marriage ties. It is a family of fellows, females combining their assorted talents and experiences to make a firm function efficiently and profitably. Most of Commercial Truck and Crane key people are from the New Westminster area. In the 1960's Commercial Truck and Crane, President and general manager, Gaden Legge. Assistant Manager William M. Gartside, Superintendent Harry L. Fairweather, sales manager Ronald G. Bligh, maintenance superintendent Gordon Erickson, truck and trailer dispatcher William M. Wilkes, crane dispatcher E.G. (Bud) Oddy.

Gartside born in New West graduated from University of B.C. in 1956 with a Batchler of Commence, worked for Crown Zellrback of Canada in sales. He readily concedes that having married the boss's daughter hasn't hindered his switch from a promising career in the pulp and paper sales to management in the trucking industry.

Harry Fairweather is an ex-driver for the firm having started driving in 1935 with Commercial Truck.

Ron Bligh started with Commercial Truck in 1939, he too meets Commercial's unwritten rule, New Westminster has always been his home. Following 20 years behind the wheel of Commercial trucks he spent 3 years as a dispatcher, before moving to his present job as sales manager.

Gordon Erickson got to know the Commercial trucks early, he was an apprentice mechanic at the dealership doing Commercial repairs.

Bill Wilkes started with Commercial truck in 1937 at the age of 16.

Commercial truck and Crane assisted with the building of North Vancouver's, Saskatchewan Pool Elevator with trucks and cranes. By the 1960's Commercial was mostly in lumber and heavy duty moves, moving the unusual the heavy, the high wide and long, is the normal for Commercial truck and crane. Such jobs requiring the co-ordinated use of cranes, flat decks and steering trailers are the special specialty of superintendent of Harry Fairweather. Typical jobs in the late 80's and early 90's required accurate timing. Precast concrete T's were required for a six story parking structure being erected in the heart of Vancouver. Delivery from the manufacture in New Westminster some 10 miles away with trucks and steer-able trailers had to be timed to meet the needs of the contractor and Vancouver traffic officials for the eight daily trips.

In 1964 Commercial Truck and Crane were hired to haul many large Pre-Cast concrete beams for a gymnasium roof for Simon Frasier University, on Burnaby Mt. This job required the use of a steerable trailers. The trucks would drive up to the top of Burnaby Mt. and turn around and come back down on a special road that would take the trucks to the gymnasium construction site. The contractor that made the beams told Commercial Truck and Crane that to haul the beams they would just have to place some meopreem on the bunks and the beams would not move or slide. This worked great for the first 10 or 11 loads. Then one day it rained and the neopreem became wet. November 1964, Bert Stolth was the driver of a 1958 GMC truck which headed out to the top of Burnaby Mt. turned around and was coming down the new road, when the Pre-cast beam came through the cab of his truck. Bert was seriously injured, in this accident and it took several hrs to remove him from his truck. After a year off from work Bert returned to drive for Commercial Truck he received a new 1966 Ford 850 Super-Duty with a 534 gas engine, and a 5&4 speed transmission. This truck got 1 1/2 to 2 MPG when loaded but had tons of power in its day.

Normal oddball for Commercial Truck and Crane could be a 130 foot lengths of creosoted (slippery) laminated bridge beams, or 20 loads at 24 tons to a trip of pre-cast concrete slabs requiring cranes at each end to lift and place. Some loads meant studying tide tables of saltwater docks so the ferry loading ramps would be able to handle the extra wide and long loads.

With the downturn in the B.C. economy in the late 1980's and early 90's which lead to the closing of Commercial Truck and Crane in 1991.




Commercial Truck before 1939,
picture is from an April 1968 issue of Motor Carrier.
Another copy from Motor Carrier One of Commercial Trucks moving a house
unknown date and location
Bert Stolth first truck driving job, he drove this 1953 GMC for Walker's Carrier Service, in March 1958. 1958 Hayes, Bert drove for Highway Transport. News paper clipping
about a truck that Bert had a poor spell with.
November 1964, 1958 GMC truck with a long load
and Steerable trailer. Cement beam for SFU.
Looking forward from behind Steerable trailer,
showing how long the beams were.
Front view of 1958 GMC after beam came through the cab seriously injuring the driver Bert Stolth.
Several views of the back of truck.
   
1966 Ford Super Duty, Bert drove after returning back to work, 534 gas, and 5 and 4 speed transmission. Picture of Bert on right,
shortly before returning back to work after his accident.
Commercial Truck crane
removing some trees in Vancouver, B.C.
Commercial Truck crane working on the North Vancouver's Saskatchewan Wheat pool elevator.
Kenworth that Bert drove, just west of the Port Mann bridge. Bert's new White Freightliner, 1973 WFT 6364 tractor with the 71 series cab. Unit # 206, Bert's old Kenworth is in the background.
Front view of new White Freightliner, before its first trip. Bert is inside his pride and joy.
A long way from the 1958 GMC that almost took his life.
Jan 1983 long load concrete beams for the Vancouver LRT line near first Ave. between Clark and Main.
   



Copies of various Motor Carrier ads featuring Commercial Truck and Crane.  
   





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