Robert Crowe Collection

Truck Pictures

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Some Local Stories by Robert Crowe

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Working for Gunnysack Bog Valley Hauling Logs

Truck Pictures

The picture was taken in the telephone office truck parking area on the river side of Front Street in Quesnel in 1960 by my friend Gerry Fun who was then a professional photographer. I received a phone call this morning from Quesnel to say that he had died yesterday after a long illness.

The truck was originally an Imperial Oil K8F tanker based in the lower mainland. Gerry and I were originally in partnership in it but I later bought out his share. We bought it from Quesnel Redimix who had bought 4 of them by tender but only needed 3.

The wheelbase was stretched 2 feet and the rest of it was eventually much modified. I bought a KB11 which had been wrecked and transplanted the 450 engine, main and auxiliary transmissions as well as theTimkin double reduction bogie (which was not original) as well as the air brakes. The original front axle with spoke wheels was retained.

The load is Douglas Fir, somewhat over the legal limit. The truck in the background is Garth Graham's 3 ton Chev with a load of railway ties. The temperature was about minus 30 F and the Fraser river to the right is starting to freeze over.

Here is a photo of my LF170 sideloader. The photo shows it with a load of cedar telegraph poles that had previously been used on the line between Williams Lake and 150 Mile House since the late 1890s and were now redundant due to a new microwave link. I was contracted by BC Telephone to pick them up at various locations near 150 Mile and distribute them at sites along the Barkerville Road where the telephone wires were still strung between convenient trees. The trees swayed in the wind more than poles and caused numerous faults. A BC Tel crew unloaded them.

The truck had been rolled by the previous owner, Jake Reimer, who had replaced the cab with an almost new second hand one but the rest of the tin had been subjected to his rather basic standard of amateur body repair, as is evident in the photograph. Jake had built the side loader and bunks to his own design with the hydraulic system powered by two Vickers V10 pumps, one running off a power take-off on the main and the other from the auxiliary, so it could be run at either full or half speed depending on the circumstances. The lifting capacity was the same, fast or slow. The hood was off because one of the catches was temporarily faulty.

I bought it and took over Jake's customers mainly to get the H plate that went with it.

This picture was taken by Gerry Fun sometime in the late 60s after I had left for Australia. Bob Ostergaard is standing beside a truck he has managed to park unconventionally and is surveying the havoc he has wreaked, fortunately escaping unscathed. Gerry remembered taking the pic but couldn't remember the details except that it was probably on the Barkerville Road, possibly near Cottonwood House. I obtained the photo from my friend Rod Crofts who thought it might have been up the Swift River Road or near Wingdam. There is no doubt however that it was upside down. Bob drove the LF170 for me for a couple of years. He later moved to Squamish where he drove logging trucks before opening a muffler shop. He died of motor neurone disease in the late 1990s.

Loading spruce logs in Big Valley, perhaps 7 or 8 miles off the Barkerville Road to the left after Beaver Pass if I remember correctly. It was popularly known as 'Bog Valley' and thus mostly logged in winter. I am standing on the headboard directing Bill Sales where to place the logs

The truck is one of Sales Brothers B72 Macks. It had a 262 Cummins, a quadbox and a manifestly inadequate 15" single plate clutch. Starting a heavy load on a hill required a lower gear than other trucks with similar power and drive train and even then you had to ease off the throttle or the clutch would slip. Bill Sales threatened to sack on the spot any driver who burned out a clutch.

The photo was taken originally and resurrected recently from a badly faded slide (which explains the poor quality) by Rod Crofts.

Unloading a pup trailer at Sales Brothers landing in Big Valley. In winter the pup trailers were never loaded to their full legal load around Quesnel because every road into town had at least one steep hill to climb and the old Barkerville Road had many. This made it impractical to use conventional logging trucks with essentially equal load distribution between the truck and the trailer. With a truck and pup you could load the truck to capacity for traction and the pup with up to two thirds of a load or less depending on. the road conditions of the day.

I pulled a tandem conventional logging trailer with my old K model Cornbinder (after its upgrade) in the summer but at the first sign of frost it was back to a straight truck. The 450 Red Diamond engine would never have pulled a pup in the winter.

Bill Sales with Sales Brothers Drott loader. Sales Brothers Logging was operated by Bill and Don Sales who at the time I worked for them had two B72 Macks and a Pacific pulling pup trailers, The Pacific was in fact an almost new S220 International which had been wrecked and rebuilt with a Pacific cab and a 185 Cummins in place of the original V8 gasoline engine, all the rest of the running gear was stock International except for the steering column and box. I was originally hired to drive the Pacific which was a bit underpowered and took an hour longer to make a round trip to Big Valley than the Macks. Bill and Don's younger brother Ernie also had an identical B72 which was contracted to his brother's company.

I first met Bill when I was 12 years old when he was a senior driver for Lee's Transport and my father was the company's Quesnel agent. Don had been a marine engineer and had been almost everywhere. When I told him I was going to quit and go to Australia he carried on for about 10 minutes about how Australia was the worst place in the world but that I should ever get to Melbourne, I was to go to the Spencer Street railway station and if I saw a blonde standing there, I was to tell her he wouldn't be back. I went, but she must have left. He later said that the West Coast of Africa was marginally worse than Australia.

My grandfather, who had a wholesale fruit and vegetable business in Wrexham, North Wales, bought a number of Fiat trucks from FIAT's then London agent, a young Enzo Ferrari, later renowned for his fast cars. After realising the potential of motor transport during the later stages of the Boer War the British government subsidised private investment on motor lorries which could then be commandeered in wartime. When war was declared in 1914, the business reverted to horses and my father, aged 11, and drafted in to help after school to replace staff who had joined the army, was injured when a draught horse stepped on his foot whilst stabling it. He volunteered for the Canadian Army when WW2 started and although the army had special boots made for him, he was deemed unfit for combat Note the distinctive FIAT Radiator.
Jake Malic's L180 International cab forward was the only one of that model to operate around Quesnel in the late 1950s. Jake, who looks a bit chilly in the photo, was a bit of an entrepreneur and always had something on the go. He was involved in trucking in one way or another for years, either operating his own truck or driving for others. He married Norma Smith, the daughter of Seth Smith of Smith's Transfer and later became a partner in an air charter venture. Unfortunately he went missing on a flight from Vancouver to Quesnel and it was a long time before the wreck was found. Gerry Fun took the photo before he turned professional. Jake could be morose and miserable at times but he was always interesting even when he was trying to be difficult and he was a good friend to Gerry and I.

My 16th birthday 1955. I have just obtained my drivers and class C chauffeurs licences. I took the driving test in my fathers 1947 3 ton Dodge. The test consisted of driving an RCMP officer around one block. When formalities were completed the Mountie said, "I thought you already had a licence."

The truck, although it looks a bit rough, was an ex Government Telephone truck sold off by tender when B.C. Telephone took over. It was actually in good mechanical condition and had a steel plate deck.

This picture shows my uncle Frank's fleet lined up sometime in the early 1950s. The business had been founded in about 1900 by my grandfather who sold it and emigrated with most of the family to Canada in 1926. The oldest son, my uncle Frank, was employed to manage the company by the new owners and he eventually bought them out.

The wholesale fruit and vegetable business was based in Wrexham in North Wales and served the surrounding district. As well as local produce, the business sourced much of its stock from the large Liverpool markets as well as directly from suppliers in the Channel Islands and elsewhere which was picked up from the Liverpool docks.

The lorries are, from the left, 5 Thornycrofts of various models, a Leyland, a Morris Commercial, a Ford Thames van and a Standard van.

Just to show that nothing was impossible in the Cariboo. A friend, Dennis Carr, had got a job in Vancouver and was driving down when his car did a con rod bearing in Williams Lake and phoned me to see if I could get it back to Quesnel and leave it at his parent's place. My father had just traded in a 1 ton Dodge on a new Hillman Minx and this K5 International so Rod Crofts and I borrowed it intending to tow the car back to Quesnel. In the event we considered the road to be too icy to attempt this method so decided to haul it back. We towed it to the railway station and borrowed their ramp, removed the front tires so that the front crossmember could be chained down securely to the deck and not bounce. We found that the steering was a bit light so we removed the rear tires which made it driveable.

On arrival back in Quesnel we took the rig up to Two Mile Planer Mill, wound the windows down, ran the forks of their forklift through the open windows and took a picture. We sent him the picture with the caption 'Unloaded your car successfully.'

The K5 was stretched 3 feet and a second hand manual shift 2 speed axle fitted which made it into a useful light truck.

My K8F in its only ever configuration as a semi trailer rig. I was asked to assist in delivering a small sawmill bought from Brody Equipment in Quesnel to a customer named Brown. I can’t remember his first name. He was a Welshman who lived in Cinema on the north side of the Cottonwood River on the old Cariboo Highway. Brody provided the trailer and fitted the fifth wheel. The person in front of the Jeep is Dick Browning, one of the partners in Brody.

As you can see, the roads were slippery, it was the start of breakup and road surface was starting to melt during the daytime.

Fortunately we were not far from the proposed mill site where there was a D6 cat which was able to winch the rig out with no damage to the truck, trailer or the load. Just another day in the 1960s Cariboo.
Big rig skinner. Frankston Timber’s 1947 1 ton Ford delivery truck. One of my first jobs during a working holiday in Australia in 1963. My usual vehicle was an L160 International.
Now aged 76, I have downsized and now drive a 1960 Morris 1000 with a wood and aluminum back replacing the original pickup body.

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