Monday, September 03, 2007

a ROCKIN' birthday visit to the Hays Truck Museum (Woodland, CA) and some ruminations on draying

(above and several below) the magnificent 1922 MacDonald model A
heavy duty machinery-moving low-bed dray,
a fixture on the San Francisco, Oakland, and many West Coast docks.
Note the front chain drive, husky leaf springs, and solid tires
this photo (above) by Jack Snell,

(above and below) 1918 Pierce-Arrow model X4 lumber truck
this photo (above) by Jack Snell,

(above) 1916 C.T. Electric model F flatbed.
An enormously high-off-the-ground vehicle, it was used
by publishers to bulk-distribute newspapers and tabloids
(above) 1920 Winther-Martin model 459 2.5 ton stake bed
(above) 1923 Chicago model C2 stake bed
(above) early flatbed truck, make unknown to this author.
Authentic plank road display is typical of the Hays Museum presentations
(above) 1917 Winther model 128 logging truck
(above) 1917 Menominee model HT express truck
(above) 1912 Chase model H 1-ton express truck
(above) 1921 Gary model J express truck
(above) 1918 Fulton model FX express truck
(above) 1912 Detroit Motor Wagon open delivery (express) truck
(above) 1918 Doane model HP lowbed stake.
Like the MacDonald pictured above, this heavyweight truck
moved machinery and large loads to and from steamships
(above) 1925 Doane, pictured at an
American Truck Historical Society (ATHS)
Northwest Chapter event in Selden, WA in 2005.
photo by Hank Suderman
(above) an early 1920s Doane lowbed stake, being driven at
the Livermore (CA) Rodeo street parade in 2007

This labor day weekend marked my 56th birthday, and to celebrate my wife Jane and I drove up to the Hays Antique Truck Museum in Woodland, CA, about 20 minutes northwest of Sacramento.
I'm a 25+ year member of the Hays. I first visited it with my brother Jonas when the ATHS held one of its first nationals at the museum's original site. Then, it had one of the great truck boneyards, since cleaned up. Now the museum is part of the Heidrick Ag (agricultural) History Center. Both collections are housed in very well appointed buildings just off the center of town in Woodland, and adjacent to Interstate 5 (making the accessibility very easy). The Hays is one of the largest truck museums in the US.
What makes the Hays special is the variety of obscure truck makes in their collection. In addition to the expected (Peterbilts, Kenworths, Macks, Autocars, Diamond T's), they have trucks by All-American, Atterbury, Bethlehem, Fageol, Garford, Hug, Jumbo, Kissel-Kar, Krebs, Locomobile, Nash, Old Reliable, Oshkosh, Relay, Samson, and Traffic. What made my day way back then (when I first visited) and still made my day yesterday, are the two magnificent Pierce-Arrows and my faves, the Doane and the MacDonald low-beds. These are drays, the oldest form of trucking appelation. Even express wagons, flatbeds, and to some degree logging trucks are drays. Draying is defined as "hauling goods, usually locally, by open-sided trucks."
About 15 years ago when I was working at Winterland Productions on Harrison Street in San Francisco, about a block off the waterfront, I wandered down one lunch hour to the Pier that lays underneath the Bay Bridge, and made my way to the very end . . . only to encounter a very old Doane enjoying the view just as I was. Being a lifelong truck guy, this was a mighty special moment. These trucks were used extensively on the docks to move large freight which had arrived by steamship, or was to be loaded aboard. Doanes and MacDonalds also moved heavy machinery in the late teens and early 1920s.
For many years you could see antique-looking machinery-moving trucks making their way through the streets, operated by venerable companies like F.J. Burns (see photo at left), whose logo even incorporated a vintage tractor and trailer. Companies like Sheedy Drayage (in its characteristic bright red livery) are still living parts of San Francisco history. I have a Sheedy hard hat in my collection.
In a future blog, I'll show you some other highlights of my visit to the Hays, including a Pierce-Arrow tanker that will knock yer socks off. Big rigs are my bag.
a few references for those inclined to follow up: (Holman began in 1864 as a small transfer company in Portland, OR, and by the time of the Great Depression in 1929 , its truck fleet was comprised of Doane's and MacDonald's, later to be updated with diesel trucks with multi-speed transmissions, tandem axles, heavy-duty pneumatic tires, and tractor-trailer and tractor-tank combinations).
- (Sheedy red and Bigge blue (Bigge Crane and Rigging was Henry W. Bigge's company, headquartered across the Bay in San Leandro) are the two basic colors of heavy-duty trucking, truck cranes, and crawler cranes on the northern California front. The huge roadbed improvements being made this weekend at the Bay Bridge are being facilitated by an enormous Sheedy multi-boom crane loading sections of the old roadbed on huge tractor-trailers). Sheedy was founded in 1925, "and its equipment consisted of a single truck and its main work was hauling to and from San Francisco's docks and railway depots. Sheedy now operates a fleet of more than 100 trucks, trailers, cranes, and other heavy duty lifting and hauling equipment. It was the principal drayage contractor for the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge."
- (more great shots by photographer Jack Snell, many taken at the Hays Museum).


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