Sunday, June 02, 2013

1935 Gilmore Streamliner COE Tank Truck -- Mystery Truck

It was 1935, the height of what was known as the Art Deco Period,  trucks didn't escape that influence. Canada's LaBatt's had their "stream-liner" bear truck, and now Earl Gilmore wanted something special for his Gilmore Oil Company. That is why he approached  Advance Auto Body of Los Angeles where W.E. Miller was employed to design a unique tank truck that would subsequently be used to promote the 1936-39 Gilmore Gas Trials.

The design was given over to Standard Auto Body Works, Inc. where a group of craftsmen created a one of a kind absolutely beautiful creation -- the 1935 Gilmore Streamline COE tank truck. As mentioned, this truck was used in the early Gilmore Economy Runs, and made trips between LA and Yosemite during these events. The following picture shows the truck in Yosemite.

Whatever this truck was based on (we'll get to that latter) it was originally a single axle to which a tag axel was attached by Six Wheels Inc. I believe that since the design didn't allow for the cab to tilt to get to the engine, the designers came up with a solution already being used in two COE's of the time -- White and Mack. Both these truck companies had trucks that utilized a slide out engine tray that slid out the front of the truck -- as in the White and Mack COE's
 shown below.

So, remember I said we'd get back to what the stream-liner was based on? Well, very little was written about this build. W.E. Miller could not save his design notes from Advance Auto Body. The only thing I've found is a partial article from the November 1935 issue of WESTERN TRUCK OWNER that thanks to Alden Jewell and the late Fred Crimson I share below --

I have done some extensive searches for the rest of this article. My first search took me to the publisher of HEAVY DUTY TRUCKING. In 2012, they had done a 90th anniversary series in their magazine that mentioned their ancestral lines as coming through WESTERN TRUCK OWNER, the magazine changed titles through the years becoming HEAVY DUTY TRUCKING. The fellow I spoke to thought they had bound copies of all the issues of WESTERN TRUCK OWNER, however the company had just went through a corporate change and some one threw them all out. 

My second search took me to the Library of Congress, very nice folks, where after three days they notified me that they did not have what I was looking for in their holdings. They were kind enough to check WORLDCAT, a catalog of the holdings of 40,000 libraries wold wide -- they had one hit. That hit led me to Nick Wilkenson of the OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY LIBRARY. Nick found the issue I needed, but initially could not find the article or the pictures I needed. I had however attached the partial article and the photos I was looking for for reference.

Are you sitting down?  After going back through the issue, Nick determined that the article and pictures were removed by someone other than Library staff. Now the library is caught up in the same search as I am, trying to replace this issue.

So, let's take a breather here and get back to Gilmore Oil and the truck. In 1945 Gilmore Oil Co. was bought out by Saucony Oil in LA. Subsequently, they would become Mobiloil and Mobiloil would continue with the Economy Runs started by Gilmore.

What wasn't known, until I found this VERY RARE picture on FLICKR, General Petroleum/Mobiloil acquired the Stream-Liner and it was used into the 1950's.

It is rumored that in the early 50's Mobiloil scrapped this truck. Unfortunately this is probably true as no other pictures exist and there is no record after that time -- it is gone!

Earlier I made mention of the late Fred Crimmson, author of many fine truck related books. Apparently Fred had this picture and according to Alden Jewell that is Fred's handwriting below the picture that is below --

It says, 1935 WHITE built by Standard Auto Body Works, Los Angeles. I think Fred knew something I'm still trying to find. He had the "proof".

It's a White -- one BEAUTIFUL WHITE!!!!

The following photo was sent to me by a friend. It show's Earl Gilmore showing off his tuck circa 1939 --

And I am VERY jealous of whoever has this fine model --

 thanks to ----
 Alden Jewell for photos
 The Fred Crimson Collection
 and the fellows on JUST OLD TRUCKS for their input --