York-built Worn Drive Truck debuted at 1916 York Fair
Hoover Wagon Company advertised “Do Not Fail To See The HOOVER WORM DRIVE TRUCK at the York Fair—Main Building Annex. BUILT IN YORK.” This October 4th 1916, York Daily ad appeared during the York Fair 100-years-ago, i.e. in 1916; when the fair was held in early October. The appearance at the fair marked the debut of the first Hoover Truck built entirely in York; since the companies’ automotive line previously involved purchasing a Ford chassis and added a Hoover commercial body.
The Hoover Wagon Company had its origins in 1880, as a York manufacturer of buggies, pleasure carriages and commercial delivery wagons. In 1913 Hoover was quick to take advantage of an opportunity associated with motorized vehicles. The Model T offered limited commercial bodies in its early production and Ford ultimately decided to discontinue this option in 1913 to concentrate wholly on mass quantities of cars. At first, Hoover purchased a body-less Model T from Ford; onto which a Hoover truck body was installed; resulting in a Hoover line of commercial trucks. It was not until 1924 that the first factory-built Ford Model T pick-ups were introduced. Thru for 11-years, Ford was not a truck competitor of smaller companies such as Hoover Wagon Company.
The worm drive in the Hoover truck ad was primarily used as an attention grabber, since many other automotive manufacturers were using worm gears as one way to drive the rear axle. The November 1, 1916 issue of the trade publication “The Commercial Vehicle” carried a review of the new Hoover Truck in which they concentrated on other innovations introduced by this vehicle.
Hoover’s Wheatfield Street Plant
In 1916, the Hoover Wagon Company was already firmly entrenched at their Wheatfield Street Plant along the Maryland & Pennsylvania Railroad tracks in southeastern end of York City; thus the 1916 Hoover Truck was created and produced at that site. Here is a circa 1955 aerial view of the plant from the collections of the York County History Center. I’ve annotated the aerial view with features and street names. By 1921 the Hoover Wagon Company no longer made their own chassis; instead from that point on, concentrating on producing commercial truck bodies. Hoover Wagon Company modernized its name to Hoover Body Company in 1922. In this 1955 aerial photo, hundreds chassis in the staging yard await Hoover bodies to complete the vehicles. The truck chassis staging yard is bounded by Mt. Rose Avenue, Prospect Street and Albemarle Street is now the site of Mt. Rose Avenue Plaza.
Trade Publication Review of the Hoover Truck
The November 1, 1916 issue of the trade publication “The Commercial Vehicle” carried this review of the Hoover Worn Drive Truck on page 57. The title of the article is “Hoover 3/4-Tonner, a New Make, Has Unusual Location of Tank; Increases Body Space and Is More Convenient.” Quoting the whole article:
Resulting from several years of experience in the building of bodies for commercial vehicles and protracted experimentation with chassis, the Hoover truck has just been brought out by the Hoover Wagon Company, York, Pa. It is of 3/4-ton capacity of conventional design except for some minor features.
One of these is the fuel system, the tank being located at the right side of the chassis, under the floor, feeding by the Carter vacuum system to the carburetor, high on the side of the engine. The filler cap is rendered very accessible by this construction, being directly in front of the driver, where it may be removed without leaving the seat. A gauge is placed in front of the filler cap where it is at all times visible to the driver, a feature which has not been given the attention heretofore which it seems it merits.
This construction, by permitting the carburetor to be mounted high facilitates starting and the economical use of present low grades of gasoline. Further starting aid is afforded by the starting switch, which is integral with the coil, giving a continuous starting spark.
Electric starting and lighting are available on this model if desired.
The engine is block-cast, cooled by thermo-syphon circulation through a cellular radiator of distinctive shape. Ignition is supplied by a high-tension magneto with had adjustable spark advance. The clutch is a dry-plate type having three plates, driving a conventional three-speed selective gearset. Final drive is by a shaft with two universals to the worm-driven semi-floating axle, torque and propulsion being taken by the springs.
The frame is wedge-shaped, of pressed steel and the springs are of exceptional length and width for this capacity of truck, being 52 in. by 2-1/2 in the rear and 40 by 2 in the front. Both brakes are located on the rear wheel drums.
Fenders and other sheet-metal, wood show great pains have been taken, the braces for the fenders being of stout tubular construction designed more for strength than appearance and adequate splash-guards have been fitted between the fenders and the frame.
The concern is in an especially advantageous position to supply special body designs, besides its standard types, since it operates a body business and through the special location of the fuel tank, the space beneath the driver’s seat is available for load. The helper’s seat may also be omitted, if need be, or arranged to fold.
The following illustration appears within the November 1, 1916 article in “The Commercial Vehicle.” The caption states, “Overhead and Chassis Views of the New Hoover 1,500-pound Delivery Chassis.”
A table, within the article, contain the following specifications for this new Hoover Truck: Capacity 1,500-pounds; Wheelbase 120-inches; Front Tires are 32 x 4; Rear Tires are 33 x 4-1/2; Engine Bore is 3-3/4-inches; Engine Stroke is 4-1/2-inches; Engine delivers 22.5-horespower.
Articles about the Hoover Truck also appeared in trade publications “The Motor Truck” and “The Automobile.” All the while, Hoover produced the chassis for this truck, they also continued to purchase the Model T chassis, and also chassis from other manufacturers, for some of their other body lines. By 1921, appearances are that Hoover is again purchasing all chassis requirements; they just could not compete with the economies of scale enjoyed by the larger automobile manufacturers.
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