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American Towman Magazine Presents the Week in TowingOctober 18 - October 24, 2017
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Wreckers Highlight Hawkeye ATHS Show

0 0a681By John Gunnell

The American Truck Historical Society's annual national convention in Des Moines, Iowa, this May attracted a record 1,269 trucks from across the country, filling the 600-acre Iowa State Fairgrounds with trucks small and large.

On the small side was a 1939 Ford 1.5-ton snub-nose COE wrecker that Vander Haag's brought from its corporate museum. With its 1930s art-deco bodywork, this short wheelbase unit spent its working life at the South Side Junkyard (phone 268) in Sanborn, Iowa.

It features a Ford flathead V-8, a four-speed gearbox and a two-speed rear axle. A three-ton hand-cranked Weaver Auto Crane did the heavy lifting. The truck wracked up 93,143 miles of use.

Parked not far from the Ford was an Iowa-built Hawkeye truck fitted with an even older Weaver Auto Crane owned by C&H Truck Parts of South Sioux City, Iowa. That's the city where Hawkeyes were manufactured between 1916 and 1933 (until the Great Depression took it out).

Compared to these two nicely restored trucks parked inside a fairgrounds building, Barry Reynold's 1957 White Motors heavy-duty tow truck parked outside was eye-catching because of its battle scars and hard-earned patina. On his window card, the Knoxville, Iowa, resident described the faded red wrecker as a "rat rod." Supplying power to the rough-around-the-edges classic White was a Caterpillar diesel that had been bolted in to replace the original "White Mustang Power" engine still called out on a hood badge.

G&S Service has been a specialist in the vehicle-recovery business in Des Moines since 1993. Their tow truck carries a hand-painted flame job on the hood, grille and fenders, and a hefty Holmes wrecker behind.

Big rig wreckers at the ATHS Convention included Tom Bronge's 1975 Peterbilt 359 from McHenry, Illinois, Ernie Vole's 1971 Pete out of Vernon, Illinois, the American Towing Kenworth out of Ruston, Iowa, and Decker Truck Line's bright yellow and red 1979 Peterbilt 359 from Fort Dodge, Iowa.

Some of the graphics on the trucks were those of towing companies that still are in business today. In fact, it appeared that many of the classic tow trucks were still "working for a living." In other cases, the graphics were ones you do not see anymore. Apparently, vinyl graphics companies are getting a lot of business reproducing lettering and logo decals for classic tow trucks being restored.

Editor's note
This story previously ran in the August 2017 issue of American Towman Magazine.
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WreckMaster President Justin Cruse said that the WreckMaster Convention will bring together towers from all over North America to provide a unique and beneficial opportunity to broaden knowledge.
© 2017  Tow Industry Week/American Towman Media, Inc.