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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Grove Lime & Coal: 1920

Grove Lime & Coal: 1920

Washington, D.C., circa 1920. "Grove Lime & Coal Co." Our latest entry in the Shorpy parade of Stone Age delivery trucks. View full size. National Photo Co.

On Shorpy:
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Witt-Will Company

Washington Post Mar 16, 1924

Refrigerator Cars on Public Roads Grow in Number

Present Capacity Taxed by Orders

New Type of Body for Ice Cream Shipments Built by Local Company.

Among the oldest and most successful of motor truck factories is numbered that of the Witt-Will Company, which is located within practically a stone's throw of the Union station. They are manufacturers of the Witt-Will motor truck, which are seen in increasing numbers on the streets of Washington and along the roads of Maryland and Virginia. Their sales organization has confined its efforts to the placing of trucks in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia, but their many satisfied users have brought them business from other points, and they now have a representative number of trucks in Brooklyn, N.Y.; Long Island City, and New York city. In New York territory, they have specialized in the construction of the ideal truck for the ice cream business, and have recently developed a special refrigerating body of the ice cream business; orders for which have now taxed the capacity of their present quarters.

Along with other local manufacturing industries, this organization stands out as a distinction to Washington, not only as the only truck manufacturer in this section of the country, but because it was founded and has been carried on by Washingtonians, who have established a reputation among those who know truck values for producing a motor truck of quality.

In August, 1911, an experiment was made in the construction of a 3-ton gasoline motor truck and the test of it in heavy service. The experiment proved such a success that the construction of a 5-ton truck was immediately started and when finished was placed in the same heavy service in which the first truck was then employed. At this point the experiment became an established success, as the truck so constructed had for exceeded he most sanguine expectations of the builders. It was then decided to establish the Witt-Will Company, Inc., having for its object the building of Witt-Will motor trucks. At the start a two-story factory building 40 by 100 feet was erected. This building was constructed in May, 1912, and the construction of motor trucks was begun. Subsequently, the expectations of business far exceeded their first thought, until the space now occupied is approximately 27,000 square feet. They are now building motor trucks of 1.5, 2, 2.5, 3 and 5-ton capacities.

The factory and offices are located at 52-56 N street northeast. The officers are John M. Dugan: president and treasurer; George H. Coale, Vice president, and James S. McKee, secretary.

Axles Part XXXVIII

Probably rather like the Rockwell axles used on contemporary M series military trucks, with some reduction built into the transition on top they can use a smaller ring gear and gain a little more ground clearance as well as save wear and tear on universal joints.


Gents, take a look at a lot of Mack trucks and you will see the same sort of differential. I have never seen inside of one, but I know they look a lot like the Witt-Will rear end on the outside.

Crazy differential

I believe that first 90 degree turn is a worm, like the 1925 vintage International. It did allow very effective engine braking unlike 30's and 40's vintage 1 1/2 T that had no stopping power when loaded.

An employer told me that cars should yield to his trucks and he didn't want to see a brake light until I pulled over the pit at the elevator. We didn't do that of course but it showed the mindset of many employers in those days.

Dig that crazy diff!

The differential is mounted with the pinion gear vertical. That means the power from the driveshaft must make a 90 degree turn before making another 90 degree turn inside the diff to the axels. That's some wasted energy right there. Perhaps a gear connection, necessitated by a lack of sufficiently strong U-joints? Interesting. Truck comes with two brakes on the rear wheels only, whether you need them or not. One other kooky observation: from the looks of that engine crank, you better be able to get it running in less than half a swing. The proximity of that bumper is scary.

Old Trucks

Thing that strikes me the most is the small size of these old delivery trucks. They appear to be about one ton capacity or so, only slightly heavier than a modern full-size pickup. Yet judging from the heavy frame construction and solid-rubber tires, the actual truck body could have handled a good deal more weight. The primitave engines and transmissions of the time were the restriction.

Witt-Will Truck

Locally made in D.C., essentially in the shadow of the White House, and sold primarily to Federal agencies, mostly during the 1920s. Really enjoyable series, Dave (Stone Age trucks); keep it going.

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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