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Coal & Flue Season: 1925

Washington, D.C., 1925. "Ford Motor Co. -- Consumers Company coal truck." National Photo Company Collection glass negative. View full size.

Washington, D.C., 1925. "Ford Motor Co. -- Consumers Company coal truck." National Photo Company Collection glass negative. View full size.


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Lump of coal

I'll never forget the day the coal truck dumped my crazy uncle Al's order of coal curbside here in Detroit. He felt it "looked a little short", so while the driver was still there, he tape-measured the piles dimensions, jotted down some mathematical formula, and after a few minutes, proved to the driver that he was, in fact, shorted a certain amount! The driver just put his head down and mumbled that he would have the rest of it delivered the next day! We called him "Crazy Uncle Al", but as I look back on it, I think he was just eccentric (with a few minor screws loose), but might have been the smartest man I ever knew.

Bagged Coal

My parents built a pre-fab house in the Toronto suburb of Willowdale in 1948, when I was one year old. Elmwood Avenue was only paved for one block east of Yonge Street, and their new house was three blocks east. The block we lived on had a road that was "unimproved", which meant dirt, and mud in the winter. Because of that, my father could not install an oil furnace, since the oil delivery truck could not travel on an unpaved road. So a coal furnace was installed, and the coal truck delivered bagged coal at the end of the paved road. My father then wheelbarrowed the coal in many trips to our house. In 1949 Dad's mother converted her boiler in Toronto to oil, and Dad and his brother Alec moved the coal stoker from her home to the Willowdale house. Finally Mum had automatic heat, and no longer had to shoved coal while Dad was at work. There were two main manufacturers of stokers: Fairbanks Morse and Iron Fireman. is how they worked.

crank start

This example lacks the battery/starter/generator combination. The battery would have been in a holder under the door. Consumers spent their money on the fleet paint job.

Chutes & Scissors

I find the curbside delivery interesting. All the coal trucks that I grew up around (1950s) had the high-lift scissors systems to allow the coal to be directly delivered via chute into coal bins in the basement. I wonder when they were invented.

Coal Ash

When I was a kid in the 60's we lived in an old house in Boston. The house originally had a coal furnace. The section of the cellar under the kitchen and pantry was walled off with only an opening the size of a large window. In there a few feet from the first floor rafters was coal ash. It seems when the furnace was coal fired the occupants decided to just pile the ash in there for many, many years. My father told me when he bought the house he'd fill a few trash cans of ash a week and put it out on the curb for pickup. After awhile he said it wasn't really making a dent in it so he stopped. This ash was so solidly packed that when a plumber needed to get under the kitchen to work on pipes they were able to place linoleum flooring over the top so he could get in there to lie on it and work. A fairly scary cellar on its own but looking into this area was even more scary and bizarre. My mother used to say that after hearing what the cellar was like she never once set foot in it the whole time we lived there.

What a mess!

How did the coal generally get from the curb to the coal chute leading to the basement bins in those houses? Did the delivery truck driver use a wheelbarrow for part two of the unloading operation, or was that the responsibility of Joe Homeowner when he got home from work? I can vaguely remember my father going downstairs to stoke the coal fired furnace, but can't remember how the stuff got delivered because I think I was only about three when it got converted to oil.

A first for me

I've been looking at pictures of 1920s trucks since I was 14 years old, and this is the first Ford TT I've seen with non-pneumatic tires (to call these tires solid is to invite hairsplitting). Also, it's strange to see what appear to be fuel-burning lamps on a post-1917 TT.

Anthracite for sore eyes

This truck is identical (save for a few cosmetic differences) to the Steuart coal-delivery truck seen in this 1924 photo.

Trublpruf Tires

As seen here earlier on Shorpy.

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