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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Heavy Duty: 1918

Heavy Duty: 1918

        UPDATE: click here to see this beast in action!

"Fageol heavy truck assembly -- Oakland, California, factory, 1918." 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative by the Cheney Photo Advertising Company. View full size.

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Married man in the middle

Back in the late 70s when I was at Ranken (, the instructor told us that when we get married, to leave our wedding band at home. It could get snagged on something and rip your finger right off. I have not worn my wedding band for 35 years, and still have all my digits. A fellow tech with more experience than I takes his off when he leaves for work and puts it back on when he returns home. Not wearing a wedding band has caused some embarrasement a few times when a female customer took a shining to me, and I had to tell her I was married. Several didn't come back.

The "D" is not silent

To answer HenryPorter's question, I once attended a lecture by one of the Fageol grandsons, and he pronounced it Fad-jull - stressing the nonexistent "D" and ending with the "jull" that rhymes with lull and mull.

Half a loaf

The chassis is a 15-ton Couple-Gear gas-electric powered tractor-truck (as opposed to a strictly battery-powered version) built by the Couple-Gear Freight Wheel Company of Grand Rapids.

From 1918 to at least 1922 Fageol designed trucks to replace the mule trains that were then hauling ore out of the mines of the American Manganese Products Company in California. They experimented with different combinations of axles and drivetrains, including the Couple-Gear chassis, which appears to have been the largest. In the end they settled on a Fageol designed six-wheel-drive 10-ton truck towing two 5-ton trailers, built by the obscure Rogers-Unit Drive Corporation.


The Couple-Gear photos below are from the the 1921 edition of book The Modern Motor Truck. The engine shown is a four-cylinder (cylinders cast singly) rather than the six-cylinder (cylinders cast in pairs) noted by Steamcrane.

Just Off the 580?

I believe the Fageol factory was located at 106th and MacArthur (called Hollywood at the time), which is now the Foothill Square shopping center.

How you say?

Someone out there knows how to pronounce "Fageol", Google doesn't seem to. A little help?

Flexible Road Train engine

One possibility is this patent # 1,226,962.


Figure 3 shows the same odd coupling socket, to allow a train of self steering 2 wheel trailers.

Also patent # 1,407,019,

...which shows the eccentric and lever that clamps the ball socket closed.

Attempting to describe the features of this monster...
1. Six cylinder gas engine, shown by the 6 priming cups.
2. Large generator driven by the engine for propulsion.
3. Resistor cage on top of the generator, with multiple taps on a rotary speed (or power) selector on top.
4. Railroad style airbrake reservoir below the steam locomotive style cab.
5. 2 heavy cables going to a box below the air tank, presumably going to the traction motor(s) under the cab.
6, Large bull gear to steer the front axle.
7. Heavy crossed steel cables to cause the front and rear axles to steer opposite direction, so they would track in the same arc.
8. The spherical coupling socket.
9. Massive brake drums.

Note another of these beasts coming down the line behind this one.

The patent index page,

...demonstrates that Rollie B. Fageol had a far-too-fertile imagination. Most of these patents were probably never built, or existed as a single prototype.

Perhaps a locomotive

for some kind of articulated 'road train', scaled up from the passenger carrying vehicles that Fageol built for the Panama-Pacific exposition in 1915.

Here's a patent for the hitch design that's seen in the photograph...
There appears to be a hitch on each end of the chassis.

The machine in the picture seems to have four wheel steering and most likely an electric drive powered by the motor/generator up top. Maybe it was a special WW1 military contract.

Is this the finished product?

I did a search for Fageol shovel and this is what I found.

[Maybe you forgot to click "attach." - Dave]


I'd like to know what this truck was for. Being oil-electric it must have had a huge weight like a locomotive only on rubber. Can't seem to search out anything this heavy on the web.

[It looks like the cab for a crane or excavating shovel. - Dave]

SHORPY OLD 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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