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New Whistles and Bells

Aug 10th, 2012 | By | Category: Jack Schrock's Blog

New Whistles and Bells. The late (and truly great) Ron Berglan of Oklahoma Wrecker Sales used this term often as he wanted more than just five-color paint jobs. He wanted new technologies in towing and recovery. And, this how is that done? Here are a few products that were considered.

First, Oberg (from the Pacific NW) made an aluminum wrecker that Jerr-Dan picked up on when developing its 20-ton prototype that went on the become the JD25, their 25T wrecker introduced in 1996. But, due to cost, the all-aluminum idea was dropped.

Next, Holmes considered a small hydraulic wrecker that would slew — swing from side to side like a rotator. But without outriggers, the prototype wanted to roll over so that didn’t make it to the market.

And, Century developed a car carrier that dropped flat to the ground with the carrier wheels on the outside of the deck. There was no rear axle, differential or drive shaft as the prototype was installed on a front-wheel-drive chassis similar to the GM motorhome (and the Cadillac Eldorado) of some 50 years ago. Don’t know why that didn’t make it, but I suspect cost was a factor.

Probably the greatest innovation to date was the hydraulic wrecker pioneered in North America by Gerry Holmes. He started with two units, a HD and a smaller automotive wrecker mounted on a one-ton chassis cab. So the story goes, Gerry and Sonny took the HD on a “sales tour” and when they arrived in Lake Charles, La., the owner of Johnny’s Towing became excited over the large hydraulic wrecker — not for his wrecker service but his marina — and after some haggling, bought the prototype on the spot. The price tag was several times greater than the reliable Holmes 750 mechanical wrecker, but the productivity was unbelievable, prompting some hydrocrane competition that quickly fizzled out — but that’s another story.

And, Ron Berglan smiled as our industry converted to hydraulic wreckers, thanks to Gerry Holmes and the Century Hydraulic Wrecker Company of Ooltewah, Tennessee.