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Three Early Alco Trucks Ready to Move The Freight


The American Locomotive Company of Providence, Rhode Island, built one of the highest quality trucks between the period of 1909 and 1913. The firms automobiles are well known and won the Vanderbilt Cup Races in 1909 and 1910. The photos of the Francis H. Leggett & Co. truck above, and the unit below owned by Alco are both courtesy of the AACA Library and are dated as being 1911 models. In that year the company produced both three and five ton capacity trucks and the truck above appears to be the three-ton model.


This truck from Alco Branch in New York City is hauling a batch of sewing machines. It appears to be on a longer wheelbase and is likely to be a five-ton unit. The 1911 and earlier engines appear to have only been offered in one 24.8 h.p. size and used a 3 15/16-inch bore with a 4 3/4-inch stroke. The engine was backed up by a fourteen disc wet clutch and a driveshaft that transfered the power back to a combination three-speed transmission differential. Illustrations of both can be seen below.

Antique Alco Truck

The Alco Truck seen above was owned by the Stuyvesant Garage and Hospital, run by A. H. Chambers in Kingston, NY. This scene appears to have been taken before or after a parade, for which the truck was turned into a truck and trailer for use as a float. The garage appears to have sold the Alco and the Hudson automobile. Two more photos of it can be seen below. The Old Motor photo.



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  •                     The 231 c.i. 24.8 h.p. T-head engine with a 3 15/16-inch bore and 4 3/4-inch stroke.
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  •                                The three-speed combination transmission and differential.
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  •                     The five-inch bore x six-inch stroke forty h.p. 1912.
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  • The 1912 two-ton Alco truck chassis that sold for $2,950.

8 responses to “Three Early Alco Trucks Ready to Move The Freight

  1. Austin Clark bought an Alco truck in the Bronx back in the 1950s, ( it had a stake side body) and proceeded to drive it back to long island, made it half way to Southampton , NY where his museum was located, and it threw a rod. He eventually sold the truck to a fellow who lives in Huntington, N.Y. who restored it and the truck has been seen at the annual Hershey car for many years.

  2. Having worked on a shipping floor for years up to retirement, I have to wonder how those sewing machines were loaded three tiers high back in those days.

    Hopefully, the mechanical brakes on the Alco were much less than effective for the sake of the driver of that precariously unsecured load. I guess he could jump clear if he were sprightly enough.

  3. After some thought, I’ll bet that image of the sewing machine laden Alco was a staged photo to perhaps over represent the truck’s capacity to potential customers.

    They could have used a ton or so of rocks, but that wouldn’t have looked nearly as impressive.

  4. On June 20, 1912 A Alco three and half ton truck departed Philadelphia loaded with three tons of soap consigned for the Carlson Currier Silk Mill in Petaluma, California.
    At 11:15 a.m. on September 20, 1912 , the truck with its cargo arrived at the foot of Market Street in San Francisco. A big parade was formed and the truck made its way to City Hall where the Mayor was given a letter from the Mayor of Philadelphia.
    The next day the Alco truck crossed the San Francisco Bay by ferry boat and proceeded north from Sausalito to Petaluma.
    Upon reaching Petaluma the truck was greeted by townspeople and a four block long parade escorted the truck to the Silk Mill were the soap was unloaded and the first transcontinental delivery of merchandise by motor truck was completed on September 21, 1912.
    The Silk Mill still stands today and became Sunset Line and Twine Co.

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