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Updated – Nothing New Under the Sun Department: FWD Prototype Pullmore Truck

Updated below: If you are mechanically-minded, here is an interesting and unbelievably complex truck chassis to study over the weekend. It appears to be a prototype being assembled at the Pulmore Motor Co. of Pittsburgh, PA.

The hinged power plant assembly is equipped with a worm and wheel assembly and a hand crank to lift it up for service. The power to propel this circa-1910s machine is provided by an L-head four-cylinder engine backed up by a multi-disc clutch and a three-speed transmission. Behind and under it (internally) appears to be gearing and a parallel shaft that transmits the motion forward to another set of gears and a differential to a set of jack-shafts.

On the outer ends of the jack-shafts are a pair of sprockets (above) that transfer the power forward via a set of chains to horizontal shafts mounted at the top of the front-drive axle spindles, which appear to be equipped with a bevel gearing. The motion then passes downward via a shaft that connects to another set of bevel gears and shafts at the bottom that then protrude outward and drive the front wheels.

The yoke and springs on the floor in the image (above) and one of a set of a possibly two wheel assemblies (four wheels in total) give us a hint at how the rear wheels were positioned.

Please share with us what you find of interest in this image courtesy of the National Automotive History Collection.

Update: Both Ace Cenek, and Kelly Willians responded with information and copies of period magazine articles which are below. Others have also added information that can be found in the comments section.

Ace Cenek wrote: According to “The Illustrated Encyclopedia of American Trucks and Commercial Vehicles by Albert Mroz,” the following is the history of the Pull-More Company (page 318).

“The Pull-More Company of Detroit, Michigan was incorporated by Frank C. Krueger, Henry M. Marker, Ralph S. Moore and Marvin A. Smith with a capitalization of $250,000. E.M. Leavitt was president and treasurer.”

“It appears the company built 1-, 2- and 3-ton capacity truck prototypes. The entire front-wheel-drive unit (including engine and cab) were detachable, with easy access to mechanical components. The 3-ton truck pictured had power steering, with the entire driving unit pivoting on a king ball located midway between the front wheels — somewhat akin to the MacDonald [truck]. Illustrations show small wheels that swung down from the back bottom of the cab so that the entire drive unit could site upright and be moved without the bed and rear axle — essentially a primitive version of a truck tractor.”

“A factory was secured in New Castle, Pennsylvania, but by 1917, the company had been reorganized with E.M.S. Young as president and general manager and H.P. Pope as vice-president. Plans were made to build 100 trucks per month, and the company was by then capitalized with $1 million, it was announced. A 3-ton Pull-More chassis was priced at $3,400. In 1918, the company went into receivership and was shut down permanently.”

19 responses to “Updated – Nothing New Under the Sun Department: FWD Prototype Pullmore Truck

  1. Thanks to “Pulmore” being an old Lionel trademark (“Pulmore motor”) and all the train collectors this is difficult to research!

    Possible connection to Pittsburgh Pa and an Carnegie Steel executive last name of Pope?

  2. A very interesting experimental and display machine to be sure! However, to me as a person that has studied quite closely literally thousands of early era photographs? The first thing I noticed was that several people had troubles with standing still for the required duration of the slow film and no flash time exposure. I wonder if the photographer was bothered by that? Or did he not consider the people important to the picture?

    • No, the people were just there to hold the backdrop. This was to give a clearer view of the important part of the machine. The photos may have been planned to be cropped, before being used.

    • Or the background may ultimately have been removed entirely, either by painting them out with “Opaque” (a thick orange sort of tempera paint) directly on the negative or painted out white on a photo print if additional airbrushing was required to enhance or refine some of the surfaces. Even into the digital era, I found it worthwhile to hang a white card or two behind the more intricate parts of a machine if only so as to not have to later wonder “is that little widget part of the machine or part of the background?”

  3. Love to see those old-time “sheet-shakers” at work in photos! A least the sheets here are clean, not like the oil-stained type used in some photos.

    Perhaps the tilting frame was used only for prototype and demonstration purposes, not out in the real world. Tilting the engine and transmission top that much in a normal truck would have been difficult to impossible, not to mention sealing the segments to prevent oil leaks.

  4. The sheet-shakers were not required to stand still but rather to shake the sheet so it would appear as a softly blurred background, hiding the grunge in the actual background. In those days, film was slow (not as light-sensitive), so longer exposures were the norm, especially when shooting stationary machinery in often-dark places. The sheet-shakers would be cropped out of the final image. British custom-body builders did a lot of it.

  5. I’m wondering if this prototype could have been designed to display the mechanical features of a future production model. Might that explain the hinged upper section which shows details of its power system? Has anyone else seen a system like this aimed at easing drivetrain maintenance? I’d be interested to know.

  6. Those are the ghosts of the Pullmore truck. I know it was primitive, and you had to start somewhere., but looks like a lot of hardware just to turn a wheel.

  7. A description of the Pull-More (!) truck with several photos of the whole rig was published in the April 1914 issue of MoToR, p.82.

    • I had already found a lot of information on the Pull-More truck including the short and convoluted corporate history with locations in multiple states. I intend to write a longer more definitive comment later tonight when I have time.

      In the meantime, here are some of the details:

      The Pull-More truck was apparently first displayed to the public at the 13th annual Detroit Auto Show on Jan 17 to 24 1914.

      Better pictures and additional details in various places, including Motor Age January 29, 1914 issue page 49 which shows the easy access to the engine and drive train.

      Lots of big ideas at the time, big dreams and promises mostly unfulfilled for the investors. A hard time to start a truck manufacturing business what with the wartime shortages of steel and other materials, and then the ensuing post war business depression.

      In any case the founders – Including Colonel H.P. Bope- First Vice President of Carnegie Steel at the time- apparently got further than most, a number of patents point the way to why this was a truck that stood out from the rest. The patents of H.H. Marker were apparently important, although there was at least one more patent on a universal joint granted to another that was assigned to the corporation when granted.

      Patents issued to Henry H. Marker most of which were issued to or assigned to the corporations involved with the truck.

      Clutch.
      US US1136025A Henry H Marker Frank G Krueger
      Priority 1913-12-08 • Filed 1913-12-08 • Granted 1915-04-20 • Published 1915-04-20
      H. H. MARKER.

      Vehicle-body.
      US US1085350A Henry H Marker Frank G Krueger
      Priority 1911-11-15 • Filed 1911-11-15 • Granted 1914-01-27 • Published 1914-01-27

      Motor-actuated steering mechanism.
      US US1172152A Henry H Marker Pull More Motor Truck Company
      Priority 1914-04-04 • Filed 1914-04-04 • Granted 1916-02-15 • Published 1916-02-15

      Motor-vehicle.
      US US1136026A Henry H Marker Pull More Motor Truck Company
      Priority 1914-04-04 • Filed 1914-04-04 • Granted 1915-04-20 • Published 1915-04-20

      Driving and steering mechanism for vehicle wheels
      US US1510690A Henry H Marker Henry H Marker
      Priority 1921-01-20 • Filed 1921-01-20 • Granted 1924-10-07 • Published 1924-10-07

    • The November 1916 issue of Iron Age has a brief mention also. The company president was E.M.S. Young, formerly a VP at Standard Gage Steel, while other owners were executives at Carnegie Steel, Firth-Sterling Steel, LaBelle Iron Works, and Follansbee Brothers. The February 14, 1917 Motor World states they were making a 3-ton truck and the estimated price for a chassis would be $3,400. The hinged upper section was intended to give easy access to the crankshaft, clutch, gearbox, and differential for maintenance and repair.

      Looking up information on the factory/plant, the Pull-More Motor Truck Company was idled by a steel shortage in WW1 and went into receivership in 1918. It was acquired to become the factory for Bacon Motors Corporation to make a Light Six, but owner Frank W. Bacon died in an accident in November 1919. Bacon Motors went out of business in 1921. It became a garment factory under a couple different owners until after WW2, and the plant was acquired in 1949 by Pittsburgh Piping and Equipment, which still runs it under its current name of Flowline.

  8. I’m not sure it’s all that complicated. Have you seen how heavy equipment or very large farm equipment is laid out these days? Hydraulics, track treads instead of wheels, AWD, articulated frames.

    Looks like they had the right ideas but not the tech to implement the ideas.

  9. (Me, chuckling!)
    “Sheet shakers”, Frank B, I have to admit I hadn’t heard that term before, although I do know it was done for advertising and other technical publications.

    As for a few comments about the thing. I am sure this was built as a demonstrator for auto and truck shows, sales demonstrations, and maybe even as a patent model. Any production actual trucks would not have had a split engine and pan for maintenance reasons. Sealing the oil into the crankcase would have been nearly impossible, and the underside of the transmission being not sealed would lead to a very quick major failure in actual use. Clearly this is not a whole truck, or even the beginning of one. The little wheels behind the motor and below the transmission are just to support the imaginary back 3/4 of the truck, and allow it to be moved around for shows or displays. I doubt that the engine was even set up to run (no radiator?). Personally, I would worry about that thing with the engine almost centered over the front axle. It seems to me that a good push from the back could flip that thing nose down before one would realize their mistake?

  10. Technology has come a long way since these photo were made. In today’s modern machine shops the wooden blocks wood be stacked with the largest one on bottom and so on with the smallest one on top. No half-way measures today.

  11. I have never heard of ‘sheet shakers’. That is very interesting. Thanks, Dave. A lot of your archived information is very educational.

  12. Wild stuff. The MacDonald Truck and Tractor Company of San Francisco began producing a line of front-wheel-drive, low bed trucks in 1920. They were built primarily for transporting extreme heavy loads around the docks and were actually equipped with hydraulic power steering.

  13. New Castle News, March 28, 1918
    An interesting report was given on the Pull-More motor truck plant by Mr. Kennedy, who was asked to investigate and see what was being done. He visited the plant yesterday and found two men puttering around, a young woman in the front office and a Mr. Linderman who explained that they had had some trouble with some parts of the truck and that the truck couldn’t negotiate the hills properly, and that therefore they were suspending operations for a very short time in order to perfect the weak parts of the truck. He further volunteered the information that Mr. Provost and his office staff would move from Pittsburg to the offices “right in this building” sometime next week.

    The office staff probably never arrived – the company went into receivership less than a month later.

  14. Seems like those are awfully skinny spokes in the wheels especially for a truck capable of carrying 6,000 pounds and considering the road conditions of the day.

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