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Motor Truck in the Monument Business

What Retail Monument Dealers Think of the Efficiency of Motor Transportation for Memorial Work

Excerpt from

Granite Marble & Bronze, Vol. XXXI, No. 1, January 1921, pp. 32-33d

(Please note:  This magazine had some pages stuck together, so there are a few missing words in the article.)

A short time ago Granite Marble & Bronze sent out a questionnaire to thousands of retail monument dealers throughout the country for information regarding the part the motor truck plays in the retail monument business.  A copy of this questionnaire is printed on this page.*

(*  You will find the questionnaire at the end of this article.)

“Many hundreds of answers have been received together with interesting photographs, and they are still coming in in such large numbers that it will be necessary for us to continue the subject next month.

“Of course, the real interest in connection with this digest is in quoting what the dealers have to say about the subject, for the sayings are many and various.  These series of opinions are printed below without any idea of giving precedence of one thought over another.  They are told in a ‘first come, first served’ order, as follows:

“Hinman-Boynton Granite Co., Syracuse, N. Y. (New York):

“‘We consider the truck as great an improvement as the pneumatic tool or the sand-blast.  We have a one-ton Ford truck, fitted with sliding gear transmission.  We frequently carry two tons on it.  We find that the truck will cover a distance of at least five miles to one of a team.  Repairs on our truck were in excess of expectations until we had the sliding gear transmission installed.  The old Planetary transmission we consider too light for truck work.  We had our truck fitted with 33x5 pneumatic tires, for the reason that a solid tire is useless on wet grass roads which are used in a great many country cemeteries, and we also think the pneumatic tires lengthen the life of a truck and make it easier riding.  If business is as good next year as last we will probably install another truck.  We have run our truck over 6,000 miles without one minute of tire trouble, have set 109 monuments and delivered over 300 markers.’

“Geo. Dodd & Sons Granite Co., Xenia, Ohio:

“‘The motor truck has cut our setting force in two, and gives more comfort, speed and satisfaction than the team.  We have one Oldsmobile one-ton truck and one Reo two-ton truck.  We have pneumatic tires on the one-ton truck, and haul from one and one-half to two tons at all times, and solid tires on the two-ton truck which hauls up to four tons.’

“Adams & McNichol, White River Junction, Vt. (Vermont):

“‘We use two trucks, a Garford two-ton and an International one-ton.  We haul everything from the shop and do not ship by railroad.  For us, therefore, the truck is a great advantage over the team, for the team could not handle these long hauls.  Our trucks were equipped with solid tires and we have always used them, but have no real reason for doing so.  The motor truck is a great advertisement and enables a dealer to conduct his business on an altogether different plan than he could otherwise do.  Of course, this applies to a business that is scattered like ours is among people living in rural communities.’

“C. N. Clark, Co., Urbana, Ill. (Illinois):

“‘The motor truck, in our estimation, has advanced the retail monument business at least 50 per cent.  We have a Nash two-ton truck, and with them can do twice as much work as with teams.  We use solid tires because we think they are better and surer.’

“Greenfield Granite & Marble Co., Greenfield, Mass. (Massachusetts):

“‘We find the motor truck much more convenient to use than the team, and it will do much more work in less time.  Another advantage is that it will stand without hitching in the cemetery and will not eat its head off while idle.  We have a Reo ¾-ton truck, but on good roads it will carry 2,000 to 2,500 pounds.  It costs us from 15 to 20 cents per mile to operate the truck – the more business and mileage, the less cost per mile on account of fixed charges, such as registration, insurance, taxes, etc.

“‘We use pneumatic tires because this style of truck comes so equipped; they are speedier and cause less vibration and wear on the machine.  All trucks for road work under two tons should be on pneumatics.  The truck has speeded up deliveries and has brought joy to the poor dealer who has to set the work, by getting him home when the whistle blows at the close of day.  He used to be bumping in on a dead axle wagon at 10 and 11 o’clock at night.’

“A. H. Luckenbill, Middletown, Pa. (Pennsylvania):

“‘I have a Brockway 2 ½-ton truck and find that it has many advantages over the team.  Among these are quick delivery, no horse to feed and attend, less trouble with drivers and setters because they can go and come quickly, it is ready at all times, and there is no need of slowing pace on account of horses getting tired or feeding time.  We use our truck for anything, anytime, anywhere.  Repairs on our trucks are below expectations, probably because we give prompt attention to anything that develops, and have periodical inspections of all parts.  The truck is equipped with solid tires because we can more easily overload when necessary and because of the elimination of punctures and blow-outs.  We have the body of our truck built so that we can take off the express body sides, rear and front, and insert stakes in the sides, or when hauling heavy pieces we have just a plain platform.’

“F. J. Scholz & Son, Evansville, Ind. (Indiana):

“‘We have a one-ton Ford and a 3 ½-ton G. M. C. truck, and find them a great convenience, a time-saver and a splendid advertisement for our business.  They are working from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., hauling shipments to depot, receiving stock coming in, hauling to local cemeteries, etc.  Repairs have been below expectations.  We use solid Firestone tires, for a 3 ½-ton truck is too heavy for pneumatic.’

“John M. Gessler’s Sons, Philadelphia, Pa. (Pennsylvania):

“‘With the scarcity and high cost of labor the motor truck has enabled the dealers to erect a greater amount of work in very much less time.  We have two trucks – a G.M.C. five-ton and an Acme 2 ½-ton.  They are great time-savers and get out larger and heavier loads in less time and at less cost.  If properly handled and cared for the cost is below expectations.  An inexperienced driver will make a truck very unprofitable, however.  We use solid tires on account of heavy loads.’

Two-ton Little Giant Truck used by Paine-Fishburn Granite Co., Grand Island, Nebraska.  Equipped with solid tires. Two-ton Little Giant Truck used by Paine-Fishburn Granite Co., Grand Island, Nebraska.
L. B. Slaughter & Co., South Bend, Ind. (Indiana), use this Stewart 2-ton truck for deliveries.  Repairs have been a very small item on this truck. L. B. Slaughter & Co., South Bend, Ind. (Indiana), use this Stewart 2-ton truck for deliveries.
Truck of Bills Bros., Denver, Colo. (Colorado) equipped with crane for handling monument work. Truck of Bills Bros., Denver, Colo. (Colorado) equipped with crane for handling monument work.

Substantial truck of F. D. Black, Grand Rapids, Mich. (Michigan)  It is especially appointed for hauling monuments.

Substantial truck of F. D. Black, Grand Rapids, Mich. (Michigan)

“Rosebrough Monument Co., St. Louis, Mo. (Missouri):

“‘We use a one-ton truck and find it a wonderful time-saver and time is money.  The cost of operating it is much below our expectations.  The car is equipped with pneumatic tires.  They jar the truck less than solid ones.  The motor truck has speeded up the retail monument business and greatly increased efficiency.  It has had a tendency to put ‘pep’ into setters.’

“Ballantine & Morin, South Portland, Me. (Maine):

“‘We believe the motor truck has been a great time-saver in the monument business.  With our truck we can handle double the work we handled with a team.’

“Grant Granite Co., Brattleboro, Vt. (Vermont):

“‘We use a Ford one-ton truck, but it is constantly over-loaded.  It saves much time.  Two men and one truck will handle more work than four men and two teams.  Of course, it occasionally gets stalled in soft country roads and is unsatisfactory when snow is on the ground.

‘The truck itself is not cheaper than a two-horse team, but the saving is in the extra labor required to do the work with teams.  Our repairs have been above expectation, but this has been due largely to overloading and incompetent drivers and repair men.  We have ordered a Nash truck for next year.’

“Brock Monument Co., Vincennes, Ind. (Indiana):

“‘We operate a Dodge with Truxton and haul up to three tons on it.  It is very satisfactory and costs much less than we expected.  The driver is usually the largest expense item.  Any good reliable truck will do the work if the driver understands his business.  It is ten times harder to select a competent driver than it is to select a truck.  The dealer should take into consideration the loads to be carried, the distance, kind of roads, etc., before selecting his truck.

“‘We keep an expense account of manufacturing, selling and setting separate, but it would take a lot of time to get the exact expenses of oil, gasoline, tires, etc., on the setting, loads hauled, distances, etc., and then the information would not be applicable unless the dealer had a good setter to take care of the truck.’

“Cream City Granite & Marble Works:  

“‘We operate a Huffman two-ton truck.  The truck is cheaper for handling stone, especially on long trips.  We can deliver our work at least ten times as fast as with the team.  Our truck is equipped with solid tires.  Pneumatic ones would bring the platform too high.’

“J. M. Brewer, Adams, N.Y. (New York):

I use a two-ton Ford and find this means of dispatch cheaper than teams.  Snow in this country is the only setback with trucks.  I use both solid and pneumatic tires.’

“The Davis Granite Co., Morristown, N.J. (New Jersey):

“‘We have a 2 ½-ton Kelly-Springfield truck with windlass attachment at front.  We find it a great saver of time; it needs no regular attention when not in use and it can be overloaded.  During a season a truck can be operated much less costly than teams because so much more can be accomplished with it in a day.

“‘Dealers should not overlook the fact that every truck will wear out in five or six years, and provision should be made to replace it.  This should be paid for out of the profit the truck pays.  We put $1,000 a year away in the bank for this purpose and when we need a new truck, the money is there to pay for it, earned by the old truck.’

“James E. Duncan & Co., Everett, Mass. (Massachusetts):

“‘We use a Smith Form-truck, one-ton capacity.  We have used it for more than two tons very often.  This truck enables us to make long hauls in less time and at less expense than with teams.  We can haul work from the freight yard in less than half the time a team can.  With it we haul our own fuel and many other necessary items. Our repairs are below expectations and we find our truck very economical to run.  We feel that the motor truck is very essential in the monument business.’

“Geo. E. Morrison & Son, Portland, Me. (Maine):

“‘We use a one-ton truck and find it a great time and money-saver.  We use pneumatic tires all around and find them cheaper than solid.’

“Walter Haertel, Dundee, Ill. (Illinois):

“‘I use a 1 ½-ton Little Giant and one-ton Ford-Dearborn and a Ford runabout.  These are great time and money-savers.  I have had the Ford-Dearborn for three and one-half years and it is in pretty good condition.  I believe it will take another three years for the Little Giant to pay for itself.  No monument man should be without a little Ford with a box on back.”

Trucks of J. J. Norton, Newton, Kans., equipped with handy device for Handling monuments cut.  No. 1 shows truck on arrival at cemetery.  No. 2 shows legs loosed from body ready for extension.  The weight of one man will raise front extensions, man on wagon inserting bolt to hold same in place.  No. 3 shows extension adjusted in proper place ready to back truck and raise device freeing support. Trucks of J. J. Norton, Newton, Kans., equipped with handy device for Handling monuments cut.
Cut No. 4 shows device raised and all ready to set monument – support removed.  No. 5 shows base in air ready to place.  No 6 shows setting base in place.  This device may be used over the side of truck or at any other angles. Cut No. 4 shows device raised and all ready to set monument

“W. C. Smith, Fryeburg, Me. (Maine):

“‘I have a one-ton Ford truck, and with it I have done four times the work I could have done with teams.  It saves 400 per cent. in time and gives better satisfaction generally.  I use solid tires because they were the only kind put on at the time of purchase  I use the truck for any general work which would require a heavy team, and also do extra work for neighbors.’

“Henry T. Crosby & Son, Harwich, Mass. (Massachusetts):

“‘We have a one-ton Ford truck and it is a great time-saver.  Repairs on it are far below expectations.  The truck is equipped with solid tires.  I think they are cheaper.’

“Breen Monument Co., St. Louis, Mo. (Missouri):

“‘We have a two-ton Traffic truck.  It makes better time than teams and can be forced to capacity at all times without that humane feeling that one has about a horse.

“‘We find expenses at all times far above expectations.  We use Federal solid tires on the rear wheels and pneumatic on front.  The solid tires are supposed to carry the load and the pneumatic to take the jar off the motor.  When you stop your truck and have a piece of marble or granite on rollers, you know that the truck is going to stand.  Many times we have had corners broken off by having the horse move.  Then again, when you are not using the truck it needs no attention.’

“R. J. Hamilton, Ravenna, Ohio:

“‘I have a two-ton Jeffery truck, equipped with solid tires on the rear wheels and pneumatic tires on front.  The rear end carries the excess weight and…gives longer life to the motor.  The…gives quick service and delivers four times the amount of work delivered at a similar cost of money and time than a team would do.’

“Charles C. Bostwick, Pataskala, Ohio:

“‘…one-ton Ford truck delivers work in…the time required by teams.  I use pneumatic tires because in most small cemeteries it is necessary to drive more or less on grass and solid tires will not stick to the ground as well as pneumatic.  Solid tires always slip on damp roads.’

“B. C. Mendall, Superior, Neb. (Nebraska):

“‘I use a Reo one-ton truck and find it much cheaper and quicker than team delivery.  Of course, there are times when a team can be used on bad roads when it is not practical to use a truck, but this happens very seldom.  The amount of repairs is less than I expected, but charges are much higher.

“‘My truck is equipped with pneumatic tires, for with them I can make better time, there is less vibration on the truck, I can haul a larger load and can get into the cemetery without cutting the roads.

“‘With the motor truck work can be gotten out much faster and cheaper and it is a good advertisement for the business.  The worst difficulty we find with motor trucks is the lack of skilled mechanics to work on them, which doubles the cost of upkeep.  This would be eliminated if truck dealers would have service stations with skilled mechanics.’”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

(The following is the portion of the article that reproduces the questionnaire sent to the monument dealers.)

“We recently mailed to the leading retail monument dealers in the United States the 14 queries which we print below, saying to them, ‘Your answers to these questions are as important to you as they are to us.’  Hundreds of remarkable replies were received many of which are printed on these pages.

  1. Do you use a motor truck in your business?
  2. What is its make and capacity?
  3. What are the advantages of the motor truck over the team?
  4. What are the disadvantages of the motor truck over the team?
  5. Do you use your truck for any purpose other than hauling cemetery work?
  6. Do you use the motor of your truck for any other purpose?  What?
  7.  Do you find the cost of operating trucks cheaper than teams?
  8. Do you keep any record of cost of operating trucks?  If so won’t you please attach copy of record.
  9. Are repairs on truck in excess of or below expectations?
  10.  If you do not use trucks please state your reasons and what methods of hauling you do use.
  11.  What is the advantage of this method over the truck?
  12.  What make of tires do you use – solid or pneumatic?  Why?
  13. Are you contemplating the purchase of a motor truck?
  14. What part do you think the motor truck has played in the advancement of the industry?

(Below is another section of the article.)

A Laugh on the Motor Truck

“Robt. D. Smith has been secretary of the International Monumental Granite Producers Association for so many years there are very few people in the business who can remember when he did not hold that position.  He is a man who knows more about labor, granite and the retail dealer and his problems than almost any man in the business.  And he is a friend to every man, while everybody from Dan to Bersheba loves him as a friend and companion.  Up to this time, Bob, as he likes people to call him, has never shown any particular talent as a humorist, but we are beginning to suspect that he has a talent along this line and a talent of very high order.  In sending out the question blanks on the motor truck, Bob, who has an uncanny way of finding out what is going on in the industry, got hold of one of these blanks and filled it out, signed, sealed and delivered it to our editorial office.  Here are his answers to the truck questions:

  • Do you use a motor truck in your business?
    • “Everybody in our business is a truck.”
  • What is its make and capacity?
    • “E. M. F.  Every Morning Fix,  Capacity???
  • What are the advantages of the motor truck over the team?
    • Answer:  “You don’t have to buy hay.”
  • Do you use your truck for any purpose other than hauling cemetery work?
    • Answer:  “Yes – to see if it is in the humor to work.”
  • Do you use the motor of your truck for any other purpose?  What?
    • Answer:  “Yes – To tinker with when you should be doing something else.”
  • Do you find the cost of operating trucks cheaper than teams?
    • Answer:  “Depends upon what luck you have.”
  • Do you keep any record of cost of operating trucks?  If so won’t you please attach copy of record.
    • Answer:  “No – Afraid result would be alarming.”
  • Are repairs on truck ex excess of or below expectations?
    • Answer:  “According to bills, the truck should be an aeroplane.”
  • If you do not use trucks please state your reasons and what methods of hauling you do use.
    • Answer:  “Wooden rolls.”
  • What is the advantage of this method over the truck?
    • Answer:  “You know you are getting somewhere.”
  • What make of tires do you use – solid or pneumatic?  Why?
    • Answer:  “It wouldn’t make any difference – both wear out.”
  • Are you contemplating the purchase of a motor truck?
    • Answer:  “Never again.”
  • What part do you think the motor truck has played in the advancement of the industry?
    • Answer:  “It has sharpened people’s wits by being one more thing to worry about.”

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