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Pacific Truck and Trailer History

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Pacific Truck and trailer was a relatively small, but always expanding west coast custom manufacturer of heavy duty on/off highway trucks and trailers. Pacific was founded in 1947 by 3 ex-Hayes employees, Claude Thick, Vic Barclay and Mac Billingsley. Pacific's first built trucks on a wharf at West Coast Shipyards in the False Creek area of Vancouver. The first truck that rolled out the shop was a model E-MAD in May 1947. This truck was sold to Bowater's Pulp and Paper in Newfoundland,on the east coast of Canada, 3,000 miles away from the factory. Truck #2 was also sold to Bowater's and had Hercules diesel # DFXE 5. Pacific quickly established themselves in the B.C. market producing logging trucks and trailers for major forest companies and independent log haulers. They also built 2 lowbed trailers for the B.C. government Dept. of Highways.

Within a year production requirements dictated a move to a larger facility on Franklin street in the East end of Vancouver. In 1948 they also built a Fire truck for the Vancouver Fire Dept, also Elder Logging of Sooke B.C. bought 2 trucks model ESMW powered by Cummins HB-600. Bamberton cement, north of Victoria B.C. bought a Pacific with an off set cab and dump box, this truck was built to compete with Euclid in the off highway dump truck market in 1948. Elder Logging bought 2 more trucks in 1951 and 55.

In 1953 they expanded again to include a sheet metal department. During this time the staff expanded from 11 to 53 employees. Growth was slow in the 1950's since it took 2 months to build a truck. However, Pacific's reputation had already reached far-off New Zealand and in 1954 the first six trucks were exported there to enter service with New Zealand Forest Services. Changes were slow in this time and was mainly to styling of the front fender and headlights. Pacific stayed with the first style of truck until 1955 or 1956. These trucks had a square type of fender, large single headlights which were mounted on the front bumper. They had a rounded grill in the front of radiator. The second design the fenders were rounded and the headlights were mounted on the side of the radiator. These trucks came with a guard over the top of the lights and a grill guard in front of an exposed radiator with shutters. The name Pacific was painted on the hood and Pacific was cast into the upper radiator tank. On most trucks the exhaust was also moved from coming out of the hood to the rear of the cab. During this time they manufactured a cab over truck for snow plowing and sanding on the Hope-Princeton highway. A total of 4 units were built, 1957, 1960,1961 and 1962. These were the only cab-over trucks that Pacific built until the mid 80's. Pacific built a handful of trucks with Rolls Royce diesel engines, but never built a truck with a gas engine.

The 1960's saw more changes again. They now had script lettering in chrome on the hood and radiators. 261 trucks were built using rear axle model #'s. The long-serving E-Model was replaced by the P-model. Before this trucks were rated by their rear end size. The fenders were still rounded but some trucks came with square fenders. In 1965 a P-9 truck was sold to Schneider logging in Kelowna B.C. This truck had square fenders and the headlights were mounted on the front fenders. They went from large round single headlights to 2 small round lights on each side.

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The first I-beam truck came out in 1963. This truck was sold to Matt Isherwood of Port Alberni on Vancouver Island. This truck had a V8-903 Cummins, 5x4 spicer and a B/L 8341 with 4640 wide track rears, 12ft bunks and 1200x24 tires. This truck also was equipped with two Williams exhaust brakes, Lear electric retarder on the driveshaft and a water tank for spraying water on the brake drums to keep them cool. This was a state of the art modern and huge truck in 1963. This truck was not sold as a P-16. Sometime in 1964 it became model P-16.

Pacific received its first order for P16s from Crown Zellerbach in 1964. This was followed by an order from MacMillan Bloedel on Vancouver Island in 1965. By 1967 the demand for heavy-duty logging trucks was at its peak and the Franklin Road premises were to small.

In 1967 Pacific Truck and Trailer moved again, this time to North Vancouver. The company purchased 4.2 acres with options on the adjoining property. The manufacturing facility comprised of a 46,000 sqft building. Which included a manufacturing shop, general office, service parts, service repair and OEM parts storage. 8 years later the existing facilities were inadequate and they expanded again.

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In August 1970 International Harvester company acquired 100% of Pacific Truck and Trailer. Pacific was a highly successful operation prior to acquisition. Throughout the 1970's production ran at around 30 units per month, with many trucks destined for operations overseas and the 500th truck built by Pacific left the plant in 1971. As a heavy-duty manufacturer Pacific was in a unique situation. Pacific was a small company which allowed it to adjust its product to comply with specific job requirements. In August 1971 Pacific received an invitation to tender four trucks from International Harvester of South Africa. The South African Railway was to be the end user of these trucks. And were to be used in hauling 150 ton to 370 ton loads. Most of the loads were for Thermal Power Plants, although they could be used to haul any heavy loads. These trucks were 600 hp each. Pacific received the tender and advised International that it would not submit a quotation until Pacific's manager of sales engineering and product development Mr. Gwynn Jenkins had consulted with the final user. Mr. Jenkins went to South Africa September 1971. In the first week of October Pacific submitted a bid for a Model P-12 truck that had never been built. May 1972 Pacific was informed that it was the successful bidder. August 1, 1972 final layout and shop drawings were completed. November 22, 1972 all four units were shipped by ship to Johannesburg South Africa. Amazingly this full sequence of events from receipt of order to full service had taken only 12 months. In the 1970's 18 of these trucks were built, 5 of these trucks were built called Ultra with 800 hp, powered by a Cummins V-12-1710 rated at 800 hp. These trucks had huge radiators since they operated where temperatures would be 40 degrees C. From the top of the cab to ground was 13 ft. In 1973 the P-12 became a regular production truck.

By 1975 Pacific was building four models of trucks, three of which were strictly off highway. The remaining unit the P-510 series with a standard GVW of 56,000 lbs. is manufactured for both on and off road. By this time the P-510's were produced more than the other models.

P-510 frame 10"x3 1/4" x 3/8"
P-512 frame 12"x4"x3/8"

Of the off-highway models the P-10 has a rated GVW of 81,000 lbs. The P-12 and the P-16 have identical ratings of 128,000 lbs. The P-12 has a 12"x4"x3/8" 40" wide frame. All models except the P-16 are based on a flexible channel bolted frame rail construction. The P-16 frame is a rigid welded built around a pair of 16" I-beams 1/2"x6", very strong. The trailers manufactured by Pacific the majority were for logging applications ranging from 30 to 60 tons. Pacific also built lowbeds of 75, 90, and 200 ton capacity.

The P-510 trucks came with steel hoods and fenders or fiberglass hoods. P-510-S had steel hood and fenders, P-510-F had fiberglass fenders and hoods. Pacific trucks were also used in oilfield work in North America. They built trucks for the oilfields overseas, these were known as Roughnecks for desert work. They had oversized tires for desert sand conditions. The P-510-S and P-510-F used Internationals Paystar cabs. Pacific steel cabs were available as an option. I remember in 1976 or 1977 driving for Roy Harker trucking a P-10, and a trucker from Texas came to the mine at Elkford B.C. and looked lost, I pulled up to his cabover K.W. and we looked straight across at one another. He asked what kind of a conventional truck I was driving, I replied it was a real truck made in Canada. It was a 1974 P-10 with a 35 yard coal box. The truck had a tare weight of 36,000 lbs. and usually had 60,000 to 65,000 lbs. payload on 3 axles. Fred Sowchuck trucking of Fernie B.C. bought his first Pacific P-9 in 1964, in the 1970's he had one of the largest fleets of Pacific trucks, these were all coal haulers P-10's. In 1975 he bought his first P-12-W3 truck. these trucks had 50 to 55 yard boxes and 40 ton capacity. Fred had 40 Pacific's by the end of 1982, of which 9 were P-12-W3's.

The 1970's were good years for Pacific Truck and Trailer. Pacific trucks were sold to places as Swaziland, Tasmania, New Zealand, North Borneo, Philippines. Pacific trucks were hauling sugar cane in Hawaii, Hydro-electric generating equipment in India and Africa and logs and coal in western Canada and USA. There was a fleet of P-12-W3 trucks to a coal mine in Soda Springs, Idaho. These trucks had Detroit Diesel 16V71T engine 615hp and were pulling three bottom dump trailers with a total weight of 250 tons. 12, P-16 trucks were sold to North Borneo Timber in Malaysia. 15 years later 1987, these trucks returned to Canada and were converted to left hand drive for use on Vancouver Island, since is was very unlikely that a B.C, logger would want to sit on the other side of a logging truck to drive. These trucks had Detroit Diesel 12V71 engines, Allison 5960 automatic transmissions, Clark VT91 rear axles, and 1400x25 rubber.

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In the mid 1980's, Allied Ready-Mix of Richmond B.C. wanted to increase their carrying capacity per truck and overall productivity. Allied talked to other manufactures but none of them were willing to interrupt their production lines to make a special tandem-steer truck.

Pacific Truck and Trailer was very keen to work with them and designed a truck specially suited to local conditions. In 1987 Allied ordered and received a tandem-steer truck, largely based on a P-510-S model. Wayne Magee of Pacific Truck and Trailer was the key man involved in designing this truck, 400 Cummins and Fuller 14708LL. This combination worked out even better than Wayne had planned.

Pacific's being incredibly well built, Allied was hoping they won't need replacing for at least 15 years. Compared to 10 years for the other trucks in their fleet. Pacific built 4 trucks for Allied Ready-Mix, with 10.4 cubic meter mixers and a booster axle. As of December 2008 all 4 Pacific trucks are still in use, Allied still has a 1988 Pacific in their fleet and the 3 other trucks have been sold and still in use.

Tyler Thorson from Allied says that their Pacific trucks were the best and longest lasting trucks they have ever had.

In the mid 80's to late 80's fire truck chassis were sold to many cities in Canada. 2 cab over trucks were built in the late 80's using IH cabs, one was a tri-steer sold to company in California to have a cement pumper installed. The other was a tandem steer for cement pumper work.

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In 1980 a friend Bill Pierce from Merritt ordered a new P-510-S with a 8V92, 435hp 15 speed. He took delivery of this truck on March 3, 1980 since the logging here was shut down for break-up. He thought he would head north to Prince George B.C. and work the truck for 3 or 4 weeks. Usually when you buy a new truck there are a few glitches and could be fixed before mid May the start of our logging season, however there were no problems. The local truckers kept calling his truck 2 story conventional since the Pacific sat high. In 1984 Pacific made a sales promotional video featuring their trucks, off-highway loggers, P-510 trucks and oilfield trucks working. This video was called "Pacific Built Like No Other Truck" Bill's truck was featured in this video a shining jet black P-510-S with chrome grill guard, and nice blue pin strips. Having just watched this video Oct, 2005 it was interesting to see Bill driving with all his hair and front teeth.

In September 1981 International sold Pacific Truck and Trailer to Inchcape Berhad from Singapore. Pacific had became a casualty of both the Canadian recession and the financial woes of International Harvester. Inchape was a very large company and its strategy at this time was to supply Pacific trucks to rapidly-expanding mining and logging located in Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia as well to its own companies. Pacific reached its 40th anniversary in 1987, and also the completion of its 2,000th truck in the same year. It is ironic that 12 months later Inchcape made the decision to out source all fabrication of components, leaving the factory to carry out assembly only. By this time the demand for really heavy off-highway loggers in B.C. was grinding to a halt because of environmental pressures. The largest Pacific truck dealer was Burk's Intertruck in Nanaimo on Vancouver Island. Some years he would sell 30 off-highway trucks. The down turn in the economy in the mid 80's also meant there was no market for highway loggers. When dealers go from 30 trucks and a couple years later 2 trucks it is not for any truck manufacture. The last new P-16 was sold went to Vancouver Island in 1989. The last 3 trucks were built in 1991.

A P-16 with Clark BD 91,000 rears with 106 inch track is 11'-6" wide with 1400 tires and slightly wider with 1600 tires. Most P-16's had 15ft wide bunks and hauled 90 to 150 tons of wood. The trucks that were sold to Asia to haul Hardwoods only had 14 ft wide bunks with short stakes since that wood was very heavy. The big factor in weight was the type of wood. Cedar, fir or hemlock. You could really get a huge jag of Cedar on. If you overloaded with a load of Hemlock you were in for tire troubles, brakes overheating. A friend Bob Dingsdale had load of Hemlock on one time that weighed 157 tons and he got raked over the coals for it. It was not that big of a load just very heavy.

By late 1986 the market for a Premium on the highway truck was shrinking fast. Tare weights were becoming a huge issue. Most P-510-F's at this time were about 3,000lbs heavier than other trucks. This was due to being over built, extra strong fuel tank straps and brackets this all added up to being an extremely strong tough well built truck. Nor-Mar truck in Penticton sold 13 trucks in 1986. The interior Pacific truck dealers did not sell any P-510 trucks after 1987.

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In October 1991 the last production truck was built. Shortly afterwards the factory was closed down and the property was sold. Then a company called Pacific Truck Parts was established. However in 1995 a customer from a mining company in Soda Springs, Idaho called and wished to place an order for a P-12-W3, to pull triple belly dump trailers with a total capacity of 250 tons. In order for the truck to be built this customer was required to pay in advance the full cost of production. This truck was built in the Parts Warehouse.

During its 48 years of operation Pacific built 249 P-9's, 23 trucks for South Africa, and 90 trucks were sold to New Zealand. For a total of 2,308 trucks, many of these trucks are still in operation today 2008.

In 2002 Coast Power Train in New Westminster B.C. purchased all the rights, blueprints, Jigs and Templates for Pacific trucks, They are currently rebuilding Pacific trucks and are now manufacturing O.E.M. equipment for all Pacific trucks, and are also in the process of getting all the legal paper work in place so they can start to build new trucks if orders come in. They will be known as Pacific Truck Manufacturing Inc.

I would like to say thank-you to Bob Dingsdale and Larry McNutt for all their help with this story.

Witten by H. Rabe, 2008