The introduction of Truckmounted Carpet Cleaning Equipment

Who invented the truck mount? First off, the industry can’t even agree whether it should be truckmount (one word) or truck mount (two words). So reaching a consensus on just exactly who invented the truckmount well…just likely is not going to happen. So I will make an attempt to bring to light virtually all of the original inventors and entrepreneurs who built truckmounts, and perhaps more importantly for our recognition here – actually brought them into the marketplace and sold them to a number of cleaning and restoration companies. Plus, as you have read about in this blog, there were trailer – mounted carpet dusting machines that dated back to the early 1900’s. The invention of the truckmounted hot water extraction machine specifically designed for the on-location professional carpet cleaner to use to clean carpet dates back to the latter part of the 1960’s and early parts of the 1970’s.

Though introduced in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, the truckmount became the dominant piece of equipment for the carpet cleaning professional in the 1980’s. Like any new revolutionary change, there were those who were resistant to change and slow to adapt. It might be hard for many cleaners to understand now, but there was a long time when the hardest part of selling a truckmount was convincing the carpet cleaner the increased productivity of the truckmount was worth the extra investment required.

I believe the single greatest contribution of the truckmount to the professional carpet cleaning industry was it gave the professional cleaner the ability to double his income in the same amount of time of work performed. It raised the average income level of the professional cleaner, which in turn, led to the advanced development of technical educational opportunities. A significant portion of the industry began to look at education and training as in integral part of their business plan. This inevitably raised the professionalism of the industry and no doubt is what began to bring outside interest in the cleaning industry in the early 1990’s.

Old #1 – Bane-Clene

Bill Bane of Bane-Clene was certainly one of the first to introduce an extractor mounted in a truck. Here is what he said in his 50th Anniversary reflections.

“I started thinking about the possibility of truck-mounted carpet cleaning equipment in the mid ‘60s. Pumps were available that could move the cleaning solution from the truck to the cleaning head, but recovering the dirty water with fan-vacs remained a problem. That little sewage pump introduced by Bill Wisdom was the missing piece of the puzzle. A larger model of that pump would make it possible to create enough vacuum for water recovery beyond 100 feet. An electrical engineer worked out a design that would let a 1½ horsepower electric motor with dual capacitors, drive the large vacuum and solution pumps that we needed on only 12 amps. With an idea inspired by tanker trucks and using available technology, we built our first two truck-mounted carpet cleaning systems in January of 1969. They were designed on the Wisdom concept but our pumps, tanks and motors were larger and bolted to the floor of the truck.

Here is a picture of the unit that Bane-Clene operators affectionately refer to as “Old #1” the very first Bane Clene van with that machine mounted in it. The design of the Bane-Clene unit has certainly stood the test of time.

For more information on Bane-Clene, visit www.baneclene.com

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Judson truckmounts

Next are two drawings provided by Judson and Les Jones detailing the idea that Judson had for the production of what was certainly one of the very first truckmounts.

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Here is the machine in production, and the unit in operation. It was a direct drive “Big Truck” and had a four foot wide wand that was pulled with a garden tractor. It was designed for Monsanto to clean Astro-Turf fields.

Slide3

Judson built their first slide in truckmount in 1974. It had an APO (automatic pump out) and an LP heat system.

For more information on Judson truckmounts and their history, visit www.judsontruckmounts.com/about-us/judson-history

Slide4

Mike Palmer – HydraMaster

In 1969 Michael C. Palmer was a carpet cleaner. After seeing a crude homemade truckmount put together by a cleaner, Mike told himself that he could do it better. Starting in his garage, he set out to do just that. His training as a jet engine mechanic in the military and natural born talent were his only assets to begin with. His first machine was so good, a friend asked him to build one for him. After a while, Mike had so many people wanting machines that he started hiring his neighbors to help and thus HydraMaster began in 1971. While Mike Palmer cannot directly be credited with the invention of the truckmount, but he is generally acknowledged as one of the first to make a business of manufacturing and selling truckmounts all over the U.S.  – thus, his reputation as the “father” of truckmounts is certainly well founded. His revolutionary new mobile cleaning system changed carpet cleaning forever.

For more information on HydraMaster truckmounts, visit http://www.hydramaster.com.

The Baron

The first HydraMaster truckmount was called the Baron.

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The Baron 2

The Baron 2 started the company into full scale production and nationwide sales

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HM Plant

Here is a picture from the first full scale manufacturing plant

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BobCat

The next model was the BobCat unit

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HydraCat

And then the HydraCat

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Ralph Bloss/Clark Seabloom – Steam Way International

As previously discussed. Steam Way was one of the first companies to manufacture and sell a portable hot water extraction machine in 1968. While their portable Steam Way 400 was the “bread and butter” of the company well into the mid-1970’s it had become obvious that the truckmounts already in the marketplace from Bane-Clene and HydraMaster, and those soon to be introduced by Prochem were gaining a significant marketshare. Together, Mr Bloss and Mr. Seabloom, along with their right hand “MacGyver” machinist – Larry Hawkins, and a long time customer of Steam Way’s, Ralph Greco designed and introduced into the marketplace in 1974 the very first Steam Way truckmount – the TurboMatic1200.

Turbo What?

Here is a great picture from 1974 at a training seminar offered by Ohio Steamway Distributors. Like those leisure suits? Steam Way was introducing their very first truckmount  – the TurboMatic. This was probably the first time this collection of professional cleaners had ever seen a truckmount

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TurboMatic

The Steam Way Turbomatic was first introduced in 1974. It was equipped with an auto pump out system so there was no waste tank.

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Prototype PowerMatic

The second Steam Way truck mount was called the PowerMatic. Here is a prototype beta unit for this machine, put out for field testing in 1976.

Slide12

Steam Way Inventory

Here is a picture from the late 1970’s showing all of the Steam Way machines in production

For more information on Steam Way truckmounts, visit www.steamway.com.

Prochem (Professional Chemicals)

With his extensive background in chemicals, Jim Roden opened the doors to Professional Chemicals in 1968 after working with ServiceMaster to formulate products. “We started with shampoo, spotters, furniture cleaning chemicals, deodorizers, etc., and a line of disaster clean-up products, and in 1973, we got involved with dry cleaning furniture. We found we needed to develop equipment to meet the need.”

Shortly after, between 1973 and 1974, Prochem became aware of portable steam cleaning equipment. “We weren’t manufacturing at the time, but were reselling equipment. We always attempted to innovate and find the best solution for our customers, so developed an oil burner rather than a propane burner, as there were previous problems with propane safety issues and lack of maintenance on the equipment.”

Jim’s brother Mike came on board shortly after 1974 and reworked a design of what became the first Prochem truck mounts – the Model 400 series.

For more information about Prochem truckmounts, visit http://www.prochem.com

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Slide15Other early truckmount developers

Arnie Ballweber and Judge Sales first introduced power take off truckmounts to the industry in the late 1960’s. Gene Bates started Steam Genie and later developed Big Red Truckmounts. Jerry Holman continued to build the Steam Genie truckmount brand. John Sales at Steamaction also was an early developer and innovator of truckmounts.

Slide16

Electric truckmounts were also developed early on by Herb Harpham and David Bergin at Certified Equipment, and by Ed York and Steve Brandt at Steam Services.

Workmaster truckmount

If you have a picture of an early truckmount, or your truckmount from the 1970’s, I would love for you to post it and provide a little history. Add your knowledge to our collection of historical documentation of the beginning of truckmounts.

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