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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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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The Advent of Hot Water Extraction Carpet Cleaning for Professionals

Who invented the Portable Hot Water Extraction Machine?

So just who invented the concept of hot water extraction carpet cleaning? No one can say with absolute certainty. This patent filed with the US Patent office in 1964 is certainly describing what essentially a hot water extraction machine was. The patent holder is named Fred Hays. Interestingly enough, in  the memoirs and discussions I had the opportunity to have with early industry pioneers like my father, Ralph Bloss, Clark Seabloom, and Bill Bane, none recalled or brought up Mr. Hays. It may have been a partner of Mr. Hays who eventually brought the product to market, because if you look at the machine drawing carefully, it certainly looks like the machine described by Bill Bane that Bill Wisdom built, or the machine I actually have a picture of – the Deep Steam Extractor.

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Names to Honor and Remember

My father, Ralph Bloss, did not join the professional carpet industry until 1971, and even by then, there was already much confusion about who exactly did what when. Looking through company archives certainly brought out some of the original inventors of hot water extraction equipment, many of which my dad knew personally. Names such as Clark Seabloom, Bill Bane, Gene Bates, Paul Brondyk, David Bergin, Judson Jones and someone named Mr. Steam all come to mind. Jack Bates, the founder of Stanley Steemer also should be mentioned here

In his 50 year anniversary retrospective, Bill Bane gives credit to a gentlemen named Bill Wisdom. “An ugly little carpet cleaning machine that was innovated by Bill Wisdom made its appearance. He used prevailing technology and material to build a machine that had two stainless steel, restaurant style coffee pots sitting on a base that rolled on four tiny casters. I believe the coffee pots were ten gallons each. One held the cleaning solution and the other was for recovered water. The base unit contained two small electric motors, a tiny solution pump and a small positive displacement sewage pump for vacuum. That little sewage pump would eventually revolutionize water recovery in the cleaning business. Wisdom’s concept was duplicated and improved by Steamatic® of Texas and Deep Steam Extraction of Michigan, both of which are still in business.”

One can certainly conclude that there were several variations of what later pioneers referred to as the “coffee” pot extractors – one had two canisters, and the other had one.

Judson DeepClean DC3

These next pictures were provided to me by Les Jones, son of the founder of Judson – Judson Jones. It shows their collection of early extraction equipment, including the DeepClean DC3, that they began manufacturing in 1959, and its related patent.

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Deep Steam extractor

This drawing and picture represent one of the very first production units for Deep Steam Extractors. The similarity to the two “coffee pots” idea is obvious. Though the company no longer produced equipment, it is still around. You would know them as DSC chemicals. There is also a picture of their first upholstery tool that went along with the Deep Steam Machine.

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Sani-Clean/Steam Way

In 1968, a gentleman named Clark Seabloom bought a company and the rights to produce the machine it has produced from a company called Sani-Clean. The machine was known as a Steam Way machine, and in this letter dated from 1968, the company had already established a network of dealers and distributors. Like many of the innovators of this period, the company could not decide for a while whether it was going to be a franchise or just sell its proprietary equipment. Eventually, Mr. Seabloom made the decision to sell the Steam Way machine to existing professional carpet cleaners and help people get into the business as independent operators. In 1971, Mr. Seabloom convinced my father – Ralph Bloss – to join the company, a career move that turned into an industry love affair for my father.

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Home show exhibition

In case you think exhibiting at the local home improvement trade show is a new concept, here was one of the original Steam Way equipment owners demonstrating at a home show in 1969.

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Steam Way 100

The Steam Way 100 was the company’s first production hot water extraction machines. You will notice from this picture that these original machines all came with what we would refer today as a drag wand, a heavy weighted tool. This was the way that many of us learned how to clean carpets. The scrub wand came along much later.

The Steam Way 100 was equipped with a Hypro pump set to 100psi, an in-line heating element to heat the water, and vacuum recovery was created by a Sutorbilt #2 positive displacement blower. The machine weighed over 150# and as you can imagine was no fun moving up and down the stairs.

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Early Competitors to the Steam Way Machine

Here is a lineup of some of the early competitors to the Steam Way machine from the original Steam Way archives, identified from left to right.

The Steam Genie portable made by Gene Bates. Steam Genie went on to produce truckmounts later, and Mr. Bates later started a truckmount company called Big Red.

The second unit in the picture was identified as being produced by Deep Steam, but as you can clearly see, it was one of the single canister “coffee pot” extractors – perhaps a Judson DeepClean DC3

The final two to the right were Mr. Steam Machines. Mr. Steam later became Windsor Industries.

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Polyester shag

Those early 1970 polyester shags sure made us look good, didn’t they?

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Bucket brigade

How many of you watching are card carrying members of the bucket brigade? This picture was taken aboard the Cruise Ship the Queen Elizabeth 2 that was being cleaned by a Steam Way 400 portable extractor. The second picture is provided by Loren Egland of Delta Steamway.

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Steam Way 400

Perhaps the machine that Steam Way was most known for throughout the 1970’s (even continuing to be made for many years after Steam Way introduced their first truckmounts) was the Steam Way 400. These pictures were provided by Loren Egland of Delta Steamway.

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Steam Way showroom

Here is a picture from the Steam Way showroom in the late 1970’s. By this time, the “scrub wand” had been introduced, but the drag wand remained the cleaning head of choice for most portable extractor owners.

Notice the blue metal airmover. It was made by a guy in South Dakota named Lloyd Weaver, who today is often recognized as the “father” of the water damage restoration industry. In a future blog, we will pay tribute to Mr. Weaver, and another incredible pioneer in our industry when it comes to water damage restoration – Claude Blackburn.

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Certi-Jet

Certified Equipment patented and produced the Certi-Jet portable extractor, pictured here.

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