The Southwestern Ohio cities of Fremont, Lima, Loudonville and Sidney were home to a large number of early automobile and motor coach body builders who produced coachwork for many of Ohio’s early automobile, truck and bus manufacturers.
Located in Shelby County, the city of Sidney, Ohio was home to most of them and not surprisingly most of the firms were financed and managed by the same group of Sidney businessmen. The firms involved include the Sidney Manufacturing Co., the Commercial Steel Body Co., the Anderson Body Company, the Pioneer Body Company (aka W.P. Anderson Co. ) and the C.D. Beck Co. Most of their plants remain standing today, and they were for the most part situated near the intersection of the Big Four Railroad and Miami Canal, just north of downtown Sidney on the western bank of the Great Miami River.
Although most of the early coachwork was for regional manufacturers, by the early twenties short runs of semi-custom coachwork were being produced for Dodge, Hudson, Packard, Studebaker and Willys-Overland (Willys-Knight). By the late twenties bus bodies became their most popular product (on International, Studebaker, Gramm, etc.,) and the only Sidney firm that survived the Depression, C.D. Beck (a reorganization of the Anderson Body Co.) specialized in them, eventually producing their own line of coaches under the C.D. Beck brand name.
All of Sidney’s builders can be traced to the city’s prosperous carriage trade, and most of the early history that follows comes from A.B.C. Hitchcock’s ‘History of Shelby County, Ohio,’ pub. 1913 and John Calvin Hover & Joseph Daniel Barnes’ ‘Memoirs of Miami Valley, Vol. I, pub. 1919.
One of Sidney Ohio’s pioneer carriage builders was Lawrence Bimel, a native of Germany born in 1827, who in 1833 arrived in America with his parents. The family settled in Wapakoneta, Auglaize County, Ohio where his father served as the community’s tailor. After a rudimentary education Lawrence was apprenticed to a blacksmith and in 1844 relocated to Sidney, Shelby County, Ohio, where he established his own smithworks in which he repaired and manufactured all manner of wagon and carriage. In 1850 he married another German immigrant named Elizabeth Seitz, and on January 27, 1851 their union was blessed with the birth of their first son, William Bimel.
During one of Lawrence’s long and tedious trips East to purchased raw materials, the foreman of the Bimel Works loaded up all the tools and material that were movable and drove away with it. The act caused the collapse of the enterprise and in 1857 Lawrence and his young family relocated to St. Mary’s where a promised position awaited him. A second son, Fred, joined the Bimel family on January 8, 1859.
His business prospered during the Civil War and in 1868 he erected a large hub and spoke factory in St. Marys. After a public education Lawrence’s 9-year-old son William joined his father in the family business and at the age of 17 was made superintendent of the paint department.
In 1872 a disastrous fire destroyed the Bimel Spoke works, but the factory was quickly rebuilt and the manufacture of wagons brought the firm a moderate degree of fame in the region. In 1874 William Bimel was united in marriage to Carrie Bradley, a daughter of Dr. Jacob Bradley, a St. Mary’s physician, and to the blessed union was born three daughters; Gertrude, Emma and Marguerite Bimel.
In 1879 Lawrence Bimel established a satellite plant in Portland, Jay County, Indiana for the manufacture of spokes, hubs and felloes which was managed by his son Fred, in the style of L. Bimel & Son.
William Bimel served as general superintendent of the Bimel Spoke & Wagon Works, and following his father’s passing in 1888 assumed control of the St. Mary’s enterprise.
In 1891, the St. Mary’s carriage works became the property of a stock company, for which William Bimel became general manager. He also established a side-business, the Bimel & Standish Manufacturing Company, which was one of the prosperous industries of St. Mary's.
On September 14, 1880 Fred Bimel was united in marriage to Margaret G. Kelsey and to the blessed union was born seven children, five of whom survived to adulthood, those being Carl, Lelia, Hazel, Bernice and Frederick Bimel Jr. The eldest son, Carl Bimel, graduated from the Portland High School after which he studied mechanical engineering at Purdue University which was followed by business classes at the University of Indiana at Valparaiso.
Upon Fred Bimel Sr.’s passing on October 2, 1912, Carl Bimel assumed control of the family enterprise, which had recently (1910) been enlarged and modernized so that they could manufacture wheels for automobiles, which soon became their main line of work.
In 1897, the Miami Ave. plant of one of Sidney, Ohio’s largest employers, the American Wheel Co. (formerly the Anderson, Frazier & Co.) was destroyed by fire. The firm, which was controlled by the legendary ‘wheel trust’ elected to abandon the operation and the ruins, which covered a large tract of land situated on the north side of the Big Four railroad, from Miami Ave to Main Ave. created an eyesore that attracted the attention of the city’s leading businessmen.
The site was originally inhabited by the Anderson-Frazier Wheel Works, a firm founded in 1881 by Enoch Anderson, Cyrus W. Frazier and James N. Anderson. They conducted a large and successful business for over a decade constructing additional structures as business required. In 1893 the partners sold out to the wheel trust, who reorganized it as the American Wheel Co.
A $100,000 bond issue provided the funds to construct a new factory and invitations were sent out to a number of firms in the area advising them of the availability of the city’s new factory and its skilled labor force. Sidney native William Bimel seized the opportunity and re-established his buggy works in a portion of the factory and within a few short months Bimel buggies were once again being made in Sidney, their wheels furnished by his brother Fred in Portland, Indiana.
After the 1893 sale of Anderson-Frazier, James N. Anderson purchased and adjacent property, the Maxwell Mill, and commenced the manufacture of carriage wheels under the style of the Anderson Wheel works into 1904 when he retired. His equipment was sold to the Wheel Makers' Association, a sociable trust, who removed it, and the Maxwell Mill property was put up for sale.
Shortly thereafter the August 1904 failure of Sidney’s German American Bank, which was heavily invested in the Bimel Buggy works, caused the failure of the latter firm. W.H.C. Goode was appointed receiver of both firms and he set about finding tenants for the underutilized property.
One of the first firms to move into the facility was the Mutual Manufacturing Company, whose organization was announced in the June 1, 1905 issue of the National Corporation Reporter:
Mutual Mfg. Co. produced bodies in-the-white for the region’s numerous carriage builders and is believed to have constructed a few automobile bodies but declining orders caused the failure of the firm within it first couple of years in business.
A reorganized Bimel Buggy Co. emerged in 1906 whose officer included a who’s who of Sidney’s most successful business men. Their names appeared in the September 1908 issue of the Carriage Monthly:
Shortly thereafter the same group of men organized the Sidney Manufacturing company, whose specialty was the manufacture of bodies and wooden and stamped steel parts for carriages and early automobiles. Its debut was announced in the August 1907 issue of Carriage Monthly:
Another source state it was capitalized at $75,000 and lists the incorporators full names as follows: Ignatius H. Thedieck; Lafayette M. Studevant; Elmer S. Sheets; Augustine A. Gerlach; Paschal P. Dyke; Herbert E. Sheets; Elias J. Griffis; Andrew J. Hess; and William C. Horr.
The organization took possession of the vacant Maxwell Mill, which was purchased by Ignatius H. Thedieck for $17,000. As with it successors, the Anderson Body & C.D. Beck, its plant was located at the corner of Clinton St. and East Ave., in the triangle bordered by the Miami Canal to the north, the Big Four Railroad to the south and the Great Miami River to the East.
Its listing in the 1909 Chilton’s directory follows:
A period description of its operations follows:
It’s listing in directory of the November 1908 issue of Carriage Monthly being:
Another tenant of the Bimel buggy building was the Commercial Steel Body Co. whose formation was announced in the April 19, 1912 edition of the Sidney Daily News:
The organization of the firm by Paschal P. Dyke; William Vossler; R. Hugh Bingham; and Royon G. Hess (attorney) was announced to the automotive trade in the July 1912 issue of the Carriage Monthly:
The Bimel Buggy Co.’s receiver, William Henry Collier Goode (W.H.C. Goode, b. 1843-d.1923) had created two fortunes for himself – the first in manufacturing steel road scrapers, the second in oil drilling – and hoped to make a third in the automobile business via the reorganized Bimel company.
Through a series of events that remain a little hazy, Bimel Buggy obtained the rights to manufacture the Elco 30 automobile from the recently bankrupt Elwood Iron Works, which was located at South J and 22nd Streets in Elwood, Indiana. Originally called the Elco Four, the assembled 4-cylinder, five-seat touring car was to be offered as a lower-priced companion to Baily-Klapp V-8, but the Iron Works’ August 14, 1915 bankruptcy killed both projects.
The June 1916 issue of the Foundry announced that the remaining assets of the firm had been acquired by a newly organized firm, the Elwood Foundry Co.:
Carl Bimel, William’s brother, and proprietor of the Bimel Spoke and Auto Wheel Co. of Portland, Indiana, was likely involved in the relocation of the Elco project from Elwood to Sidney, although the details are currently unknown. Bimel was most certainly acquainted with W.H.C. Goode and one possible scenario is that as the supplier of wheels to the Elwood Iron Works, Carl Bimel acquired the rights to the car from the firm’s receiver as the announcement in the March 3, 1915 issue of the Horseless Age, predates Elwood Iron Works bankruptcy sale which occurred on August 15, 1915.
One local history published in 1922 claims the ‘Bimel Spoke and Auto Works’, organized in February of 1915, planned on constructing the ‘Elco 30’ although I could find no reference to the firm elsewhere. Regardless of the details of the arrangement, the March 3, 1915 issue of the Horseless Age reported that Bimel Buggy was planning on producing the car:
The Elco 30’s chief engineer was R.W. Lytle, the firm’s president, Arthur C. Nobel, was an Indianapolis businessman, and its manager, Thomas Milo Miller, was a former partner in Sidney’s Miller & Smith Carriage Co.
The firm’s test driver, Sidney resident George Bayley, provided it with some much needed publicity on March 30, 1915 when he was arrested for speeding while taking some out of town visitors on a test drive - the Sidney Daily News reported: "Charged With Exceeding Speed Limit."
Sales of the popularly-priced car were brisk and a reported 300 Elco 30’s were delivered during 1915, their coachwork being supplied by the neighboring Sidney Manufacturing Co.
Bimel Buggy was reorganized as the Bimel Automobile Co. in February of 1916. The 'Elco 30' became the 'Bimel 4' and surviving literature reveal the two cars to be identical save for the badge on the radiator. The February 24, 1916 issue of The Automobile reported the firm was planning a new 6-cylinder model:
The March 25, 1916 issue of Automobile Topics claimed the firm was introducing a six-cylinder autombile:
January 14, 1917 issue of Motor Age:
Sales of the Elco/Bimel during 1916 were far less than expected and Thomas M. Miller, the firm’s general manager, went door-to-door in a bid to drum up some new investors. Although he raised a few thousand dollars, he was soon indicted for fraud and the company fell into the hands of a receiver in May of 1917 – its debts totaled $175,000, its assets $50,000. Bimel’s assets were sold at auction for a mere $15,000 as reported by the May 24, 1917 issue of Automotive Industries:
Miller’s trial was held during December of 1917, and many of the firm’s executives were called to testify during the two-week-long trial. The jury believed the testimony of the swindled townsfolk, many of whom invested a large portion of their savings in the firm and Miller was found guilty. The Judge sentenced him to a three-year prison term, but his sentence was immediately commuted at the sentencing. The remaining officers of the firm were never charged, but the disgraced former carriage-builder wisely decided to leave town.
The bankruptcy proceedings did not involve the Bimel factory which was being leased by the firm, and its directors were largely unaffected by the failure. Most were invested in the Sidney Manufacturing Company which did a brisk business during the war working on numerous small contracts for the US Military. Post-War products included wooden steering wheels, automobile bodies, and associated parts but by 1922 the post-war Depression had placed the firm into receivership.
Sidney Manufacturing Co.’s assets were purchased at auction by a group of Sidney businessmen – many of whom had connections to the bankrupt firm, and on October 24, 1923 the Sidney Daily News reported: "New Manufacturing Plant Organized."
The Anderson Body Company was the name of the new firm, and its incorporators included Lafayette M. Studevant, A. J. Hess, E. J. Griffis, William P. Anderson and Frank Thedieck (son of Ignatious H. Thedieck).
The news was also carried in a concurrent issue of the Automotive Manufacturer:
Although the Anderson name was well-known to Sidney’s residents, its manager and namesake, William P. Anderson, was not a local son, but a hired gun, brought in due to his vast experience in all phases of the automobile industry.
Early information on William P. Anderson is scarce, other than he was born in 1882 in Pennsylvania. He first appears in the US Federal Census in 1920 where he’s listed with his wife Gertrude S.(b. 1894 in N. Carolina) as an employee of the Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Corp. Later resumes state his automotive career started with the Buick Motor Co. after which he took a position as a production man with the Dayton Engineering Labs in Dayton, Ohio. He’s first mentioned in the automobile trades in the October 8, 1913 edition of the Horseless Age which states:
A second entry appears in the Nov. 2, 1916 issue of Iron Age:
Dayton Screw Products, Second & Webb Streets, Dayton, Ohio failed in late 1917 and on February 1, 1918 was reorganized as the Dayton Automatic Products Co., with G.C. Hodson as president.
Anderson’s next known employer was the Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Corp. in Buffalo, New York. He served as factory manager of Curtiss’ Churchill street plant for the duration of the War and in 1919 accepted a potion with the Olds Motor Works in Lansing, Michigan, the August 14, 1919 issue of Motor Age reporting:
(*Wright-Martin and Curtiss had recently merged)
The October 30, 1919 issue of Automotive Industries confirms his position at Olds:
His next position was with Rich Steel Products Co. of Battle Creek, Michigan for whom he served as works manager. The position was short lived and in May of 1920 he accepted a position with Willys-Overland in Toledo, Ohio, the May 27, 1920 issue of The Automobile reporting:
The Willlys appointment is confirmed by the June 1920 SAE Journal:
The October 16, 1920 issue of Automobile Topics announced yet another job change for Anderson:
Kramer had accepted a position with the Rochester Motors Co. as president. Within the year he had taken a position as vice-president of Buffalo, New York’s Pierce Arrow Co. It’s possible William P. Anderson was working for Kramer at the time, however his exact whereabouts during 1921 and 1922 are currently unknown. He next appears on the automotive radar in 1923 as vice-president of Sidney, Ohio’s Anderson Body Company.
The recently organized firm moved into the Maxwell Mill complex on the west bank of the Great Miami River at the corner of East Avenue and Clinton Street and hired many of the workers recently displaced by the failures of the Mutual Mfg. and Sidney Mfg. Companies.
The firm specialized in closed bodies, and their coupes were especially attractive. W.P. Anderson’s automotive connections proved valuable and within six weeks of its organization he had secured an order for hundreds of brougham bodies from Dodge Brothers. Sales were so brisk that a second shift was added in late 1923.
The firm’s 4-door brougham body was exhibited at the 1924 New York and Chicago automobile shows the Sidney Daily News describing it as: “The best designed four-passenger four-door brougham car at either show."
Small numbers of commercial bodies were constructed during the mid-to late 1920s and Anderson Body is known to have built a few funeral car and ambulance bodies for regional customers.
Sidney was visited by a tornado at 3:30 p.m. on July 25, 1925 that tore the roof off a portion of the Anderson Body Co. factory and knocked down a chimney. Luckily the plant was empty as the staff had only worked a half-day, and production was unaffected.
Motor Coach bodies were added to the Anderson lineup, the September 29, 1925 issue of the Uniontown Morning Herald commented on a caravan of motor coaches that drove through the small Pennsylvania city:
Anderson supplied closed coachwork for Willys-Knight custom body program, the October 11, 1925 issue of the Billings Gazette described one 7-passenger sedan that was purchased by an Anaconda business man:
The June 26, 1975 edition of the Sidney Daily News included a short interview with two retired Anderson Body employees. Robert Van Horn, a former buggy seat maker who took a position with the firm in the early twenties, recalled:
Vernal Eiler, a former door hanger with the Mutual Mfg. Co. recalled his experience with working for Anderson:
The firm’s composite bodies were built by hand and peak production of the firm was ten car bodies a day.
During late 1925 Hudson presented the firm with a large order of bodies that exceeded the plant’s capacity, so Anderson leased the vacant Pioneer Pole & Shaft Co. at 421 Park St. Sidney, in which he established a second firm, the W.P. Anderson Co., to handle the additional business, an early 1926 issue of Industry Week reporting:
Apparently Anderson had second thoughts about the proposed moniker and elected to call it the Pioneer Body Co. which paid homage to the former inhabitants of 421 Park St., a subsequent issue of Industry Week reporting:
The Pioneer moniker was confirmed by Industry Week:
Sidney Ohio’s Pioneer Body Co. was unrelated to the Pioneer Body Co. of Camden, New Jersey, (405-409 Mickle St.) which was active at much the same time.
Sidney’s Pioneer constructed both open and closed coachwork, one surviving Pioneer-built 1927 Hudson Roadster with RHD features a golf bag compartment and a pair of unusual parking lights mounted high on the cowl, two features found on another surviving Pioneer-bodied Hudson, a LHD 1926 Hudson Coupe which was also fitted at the Pioneer factory with an exceptionally long built-in sun visor that extends 6’ or more in front of the windshield.
Pioneer specialized in semi-custom bodies and in addition to the aforementioned Hudsons, also produced a similar line of bodies for Studebaker that were equipped with a golf bag compartment on the passenger side of the car.
A picture of three Pioneer-bodied Hudsons appeared in the July 15, 1926 issue of Automotive Industries:
The same photo appeared in the July 29, 1926 edition of Motor Age:
An advertisement for the Eqyptian Lacquer Mfg. Co. which appeared in the August 1926 issue of Motor also included a picture of the three Pioneer-bodied Hudsons, a coupe, a convertible coupe, and a Victoria.
The December 9, 1926 issue of Motor Age announced the debut of a new Pioneer body for Dodge Bros. chassis:
An attractive Pioneer-bodied Packard was pictured in the June 18, 1927 issue of Automotive Industries:
The firm’s officers were published in the 1928 edition of Engineers:
(Pioneer’s directors included William P. Anderson, William Quinn, James J. Sarver, Merrill Bruce McKee and Wilson P. Kraft).
Some of the credit for the appearance of Pioneer’s distinctive roadsters was due to the firm’s adoption of the Motor Products Corp.’s Mono-Control Windshield, a device that was described in great detail in the 1927 Detroit Motor Show Issue of the Michigan Manufacturer and Financial Record:
As the nation’s automobile body construction became consolidated in Detroit, orders for the Pioneer and Anderson Body companies fell off dramatically, the February 16, 1928 issue of the Piqua Daily Call reporting on the failure of Pioneer:
The Anderson Body Company survived by repurposing itself as a bus body builder, an advertisement for Egyptian Lacquer that appeared in the January 15, 1927 issue of Automotive Industries included the following testimonial from Anderson Body:
An attractive Studebaker bus bodied by Anderson appeared in a 1928 issue of Auto Body:
A visit to the Anderson plant was covered in the April 17, 1929 issue of the Delphos Daily Herald (Ohio):
Although the manufacture of bus bodies greatly improved the outlook for the Anderson Body Company, the onset of the Depression caused a dramatic drop in orders and in late 1930 the plant fell idle and a receiver was appointed. A deal was struck between the firm’s creditors and Loudonville, Ohio, businessman Hugo H. Young, to get the plant up and running, the July 7, 1931 issue of the Piqua Daily Call (Ohio) reporting:
The news was confirmed in the August 1931 issue of Metropolitan:
In 1913 Hugo H. Young and Carl F. Dudte founded the Flexible Sidecar Co., in Loudonville, Ohio. It changed to Flxible in 1919 when they discovered the ‘Flexible’ moniker was already a registered trademark. Young served as Flxible’s vice-president, treasurer and general manager and pioneered the firm’s transformation into one of the nation’s largest bus body builders during the mid-to-late 1920s.
Young new better than most that the success of a firm ultimately depended on the sale of its merchandise and the selection of Clayton D. Beck (b. Feb. 11, 1906-d.June 3, 1984) a well-known and respected bus body salesman to head the sales and advertising department of his Sidney operation was a wise one.
Clayton Dale* Beck was born on February 11, 1906 to Ira R. (b.1866) and Lillie Ann (Wright-b.1868) Beck in Riley, Sandusky County, Ohio. His siblings included Lloyd W. (b.1892), Lulu M. (b.1894), Roland I. (b.1896), Nora (b. 1898) and Frank (b.1901) – Clayton being the youngest. He attended the public schools in Fremont, Sandusky County, Ohio, and found employment with the Fremont Metal Body Co. as a salesman.
(*one source states his middle name is David – his family believes it’s Dale.)
Clayton D. Beck (b. Feb. 11, 1906) married Kathryn Marie (b. Feb. 2, 1910, in Clyde, Ohio to Frank and Mary Gertrude [Shanahan] Bruggeman-d. Sep. 16, 2009) on June 9, 1927 and to the blessed union were born two sons, Richard C. (b.1928-d.2011) James F. (b.1932-d.1996) Beck.
Beck’s appointment as general manger was announced in the January 1933 issue of Metropolitan:
The Economy line consisted of a line of low-cost intercity and transit coach bodies with seating capacities from 12 to 33 passengers mated to a stretched Chevrolet or Ford commercial chassis.
An almost identical line was introduced by Flxible at about the same time, but sales were disappointing and Hugo H. Young abandoned the Sidney bus-building operation and returned home to concentrate on his mounting problems at Flxible.
Anderson Body’s directors reorganized the firm with Clayton D. Beck at the helm, and C.D. Beck & Company commenced operations in 1934. Early on the firm abandoned its school and transit coach business and concentrated on intercity coaches with seating capacities from 12 to 33 passengers, many of which were mounted on lengthened Ford Model BB chassis.
The Beck name was first used in connection with the ‘Fleetway’, an 11-passenger sedan-based coach built on stretched automobile chassis. The Beck Airstream, a medium-capacity intercity coach debuted shortly thereafter which featured an aerodynamic body mounted on top of a 188” Ford chassis – a full 31 inches longer than Ford's 157" frame.
The firm’s first all-steel body, the ‘Steeliner,’ debuted in 1937, and remained Beck's most popular product into the Second World War. Integral body/frame construction (monocoque) followed shortly thereafter and both body-on-chassis and ‘integral’ motor coaches were offered into 1939, after which the firm offered monocoque coaches exclusively.
The rear-engined Super Steeliner appeared in 1938 as a lower-priced alternative to Yellow’s Super Coach, but failed to make a dent in the marketplace, which was increasingly being dominated by General Motors products.
The Super Steeliner was superseded by the rear-engined, 33-passenger Mainliner and Luxuryliner in 1940. Available with a choice of 185- or 220-inch wheelbases, the International-powered coaches hoped to compete against similar offerings from Aerocoach, Fitzjohn and Flxible.
The February 21, 1938 edition of the Sidney Daily News reported that Beck’s factory, which remained in the hands of Anderson Body’s receiver, J.C. Cummins, had been purchased by him for $23,000:
William P. Anderson, Anderson Body Co.’s namesake and former chief executive moved to Manhattan following the firm’s bankruptcy in order to take a position with General Motors, however he suffered from an as yet-unknown medical condition that forced a permanent relocation to the Marion, Indiana Veterans Administration Hospital. He was still living there at the time of the 1940 US Census, but disappeared thereafter. His wife passed away soon afterwards, the October 19, 1943, Piqua Daily Call reporting:
Beck motor coach production encountered a temporary hiatus in late 1942, but resumed shortly thereafter with the production of a modified 41-passenger Mainliner fitted with transit-style seating. The ‘Commuter Express’ was designed for urban transportation of War Workers and was built in small numbers for the duration of the War:
The poor layout and antiquated machinery of Beck’s Century-old factory prohibited the firm from getting any lucrative US Military contracts during the War, and the situation was rectified when an all-new factory was constructed at the southeast intersection of North Main Ave. and Russel Rd. in 1946. Production of the Pre-War Mainliner and Steeliner coaches were continued in to 1948 when they were replaced by an all-new tube-framed series of coaches coach designed by chief engineer Donald Manning.
Beck survived the early 1950s by producing budget-priced intercity coaches that emulated the offerings of their higher-priced competitors, Flxible and General Motors. GM was especially hard to compete against as many independent Trailways and Greyhound operators were required to buy from the General.
Domestic sales were soon overshadowed by the firm’s exports, and Beck Coaches proved popular with surface transit and railway operators in the Caribbean and Central and South America, especially in Cuba and Mexico.
Beck introduced a number of models with fluted stainless steel paneling which were indistinguishable from GM’s products from a distance and gave purchasers a choice of gasoline or diesel power, air-conditioning and even air suspension. Its 9600 series closely resembled the General’s Scenicruiser and its deck-and-a-half model DH1000 the Setra Golden and Silver Eagles.
In 1954 Beck began constructing Ahrens-Fox Fire Apparatus for the firm’s Cincinnati-based owners Walter & Duke Walkenhorst. Control of Ahrens-Fox was subsequently transferred to former A-F engineer, Richard C. Nepper who continued the arrangement into 1956 when Beck acquired the rights to the Ahrens-Fox name and introduced the all-new cab-forward Ahrens-Fox Model FCB pumper.
Beck’s advanced piece of fire apparatus attracted the attention of Mack Truck who was also looking to get into the intercity bus business, the ‘Industry In Review’ column of the October, 1956 issue of Bus Transportation reported:
In hindsight Mack’s decision to acquire the Beck facility was not a good one, and after a single production run of 25 Mack Cruisers and 12 Mack Model C forward control pumpers (the renamed Ahrens-Fox FCB) were constructed, they closed down the plant, and relocated production of the Mack Model C fire truck to Allentown, Pennsylvania.
Ironically the Ahrens-Fox FCB derived Mack Model C proved to be one of their most successful fire apparatus platforms and remained in production into 1967.
Total production of C.D. Beck & Co. buses is estimated at 3150 units and a breakdown of its postwar units follows in Appendix A.
In 1963, Mack sold off the mostly-vacant former C.D. Beck bus plant to LeRoi, who commenced the manufacture of their successful line of industrial and trailer-mounted air compressors. They’re still in business and remain one of Sidney’s largest employers.
Clayton D. Beck’s activities after the closing of his bus plant are currently unknown however I discovered he passed away on June 3, 1984 at the age of 78.
© 2013 Mark Theobald - Coachbuilt.com
The following post-war (1948-1957) C.D. Beck production figures were supplied by the Motor Bus Society: