In 1929 Holman Harry Linn, the founder of
the Linn Manufacturing Co. of Morris, New York formed a corporation to
manufacture automobile and commercial vehicle trailers in Oneonta, New York.
It was not his first trailer-making venture as Linn Mfg. had been building
trailers since the late teens.
Linn had recently sold a controlling interest in the Linn Mfg Co., the
producer of the famous Linn truck-tractor, to the LaFrance-Republic
Corporation of Alma, Michigan, and was looking for a new product to
On a trip to France he had seen an innovative one-wheeled automobile
trailer that was currently being manufactured by a local firm, and set about
licensing the product for manufacture in the United States.
Although I was unable to locate the name of the French firm, the most
likely candidate was Chaigneau a bicycle manufacturer who is known to have
manufactured single-wheeled trailers in Suresnes, a western suburb of Paris.
William W. Capron., the Secretary of Oneonta’s Chamber of Commerce was
also given credit for bringing the Linn Trailer Corporation to Oneonta. The
June 30 1929 Oneonta Daily Star reported:
“A fund is being railed by the
Chamber of Commerce to purchase a site for the proposed Linn Trailer
Linn applied for a US patent for his device on September, 10, 1930 and on
July 31, 1934 he was awarded Patent No.1968046 for his one-wheeled trailer,
which he dubbed the "U-Can-Back" auto trailer. Advertising stated that the
“New Linn Trailer … Backs Correctly With the Car.” Literature stated that
the trailer had a weight capacity of 800 pounds, a remarkable amount
considering its small size and single tire.
The Linn Trailer Corporation was organized in 1929 and capitalized at
$100,000 – The officers of the firm were: HH Linn, president; E.W. Wheeler,
vice-president ; C.J. Smith, treasurer, and H.W. Naylor, secretary.
All four men had been either investors in or employees of the Linn Mfg.
Co. Originally from Boston, Edward William Wheeler had served as Linn
Manufacturing’s chief engineer and purchasing agent. C.J. Smith was cashier
of the First National Bank of Morris (N.Y.) and Howard Wing Naylor was the
founder of the H.W. Naylor Co., a veterinary pharmaceutical manufacturer
which is still in business today at drnaylor.com.
Oneonta attorney D.J. Kilkenny served as the new firm’s
The November 30, 1929 Oneonta Daily Star announced that: “Work has been
completed on construction of the Linn Trailer factory at West End” The
article went on to state that the modern 50 x 150 ft steel and brick
structure had been built by local contractors and included “individual
motors for all machines”. The article also stated that due to local interest
a further $25,000 in stock was being made available to local investors.
The April-13-1930 issue of the Daily Star stated:
“The final approval of
specifications for the mass production trailer which is to be built at the
West End plant of the Linn Trailer company is now being given and it is
expected that within a few weeks the factory will be established on a
A further item in the May 2, 1930 issue of the same paper stated that:
“The Linn Trailer Corporation has just completed a new factory at a cost of
Which contradicted an article dated November 30, 1929, that had
come to the same conclusion.
The June 12, 1930 issue of the Daily Star ran the following item:
“Double Output of Linn Trailer Plant
“Substantial Increase in Interest Shown Following Selling Trip – Behind
“With interest gaining momentum each week and with its factory already
three weeks behind on its orders, officials of the Linn Trailer Company are
adding a few experienced machinists, blacksmiths and toolmakers to its list
of employees and it is expected that within a week the production of the
plant will have been more than doubled.
“As one of Oneonta’s youngest industries and as an organization producing
an article of established merit in a field which has seen little development
in more than a score of years of age, with the exception of the patented
trailer which it is manufacturing, particular interest has attached to the
growth of this enterprise. Present production is about two complete units
daily and it is expected to bring this figure to about five immediately.
“Eugene Leigh Ward, who conducts the jewelry store bearing his name in
Oneonta, having an efficient staff in charge of that enterprise, has taken
considerable interest in the trailer company and for the past two weeks has
been interviewing prospective dealers for the trailer in this territory and
is familiarizing himself with the peculiar merchandising problems of the
product. While no definite agreement has been reached as yet, it is expected
that Mr. Ward may be appointed sales manager fro the company.
“On his trip, which he made in a Chevrolet coupe to which a demonstrator
trailer had been attached, Mr. Ward met with unusual success in interesting
dealers in the proposition and secured an average of orders well exceeding
the production capacity of the factory. In view of this volume of new
business and the repeat orders which are being received from established
dealers, officials of the company look with optimism to the immediate
“Mr. Ward is confident that the field for such a trailer as that produced
by the Linn corporation is a particularly wide one among those who used
their cars for anything except pleasure, and even among those of the latter
class who make such trips as require substantial amounts of luggage.
“With the creation of a live dealer organization, officials of the
company are convinced that within the next few months further increases in
the output of the factory will become necessary.”
Despite the preceding news report of a successful sales trip,
Depression-gripped Americans didn’t have the money to spend on luxury items
like the "U-Can-Back", and the trailer met with limited success. It was
simply a matter of the right product at the wrong time.
A decade later, a very similar device marketed by the Sears, Roebuck Co.
was far more successful. Three versions of the Allstate Tag-a-Long one-wheel
trailer were sold through the Sears catalog from the late 30’s into the
mid-60s. While hundreds of the Allstates exist today, no Linn’s U-Can-Backs
are known to exist.
Luckily, Linn manufactured a much more popular line of 10- to 15-ton
heavy duty crawler or track laying trailers that were sold in large numbers
to regional municipalities and construction companies, the same type of
customer that already owned Linn Truck Tractors. In fact, the heavy-duty
trailers offered by Linn-Republic during the thirties were actually built in
Oneonta by Linn Trailer. Sales of the big jobs helped keep the firm afloat
during the depths of the Depression and provided the capital needed to
develop trailer-related products for new markets.
Linn continued to improve upon his original Linn tractor patents,
eventually developing a new improved track system that he licensed to
Linn-Republic for use on an improved Linn Tractor. The Linn Trailer Corp.
utilized the new track design on their heavy-duty 15-ton tracked trailers
that were designed for use behind crawlers at jobsites.
In the industry, tracked trailers are more commonly referred to as
track-laying trailers to distinguish them from their pneumatic-tired
The Linn track-laying platform trailer saw limited military use in the
mid-to-late thirties as the government preferred the 6- to 20-ton products
of the Athey Truss Wheel Co. of Chicago, Illinois.
Another version of the tracked trailer was developed with a 25-yard
side-dump body which was priced to compete against both tracked and
pneumatic-tired products built by Athey, Le Tourneau and others.
In promoting the Linn Truck Tractor H.H. Linn had spent many hours on the
road in a spectacular custom-built Safeway Six-Wheel motor coach which he
had dubbed the Linn Haven. Sometime around 1933 he decided to build himself
a new and improved version, which would be called the Linn Limited.
A tractor-trailer arrangement similar to that used by the Nairn Transport
Co. was agreed upon and using H.H. Linn’s blueprints, the trailer company’s
craftsmen set about building a fifth-wheel trailer which when coupled to its
tractor measured 52 feet from bumper to bumper.
The trailer had two huge 150 gallon water tanks, one for fresh water and
the second for black or waste water. It had dual electrical system with
110-volt AC shorepower and a unique 32-volt DC back-up system. This second
system ran off batteries with an automatic start Delco plant generator for a
recharge. Dual voltage appliances, with both AC/DC usage were provided, and
it had a 32-volt radio. Tractor brakes were vacuum over hydraulic, with
vacuum only on the trailer. A telephone system connected the trailer with
the tow vehicle.
The trailer featured under-floor storage and a back porch, which was
partially closed and screened. In the bedroom, there were two large
tip-outs, each holding a full-size spring and mattress set. The large
plate-glass screened side windows cranked up and down like a luxury
automobile of the same vintage. The wood paneling was birds-eye maple and
mahogany. The stove and refrigerator were originally powered by
naptha, a petroleum based product commonly known as Coleman
fuel or white gas.
The trailer was later acquired by Dr. Jay Ray Baker for his missionary
work amongst southwestern native American tribes. In 1947 the cab and
trailer were sold to Dr. Lawrence C. Jones, the president of the Piney Woods
Country Life School, which was the home of the world-famous Cotton Blossom
Singers. The coach was used to tour the racially segregated south. The
gospel choir often slept in the trailer as sleeping accommodations for
all-black performers where sometime hard to come by.
By the mid 1930s Linn Trailer had expanded into specialized commercial
truck bodies and trailers. Their product demonstration trailers were highly
regarded and they began to receive orders from well-known national
corporations, who used them in on-site sales presentations and product
For many years H.H Linn had been interested in private aviation, and
owned a small fleet of airplanes that were used for promoting his tractor
and trailer businesses. By 1928 he had founded the H.H. Linn Airplane Corp.,
in Caribou, Maine. Soon afterwards he built his own airport in Morris, NY,
and at one time or another he owned a Travel Air E-4000 (biplane), a Cessna
AW, a Mono Monarch, a Stinson SB1 (biplane) and a custom-ordered Stinson
H.H. Linn was a passenger in the custom-built 4-passenger Stinson M-219
when tragedy struck on July 3, 1937. The event made the front page of the
July 4, 1937 Syracuse Herald:
“Three Killed As Plane Dives To Fiery Ruin
Arthur Hansen, Foreman for I.B.M., Sole Survivor With Severe Burns
Capt Stead Is Pilot Other Victims Are Holman H. Linn and Mrs. Dorothea
“Special Dispatch to The Herald
“Oneonta, July 3. — Three persons died in flames and a fourth was gravely
injured today when a Syracuse-bound airplane crashed and burned at a private
landing field owned by Holman H. Linn, 12 miles from here.
“The dead are:
MR LINN, 60, of Morris, Otsego County, founder of the Linn Manufacturing
Company, trailer manufacturers, and owner of the four-passenger cabin
CAPT. GEORGE STEAD. 43, of Norwich, Army Air Corps reserve flier and
pilot of the plane.
MRS. DOROTHEA HANSEN, 30, of Endicott.
“Mrs. Hanson's husband. Arthur 34, foreman of the assembly department of
the International Business Machines Corporation at Endicott, the only
occupant who succeeded in escaping from the blazing plane, was reported in
serious condition at the
Mary Bassett Hospital at Cooperstown. The accident occurred at what is
known as Patrick's Hill, when the motor stalled after the plane had attained
an altitude of approximately 300 feet.
“State Police said that Pilot Stead swung the ship about and started to
nose down after the motor had stalled. The motor started again, and Stead
resumed his course. The plane struck a tree at the edge of a clearing and
came down in a mass of flames, State police said. The Hansens had been
visiting Mrs. Hansen's father Charles G. Stone, superintendent of the Linn
factory, and had gone along for a ride when Linn and Stead set out for
Syracuse on a brief business trip. State police said that person in the Linn
home expressed belief that Linn had intended to come to Syracuse to purchase
“The crash occurred at 2:30 o’clock Saturday afternoon. Only meager
official reports were available for several hours after the accident. Lieut.
J.J. Warner of State Police at Sidney said the first report received by
troopers came in a telephone call from Private Edwin Wheeler of the Fourth
Signal Corps Field detachment from Mitchell Field. A State police patrol was
dispatched to the scene over traffic-clogged highways. Meanwhile, the Morris
Fire Department was summoned. A water pump truck was unable to reach the
scene until a tractor was used to haul the truck up the hill to the
wreckage. The plane was destroyed by flames. State police were forced to
wait several hours until the wreckage cooled in order to recover the charred
bodies of the victims.
“According to State police, Linn, Stead and Mrs. Hansen were trapped in
the cabin while Hansen apparently leaped from the flaming plane, collapsing
after running a few feet. He was picked up by George Wetman, who resides
near the scene. Wetman placed Hansen in an automobile and drove to the
hospital at Cooperstown.
“From the other side of the valley, Mrs. Linn, driving home from Morris,
saw the takeoff and the crash. ‘I knew immediately what had happened,’ she
said later, ‘I drove to the field, but there was nothing I could do, so I
went into the house. Mr. Linn always used an airplane on his business
trips,’ she added.
“Another eye-witness was Lee Bryant, Oneonta vacuum cleaner salesman, who
said he was driving past the field on his way to an appointment at the Linn
home. Bryant found Hansen, the sole survivor, wandering about near the
wrecked and burning plane, and led him off the field.
“‘I saw the plane flying low over the road,’ Bryant said. ‘I thought he
(the pilot) was doing tricks so I stopped to see the fun. He stuck the
plane’s nose in the air, then dipped down into a hollow as he apparently
tried to pick up speed.’
“‘His wing tip caught a small tree on the edge of the hill and the place
catapulted through the air to the ground 100 feet away. It burst right into
flames. I could see them in there but couldn’t do anything about it.’
“Dr. Norman Getman. coroner, permitted the removal of the bodies to an
undertaking establishment in Morris. Meanwhile, state police guarded the
burned plane pending the arrival from Buffalo of John Somers, Department of
Commerce inspector. Somers flew from Buffalo to Sidney, near the crash
“Linn, a native of Washburn, Me., came to Morris in 1917, and
subsequently established his trailer manufacturing business. Several years
ago he constructed a hangar and field on ‘Patrick's Hill’ near his home to
facilitate his use of airplanes in business trips.
“Captain Stead was a widely-known pilot. He served in the World War, and
as Linn's private pilot had flown the Linn plane to many parts of the East
and Midwest. At the Municipal Airport at Amboy, near Syracuse, officials
said that the Lynn plane had made numerous stops there.”
After the funeral, Linn’s widow and the Trailer Company’s board of
directors asked Arthur R. Perkins, the head of the Unadilla Trailer Co. of
New Berlin, New York to take over the day-to-day management of the firm.
Perkins immediately decided to expand the firm’s mobile showroom division
and set about designing a self-propelled display coach, which he hoped would
successfully compete against similar units manufactured by the Gerstenslager
Co. of Wooster, Ohio.
Realizing that a drop-frame front wheel drive vehicle would free up
valuable real estate, Perkins came up with an integral body/chassis design
powered by a Waukesha 6-cylinder engine mated to a New Process 4-speed
transmission. A Perkins-designed Linn-Morse high-speed chain drive transfer
case delivered power to the front wheels via a Timken front-wheel-drive
The power plant and drive-train were incorporated into a front-loaded
one-piece removable drive unit that could be swapped out in under an hour.
The unit rode in a Perkins-designed drop-frame chassis which included a
heavy-duty torsion bar rear suspension that allowed the low-level floor to
ride only 16 inches from the ground.
A welded and trussed tubular steel space frame was sheathed in
lightweight aluminum panels, and was securely welded to the chassis creating
a unitized body/chassis. A prototype was ready by mid-1938 and the design
was shopped around to interested parties in New York City. Radio station WOR
purchased the prototype and outfitted it as a mobile radio operations truck
for use in remote broadcasts.
General Electric not only ordered a radio control truck, but an entire
fleet of Linn Trucks and trailers for use as traveling sales showrooms for
their appliances and household products.
The August 13, 1938 Oneonta Daily Star included a picture of a very
special Linn Trailer:
“Skippy, Boston bulldog, has a special trailer all his own in which to
ride about West End with his master, Donald Perkins, 10-year old son of
Arthur R. Perkins, head of the Linn Trailer Corp., who built the special
The February 1939 issue of Autobody and the Reconditioned Car included a
three-page article written by Jay Fletcher that was devoted to the new ‘Linn
Mobile Sales Coach and Laboratory’:
“Mobile Sales Coach and Laboratory Provides Maximum Display Space
“Unusual Beauty and Clever Design Are Distinct features of Fleet Used For
Demonstrating Products of Well-known Oil Company
“A novel, beautiful, streamlined sales coach with plenty of eye appeal
and a maximum of show of display space is the one illustrated with this
article. The unit is one of several being used by the Kendall Refining Co.
of Bradford, P.A. in its sales and promotion work throughout the United
States. These ultra modern traveling show room were designed and constructed
with the specifications mentioned herein by the Linn Trailer Corporation,
Oneonta, New York.”
The Kendall sales coach’s laboratory included hot and cold running water
and an air hose whose supply tanks were mounted under the floor behind a
streamlined body skirt. The two-cylinder air compressor was driven via a
power take-off mounted on the transmission.
The driving compartment’s huge windshield and curved side-glass gave the
pilot an unobstructed view of the road. The body was completely insulated
against noise and extreme temperatures and was painted in Kendall’s
distinctive red and white color scheme. Fletcher continues:
“Closed and traveling the highways, it offers an advertisement to the
refiner that is hard to beat. When open for a sales demonstration, it is a
thing of beauty that offers a background to give the best possible display
to the merchandise being shown.”
“The interior of the body has all been finished in white enamel and the
floor is covered with inlaid linoleum. On the left wall of the coach is an
oil and grease rack that is standard with the refining company and on the
large walls is a display chart … In the rear of the body are located waste
receivers, wink with running water, electric outlets, refrigerator, vent
hood with fans, and other features that are necessary to a mobile
laboratory. … to show the progressiveness of the Linn Trailer Corporation,
they advise they will furnish a generator for 110 volts on poser take-off to
operate anything electrical.
“In fact this type of body can be used for the displaying of electrical
equipment for the home. Electric refrigerators, electric ranges and water
heaters could be shown in the coach next to the wall. On the doors such
articles as electric toasters, flat irons, percolators could be displayed to
a fine purpose.
“Here is one of the finest examples we have ever seen of a smart, well
designed unit that would appeal to a great many business enterprises. The
field in which this type of unit can be used has hardly been scratched as
yet and the progressive body builder will do everything he can to get a
piece of it.
“The Linn Trailer Corporation of Oneonta, New York is a firm building
trussed tubular steel frame trailers and motorized sales coaches. His idea
of course, with this type of construction was to reduce the weight and body
squeaks. He has broadened his activities on motorized sales coaches and the
one in this story is an example of the range of vehicles produced by this
company. If any one wants a clever sales coach, the Linn Trailer Corporation
can furnish it.”
The firm continued to offer display trailers which remained popular
through 1939 and 1940. The firm’s display coach business slowly took off and
the Arthur R. Perkins began to look for new markets for their innovative
In early 1940 Linn’s widow sold her share in the firm to Perkins and he
reorganized it as the Oneonta Linn Corporation. Soon afterwards he set about
bidding on contracts for the US’s anticipated response to the pending
European conflict and soon had a prototype ready to show the Ware
The July 16, 1941 Syracuse Herald announced:
"Oneonta Firm Gets $63,000 U. S. Contract
"Oneonta, July 16.—The Linn Corporation of Oneonta has been awarded a
$63,000 contract by the War Department, for 14 hospital units. Seven units
will be front wheel drive trucks and seven will be trailers. Another contract calls for
two pilot models consisting of van bodies on trucks for the Signal Corps."
Although the pending conflict was not seen as good news in Washington,
D.C., it proved to be beneficial for the Oneonta Linn Corp. who received a
number of war contracts in the early stages of the conflict.
The December 12, 1941 Syracuse Herald reported:
“Work on Mobile Hospital Unit Speeded at Factory
“Oneonta. Dec. 12.—Tomorrow the first lour units in a complete mobile
hospital unit will leave the Oneonta Linn Corporation plant at West End
Oneonta for Carlyle, Pa. Their destination will be the Medical Corps
Laboratory located there. These units will include three operating room
units and one supply unit. The complete hospital unit will consist of four
operating units, one sterilizing unit, one X-ray unit and the supply unit.
All units will be delivered before Christmas.
“These units are all the front wheel drive cars made by the Linn
Corporation. They are equipped with water heaters and storage tanks, a unit
for purifying, heating and filtering the air, all steel storage cabinets,
supply room for instruments and are ready to be completely equipped with
“Arthur R. Perkins, manager of the corporation, is not at liberty to
divulge any further contracts they are filling for the Government, but he
said several others were pending. Publicity on the work being done at the
plant is being held at a minimum by government officials.
“It is believed these units are to be delivered this year are but
forerunners of future orders. These seven units, when completed and
equipped, will be a moving hospital, with practically all the facilities
offered in a modern hospital on wheels to be taken to the scene of an
The September 13, 1942 issue of the Oneonta Star included the following
“Oneonta Linn Corp., West End, was awarded a half-million dollar contract
by the federal government. Arthur Perkins, president, announced the contract
was a reorder of special vehicles.”
The Linn-built G-731 Metropolitan Ambulance was given a 1½ ton 4x2
12-litter military rating, meaning the G-731 had a weight carrying capacity
of 3000 lb, rode on 4-wheels, two of which were powered, and it was designed
to carry up to 12 injured soldiers. The ‘Metropolitan Ambulance’ designation
meant the vehicle was designed to transport injured soldiers from ships and
aircraft to brick & mortar hospitals. Its two-wheel drive disqualified the
G-731 from front-line service in military field hospitals.
In an interview with the Oneonta Herald, Perkins revealed his post-war
plans for the firm’s front-wheel-drive coaches which would used:
"…principally for displaying and merchandising all kinds of appliances such
as washing machines, refrigerators, fireplace units, telephones, and radio
and television apparatus."
During the War Oneonta Linn also produced jigs and fixtures for the
Fairchild Aircraft Corporation, who used them in the manufacture of the
Fairchild C-82 Packet, a twin-engine, twin-boom heavy-lift cargo aircraft.
At the conclusion of the War the firm was implicated in a war contract
padding scandal involving their work for Fairchild, and Bernard E. Galle,
Linn’s production supervisor was eventually indicted. The Utica, New York
trial was covered by the Syracuse Herald which reported in its January 10,
“8 Women on U.S. Court Trial Jury - Defendant Accused Of Fraud Practice
“Utica—The trial of Bernard E. Galle, Plainfield, Conn., indicted as
Benjamin Galle, and charged with fraud against the Government, is now in
progress in Federal Court with Judge Brennan presiding. Serving on the jury
are eight women and four men, with two women as alternates. It was the first
trial since the current term of court opened early in December. Galle, the
indictment says, was employed as plant superintendent for the Oneonta Linn
Corporation, Oneonta, which had a subcontract with the Fairchild Aircraft
Corporation of Hagerstown, Md., which in turn had the original contract with
the Government to manufacture two cargo transport airplanes and one stripped
airplane, static test, upon a cost plus a fixed fee basis.
“The Fairchild Corporation sublet a portion of its contract to the
Oneonta Linn Corporation to manufacture certain jigs and fixtures, the
indictment says, for the cost of materials plus $7.75 an hour for labor.
Galle was employed in charge of production at a stipulated salary plus five
per cent of the yearly net profits, it was claimed. Then the Indictment
charges that although the labor was completed December 21, 1943, on shop
order 8787, Galle caused a false and fraudulent payroll to show 203 hours
and 52 minutes of labor (for that day for all employees), and defrauded the
Government of $558. Another allegation of fraud in payrolls is listed for
Dec, 24 of that year, where it is claimed the Government was defrauded of
“Peter T. Hull, assistant treasurer of the Fairchild Aircraft
Corporation, the first witness for the Government, testified as to
negotiations with the Oneonta company for making the jigs and other fixtures
in the three planes. He said Fairchild's profit on that contract was
“Witnesses during the afternoon included Breatle A. Rupert and Leslie H.
Woodland, officials of the Fairchild Corporation, and Miss Marie A. Straw,
an office employee of the Oneonta plant. Most of the testimony had to do
with terms of the contract, which was received in evidence as an exhibit,
and the records relating to operations on the three planes.
“Several employees of the Oneonta company were to be called by the
Government as witnesses today.”
Although Oneonta Linn was in good financial shape following the war, the
industry-wide shortage of raw materials forced the plant to shut down during
1946. The February 10, 1946 Syracuse Herald reported:
“Steel Lack Closes Plant Of Linn Co. - New Assembly Line to Be Set Up.
“ONEONTA — Oneonta Linn Corporation, of which Arthur A. Perkins is
president, closed Saturday for what Mr. Perkins said would be a temporary
shutdown, due to the shortage of steel. Mr. Perkins hoped, he said, that the
plant would resume production in two weeks or less. Employees were notified
by a notice placed on the bulletin board that: "It was anticipated that the
steel strike would end on Friday last, but such was not the case. Our
presses, shear and casting, lied in strike-bound plants and we are short of
motor radiators and other vital parts."
“About 20 employees in the office and engineering department will remain
to make arrangements for reopening the plant. The Linn Corporation is
installing a 400-foot assembly line with 250 feet of subassembly lines to
act as feeders. Production will be centered on one and one-half ton panel,
front wheel drive trucks, which will be turned out at the rate of one an
hour on a 10-hour shift.
“A new sheet metal form for cutting and shaping of body and top has just
been completed by Neal Neilson, Laurens contractor. The corporation is
building for Dr. A. J. Seeley. Dumont, Pa., a luxury land "cruiser" which
Dr. Sealey plans to use in touring the Alcan Highway through Western Canada
to Alaska. This has an observation tower, giving It the appearance of a Navy
cruiser. It accommodates six passengers and two crewmen, and has 125
horsepower, front wheel drive, 73 miles per hour cruising speed, a forepart
club room and rear lounge, an all mahogany interior and shower, bath and
“Ivan S. Pearsons, captain in the Detroit Army Ordnance office for
development of motor vehicles, has been engaged as development engineer. Mr.
and Mrs. Parsons and two children are at present residing at 243 Chestnut
In April of 1946 the Oneonta Linn Corp. was renamed and reorganized as
the Linn Coach & Truck Co. to better position the firm for success in the
post-war economy. Linn Coaches’ president, Arthur R. Perkins, set about
designing a catalog which depicted the Linn Coach in numerous commercial
applications. Pictured were the interiors of the firm’s pre-war product
display coaches as well as images of the firm’s dental coaches and military
The firm’s first bookmobile, the main product of their chief competitor,
Gerstenslager, was also built in 1946 using a Linn Coach. It’s interior
dimensions follow: length 24’ 6”; width 6’ 7”; height 6’ 2”.
Text from a period Linn Model-L 1½-ton Speed Van brochure follows:
“Integrally Constructed Welded Tubular Steel Body and chassis – built in
36-inch sections from 11 ft. to 20 ft. payload.
“Linn design has eliminated the conventional heavy under-chassis
power-drive mechanism. The low-level floor – without the inconvenience and
bulk of a propeller-shaft tunnel – with maximum width between wheel housings
– affords greater loading and unloading advantages and increases load
capacity. Available payload space extends from the windshield to rear door.
May be loaded from side or rear.
“Cross braces in frames stand a tensile pull of 25,000 pounds without
elongating; 28,000 pounds without fracture or breaking. High tensile
pre-formed roof bows; U-shaped sections. Main side frames and cross sills
are wide-flanged semi-box sections for strength and rigidity. Doors are 30
inches wide with full head room.
“Torsion Bar Rear Suspension overcomes the objection of low-drop trailing
axle with limited road clearance. Great strength, flexibility and carrying
capacity. Maximum riding ease on uneven roads.
“The many engineering advantages of torsion bar rear suspension were
demonstrated in thousands of Army tanks, where this design proved to be
superior to any type of leaf or coil spring arrangement.
“The principle is simple. An alloy steel bar is ground to a determined
size, varying with the capacity of the vehicle. The center end is rigidly
mounted, and the spindle arm end is mounted through a large bronze
pressure-lubricated bearing. The weight of the vehicle, when the wheel
contacts the road, forces the spindle arm to twist the torsion bar or shaft.
The result is a soft shock-absorbing action that glides the track smoothly
over bumps and unevenness. Each wheel is individually sprung and there is no
interference from under-frame or under-slung clearance on these axles give
full clearance under the truck body.
“Various sized torsion bars are available for light or heavy loads, and
interchangeable in less time than it takes to change a tire.
“Front-wheel-drive powertrain removable as a unit can be replaced in
sixty minutes by any mechanic with ordinary tools.
“A fleet owner requires only one of these complete power trains in
reserve. It is his complete on-package stockroom … literally a stockroom
that jumps from the shelves to keep the Linn truck operating 365 days in the
year. These units are factory-serviced and are available new or rebuilt.
Requires only 1/8 the floor space for service operations.
“This rugged, low-slung power assembly embraces a powerful, six-cylinder
engine, clutch, four-speed transmission, transfer case with ball-bearing
mounted, silent-chain drive, emergency brake assembly, propeller shaft,
front-driving-and-steering Timken axle, complete hydraulic brake system and
“When removing unit, all electrical circuits are disconnected with a
single plug. With fuel shut off at the tank, a simple connection permits
separation of the fuel line. Five easily accessible anchoring bolts on each
side facilitate detachment of the power unit from the vehicle body.”
Press releases and pictures were distributed to all the major industry
publications and Perkins arranged to have the firm’s products depicted in
advertisements for a number of the firm’s suppliers.
Dr. Sealey’s Linn Land Cruiser became the firm’s most famous vehicle
after it was featured in a number of late 40s magazines and newspapers. The
advertising blitz started off with a September, 8, 1946 AP wire photo whose
“LAND CRUISER TO TOUR MEXICO—Arthur R. Perkins (left) of Oneonta, N. Y.,
president of the Linn Truck and Coach Corp. and Dr. Henry J. Sealey of
Dumont, N. Y., stand beside the specially-constructed land cruiser which
will convey Dr. Sealey on a tour of Mexico. Equipped to sleep eight persons,
the cruiser has a main salon, a tiled bathroom, a rear sitting room-studio
and a galley equipped with a sink, refrigerator and gas range. The seven-ton
machine is 30 feet long, can go 75 miles per hour.”
The May, 1947 issue of Poplar Science had a full page feature on the
“Land Cruiser is Deluxe Home On Wheels
“When it comes to vacations, this land cruiser with a strong resemblance
to a cross-country bus combines the speed of motor travel with the comforts
of yachting. It will accommodate eight persons with such convenience as a
galley, lounging rooms, observation tower, sleeping quarters, shower, and
“The deluxe home on wheels was built to specifications for Dr. H.J.
Sealey, of Dumont, N.J. by the Linn Coach & Truck Corp., of Oneonta, N.Y.
Its 125 hp Hercules engine was put into a Linn front-wheel-drive unit and is
accessible from inside, as in the Linn trucks, when an interior hood-like
covering is lifted.
“This 30’ traveling house has all the comforts of a four-room house. It
gets its power from a front-wheel-drive motor built as a removable unit with
the clutch, axle and transmission. Accessible from within the driver’s cab,
the engine is exposed for minor repair and adjustments by lifting the inside
hood. Beds for two persons can be made up in the main living room, and there
are sleeping quarters for six more. A shower, galley, and observation tower
The March 27, 1947 Syracuse Herald covered a large sale of Linn Coaches
to the United Nations:
“U.N. Trucks Are Built In Oneonta
“ONEONTA — Linn Coach and Truck Corp., Oneonta, has recently completed 21
mobile dental trucks for the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation to be
sent, it is believed, to Poland and Yugoslavia. The trucks, ordered only
last month were built at a cost of $239,000. Mr. Perkins, president of the
plant, stating that only through the magnificent efforts of the Linn 105
employees, and two local contractors could the contract have been filled.
“Harold Wilkins, proprietor of the West End Body Co., had charge of the
exterior painting and Angelo Scavo, of the Reliable Body Co., did the
interior finishing. The trucks are similar to those for public health
services in New Jersey, Georgia, and several South American countries. Each
contains complete dental equipment, including an adjustable chair, drilling
and sterilization and X-ray apparatus, a photographic dark-room and
laboratory, a 100-volt electrical generating plant, oil burning heater and a
power unit that enables travel over negotiable roads. The vehicle is 14 feet
in length, front wheel drive, screened swing-out windows, three roof
ventilators, walls and ceilings of Masonite tile, and floors of inlaid
linoleum. They are painted n light grey.
“When ordered, Mr. Perkins understood they were to be sent to Poland and
Yugoslavia although recent international developments there may change that
On May 17, 1947 the Associated Press announced:
“ONEONTA, (AP) - The Linn Coach and Truck Co. which employs 300 persons
in the manufacture of trucks and panel coaches, has become a part of Great
American Industries of Elmira. E. A. Johnston, new manager of the Oneonta
division, announced the merger last night. The Elmira firm has other
factories in Virginia and Connecticut.”
Great American Industries was headquarter in Meriden, Connecticut and at
that time controlled the Ward-LaFrance Truck Co. of Elmira, New York. Other
holdings included Rubatex Corp., a manufacturer of rubber insulation
adhesive, and the Connecticut Telephone and Electric Corp., a manufacturer
of telephone handsets, intercoms and various electrical equipment. In the
early days of motoring Connecticut Telephone and Electric produced coils,
magnetos and other components for automotive ignition systems.
On June 6, 1947 The New York Times announced that Arthur R. Perkins,
president of Linn Coach & Truck Corp president, had resigned.
The September 25, 1948 Oneonta Daily Star included a short item detailing
the firm’s plans for the future:
“Linn Plant Expecting Expansion
“A steadily expanding future for the Linn Coach and Truck Division of the
Great American Industries Corp. is the conservative forecast of W.L.Y.
Davis, general manager the plant, which employs 150 people. Is now busily
engaged in turning out mobile television units for Dumont, General Electric,
NBC, Mutual, and the American Broadcasting Co.
“These special jobs, which are in charge of David E. Loushay, assistant
general manager, are expected to keep Linn in heavy production far into
1949. The plant also expects orders for special truck power units which will
necessitate a considerable enlargement of the present force.
“Mr. Davis, who is ordinarily very wary about making predictions, said
that many distributors of Linn trucks had been changed and with their new
dealer and distributor program that Linn would soon become an outstanding
producer in its field.”
The January 8, 1949 Oneonta Daily Star brought more good news to the
surround Oneonta community:
“Linn to Boost Production if FCC Lifts Ban
“Curb on the licensing of television stations may be lifted soon, and, as
a result, business at the Linn Coach and Truck Division of Great American
Industries is expected to pick up.
“Last year the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), cancelled about
270 licenses, contending that licensing was going ahead too fast. The FCC
also said that the stations were using too many package shows and filling
with old movies.
“Linn’s business got a jar from this ruling as the truck turned out at
the plant is used exclusively in this country for mobile television units.
The three manufacturers of television equipment; Radio Corporation of
America, DuMont and General Electric, have contracted for Linn trucks, in
which to install mobile equipment.
“There are at the present time more than 30 stations on the air and about
300 applications for television broadcasting licenses on file with the FCC.
Since the ban was clamped on licenses have been granted slowly. About 500
are expected to be issued within the next two years.
“Some of the television equipment is installed at the plant here. Linn
trucks are now carrying the equipment for stations scattered all over the
The February 22, 1949 Oneonta Star announced another new development:
“Linn Seeks Power Unit Contract
“Linn Coach and Truck Division of Great American Industries is
negotiating a sub-contract to manufacture power units for a new five-car
automobile transporter. It is believed that if the contracts are signed some
of the engine mechanics involved in a recent personnel cutback at the Linn
Plant, will be called back. Production of the power train units, an
exclusive Linn product, has been tentatively set at a minimum of three and a
maximum of ten a day.
“3 to 5 Years
“Work on these contracts is expected to last from three to five years.
The five car transport of revolutionary lines and mechanical design has
undergone a five-hundred-mile run fully loaded with new cars. Early tests
established top speeds of 70 miles an hour and road speeds of 50 to 60 miles
an hour. The transport is being constructed by the LaCrosse Trailer Corp. of
Wisconsin from designs created by Brooks Stevens Associates, Milwaukee
Industrial design firm.
“Outstanding feature of the transport is the use of hydraulic lifts
permitting the load to be handled by one man. The design of the carrier
accommodates n additional unit over the conventional four-car transport,
using a forward power unit which carries three cars and an integrated
trailer which holds two cars. Assisting on the technical developments of the
new transport, in addition to the designers, was David E. Loushay, general
manager of the Linn Coach and Truck Division.
“The front-engine, front-wheel drive carrier is of the cab-over-engine
type, using the inter changeable Linn power train. A replacement engine can
be installed in one hour. The power train is an integrated unit of front
wheels, drive shaft, transmission and engine. In case of breakdowns, the
front of the truck is jacked up and a new unit installed after removing only
The Brooks Stevens transporter was also featured in the March 1, 1949
issue of Automotive Industries:
“Now being built by the La Crosse Trailer Corp., La Crosse, Wisc., from
design created by Brookes Stevens Associates, Milwaukee, this new five-car
automobile transport features the use of powered hydraulic lifts, which are
said to permit the load to be handled by one man. The truck section
accommodates three cars, and the trailer section holds two. Powered by a
six-cyl.,112-hp Hercules engine, this trailer reportedly has a top speed of
70 miles per hour.”
Unfortunately auto transporters believed that the complicated drive
system of the Linn power-plant was not robust enough for everyday use and
the vehicle never entered into production.
J. Edward Slavin’s famous ‘Jail on Wheels’ was constructed at the Linn
plant in early 1949.
In 1935 Slavin, who was then sheriff of New Haven County, Connecticut,
had founded the ‘First Offender’ anti-crime movement. He came to nation
prominence as the host and writer of the First Offender radio series, a
Dragnet-style anti-crime radio melodrama carried by the Colonial and Mutual
Broadcast Networks. The First Offender story made it to the big screen in
the 1939 Columbia Pictures B-movie of the same name. Slavin also authored an
anti-crime comic book series for Courage Comics.
Slavin’s ‘Jail on Wheels’ was featured in the August 1949 issue of The
American magazine (pp 107-109). The motor coach housed all the equipment of
a modern jail, and was designed by Slavin, who believed that if a boy hears
a cell door shut behind him he will carry that feeling of confinement with
him all his youth.
Children were given a chance to get that experience in Slavin’s mobile
jailhouse. He hoped that they would recall the experience and think twice
before becoming first offenders. Proceeds of the pay-to enter exhibit were
used to help finance Slavin’s Boy's Village, a private home for boys he
founded in Milford, Connecticut.
The November 11, 1949 Oneonta Star featured a Linn Coach of a different
“Oneonta to Be In National Spotlight Again
“Oneonta will soon get the national spotlight again in a series of
magazine articles and pictures. Paradoxically, the subject will be the
revolutionary new national health program in Cuba. The reason that Oneonta
is projected vividly into affairs of the Caribbean island republic is
produced in Linn Coach Truck Division, Great American Industries. The
special coaches, outfitted to extend medical and dental care throughout the
republic's rural areas, are the very center of the vast health program.
“Not until Christmas will the masses of Cuban citizens know as much about
this program as the people of Oneonta. At this time President Carlos Prío Socarrás
will make a full report to his people. The situation was explained here
yesterday with the arrival of Cpt. Hector Aguilera, personal delegate of
President Socarrás, to approve and accept the 20 vehicles being assembled
here plus 10 ambulances provided elsewhere.
“Captain Aguilera is professor at chemistry in the Cuban Naval School,
chief in charge of pharmacy and chemistry for the Cuban Navy, naval aide to
Dr. Socarrás and two preceding presidents and counselor on explosives for
the republic. During the war he was the government official naval observer
with Admiral Halsey.
“Captain Aguilera, President Socarrás and one other government official
are the only ones who are acquainted with the health program. A brief
announcement in an Associated Press dispatch from Oneonta was published in
Cuban dailies about a month ago. Aside from that there has been no news
given, as yet, to the island republic about the program.
“This procedure is entirely different from the established pattern of
previous Cuban administrations, the captain smilingly explained. ‘Always it
was talk, talk, talk.’ he said. ‘But never was it act, act, act. Now it is
act, act, act first. Then when we get the units (Mobile clinics) delivered,
we talk, talk, talk.’
“President Socarrás, a doctor of laws, is doing something for medical and
general health where predecessors, among them several physicians and
surgeons did nothing. He is turning the $2,000,000 to $5,000,000 annually
from the Cuban lottery into a constructive effort instead of into a
political war chest.
“The brief announcement which the Star gave to the Associated Press has
already stirred up a wide interest among publications. Leading medical and
dental magazines throughout the country and abroad are preparing to publish
technical articles on the project, according to David E. Loushay, general
manager of the Linn plant. In addition, certain popular magazines will carry
“The first order of 30 units will be followed by an additional contract
for 78 more vehicles so as to cover the entire rural area of Cuba. A mobile
health and dental clinic, a living quarters coach for a staff of six men,
and an ambulance will comprise each caravan. More than 100.000 children will
he reached in isolated stretches where medical aid is not available. These
clinics will be used for tuberculosis tests, internal parasitical
infections, skin diseases, blood and urine analyses and dental services.
“The project was the idea of Dr. Socarrás, who has taken a personal
interest in its development and has given suggestions regarding production
for the problems that are peculiar to Cuba. The entire project is being
coordinated by Metasco Inc., New York City, the foreign trade subsidiary of
Allied Stores Corporation in conjunction with agents in Cuba. About eight or
nine other corporations will have parts in outfitting the caravans after the
automotive units are assembled at the Linn plant.
“The dormitory coaches for the medical staffs will be complete in every
respect, including kitchen, bathroom, shower, living room, sleeping
quarters, closets, writing desks, chairs, lounge furniture, utensils and
furnishings, brooms and buckets. Each coach will be insulated against
tropical weather and completely wired for lights, stove and other electrical
By mid-1950 Linn’s trouble-prone torsion-bar rear suspension had been
replaced by a totally new leaf spring system. On December 19, 1950, new
management arrived at the Linn Plant from Buffalo. The Oneonta Star
“Buck Named Superintendent of Linn Coach Plant Here
“William H. Buck arrived here yesterday from Buffalo to take over as
superintendent of the Linn Coach and Truck Division of Great American
“Mr. Buck, who has had 30 years experience with the Wickwire-Spencer
Steel Co., replaces David E. Loushay of South Sidney who has taken a
position with a firm in the Metropolitan area. The new superintendent began
his career as a foreman In the Whitcomb Planner Co., following his
graduation from high school. He studied engineering at night and a few years
later was made plant engineer. Buck was superintendent in charge of
maintenance at the Buffalo plant of Wickwire-Spencer, a firm which produces
and fabricates steel.
(caption) “William H. Buck (right) arrived yesterday from Buffalo to
assume his duties as superintendent of the Linn Coach and Truck Division of
Great American Industries. He is shown above looking over plans for one of
the coaches, now under construction, with John Christiansen of West Oneonta
of the plant staff.”
In early 1951 RCA chose Linn Coach to produce a fleet of 6-wheeled remote
television broadcast vans for the US Army. The February 22, 1951 issue of
the Oneonta Star reported:
“Linn Firm Builds Television Vehicles for Use by Army
“Uncle Sam's Army is going to get four brand new vehicles for television
use from the Linn Coach & Truck Division in Oneonta. As far as is known,
this will he the first television units that the Army has in the United
States, and possibly the world.
“The four vehicles received their final plant inspection yesterday and
left to be equipped at the RCA plant in Camden, N.J. Their eventual
destination is Signal Corps. Headquarters, Fort Monmouth, N. J.
“Each coach has been designed to act as part of a mobile television
caravan. Cost of the coaches was estimated at $200,000. In the four-coach
caravan will be a transmitting vehicle, a receiving and distribution vehicle
and their power supply coaches.
“Why the Army wants a mobile television unit has net yet been officially
announced by authorities in Washington.
“William H. Buck, Linn plant manager, said it took several months to
build the custom-made coaches. He said they can be used on any “improved”
highway, but are not necessarily designed for cross-country travel.
“Each coach weighs approximately ten tons gross and is 31 feet long. Six
heavy-duty tires are used. The four vehicles can accommodate 22 people
“comfortably” including the drivers.
“A contract for the vehicles was let by the Army to the RCA Corporation
who, in turn, sublet construction of the vehicles to the Linn plant.”
Linn was one of the many firms that produced the ¾ ton M-101 trailer for
the Army in the early 1950s. The M-101 was designed for use behind the M-37
¾-ton cargo truck. The July 19, 1951 Oneonta Star gives details of a fleet
of Linn mobile dental units that were built for government:
“Linn Completes Dental Unit; Delivered to U.S. Air Force
“A strata-blue mobile dental unit, the first of its kind to be built for
military use in this country, rolled off the Assembly line at Linn Coach &
Truck Division yesterday and, after strenuous road tests in the area, was
accepted by the U. S. Air Forces last night.
“The eight and one-half ton leviathan of the highways was put through its
paces by Sgt. Cecil M. Browner, under direction of Lt. Col. Sidney G.
Gordon, chief dental surgeon for the Air Defense Command, Colorado Springs,
“Classified as a "pilot model," the unit is the first of 11 to be built
by the Oneonta branch of Great American Industries. One of the units will be
assigned to each of the 11 divisions of the USAAF throughout the country.
“Expressing himself as completely "elated" over the appearance Pilot
model, Col. Gordon said the unit will leave today for Fort Jay, on
Governor's Island, New York City, where it will be examined by ranking
officers of First Army Headquarters and Naval officers from the Third
“Its ultimate destination is headquarters of the 35th USAAF Division,
Atlanta, Ga. As described by Dr. Gordon, each unit is a complete dental
clinic, complete with two chairs and all necessary equipment, including
x-ray machines and a prosthetic laboratory, for the fabrication of
artificial dentures of all kinds.
“In addition, the unit contains its own air conditioning system, healing
plant, hot-and-cold running water and equipment generating its own power,
when outside electricity is not available. Designed by Col. Gordon and Frank
Humphries, West Oneonta, chief engineer at the Linn plant, the units are to
be used to care for teeth of Air Force personnel manning the USAAF's radar
network from coast-to-coast and from Canada to the Gulf. ‘Many of these
radar outposts are small-staffed and inaccessible,’ Dr. Gordon explained,
‘because of this they don't have a complete dental installation.’
“Powered by a two and one-half ton tractor, the mobile units are capable
of traversing all kinds of terrain to reach the outposts, Dr. Gordon said.
‘Like the itinerant dentists of old,’ he smiled, ‘we plan to reach them
“Crews assigned to each of the units will include two dental officers,
one airman who will be a dental assistant, another who will be a laboratory
technician and a third who will be driver and maintenance man. The
government cooperated in completion of the pilot model by granting the
project a DOA-4 priority, which means that it ranked fourth from the top in
the ‘A’ category of defense orders. Col. Gordon said the units will spend
from two to three weeks at each of the radar ‘sites’ through out the
“They are equipped with two and one-half inches of fiber glass
insulation, and are built to withstand the hottest and coldest climate ever
recorded in the continental United States.
"None of the units will he used overseas, Col. Gordon added.”
In the fall of 1951 the International Association of Machinists (IAM)
made a serious attempt to organize the Linn Coach workforce that was
fiercely contest by Linn’s management who refused to allow the union to hold
a collective bargaining election. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB)
was called in to settle the dispute and a hearing was held on December 5,
1951. The December 6, 1951 issue of the Oneonta Star reported on the
“Linn Fights Unionization Move At NLRB Hearing In City - Plea Made By
“A National Labor Relations Board hearing was conducted yesterday,
afternoon in City Court room on the contested petition of the International
Association of Machinists to be recognized as bargaining agent for about 176
production and maintenance employees at Linn Coach and Truck Division, Great
American Industries Inc.
“William J. Cavers, Buffalo, the hearing officer, explained that he has
no power to make a ruling that the session was called to ascertain the
position of the respective parties and to obtain a factual record.
“The transcript of the hearing were to be sent to Washington, and the
decision on recognition will be made there by the national board headed by
Paul. Herzor of New York City, Mr. Cavers said. Decisions are usually made
in 30 to 80 days, he said.
“Ally J. Lester Reed of Crawford & Reed, 247 Park Ave., Manhattan, who
appeared as counsel for the company, said the company does not recognize the
union as the bargaining agent for Linn employees. He later explained that
the company has refused to consent to the holding of an election, and has
insisted on a formal board hearing and decision as to whether such an
election should be held.
“Mr. Reed confirmed that the company received a letter dated October 15,
this year, from Irving G. Lisenby, Sidney, business representative of Local
1529 IAM, asking that the company recognize the union, and the company had
not replied. Mr. Reed wanted it stipulated that 11 group leaders in the Linn
plant be included by name as being among the production and maintenance
employees so their status as supervisory employees may be cleared up.
“D.J. Omer, IAM grand lodge representative of Cleveland, Ohio, contended
that "any dispute over eligibility to vote in a union election shall be
cleared up by name if and when an election is held but isn’t by name now."
“‘If the election is held tomorrow,’ Mr. Omer said, ‘the 11 probably
would be eligible to vote but I won't stipulate that they will be eligible
when the board orders an election,’ Mr. Reed agreed to this, and the names
were read into the record.
“Mr. Cavers then stated that the company, upon request of NLRB, had
submitted payroll records and that ‘there has been an administration
determination’ that this act constituted a ‘substantial showing of interest’
by the company. Attorney Reed challenged the statement, but Mr. Cavers said
he would ‘not go into the “showing of interest’ now’ but would entertain
motions later upon completion of the hearing. No motions were made later.
“Attorney Reed then moved that the regional NLRB director ask the union
to withdraw its petition and, if it, doesn't, to dismiss the petition. He
said he based his motion on the ‘failure of the union to submit a
substantial showing of interest.’ Mr. Cavers said he had ‘no authority to
grant or deny your motion, but it will be transmitted to the board as part
of this record.’ In arguing against a collective bargaining election, Mr.
Reed told the company's ‘operations and payroll over a period of years have
been extremely fluctuating.’
"In support of this, William H. Buck, 14 Maple St., general manager, read
from payroll figures showing but three production employees on. June 25,
1950, 40 on May 20, 1951; 83 on July 6, 1951; 185 on Sept. 30, 1951, and 176
on Nov. 25, 1051. He said the Linn plant in 1951 obtained three war
production contracts, and that they represent all but ‘two or three per
cent’ of its work now. He said the contracts likely would be finished in
February but added that the company will make every effort to get more
business, civil and war.”
The company eventually relented and the March 13, 1952 issue of the
Machines, the house organ of the IAM included the following item:
“At Oneonta, N. Y., employees of the Linn Coach & Truck Co., voted 105 to
44 for the I.A.M., in an election marked chiefly by company attempts to
frighten employees away from the I.A.M. Irving G. Lisenby, business
representative of I.A.M. Lodge 1529 assisted in the Oneonta campaign.”
The August 16, 1952 issue of the Oneonta Star gave details of a new
military contract that was awarded to the firm:
“Linn Company Gets $2 ½ Million In Government Contracts
“Steady Work Until Late '53 Anticipated
“Two contracts totaling nearly 2½ million dollars have been awarded Linn
Coach and Truck Division here it was announced yesterday by the field
service of the U. S. Department of Commerce.
“William H. Buck, plant manager, said the plant is now engaged in
carrying out a second Air Force contract, totaling approximately $130,000
for 14 dental trailers, four of them destined for overseas service.
“The federal government yesterday revealed that Ordnance Corps, Ordnance
Tank Automotive Center at Detroit, Mich., has given the firm a contract for
the manufacture of 913 M-29 trailer mounts at a cost of $526,151, and 808
two-ton trailers at a cost of $l,928,040 - a combined contract cost of
“Mr. Buck said yesterday that, steel and other materials, in short
supply, the contracts now held by the firm should insure full employment for
approximately 165 until late in 1953.
“With the gaining of the dental trailer contract some weeks ago, Mr. Buck
said, the plant has been adding men to its staff as rapidly as the short
material supply would permit and additional workers will continue to be
employed as there is need for them.”
The 2-ton trailers mentioned in the preceding article were designated by
the US military as the MHU-7/M Bomb Lift Trailer. The electric powered
hydraulic operated 4-wheeled combination transport-loading bomb trailers
were designed for use with the new Boeing B-52 Stratofortress.
Weapons such as the MK 28RI thermonuclear bomb were secured to a 4-bomb
clip-in assembly. The clipped-in bombs were then mounted on a cradle resting
on the MHU-7/M. Once in position beside the B-52's bomb bay, the castoring
wheels at the four outboard corners permitted the weapons to be moved
sideways under the aircraft after which the trailer’s on-board hydraulic
actuators lifted the four bomb clip into position inside the aircraft’s bomb
The dimensions of the MHU-7M bomb trailer were 208” long X 84” wide X 41”
high, and when fully loaded it weighed between 4 and 12 tons. The trailer
was commonly towed behind a 2½-ton capacity BC-164 International truck whose
top speed was limited to 5 miles per hour.
A day after the news of the huge new contract was made public, the firm’s
IAM (International Association of Machinists) members elected to strike. The
vote tally was covered in the August 18, 1953 Oneonta Star:
“Linn Coach Employees Vote To Strike Over Wage Demands - Union Seeks Pay
Raise Of 15 Cents
“Employees of the Linn Coach and Truck Division, West End, yesterday
voted to strike, possibly by next Monday, if new wage demands are not met.
Some 95 per cent of the union employees at Linn approved this action at a
strike vote taken yesterday noon, union officials reported. They are seeking
a 15-cent-an-hour wage raise.
“Irving Lisenby, grand lodge representative (International Association of
Machinists -IAM), said "we can strike anytime." However, he added, a further
meeting will be held 10 a.m. Wednesday with company officials in an attempt
to avert the strike and reach a solution. If this is unsuccessful, he said,
the union, Local 932 IAM, would probably be ready to go out on 24-hour
strike duty by Monday, with picket lines.
“When asked for his comments, William Buck, general manager at Linn,
said, ‘I don't know anything about it.’ John Christiansen, plant
superintendent, was reported out of town. IAM’s Irving Lisenby, former
business agent for Local 1529 at Scintilla in Sidney, said he hoped to meet
with Mr. Buck ‘and make a last effort to settle the dispute before a
“‘I hope,’ he said, ‘that the company will see fit to go along with a
wage increase that will satisfy the workers, and make every effort to avoid
a possible strike.’
“Mr. Lisenby said that the union had complied with all pre-strike notices
as required by Federal and State laws, such as the Taft-Hartley Law. He said
this would be the first strike of any kind at Linn. Local 932 was organized
at Linn about a year and a half ago. The first union contract, signed with
management In November, 1952, called for a five cent general wage hike, plus
vacations with pay and paid holidays, Mr. Lisenby said.
“The contract which expires this November, had a six-months ‘wage
re-opener’ clause, Mr. Lisenby said. Accordingly, negotiations were begun
this past April for the 15-cent increase which, he said, the company
“The state mediation Service entered negotiations in May, Mr. Lisenby
reported, but no progress, he said, was made. Since then, he said, the union
had been waiting for a company offer ‘so they would be in a position to
grant a wage increase.’
“Mr. Ljsenby said he and a union committee met last Friday with General
Manager Buck and Superintendent Christiansen but, he added, ‘the company
said it couldn't afford to grant the wage increase.’ Mr. Lisenby reported
this to some 100 production and maintenance employees yesterday noon. After
which the strike vote was taken. Linn, he said, has about 130 employees and
a ‘non-union’ shop. The company is currently engaged in the production of
‘bomb-trailers,’ tractor-trailers and special units, mostly for the federal
No communication was heard from Linn management over the weekend and on
Monday, August 23, 1953 all 90 of Linn’s IAM members went on strike. On
Wednesday, the Sidney, New York local of the IAM, which represented the
workers of Bendix Aviation’s Scintilla Magneto Co., offered to assist their
‘brothers’ in Oneonta. The next day, (August 27, 1953) the Oneonta Start
“Scintilla IAM Ready To Provide $100,000 To Linn Men On Strike -
Mediation Hopes Dim On 4th Day
“Scintilla workers yesterday voted to raise $100,000, ‘if necessary,’ to
financially aid Linn strikers, as mediation hopes dimmed for settlement of
the Linn Coach and Truck Division strike, now in its fourth day.
“Amand E. Heck, business agent for Sidney's Scintilla Local 1528 of the
International Association of Machinists, said the union voted to open up its
treasury to the Linn strikers.
“‘We've got $50,000 available now,’ he said ‘and we can raise $100,000 if
necessary to give all out support in successfully concluding the strike.’
“Linn employees belonging to Local 932 IAM went on strike last Monday
seeking higher wages.
“Irving Lisenby, IAM grand lodge representative, said the strikers would
also receive $10 each week from the international IAM strike fund, as well
as unemployment insurance compensation.
“‘They're well taken care of,’ he said. Meanwhile, hopes dimmed for
mediation of the strike this week. William Buck, general manager at Linn,
said he had no plans for a mediation meeting, nor no date set for it...
‘We're meeting our schedule of production,’ he said, ‘and anybody who wants
to come back to work it welcome. It's up to the union to call for a meeting.
They're the ones that went out on strike.’
“Union officials countered, ‘we won't meet unless they (the company) have
an offer to make.’ Mr. Lisenby said he had been contacted by a state
mediation service official regarding a possible meeting Monday.
“Rumors persisted that, if the strike continues, Linn might leave
Oneonta. Said the general manager, Mr. Buck, ‘I’ve heard the rumors, but
there’s nothing official. However,’ he cautioned, ‘you never know what the
board of directors will do.’
“Mr. Heck of the IAM also heard the rumors. ‘If they’re not going to pay
a living wage, they might better move out. But we’ll follow,’ he warned,
‘wherever they go.’
“Sheriff W. Mills Miller deputized several Linn employees yesterday to
prevent any trouble (there was none), including Grant Shumway and Charles
The following Monday, August 31, 1953, the Oneonta Star reported on the
strike’s progress, or rather the lack thereof:
“Walkout Continues - Pickets From Triple Cities Asked To Aid Linn
“A call for pickets from the Triple Cities area to join those from Local
1529 of the International Association Machinist of Sidney to assist striking
workers at the Linn Coach Truck Division plant in Oneonta's West Side is the
latest development in the week old walkout.
“Amand E. Heck, IAM agent of Local 932, said he has a tentative meeting
set with Michael Salvomino; President of Local 1807, and Bernard Whitley,
recording secretary of Local 506, and their committees in the Arlington
Hotel, Binghamton, to enlist sympathy pickets for Linn Coach strike.
“Amid talks of recruiting more pickets, Mr. Heck is adamant that ‘it’s up
to the company to make the next move.’ A tentative meeting with Linn Coach
negotiators is slated for today, Mr. Heck said.
“Ninety Linn Coach employees have been out on strike seven days for what
amounts to 25 cents per hour wage increase across the board per employee.
“An increase in the original demands by Oneonta’s Local 932 of the IAM
was threatened by workers, according to Mr. Heck, if the company does not
come to immediate terms with the union.
“Said Mr. Heck, ‘We are ready and willing to resolve the strike at a
moment’s notice, but if the strike continues, the boys (the strikers) will
ask more money to compensate for the days they were out on strike.’
“Over the weekend the Linn Coach plant was shut down, but a skeleton crew
of pickets marched in front of the factory, assisted by union members from
the Scintilla Magneto Plant in Sidney.
“Additional pickets from Sidney today were expected to join picket line
at Linn Coach.”
Exactly one month into the strike IAM officials called a press conference
which was covered in the September, 23, 1953 Oneonta Star:
“Union Accuses Linn of Strike Breaking - Company Denies Charges
“Union officials yesterday accused the Linn Coach and Track Division of
‘strike breaking’ practices as the West End strike of production and
maintenance men entered its second month. Meanwhile, hopes for settlement
rose somewhat as a tentative mediation meeting was set for Thursday and
officials from Linn's parent company, Great American Industries, scheduled a
visit for today.
“Irving Lisenby, grand lodge representative for the striking
International Association of Machinists Workers, (IAM Local 933), hurled the
strike breaking charge after reading an advertisement in Wednesday's Star.
The ad called for full-time spray painters and welders. ‘The union considers
this an act of strike breaking,’ Mr. Lisenby said. ‘They (the company) have
been doing things like this since the strike started.’ The strike began
“Speaking for the union, Mr. Lisenby indicated steps would be taken to
prevent ‘strike breakers’ from entering Linn. ‘Certainly we'll make every
effort by lawful means to keep the people from going in strike breakers,’ he
said, ‘by whatever means is in the confines of the law.’
“The union, he pointed out, has already filed unfair labor charges
against the company with the National Labor Relations Board. However,
William Buck, general manager at Linn, said the ad was not an attempt to
take jobs away from the strikers. ‘We don't mean that,’ he said.
“‘We have hired a lot of welders and painters. They (the strikers) can
have their jobs back anytime. This is not anything against their jobs. We
need all the help we can get.’ Linn, he said, is knee-deep in work. Mr.
Lisenby said State Mediator Ernest W. Lanoue had approached him concerning a
possible mediation meeting Thursday. Buck said he ‘didn’t know’ whether the
meeting could he held Thursday.
“Robert Dunlap, president, Great American Industries, and Daniel Sutch,
vice-president, are scheduled to visit Linn today, Mr. Buck said, on an
Two weeks later Linn management agreed to the Union’s initial demand for
a five cent raise, and the strike ended. The Oneonta Star’s Pete Calisch
presented the details of the settlement in the papers October 13, 1953
“Wage Increases End 50-Day-Old Linn Coach Walkout - Back To Work Today;
Pay Raises Now In Effect; All Parties Glad It's Over.
“Fifty days of striking and picketing at Linn Coach and Truck Division
came to an end yesterday when company and union officials signed a 18-month
contract with wage increases effective immediately. Union leaders withdrew
their picket lines shortly after noon yesterday, and urged their members to
return to work at once at the West End plant, starting with the 7 a.m. shift
“Wages raises of mostly five cents an hour were granted to more than 100
production and maintenance employees. Several of the night shift workers
received an 11½ cent increase, depending on job classification.
“Union leaders expected the average wage to approximate $1.35 an hour. It
previously was, they said, $1.28. The new contract, they said, also calls
for changes in holiday eligibility, sick leave, leave of absence and
“‘We're sorry there had to be a strike,’ said Irving Lisenby, grand lodge
representative for the International Association of Machinists, and agent of
striking Local 932 of IAM. ‘We wished it could been settled across the board
without a strike,’ he said. ‘Eventually it has to be settled that way. With
a strike, everybody involved is hurt, and we're glad it's all over.’ The
contract, which runs until Nov. 17, 1954, he said, calls for an arbiter
concerning disputes of application or misunderstanding of the new contract.
“‘We’re kind of glad it’s over.’ Said Linn’s general manager, William
Buck. ‘I’m glad, and everybody else is too. Maybe we can get these defense
jobs done now. We hope that industrial peace can continue’
“The Linn strike started last August 24 in a dispute over wages. Picket
lines sprouted. There were instances of minor violence. Nails were strewn
across plant roadway entrances. Several pickets were ‘brushed’ by cars. Four
pickets were arrested.
"Three state mediation conferences brought no results. But a fourth, last
Friday, set the stage for successful bargaining and negotiating, according
to State Mediator W. Lanoue of Albany.
“‘It took a long time, but I could see that the agreement was all reached
except for working out the settlement details and language of the
agreement.’ Union leaders expressed confidence that peaceful relations can
be kept in forthcoming contract bargaining.
“‘We hope that the settlement of this particular dispute will set up a
basis for better relations with this company in future contract
negotiations.’ Said Amand Heck, business agent for Scintilla Local 1529, in
“‘We hope these relations can exist in the future,’ said Mr. Heck, who
was called in to assist the strike committee and Mr. Lisenby. The new
contract takes away the right of the worker to strike, it was said, before
the contract ends. It also calls for discussion of new wages by May.
“‘We tried to keep it as clean as possible,’ Mr. Lisenby said. ‘We had to
work over the most adverse conditions.’ And, he said, ‘we think we have a
way to settle wage disputes when and if they arise in May.’
“Both Mr. Heck and Mr. Lisenby agreed, ‘we’ve made a start in the right
“Others at yesterday’s strike ending conference in Mr. Buck’s office
included Union President Ernest Burton of Otego and the union strike
committee; Plant Comptroller James Friery, and Plant Superintendent John
Four months after the strike ended Linn Coach received another government
contract, but the amount was small, and unlike earlier commissions, it did
not involve the sale, manufacture or development of any new trailers or
vehicles. The February 10, 1954 Oneonta Star detailed the “security job”
which in reality was a simple mothballing operation:
“Linn Coach Awarded $172,000 Security Contract By Air Force
“Linn Coach and Truck Division has been awarded a new $172,000 contract
to prepare Air Force spare parts for storage, both in the United States and
Overseas. Under security regulations, the firm was not able to reveal the
nature of the equipment being prepared for storage. General Manager William
Buck paid it had been necessary to rent additional space to supplement the
facilities at the West End plant, and to employ eight or ten additional men
to do the work. Each of the parts prepared for storage must be meticulously
cleaned, and wrapped according to specifications for protection against
tampering, moisture or other damage. After packaging, the materials are
shipped to points designated by the Air Force for storage for future use.”
The handwriting was on the wall and with its government work winding
down, and no new products under development, Great American Industries began
looking for a buyer for their Oneonta subsidiary. The April 21, 1954 Oneonta
Star reported on the pending closure of the Linn Coach plant and what
progress had been made in the search for a buyer:
“New Industry Negotiating for Purchase of Linn Plant Here - May Expand
Operation If Deal is Closed.
“Sale of Linn Coach and Truck plant in West End to another industry,
which may operate it on a larger scale, is under negotiation, it was
announced yesterday by Manager William Buck. Mr. Buck said there is a good
chance that the transaction will be completed, and that the plant will
continue in operation where Linn leaves off.
“The Linn company will discontinue operation June 1, when existing
contracts are completed, Mr. Buck said. The decision was reached yesterday
after a two-day visit here by Robert Dunlap of Hartford. Conn., president of
Great American Industries, Inc., which has headquarters In Meriden, Conn.
“The West End plant is properly described as Linn Coach and Truck
Division of Great American Industries, a name given it when the parent
company took possession in 1946. At present the Linn plant is finishing work
on two Air Force contracts totaling about $1,500,000. One for ten dental
trailers, the other for 818 bomb trailers.
“These jobs will be finished mid-May, Mr. Buck said, and all other odds
and ends of work will be wound up by June 1, he added. Since the plant was
taken over eight years ago it has lived from one contract to another, mostly
government contracts, some for the government of Cuba but most for U. S.
government. The plant now has 126 employees, and within the past two months
it reached its largest personnel with 160 to 170.
“‘The plant is up for sale, and we are negotiating with an industry,
which I can't name now,’ Mr. Buck said. ‘There is a good chance that this
industry will take over and operate on a larger scale than we did. Our
president has a deep feeling for Oneonta, and would like to see things left
in good shape here. The men we employed are fine . . . they are intelligent
men and good workers, and the word has been passed along the line, it ought
to help in putting this plant under the operation of a new Industry.’”
Three weeks later, the Oneonta Star announced the pending sale of the
firm’s assets in its May 10, 1954 edition:
“Two Bids Made for Linn Plant; Deal May be Closed Today - One Firm May
Operate Plant, Employ 200
“Two prospective buyers of the Linn Coach and Truck Division plant in
West End will meet this forenoon with executives of the parent organization,
Great American Industries Inc., in the latter's main office in Meriden,
Connecticut. Whether the plant will be bought and operated by a new industry
likely will be determined at this conference.
“William Buck, manager of the Linn plant, said one firm wishes to buy
only the machinery with intent to move it while the other wishes to buy both
the building and machinery with intent to operate a new business employing
upwards of 200 persons.
“If a deal is closed, the new buyer will come to Oneonta tomorrow, Mr.
Buck said. The firm which wants the building and machinery, Mr. Buck said,
is located in Pennsylvania, and is engaged in fabrication of steel.
Apparently the other firm which wants only the machinery, is offering a
better price for it than the Pennsylvania company.
“Mr. Buck said Great American Industries hopes for sale of both to one
buyer ‘so nothing will he moved out of Oneonta . . . they want the business
kept here if possible.’
“Announcement was made recently that the Linn plant will close June 1. It
was also announced then that the company was in contact with a prospective
buyer who might continue the plant in operation.”
The meeting resulted in the sale of Linn Coach’s tools and equipment to
the Electric Equipment Company of 63 Curlew St., Rochester, New York
(Electric, not Electrical as the paper states below). Founded in 1934 by
Irving S. Norry, the firm specialized in purchasing electric-powered tools
and equipment of bankrupt firms, which were then warehoused and resold to
The Electric Equipment Co. was the sales subsidiary of the Norry Electric
Corp. which claimed to have the “World Largest Inventory” of electric motors
and generators. A related firm, the Ajax Electric Motor Corp., manufactured
new electric motors, starters and transformers which were distributed
through the other firms. The Electric Equipment Co. was reorganized as the Norry
Electric Equipment Co. sometime around 1970.
Norry also purchased the manufacturing facilities of failed businesses
and by the time of his death in 1997 owned commercial and industrial
properties in Indiana, Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania and Texas. Although
Norry’s electric companies faded from the scene in the 1990s, his commercial
real estate investment firm, the Norry Management Corp., remains a major
player in the field.
The May 20, 1954 edition of the Oneonta Star announced the sale of the
equipment to Norry:
"Linn Plant Machinery Sold. Buyer Also Bids For Building
“Daniel Sutch of Meriden, Conn., vice president of Great American
Industries Inc., announced in Oneonta last night that the company had sold
the machinery and equipment of Linn Coach and Truck Division, West End, to
The Electrical Equipment Co. of Rochester.
“About 300 pieces, Including, jigs and fixtures, are to be moved out by
July 1, Mr. Sutch said. Meanwhile, negotiations are under way for sale of
the building, but nothing definite has been concluded. “The building has
been privately offered, and if not accepted shortly it will offered
publicly," Mr. Sutch said.
“The Rochester firm "has indicated they have some interest in the
building but they haven't put down any money yet," Mr. Sutch said. From
other sources it was learned that “the price was the point at issue and if
agreement could be reached the Rochester firm would move in and operate a
business in the plant.
“Another possible buyer of the building is a steel fabricating firm in
Pennsylvania, but the height of the ceiling is a stumbling block, Mr. Sulch
said. A height of 20 feet is desired but the Linn building's ceiling is 15
feet at the highest. The Pennsylvania firm had considered taking the plant,
even with its low ceiling, and using it for manufacture of light stuff, but
no word has come from the firm in recent days.
“The Linn plant has virtually completed all its contract work, Mr. Sutch
said, and will shut down on June 1 as previously announced. Yesterday the
plant had 22 men on the payroll, and at its maximum it had 170 employees,
Manager William Buck said. Mr. Sutch said all personnel connected with the
Linn plant would be severed, Including Mr. Buck, who will return to his home
in Buffalo. "The company has made numerous attempts to secure products for
the plant, Mr. Sutch said, "but these have been unsuccessful, resulting in
recurrent prohibitive operational losses."
Linn Coach & Truck’s inventory and raw materials were purchased by the
Otsego Iron & Metal Corp. of Oneonta. For the next months, the firm ran the
following classified ad in a number of regional newspapers:
“Liquidating; Having purchased the complete inventory of raw material
and parts of the Linn Coach And Truck Co., we are offering same for sale at
prices way below manufacturer's cost.
“Tons-Tons-Tons; New prime steel in all shapes and forms. New aluminum
sheets and plates. New stainless steel sheets. Diamond plate, etc.
“1,001- Different New Parts For Building Trailers of All Kinds
“Paint: Hundreds of gallons paint, reducer, primers, copper tubing and
fittings, electric automotive supplies, hardware, bolts and nuts, all sizes
of steel and wood work tables and benches, vises. Many more items too
numerous to mention.
“Everything offered subject to prior sale. Otsego Iron & Metal Corp. Rose
Ave. Oneonta - Phone 1768”
For all intents and purposes the Linn Truck & Coach Company was gone.
However, James M. Friery, the firm’s comptroller and Frank E. Humphries, its
chief engineer, saw an opportunity and started making inquiries with the US
The government was interested and within the month the pair had been
awarded a half-million dollar contract. With financing provided by a small
group of Oneonta–based investors who included attorney Harold C. Vrooman,
Friery and Humphreys formed the Lyncoach & Truck Company and rented a 5,000
sq foot garage at 95 W. Broadway, Oneonta.
As the new firm did not share any of Linn Coach’s intellectual property
or assets, the Lyncoach story is continued on the
Lyncoach page which is located here.
© 2004 Mark Theobald - Coachbuilt.com