National Casket Company - 1920s-1930s - Boston, Massachusetts
|During 1928 and 1929, 200 Kissel-built coaches were distributed through
the National Casket Company of Boston, Massachusetts and called National-Kissels. Available with a choice of two
straight-eights (either 126hp or 95hp) or a much less expensive 73hp six, all three engines were available as
side-loading funeral coaches or ambulances. A special town car featuring an open driver's position was offered on
the 126hp White-Eagle equipped chassis and included an incredibly long wheelbase of 162". Unfortunately, a dispute
had developed between Kissel's body supplier, Eureka and the Henney Motor Company surrounding Eureka's 3-way casket
table. As National wished to avoid being a party to any lawsuits threatened by Henney, they ended their distribution
of the Eureka-bodied Kissel coaches, forcing Kissel into receivership during September 1930. Ironically, the
National Casket Company now turned to REO for a new line of funeral vehicle chassis that were bodied by Eureka's
1931 National Casket Company funeral coaches were marketed as NU-3-Ways and were equipped with Heise patented casket tables mounted in side-loading Henney bodies placed on 125hp straight-8 REO chassis with a 152" wheelbase. The combination of the Amos Northrup-designed REO chassis and Henney's attractive long and low bodies made for one very attractive funeral coach.
Lower-priced 1932 National-REOs were mounted on the 152" wheelbase 85hp Flying-Cloud 6 chassis while more expensive coaches were built on a more powerful 159" or 162" wheelbase 125hp straight-8 Royale chassis. Henney's NU-3-Way casket table was offered on all of the REO 8-cylinder chassis but not on the less-expensive 6. National-REO bodies were identical to regular Henneys and were offered in rear-loading, side-loading, and 3-way funeral coaches. Service cars, ambulances and combination coaches were also available and could be delivered as town cars or totally-enclosed vehicles.
Henney offered the industry's first electric-powered casket table in 1932 which was designed by William H. Heise, the designer of the original 3-way table. A centrally located motor was placed under the casket frame in a specially designed hump or "mound" that could be operated from either side of the vehicle using switches imbedded in the compartment walls. The "electric" option was available on select Henney and National-REO NU-3-Way coaches.
The National Casket Company of Boston, Mass., marketed hearses under its own name in the late 1920s and early 1930s, first on Kissel chassis and later on Reo,. The bodies for these National-Kissels and National-Reos were built by the Henney Motor Company of Freeport, III.
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