Sanford-Herbert Motor Truck Company
Former type Truck Manufacturing
Genre Trucks
Founded 1909
Founder(s) Charles Hamilton Sanford (May 28, 1873 - February 16, 1942)[1]
Defunct 1939
Headquarters Syracuse, New York, United States
Area served United States
Industry Automotive
Products Trucks, Truck parts

The Sanford-Herbert Motor Truck Company (1909-1939) was a manufacturer of trucks in Syracuse, New York.


The Sanford-Herbert Motor Truck Company was founded in 1909 and manufactured trucks in Syracuse for over 30 years until 1939.

Early productionEdit

Sanford-trucks 1912

Sanford Motor Truck Company - 1912 one-ton

The company was backed by prominent Syracusans such as; J. F. Durston, head of the Lefever Arms Company, which was making automobile transmissions as a side venture, and C. Hamilton Sanford, a local banking executive.[2]

The first truck produced was called the Sanbert and was designed by Charles Herbert. He had been an engineer for Franklin Automobile Company and served in the same capacity in the new organization until ill health forced him to retire in 1912. The Sanbert, like other Syracuse machines, used the air-cooled engine. Although the automobile industry was partial to water-cooled engines from the start, many of the early trucks produced elsewhere also used air-cooled engines. The Sanbert had a three-cylinder, two-stroke engine with 25-horsepower. The one-ton truck could move at a speed of 15 miles per hour (24 km/h).[2]

The trucks sold for US$1,500 and had a planetary or selective transmission system complete with "lubrication by splash and oil mixed with the gasoline." As with most early models, the seat was over the engine.[2] The wheelbase was 88-inch (2,200 mm) with standard tread and the vehicle had a Holley carburetor with gravity feed and steering wheel control. It also had a Bosch ignition, fixed control, air-cooling with belt-driven fan, cone clutch and double chain drive from countershaft to dead, rectangular section axle and Brown-Lipe steering gear included. The tires were 36-inch (910 mm) by 3-inch (76 mm).[3]

In 1912, the new Sanford truck was called the Model K had hard tires and oil lamps. The vehicle had also been increased to a 1.5-ton capacity and had a 4-cylinder, water-cooled Hazard engine manufactured in Rochester, New York. Sanford began to buy more of its parts from other manufacturers, "content to build bodies and assemble the rest."[2]

Sanford-Herbert Motor Truck Company reported in June 1912, what was claimed to be the largest single sale of trucks ever made to any one concern in the purchase of 325 trucks by the Atlantic Motor Truck Company of New York City which were delivered as fast as they could be built. The total sale represented US$487,500.[3]

Company facilitiesEdit

The original plant was located on Park Street just off Washington Square in Syracuse, New York. The three-story factory had a depth of 130 feet (40 m) and was originally built by Harvey A. Moyer for use as a typewriter factory.[4] The company turned out 150 trucks a year with a workforce of 50 men.[2]

In early 1912, the company was still located in Syracuse at Park and Wolf Streets.[5]

Name changeEdit

During May 1912, when company founder Herbert retired, the company shortened their name to Sanford Motor Truck Company. The company capital had doubled to US$50,000 and the plant was moved to 1970 West Fayette Street and St. Mark's Place where they had 25,000 square feet (2,300 m²) of space.[2]

The company motto was "Makers Always and Exclusively of One-Ton Trucks." Models advertised that year were the Chassis for US$1,600 and the Stake or Express body for US$1,750.[5]

The company touted "nine long years' work on a one-ton truck... there isn't anything about the truck that is strange or freakish. Its success is not remarkable because of anything unusual."[5]

Sanford-motor-truck-co 1913-0605

Sanford Motor Truck Company adds new factory addition, Automotive Industries - June 5, 1913 - The building is still standing and is current home of Strathmore Paints

Company expansionEdit

By June 1913, the company added a new addition to their factory at West Fayette Street and St. Mark's Place.[6]

Auto showsEdit

The Sanford Motor Truck Company made plans in December 1912, for the upcoming New York Automobile Show that took place the week of January 11, 1913, in Madison Square Gardens in New York City. They had one of the most complete motor truck exhibits at the Grand Central Palace where the commercial trucks were shown. The exhibit included a completed truck, a chassis and a 4-cylinder motor bisected and run by electricity in order to demonstrate to the visitors all the details of the Sanford engine. The motor was also lit by electricity. Section 39A on the main aisle at the palace had been reserved for the Sanford trucks.[7]

State Fair exhibitEdit

One of the most interesting exhibits in the Motor Truck division of the New York State Fair in late August 1914, was a small truck shown by the Sanford Motor Truck Company. This vehicle "encompasses many features uncommon to the usual run of the small commercial vehicles."[8]

According to F. F. Sanford, secretary and treasurer of the company, this particular model was designed without relation to any precedent established by "pleasure car practices" as had most commercial vehicles of this type on the market at that time. "The commercial vehicle is distinctly and decidedly different from the pleasure car and entirely different engineering and manufacturing methods must be used to successfully build and produce of this type."[8]

The Sanford Motor Truck Company products in the past had always been exclusively heavy vehicles, the newest model was only 3/4-ton and was composed of the products of America's foremost parts makers, "and is a standardized model in every respect."[8]

Sanford-trucks 1916-0507

Sanford Motor Truck Company - Model R with 2,500 pounds (1,100 kg) capacity, Syracuse Herald - May 7, 1916

Factory and showroomEdit

In a company advertisement in May 1916, Sanford touted their "Factory Service" and five chassis models from 3/4-ton up to 2-ton with "any style of body." The vehicles were "built in Old Syracuse with Syracuse capital, by Syracuse workmen."[9]

Model R was the latest model in 1916 and had a 2,500 pounds (1,100 kg) capacity. Sanford had recently delivered one to Pierce, Butler and Pierce Manufacturing Company. Two more were in preparation for delivery to the same firm.[9]

Company reorganizedEdit

Those behind the reorganized company in June 1917, were Edward A. Kingsbury, general manager; Edward A. Dauer, designer; and J. E. Gramlick, chief engineer. They had "active control" of the sales, management and production. According to the general manager, Kingsbury, the company was "backed by almost unlimited capital, and this capital will be used constructing the best line of motor trucks that money, men, materials and modern manufacturing methods can produce."[10]

The company was getting ready to expand their plant on North Geddes Street in June 1917; "in order "to take care of the big output planned to take care of the demands." The new truck line that year included a 1-ton, 2-ton internal gear drive and 2.5-ton, 3.5-ton and 5-ton worm drive models.[10]

The 3.5-ton model had a normal operating speed of 13 mph (21 km/h) on high gear and an immense tractive effort on low gear due to the relation of motor speed, power transmission and rear axle reduction ratio.[10]

WWI eraEdit

The new Sanford 3.5-ton truck showed a "consistently perfect performance" in the midst of rain and sleet in a 10,000 miles (16,000 km) test run which returned to Syracuse by August 12, 1917. The big truck, which started the test drive on July 5, was driven by James A. Nolan and J. A. Anderson who noted, "There was never any a hint of mechanical trouble of any sort since the big truck left the factory."[11]

General sales manager, A. E. Dauer of the Sanford Motor Truck Company, who accompanied the truck to "explain its good points to dealers", was "well satisfied" with the result of the trip. The only trouble the truck gave, according to Dauer was "putting in water and gasoline."[11]

Another problem was encountered when a decrepit bridge in the Alleghany Mountains caved in under the weight of the truck, "leaving it suspended in mid-air on the crossbeams." After five hours of strenuous work in the midst of a torrential downpour, the truck was finally "jacked off" safely.[11]

The Syracusans traveled to Buffalo, Erie, Pittsburg across the mountains it was a "steady climb in steady rain." So bad were the roads on this part of the run, that at one place it took five hours to drive 18 miles (29 km). After Pittsburg, the truck headed to Baltimore, Philadelphia and then New York City. Dealers in Scranton and Binghamton, New York, looked over the truck and finally, dealers in New England had a "chance to inspect the latest Sanford product."[11]

Sanford-trucks 1920-0303

Sanford Motor Truck Company - Help Wanted, Syracuse Herald - March 3, 1920

The dealers interviewed by Dauer were "all enthusiastic about the Sanford truck" and he signed a number of new contracts. The company was encouraged that "pleasure car dealers" were discovering the possibilities of the "motor truck game." The sales manager believed that "once the country adjusts itself to World War I, the truck business will be better than ever."[11]

The importance of motor trucks during that period was emphasized by the fact that railroads were reducing the number of trains for "the carrying of freight" due to the war. Motor trucks were seen as a way to supplement the railroad deliveries. "The carrying of freight by motor trucks and this business will grow rapidly as the war goes on and more and more trains are eliminated."[11]


By May 1918, E. A. Kingsbury, general manager, visited Sanford dealers around the country in New York City, New Haven, Allentown, Philadelphia and other "eastern points." The truck company was "doing the largest business in its history." During the past several months, agency connections were set up in Pittsburg, Kansas City and Newark.[12]

Recent distributors appointed in New York State included Lawrence Motor Sales Corp. of New York City, Oswego County Auto Company of Oswego, New York, W. Ondy Smith in Schenectady, New York and R. E. Lent in Ossining, New York.[12] The Pittsburg "house" was the leading Overland dealer and one of the most representative auto houses in Pennsylvania.[12]

By October 1919, Durston Sales Company located at 107 St. Mark's Avenue in Syracuse, were distributors of Sanford Motor Trucks. Local company, Crucible Steel Company had just ordered a fleet of Sanford trucks for their steel operation at Sanderson Works.[13]

Standardized featuresEdit

These items were considered "time tested standardized features" on all Sanford vehicles;[13]

  • Sheldon front axle
  • Brown-Lipe transmission
  • Borg & Beck clutch
  • Perfection springs
  • Pierce governors
  • Bosch or Eiseman magnetos
  • Spicer universal joints
  • Fin and Tube radiator
  • Continental motor
  • Sheldon worm drive rear axle
  • Stromberg carburetor
  • Ross steering gear
  • Parish frame

Chief engineerEdit

J. E. Gramlich returned to his "former" position as chief engineer at Sanford Motor Truck Company in December 1921. Previously, he had been chief engineer for Watson Wagon Works of Canastota, New York, builders of dump wagons and motor trucks. Gramlich was a graduate of Syracuse University and a "pioneer designer" of motor trucks. For several years he was chief engineer of the Chase Motor Truck Company and left that position in 1918 and associated with Edward A. Kingsbury, secretary and general manager of the Sanford Motor Truck Company.[14]

Gramlich designed the 2.5-ton, 3.5-ton and 5-ton truck models for the company. To supplement its line of "heavy duty" trucks and "to meet an insistent demand from dealers and owners for light, strong and speedy trucks," the company was getting ready to introduce a 1.5-ton model which was equipped with all the latest features such as electric lighting and starting outfits, pneumatic cord tires and "other modern devices." The new truck was capable of 25 miles per hour (40 km/h) "if necessary." Gramlich had been working for many months on the design "which promises to be the last word in design, construction and equipment."[14]

Company officersEdit

C. Hamilton Sanford co-founded the company in 1909 with Charles Herbert who designed the first truck called the Sanbert.[2]

In August 1914, F. F. Sanford, was secretary and treasurer of the company.[8]

The personnel of the company in June 1917, included; J. F. Durston, president who was also vice president of National Bank of Syracuse, treasurer of Durston Gear Company, director of Syracuse Savings Bank and Great Lakes Steamship Company as well as Mack-Miller Candle Company and Salina Solar Salt Company.[10]

Vice president was C. Hamilton Sanford who was also president of National Bank of Syracuse and director of New York and Dominion Company and Morris Plan Bank of Syracuse. He was also president of Syracuse Clearing House.[10]

During 1917, the secretary and treasurer was F. F. Sanford and the general manager was Edward A. Kingsbury, formerly secretary, general manager and treasurer of Chase Motor Truck Company. In addition, chief engineer and designer, J. E. Gramlich and assistant engineer, W. F. Himmelahaudt both formerly occupied the same positions at Chase.[10]

By December 1921, Edward A. Kingsbury, was named secretary and general manager of the Sanford Motor Truck Company again.[14] It was announced in March 1922, that Kingsbury, former secretary and treasurer of the Chase Motor Truck Company, had joined Sanford after it was reported in the local press that "rumors have been circulated locally, that the Chase Motor Truck Company was to be "taken over" by some concern outside the city. In each case, A. M. Chase, president of the company discounted the rumors.[15]

C. Hamilton Sanford succeeded the late J. Frank Durston as president of the concern in 1921.[1]

Sanford-trucks 1918

Sanford Motor Truck Company, 1918


By 1918, Sanford had five models in production:

  • Model Q - Cost US$1,290 - Capacity 1,500 pounds (680 kg)
  • Model R - Cost US$1,370 - Capacity 2,500 pounds (1,100 kg)
  • Model S - Cost US$2,100 - Capacity 4,000 pounds (1,800 kg)

All the models had 4-cylinders, Splitdorf ignitions with disc clutch and first gear final drive.[16]

Later yearsEdit

By 1930, Sanford Motor Truck Company had turned exclusively to the manufacture of fire equipment. Although motor truck sales had reached 400 vehicles by 1929, the motor truck branch of the plant was discontinued.[2]

In 1939, Sanford was one of 18 manufacturers competing for the average annual market of 100 fire engines in the United States.[2]


Sanford-motor-truck-co 1912-1001

Sanford Motor Truck Company - Advertisement, Power Trucks - 1912

Sanford-trucks 1916-0430

"Sanford Trucks - Are Built to Endure" - Syracuse Herald - April 30, 1916

Sanford-trucks 1919-1005

Sanford Motor Truck Company - Advertisement - Syracuse Herald - October 5, 1919

References Edit

Wikimedia Commons has media related to:
  1. 1.0 1.1 "Funeral Services Are Held For C. Hamilton Sanford" (February 17, 1942). Retrieved on September 12, 2010. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 "Local Autos Once Sold Widely" (March 20, 1939). Retrieved on September 9, 2010. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 Automotive Industries, Volume 26. The Automobile Weekly, The Class Journal Company, New York, New York, June, 1912. Retrieved on 2010-07-18. 
  4. "3-Alarm Fire Hits Plant" (January 18, 1946). Retrieved on September 12, 2010. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Power Wagon, Issues 92-97. The Power Wagon, Chicago, Illinois - June, 1912. Retrieved on September 10, 2010. 
  6. Automotive Industries, Volume 28. The Class Journal Company, New York, New York - June, 1913. Retrieved on September 10, 2010. 
  7. "Local Exhibitors at New York Show" (December 29, 1912). Retrieved on September 18, 2010. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 "Truck Company Has Interesting Exhibit" (August 30, 1914). Retrieved on September 12, 2010. 
  9. 9.0 9.1 "Sanford Motor Truck Company" (May 7, 1916). Retrieved on September 12, 2010. 
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 10.5 "Five Models to be Built Here by Sanford Co." (June 17, 1917). Retrieved on September 12, 2010. 
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 11.5 "Sanford Truck Returns After Hard Journey" (August 12, 1917). Retrieved on September 12, 2010. 
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 "Sanford Truck Has New Dealers" (May 12, 1918). Retrieved on September 12, 2010. 
  13. 13.0 13.1 "Sanford Motor Truck" (October 5, 1919). Retrieved on September 12, 2010. 
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 "J. E. Gramlich Returns to Sanford Motor Co." (December 25, 1921). Retrieved on September 12, 2010. 
  15. "Say Kingsbury Has Left Chase Company" (March 22, 1917). Retrieved on September 12, 2010. 
  16. The Horseless age: the automobile trade magazine, Volume 37. E. P. Ingersoll, New York, New York, July 9, 1918. Retrieved on September 14, 2010. 

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