Air Conditioned Wrecker

Jun 7th, 2013 | By | Category: Jack Schrock's Blog

Long before auto air conditioning was commonplace, the summer heat here in the Southwest made the long, hot summer days longer than they actually were. My dad was a very practical engineer and had participated in a project to develop an add-on auto air conditioner in the late 40s. We spent an entire summer in San Antonio where he and I worked to perfect the unit that came to be known as “Car-ditionaire.” But, the funding ran out before we could get into production so the operation was shut down.

Fast forward to the early 50s at a time when dad was driving a factory demo throughout the Southwest for the Ernest Holmes Company. The summertime heat was brutal forcing him to buy a factory add-on AC. He asked me to meet him one weekend in Galveston at Tony Brothers Garage where we were to install the unit.

I brought our gauges, halide torch and other tools and the two of us spent the better part of a day installing the unit. And, we both soon learned that installing an AC system in a two-ton chassis is a special challenge requiring either longer legs or several ladders. Anyway, we started early and finished late and were covered with grease and dirt from head to toe. We charged the unit with Freon and, presto, we soon had cold air coming out of the evaporator mounted under the dash and Tony thought that was fantastic.

Considering his own experience with summer heat, Tony thought this was a tremendous improvement and wanted to add some of these “ice machines” as he called them to his wrecker fleet, especially to the HD that he drove. Now understand that dad wasn’t paying Tony for the use of his garage, tools, etc. so he was somewhat indebted to him. And Tony was ready to call in that marker. In fact, he wanted to schedule the very first installation the following weekend, which was not convenient to anyone but Tony.

Somehow that installation never happened but every time I saw Tony he would ask me when we were going to install that AC for him.