Gin Pole

Dec 20th, 2013 | By | Category: Jack Schrock's Blog

Jack SchrockJust a few words to offer some background information on the sometimes-tawdry reputation of T & R:

As the automobile industry emerged early in the 20th century, there were no salvage yards standing by to process wrecked vehicles. Neither were there suitable vehicles for recovery and then towing. So, I think both of these industries were born to further develop almost independent of each other.

Even before the formation of the Ernest Holmes Company in 1916, several skid-mounted recovery units were developed and marketed to the automotive garage industry. These were small and simple self-powered devices that could sit in the corner when not needed, or be hoisted and loaded on a flatbed truck for occasional “wrecker service.” And almost from the beginning, Americans started running into one another, which gave rise to the salvage yard, a/k/a “junk yard.” It was there that a utility unit was developed to move wrecked cars about, pull engines and other related work. There was nothing commercially available, so salvage operators soon fabricated what has come to be known as the “gin pole” rig. Generally, it was (and is) an extendible round pipe within a pipe that is attached to two stiff-legs and the whole rig could be raised or lowered as needed. (The oil patch still uses such rigs mounted on super heavy truck chassis/cabs.)

So in many communities, the local salvage yard was called to recover a wrecked vehicle because there was yet to be a wrecker service available. To a great extent, this is where T & R got its “trashy” reputation.

In 1916 Ernest Holmes Sr. developed one of the first automotive wreckers that went on to fully develop the towing and recovery industry as we know it today.