23 Survival Skills that Our Great Grandparents Knew (That Most of Us Have Forgotten)

When you look at the technology boom of the last century, you could say that we’ve come a long way. We’ve eradicated diseases, made international travel and communication possible, and come up with all sorts of gadgets to make our lives “easier.”

​While all of this technology may seem like a good thing, it is having the disastrous effect of making us utterly and completely dependent on it.  Considering our dependency on technology, to some degree, its putting our very survival in jeopardy in terms of our ability to survive sustained periods of time without it.

​These 23 survival skills below are examples of common knowledge things that our ancestors used to know and practice in their everyday lives. Remember, there was a time when people were self-reliant and didn’t depend on a chain of systems – electronics, internet and other technology, to get them through their days, years and lives.

​And also remember that, YES, it is possible to regain this self-­reliance and take control of your own survival.

1. Gardening

In 1900, only 13% of the US population lived in urban areas. The rest lived mostly in rural areas and many worked as farmers. Today, half of all people live in cities and the figure is expected to grow.

In the cramped living conditions of cities, it is no wonder that people have stopped gardening. For them, food is something that you get at the supermarket and not pick from the ground.

​To urban dwellers, growing a garden might seem like a simple or even fun task, with the hardest part of it being all those weeds to deal with. But gardening (at least in a way which will actually produce you a substantial amount of food) is actually a task which requires vast amounts of knowledge.

​Here are just some of the things you need to know to grow food effectively:

  1. ​Soil conditions
  2. Crop rotation patterns
  3. Pruning
  4. Composting
  5. Sun exposure charting
  6. Seed germination
  7. Planter building
  8. Pest control
  9. Tool care and maintenance

In a SHFT situation where food is a commodity that you can’t get at the supermarket anymore, you will wish you knew these skills so you could produce your own food.

Better to start learning these skills now than when your life actually depends on it!

​2. Raising Animals

feeding cows

We’ve all heard the stories about the farmer having to get up at the rooster’s crow to milk the cows and feed the animals. Raising animals won’t just teach you responsibility (which is one trait our great grandparents definitely had more of than us). When you are responsible for animals, you learn everything that goes into caring for a living creature.

​You will get really good at working with wire for all those times you need to make repairs to the fence – a skill which will come in handy if you ever need to string barbed wire around the perimeter of your home for a SHFT defense system.

You will get really good at diagnosing and treating animal diseases – a useful skill for when no doctors or medicines are available.

​You will get good at building coops and pens — a skill that you can apply to building a survival shelter in Bug Out situations.

​3. Hunting

Hunters butchering kill

In 2013, an Austin-based startup created an “auto-aim” rifle which automatically locks onto the target and tracks it. Whether it is a goose flying in the sky or a deer bounding away, you are guaranteed to get a hit. This is yet another example of how technology is destroying our self-reliance.

​Hunting used to be a common pastime, and many schools even had hunting clubs and the students would bring their rifles to school and keep them in their lockers (good luck getting that started again in our schools!). Yes, there still are plenty of people who hunt, but the numbers have dwindled.

​Even the people who still do hunt today don’t do it in the way that our great grandparents did. Hunting usually means setting some bait, climbing into a watch tower, and waiting until a deer comes around to take your shot.

​By contrast, our great grandparents hunted by staking out animals – a skill which required them to be very familiar with animal habits and tracks. They could walk quietly and undetected through the woods and patiently wait for the right opportunity to get a shot at a large prize.

​Along with hunting with rifles, our great grandparents also knew how to set up snares to catch smaller game.

In a SHFT situation, it is these snares which will probably be most useful for survival.

Unlike rifles, snares don’t require any ammo, they don’t make a loud noise which will give away your location, and are more likely to get a catch since small animals are found in greater abundance.

​4. Preparing Meals from Scratch

woman making food

FEMA recommends that everyone keep a supply of non-perishable foods like dry beans and flour in their homes in case of a disaster. The irony of this is that many people have absolutely no clue on how to prepare these dry foods.

As for the 50lbs of flour that some people have stockpiled, I hope they like eating raw flour – because it takes some knowledge to turn flour into bread!

Processed foods make up approximately 70% of the American diet, and only a small percentage of Americans are cooking at home. When they aren’t eating fast food or take out, they are eating frozen dinners and meals which came from boxes.

Our great grandparents didn’t have 45 different types of frozen lasagna to choose from. Heck, they didn’t even have supermarkets, never mind freezer sections!

They make food from scratch out of necessity, and it was nutritious and wholesome without needing any fancy ingredients.​

​5. Preserving Food

Thanks to our complex food storage and distribution systems, we can have foods like bananas and cucumber year round – never mind that the bananas probably grew over 1,000 miles from where you live or that cucumbers are only in season in warm months.

​Our grandparents and great-grandparents didn’t have this. Instead, they would take advantage of the food seasons. They’d produce a surplus and preserve it for times of scarcity.

Thanks to the food revolution that is occurring, there are increasingly more young people who have gardens and are doing things like home canning.  However, we could really step this up a notch and start teaching people food preservation skills like:​

  1. Lacto-fermentation
  2. Pickling
  3. Smoking
  4. Dry salting
  5. Curing
  6. Drying
  7. Cellaring

6. Not Wasting Food

When you have to grow, forage, and hunt for your food, you don’t take it for granted. This isn’t something which can be said of today’s generation!

​Consider that the average American family throws away 1/4 of the food they buy, adding up to a total of approximately $1,365 to $2,275 annually. Our great grandparents would be horrified!

The reason that people are so willing to toss food into the trash is because they assume that they can always go to the supermarket and get more.

Our great grandparents and grandparents lived through the Great Depression and World Wars I and II. They knew that crises can strike at any time and leave you hungry and deprived.

So, when you have surplus, you put some aside for those rainy days – something we should all be doing right now by investing in a long-term food storage supply.

7. Natural First Aid

Did you know that you can stop bleeding with cayenne pepper, or that thyme is a natural remedy for coughs?

You might not, but your great grandparents certainly did.

Before the era of superhighways and cheap cars, people didn’t have easy access to doctors. They did things themselves. When SHFT and you’ve got a case of bad diarrhea from drinking dirty water, you will wish you could call up your grandparents and ask for advice.

8. How to Navigate (without a GPS)

If you have kids, then you probably know about the children’s show Dora the Explorer. When Dora goes on adventures, she calls on her friend Map to get instructions. Except that Dora doesn’t actually read Map. She just tells Map where she wants to go and Map tells her how to get there.

The first time I watched that show with my daughter, I thought it was ridiculous: You just can’t say the name of where you want to go and expect map to know everything! Then I realized that Map is exactly the same as the GPS systems which virtually everyone today relies on.

Once the grid goes down and everyone’s GPS is fried, you are going to have a lot of people wandering around lost in their own cities.​

To increase your chances of survival in an emergency situation, you can take these steps to learn more map reading skills and familiarize yourself with your area:

  1. ​Hang a map of your local area in your home so you can study its layout.
  2. Look at your map from a tactical standpoint and devise exit strategies and pinpoint safe zones.
  3. Determine where you will go in a disaster situation where you must evacuate; chart multiple routes from your home to this location.
  4. Go for a hike in the woods with a map and a compass.
  5. Sign up for your local orienteering group.
  6. Drive around your neighborhood without a map or GPS to familiarize yourself with it.

9. Home Maintenance

How many people today know how to do even the most basic of home maintenance or repairs, like putting up shelves or fixing a leaking pipe?

In a serious disaster situation, these skills are going to go a long way to your survival – such as when to put those basic carpentry skills to use when building a shelter. However, there doesn’t have to be a major SHTF disaster to get use out of these skills.

In a local disaster such as a hurricane (and these are happening with higher frequency), it is common to have broken windows, roofs, and doors. You must be able to fix these so your home remains safe and livable until you are able to clean up or evacuate.​

At the bare minimum, everyone should know the following three things. After you’ve got these down, you can gradually build up your skills by fixing home maintenance issues as they arise.​

  1. ​How to shut off the water main: Make sure you and all your family members know where the water main is located and how to shut it off. If a water supply pipe gets damaged during a disaster situation, you don’t want to confound the disaster by having water flooding into your house.
  2. How to shut off the gas main: This is especially important for earthquakes and other natural disasters as gas supply pipes are often damaged. The leaking gas can kill you!
  3. How to board up a window: Before a hurricane, you should always board up windows to prevent glass from breaking and flying everywhere. You’ll also need to board up windows before evacuating to protect your home from looters, and to fix any broken windows for protection against the elements.

10. How to Reuse Everything

In one memoir about growing up in the Great Depression, a woman tells about how her family salvaged socks which got holes in them. The holes usually appeared in the toes or heel. The hole would be sewn up, causing the sock to be slightly smaller – so the sock would get passed down to the next child in line.

When that child got a hole in the socks, they’d be sewn up once again and passed down. So it would continue until the socks were too small to be used. No, the socks still didn’t get thrown away. At that point, they’d be used for cleaning and scrubbing floors.

When you don’t have much, you learn how to make use of every single thing you can find. Luckily, this life skill is becoming popular again. You can see examples of people making all sorts of furniture, decor, and kids’ crafts out of old plastic bottles, salvaged wood, and so forth.

Take a look in your own trash can. What items are in there? Which of these items could be used in a survival situation?

11. Memorizing Phone Numbers

This might seem like a joke, but think about it for a minute. If a disaster occurred and your mobile phone was damaged, would you be able to call your loved ones?

​Long before cell phones allowed us to make a call with a single tap, people actually memorized the phone numbers of their family, friends, and doctors.

​If you don’t think that you will be able to memorize all your important numbers, then at least WRITE THEM DOWN ON PAPER. Do not only store your phone numbers on your computer or in the cloud.

Yes, the digital method of storing phone numbers might be fine for situations like if your cell phone is stolen. But what if the grid goes down and you can’t get online and your cell is dead?

Make a paper list of important contents with their phone numbers and addresses. Put this list in a waterproof sleeve and put it with all of your other important survival documents.

12. Cultivating Community

It wasn’t that long ago that neighbors knew each other and could rely on each other for things like the proverbial cup of sugar.

They did things like host dinner parties, block parties, and gossiped with each other. Today, most people don’t even know what their neighbors’ names are, nevertheless had any sort of bond with them. The most socializing we do is through Facebook.

Being friendly with your neighbors might not seem like a survival skill, but it might be the one which ultimately saves your life. Humans are social creatures and our main strength – and reason we’ve survived despite being weaker and slower than predators – is strength in numbers.​

When the SHTF (Sh** Hits The Fan), wouldn’t you rather be able to call on your neighbors to help you defend the perimeter and share your skills, or would you rather have them come banging on your door to steal your supplies?

13. Sewing

Our grandparents could have easily went to the store and purchased clothes. Or, if they lived far from a city, they could have hired a dressmaker to make their clothes. However, sewing (as well as other skills like crocheting, knitting, and darning) were more than just skills women were expected to know.

As Gutenberg history of sewing says,

“Sewing was for many a routine component of a household economy, usually (but not always) cheaper than buying items ready-made…Sewing represented the home, women’s conventional role of caring for her family, and was associated with concepts of thrift, discipline, domestic production, even sexual morality. “

​14. Hand Washing Clothes

In the 1950s, only 33% of households had a washing machineToday, nearly all homes have one.  As for the homes without them? They likely go to a laundromat.

How many people would be able to wash their clothes efficiently without a washing machine?  Imagine a situation where the grid has gone down and the washing machines don’t work plus there isn’t any running water!

A good solution? How about this simple DIY bucket washing machine.

15. Bartering

In history, farmers didn’t have much money but would have goods. They used these to barter with members of the community for things they needed. When the Great Depression struck, many people survived by bartering.

​Bartering is still very common in many parts of the world.

Speaking personally, I can say how uncomfortable I felt the first time I had to barter at a market in East Asia. It got easier (and the amounts I paid became much lower) – but it took time to develop this skill. Should the world economy crash and we needed to rely on bartering again, most of us would struggle.

​16. Marksmanship

Marksmanship is something that we still respect and honor through events like the Olympics and ISSF.  However, the percentage of people who know and utilize this skill is in a decline. Heck, even “trained” police officers are lacking marksmanship skills!

Luckily, there are some organizations – like Project Appleseed – which are hoping to revive this lost skill for future generations.

17. Making their Own Cleaning Products

You’ve probably heard that our great-grandparents used to make soap out of animal fat, but do you have any clue on how to actually do it?

If there were a major economic collapse or grid failure, most of us would be incredibly dirty and we’d all be facing a major hygiene problem!

18. Foraging for Food

When we picture our great-grandparents’ and grandparents’ lives on the farm, we picture them gardening and tending the animals – but we tend to omit the foraging part.

Yet, our grandparents used to take long walks into wild fields and forests to gather mushrooms, tubers, leafy greens, berries, and many other wild edibles.

Foraging is a long part of our history, and it was how our grandparents were able to supplement their food and get greater diversity.  Luckily, foraging is making a comeback with youth but the knowledge is mostly lost and relegating to a few “foolproof” species of edible plants.

If you want to learn foraging, how about starting with these edible plants found near your home.

19. Warming a Home

In our great-grandparents’ time, wood stoves were the most common way of warming a home during the cold months. They’d also employ various tricks, like using “bed warmers” filled with coals.

​In the 1900s, “instant heating” methods started to become more common.  However, these are anything but “instant” by our standards. You would have to load coal into a furnace, using guesswork to determine how much coal to use.

Today’s generation would probably freeze to death without their central heating – like the 24 people who died from freezing during a power outage.

20. Butchering

Because hunting and raising animals was an important part of life, you can bet that they also knew how to butcher it.  My grandparents would even make sure to use every single part of the animal, making “head cheese” from parts that people today say are too gross to eat.

The number of hunters in America is declining (and the rest of the modern world).  As we lose hunters, we also lose the skill of butchering animals.

21. Cloth Diapering

My wife and I used cloth diapers for our daughter when she was born. We were surprised at how much backlash we got for this.

​“Isn’t it disgusting!”

​“You put those dirty poop diapers in the washing machine where your normal clothes go!?!?”

​I tried to explain that it’s not that much different to disposable diapers: You just put the cloth diaper into a bin instead of the trash. And we have a washing machine – it isn’t even like we are washing the diapers by hand!

In this sense, I personally think that cloth diapering isn’t just a lost survival skill. It is a lost mentality.

22. Entertaining Themselves

Our grandparents didn’t have TV growing up, not to mention eBooks, the internet, YouTube, video games, the dozens of other forms of instant-entertainment that we have today.

​They probably did have radio, but your great-grandparents probably didn’t.  The first commercial radio station didn’t broadcast until 1920.  Radio became popular quickly but, by 1930, still less than half of American households had a radio.  Radio was like the internet back then.

Without instant-entertainment, our grandparents had to entertain themselves.

​They read the Bible.

They told stories.

They made toys (my favorite example being a balloon made from a pig bladder).

These might not seem like survival skills, but entertainment is important for stress relief so you can better cope with everyday survival.

​23. Making Do

The average American goes to the grocery store 1.6 times per week. That doesn’t include the number of trips to other stores like hardware stores.  Nor does the figure include all of the online shopping we do for random items.

With goods so readily accessible today, our generation has never learned to “make do” with what we have. Instead, we just buy whatever is missing.

This easy access of goods has killed our creativity and problem-solving skills.

It is a bit scary to imagine what would happen to this generation if we suddenly had to learn to make do with what was available!

​How do you feel about this? Are we losing our self-reliance?

Image credits:

Women of the Australian Women’s Land Arm” (CC BY-NC 2.0) by State Library Victoria Collections 1930” (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) by YlvaS

Source: Primal Survivor & WIH Resource Group All rights reserved

Also Read this great book by Author Tracy Todaro Wallace: “Forget What You Think You Know“, now on Amazon at https://goo.gl/1BBxm6



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The History of the Automated Side Loader – How One Small City Changed The Industry Forever

The modern refuse truck operator has it pretty easy today compared to his peers of yesteryear. Gone are the days of the “Vic Tanney” bodies and the driver lugging around 55 gallon drums on their backs. For haulers and drivers who collected trash for the majority of their lives, they were lucky if they could continue to stand up straight by the time they were 50 and their bodies weren’t completely broken. In 1968, the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that the injury rate among refuse collectors was higher than the rate for coal miners, police officer, firefighter or loggers. A report put out between 1969 to 1971 showed that nationally there were 98.8 disabling accidents per million man hours worked in refuse collection. Those numbers are staggering when compared with the next closest industry, police departments, which had 48.15 accidents per million man hours. A fact not surprising considering the nature of the job. Workers were required to jump on and off the truck continually, handle hundreds of containers, many of which were overweight and easy to drop.

An average worker could lift up to 6 tons a day and walk up to 11 miles in all type of weather, which led to multiple injuries and massive insurance claims to the hauler (if they offered insurance) and time away from work. This is why, even today, refuse collection is listed in the Top 10 most dangerous jobs in America. Why do you think so many of the articles in this publication and those like it are filled with safety related items? It’s a major concern and issue even with the advanced technology modern refuse trucks are built upon.

Now there has always been a drive in the industry from the truck manufacturers to deliver the highest compaction body to maximize on-route time over the competition yet they all required one key ingredient before the early 1980s: manual loading. Commercial collection already saw vast improvements in safety, productivity and cleanliness with the introduction of the Front End Loaders (the industry’s first automated truck) in the 1950s. Unfortunately, residential drivers wouldn’t start seeing some relief for another few decades. Let’s explore this history more in-depth.

Automated Side Loader

The City that Birthed a Revolution

Scottsdale, Arizona, a town northeast of Phoenix, incorporated in 1954 with a population of 2,032. After having a major annexation in 1961 that more than doubled its population, the city took over refuse collection from private contractors in March 1964. From 1960 to 1970, the city population increased from 10,026 to 67,823. The new Refuse Division was put under the direction of Marc Stragier, the director of Public Works. Looking at all the available systems at the time, Scottsdale chose to use the recently developed “Refuse Train” system used in many parts of the country. Even though the Train method was an improvement over the use of rear loaders, it still carried all the negative attributes of manual collection. Scottsdale also experienced a high personnel turnover rate due to the 110+ degree working conditions during summer months.

In 1965, the City Manager, Assistant City manager and three Department Heads formed a brainstorming club apart from the city to develop and promote new ideas. They called themselves Government Innovators and among some of the ideas to emerge was the concept of mechanized refuse collection. After searching for a body manufacturer to partner and develop the idea with, Marc found George Morrison, owner of Western Body and Hoist in Los Angeles. After some convincing and motivation, the creative juices in George’s head started to flow and a few months later, George and his lead engineer Otto Ganter met with Marc to show him a concept idea called the “Barrel Snatcher” based off their Wesco-Jet Front Loader platform.

Taking the idea and drawing to Bill Donaldson, Scottsdale City Manager for final approval, the City applied for a Federal grant to develop a mechanized residential refuse collection system. After the initial application was sent back, the Department of Health, Education and Welfare sent a representative down to help edit and draft a second application. The new application proposed a two-phase demonstration: Phase 1—to determine if the concept was practical using city provided containers and if successful; Phase 2—build the sophisticated Barrel Snatcher truck to prove mechanized collection was economical and cost effective. The second draft was approved and awarded in February 1969 with the grant period lasting from March 1969 to June 1972.

Automated Side Loader

Phase 1: Godzilla

Now faced with building a proof of concept truck, it was decided to use a 1964 International Lodal Front Loader not in active service as the test bed. Marc designed the mechanical grabber assembly to attach to the front of the arms and after $2,000 in repairs were made to the truck to make it useable, construction and modifications began. The mechanic in charge of creating the grabber assembly, Chuck Kalinowski, remembers constructing the mechanism, “I didn’t know that Marc was in the shop one day and I was working on the slide, trying to figure out what he wanted there for the arm to grab the container. So I tried two or three different things, you know, just things we had around the place here. I said ‘Aw, for crying out loud, they want you to build something but they won’t give you the material, they want you to build a darned monster… a Godzilla!’ Marc was standing right behind me and from that time on, that’s what it was called.”

After some trial and error, Godzilla was finally ready to go on route in August 1969. The first container it picked up slipped through the grabber and fell into the hopper. Next, the brakes locked up and truck couldn’t be moved. After modifications and repairs, the truck operated for the next six months proving the concept of mechanized collection was sound.

An often overlooked aspect of creating and later adopting a mechanized collection system is the container cost associated with it. For the city, to order a “set” of containers and collection trucks ran about $40,000 (pre-additional modification) for equipment and about $120,000 the containers in 1970 dollars. Scottsdale had many alley routes and after a survey, they decided to use container sizes of 80, 160 and 300 gallons for collection service. The size of the container the customer received was determined by the number of days picked up, either once or twice, and the number of houses per container: one, two or four. It broke down to each household receiving at least 160 gallons of refuse capacity per week. County Plastics was initially awarded the contract for 350 containers in each of the three sizes. After the Phase 1 trials were complete, it was determined that the 80 and 300 gallon containers were the most effective. 300 gallons were used on alley streets while the 80-gallon shined the best for street-side collection. Godzilla and later Son of Godzilla was the most successful in the alleys with the 300 gallon, but too slow and bulky for the 80 gallon service.

Automated Side Loader

Phase 2: Son of Godzilla

Western Body and Hoist’s Barrel Snatcher was a modified version of their Wesco-Jet Front Loader. The Wesco Jet was a 35yd full pack body that evenly distributed the weight over two axles with four super single tires and a specialized cab designed and engineered jointly by Reo Motors and Western. Complete with an Allison automatic transmission and a narrow, air conditioned telephone booth cab, the Barrel Snatcher weighed in empty at 22,500 lbs. and had a GVWR of 36,500 on the two axles. With three years of engineering going into its design, the Barrel Snatcher featured an 8-foot boom, which could extend out to 12 feet to grab the 300 gallon containers. Cycle time from pick up to set down was only 20 seconds.

Modifications and improvements were required after the first unit went online in October 1970. A joystick was added later to help improve operator control as the boom had a tendency to knock down fences in the alleys due to the uncontrollability of the rotary motor that swung it. The frame at the base of the boom was beefed up due to frequent cracking due to weight, in addition to a heavier duty rotary motor that swung the heavy boom. The extension cylinder was moved to the outside of the boom to reduce the six hour repair time needed to get at it when it was mounted inside. The city sent these lists of improvements to Western to be implemented on the second truck they ordered.

Due to the national popularity of the Phase 1 Godzilla truck, the Barrel Snatcher was affectionately called the “Son of Godzilla”, which only served to fuel local and national interest in what Scottsdale was trying to do. The city invested a lot of time and effort to sell the new concept to the public and they constantly fielded requests from foreign dignitaries, state and city governments to come and personally view the trucks in action and on route.

During the construction of the second Barrel Snatcher, George Morrison’s partner and co-owner was killed in an accident. In order to provide and take care of his partner’s widow, George decided to sell the company to Maxon Industries in December 1970. After study, Maxon expressed no desire to continue development, sales or orders for Barrel Snatcher concept with the City, although they did agree to honor the original contract for two additional trucks. The City received many postponements and delay’s from Maxon and finally threatened to sue for breach of contract. None of the improvements recommended by the city were implemented in the second truck when it was delivered in May 1971. The mechanics were well versed in the necessary improvements and changes needed to be made and when the second truck started going on route, the original Godzilla that was built to last six months of the concept phase was finally retired after two years on route.

Automated Side Loader

The Concept Fully Realized

After Phase 2 was complete and the third and final Barrel Snatcher was delivered from Maxon in 1973 (two years after it had been ordered), the city continued to improve upon the arm design and even modified three city owned Wesco-Jet Front Loaders to Barrel Snatcher configuration in-house to expand their growing mechanized routes. However, they realized a more permanent solution was needed when it came time to start replacing their aging fleet. Marc Straiger continued to work on designs for an improved automated arm that could be fit to different side load bodies and was not specific to the now discontinued Maxon Wesco-Jet. He designed a prototype to be tested on one of the city’s experimental truck beds and it later came to be known as the “Rapid Rail” arm. It consisted of a grabber assembly with rollers on the rear which allowed it to slide up and down the rail that curved at the top to invert and empty the container.

The city eventually ended up abandoning the project, yet a few companies had taken the idea for Marc’s “Rapid Rail” and developed it into an effective system by 1978. Government Innovators (now a fully realized company), Arizona Special Projects and Ebeling Manufacturing Corp (EMCO) all offered a version of this arm to the public. EMCO was the first company to offer market ready automated packages with their arm design based on Straiger’s “Rapid Rail” for commercial side load dumpsters. However, their arm could be easily modified with “Rapid Rail” grippers for cart collection. Maxon, who had no interest in pursuing further Barrel Snatcher product development with the city after their purchase of Western, finally saw the future in automation and offered their integrated Eagle cab and body truck with an arm copy of the Rapid Rail by 1980.

When it came time for the city to start replacing their worn out fleet of Barrel Snatchers in 1978, they turned to International Harvester chassis with Norcal Waste Equipment 24yd bodies fitted with a modified EMCO lift arm. Each truck cost the city $58,000, which was a bargain compared to the last Barrel Snatcher that cost a low estimate of $63,230. What many people don’t know is that Norcal in Oakland, CA was started after the sale of Western by Otto Ganter, the lead engineer and designer of the Barrel Snatcher.

The Numbers Don’t Lie

In 1980, the city did a comparison to see if the mechanized trucks lived up to their original idea and potential. The numbers were quite staggering and especially in an unforgiving climate like Southern Arizona, well worth the effort and money spent. According to the records and findings from the city: in 1968, 34 men were employed to collect 17,800 homes twice a week. By 1980, 13 residential routes were needed to collect 24,000 homes twice weekly with 13 drivers. The city estimated that if the train method was still being used in 1980, 18 pickup trucks, 72 trailers, seven front loaders and more than 60 men would be required. The injury rate was also reduced from 36 preventable injuries a year average using the train system to only 1 in 1980.

Production rates also increased per man. In 1968, the average was 95 tons per man compared to 212 tons by 1980. They also showed a drastic reduction in employee turnover from 91 percent in 1986 to one employee who left and transferred to another department within the city. While some of the costs of running more advanced trucks were passed on to the residents in terms of monthly collection cost, the state of their streets, alleys and roadways was greatly improved over manual collection, which often left trash and debris in its wake. Their aggressive advertisement and citizen buyoff of the program went a long way to mitigate the town’s outcry over the increase in cost.

Slow to Catch On

Throughout the 1980s, body manufacturers continued to develop and improve the automated arm. For the average hauler, however, it was a gigantic investment in new fleets and carts—one that they were hesitant to make. Municipalities were some of the early adopters to automation due to the fact that they could justify the initial investment by projecting the savings over long term. Automated technology didn’t really take hold nationwide until the 1990s when the technology and arms were more proven and reliable. Even today, the arm design on an ASL is the most competitive feature builders continue to refine and market. Some builders have multiple arm or gripper designs available for customers to choose from, each with their own unique use and application. Also, many haulers tend to stick to one design because it’s a system they adopted early on and know and trust. I can say with absolute confidence that there is no “best arm and gripper” on the market. Each has their strengths in different conditions (alley, confined space, parked cars) and some perform better than others. The Automated Side Loader is still the new kid on the block compared to the rest of the refuse truck styles and there hasn’t been an “industry” standard design established yet. But next time you see one on the road or hop in one to run your route, think about the blood, sweat and cursing a special group of men invested to make your lives a little bit easier and a whole lot safer.

Zachary Geroux is a videographer, photographer, historian and owner of Refuse Truck Photography, which focuses on media and marketing for the Waste Industry. He lives in Western Washington with his wife and newborn son who will soon fall in love with garbage trucks. Currently, he works full time for the Air Force and is focused on growing his business. He has been driving garbage trucks off and on for the past 10 years and considers it the best job he’s ever had. He can be reached at (541) 301-1507, via e-mail at Zachary@refusetruckphotography.com or visit www.refusetruckphotography.com.

*Special thanks to the City of Scottsdale for sending me years and years ago their self-published booklet “Revolutionizing an Industry.” Without this amazing documentation of strife and effort to create and field this system, this article and the knowledge contained within might have been lost forever to the coming generations.

Reposted by WIH Resource Group
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Celebrating a decade in business, WIH Resource Group is a global provider of professional technical and management support services to a broad range of markets, including waste management, recycling, financials, transportation, M&A due diligence and support, alternative fuel fleet conversions, facilities, environmental, energy for private sector business and government clients.

WIH Resource Group is a leader in all of the key markets that it serves. WIH Resource Group provides a blend of global reach, local knowledge, innovation and technical excellence in delivering solutions that create, enhance and sustain the world’s built, natural and social environments.  WIH Resource Group serves clients in more than 175 key markets internationally.

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The Story of the Fourth of July

We celebrate American Independence Day on the Fourth of July every year. We think of July 4, 1776, as a day that represents the Declaration of Independence and the birth of the United States of America as an independent nation.

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But July 4, 1776 wasn’t the day that the Continental Congress decided to declare independence (they did that on July 2, 1776).

It wasn’t the day we started the American Revolution either (that had happened back in April 1775).

And it wasn’t the day Thomas Jefferson wrote the first draft of the Declaration of Independence (that was in June 1776). Or the date on which the Declaration was delivered to Great Britain (that didn’t happen until November 1776). Or the date it was signed (that was August 2, 1776).

So what did happen on July 4, 1776?

The Continental Congress approved the final wording of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. They’d been working on it for a couple of days after the draft was submitted on July 2nd and finally agreed on all of the edits and changes.

July 4, 1776, became the date that was included on the Declaration of Independence, and the fancy handwritten copy that was signed in August (the copy now displayed at the National Archives in Washington, D.C.) It’s also the date that was printed on the Dunlap Broadsides, the original printed copies of the Declaration that were circulated throughout the new nation. So when people thought of the Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776 was the date they remembered.

In contrast, we celebrate Constitution Day on September 17th of each year, the anniversary of the date the Constitution was signed, not the anniversary of the date it was approved. If we’d followed this same approach for the Declaration of Independence we’d being celebrating Independence Day on August 2nd of each year, the day the Declaration of Independence was signed!

How did the Fourth of July become a national holiday?For the first 15 or 20 years after the Declaration was written, people didn’t celebrate it much on any date. It was too new and too much else was happening in the young nation. By the 1790s, a time of bitter partisan conflicts, the Declaration had become controversial. One party, the Democratic-Republicans, admired Jefferson and the Declaration. But the other party, the Federalists, thought the Declaration was too French and too anti-British, which went against their current policies.

By 1817, John Adams complained in a letter that America seemed uninterested in its past. But that would soon change.

After the War of 1812, the Federalist party began to come apart and the new parties of the 1820s and 1830s all considered themselves inheritors of Jefferson and the Democratic-Republicans. Printed copies of the Declaration began to circulate again, all with the date July 4, 1776, listed at the top. The deaths of Thomas Jefferson and John Adams on July 4, 1826, may even have helped to promote the idea of July 4 as an important date to be celebrated.

Celebrations of the Fourth of July became more common as the years went on and in 1870, almost a hundred years after the Declaration was written, Congress first declared July 4 to be a national holiday as part of a bill to officially recognize several holidays, including Christmas. Further legislation about national holidays, including July 4, was passed in 1939 and 1941.

Regardless, Happy Independence Day America from your friends at WIH Resource Group !!!

U.S. Pocket Constitution Book To learn more about the Constitution — the people, the events, the landmark cases — order a copy of “The U.S. Constitution & Fascinating Facts About It” today!  Call to order: 1-800-887-6661 or order pocket constitution books online.
Information provided to you by WIH Resource Group, Inc

Contact WIH Resource Group
For more information, Visit our website by CLICKING HERE and contact us today to see how we can best serve you by phone at 480.241.9994 or by e-mail at admin@wihrg.com

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Celebrating a decade in business, WIH Resource Group is a global provider of professional technical and management support services to a broad range of markets, including waste management, recycling, financials, transportation, M&A due diligence and support, alternative fuel fleet conversions, facilities, environmental, energy for private sector business and government clients.

WIH Resource Group is a leader in all of the key markets that it serves. WIH Resource Group provides a blend of global reach, local knowledge, innovation and technical excellence in delivering solutions that create, enhance and sustain the world’s built, natural and social environments.  WIH Resource Group serves clients in more than 175 key markets internationally.

WIH Website logo

More information on WIH Resource Group and its services can be found at www.wihrg.com.

Click on an image below to take you to WIH’s other sites!