The Twin City Truck

By Staff
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A first restoration project, a 1949 Farmall M purchased from the family of the original owner by Gerald E. Barrett, 6080 Jeddo Rd., Jeddo, MI 48032.
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Twin City Truck

Route 1 Sedgwick, Kansas, 67135

While there is not very much information available about the
trucks built and sold by the Minneapolis Steel and Machinery
Company, at Minneapolis, Minnesota, it is known that three sizes of
trucks, the two ton, two and one half ton, and three and one half
ton, were manufactured at the Twin City factory in the late
1900’s and through the middle 1920’s.

The original Twin City truck book that we have gives
specifications and illustrations of the various engines, clutches,
transmissions, differentials, etc. that were available. The two ton
model used a Buda I.T.U. four cylinder, 4’x5?’ engine. The
two larger trucks came with the Twin City sixteen valve 12-20
tractor, 4?’x6′. Optional equipment included hard rubber or
pneumatic tires; enclosed or open C type cab; electric, carbide, or
kerosene lights; and various wheel dimensions.

The book also indicates that the few trucks that were built were
more or less custom built as ordered by dealers. Publication No. 5,
Vol. 14 of the Twin City Radiogram pictures the City of Duluth,
Minnesota taking delivery of four of the two ton trucks. All four
had dump beds, enclosed wooden cabs, pneumatic tires, and electric
lights. These new units were driven from Minneapolis to Duluth,
about 175 miles, in 20 degree below weather. These four new
additions increased the Duluth Twin City fleet to sixteen.

The Twin City two ton truck shown in the picture has quite a
history. This old truck was sitting in a swamp near Lemmon, South
Dakota, when Andy Michaels bought it in 1969. Andy is widely known
and a well respected collector from Plenty-wood, Montana. His
intentions were to restore the truck but some health problems
slowed things down a bit. Harold Ottaway of Wichita, Kansas, told
me about the truck about five years- ago. Knowing that I had a
special interest for anything pertaining to Twin City or
Minneapolis, Harold encouraged me to contact Andy about the
truck’s availability. I was interested but northeastern Montana
is a long way from southern Kansas! If I were to purchase the
truck, would I ever get it home? I more or less tried to forget
about it but couldn’t. Rather like a sore that wouldn’t
heal, it just kept festering! On one of their annual trips to the
Divide County Show at Crosby, North Dakota, Harold, Frank Heyman of
Burns, Kansas, and John Hall of Cape Girardeau, Missouri, went out
to Andy’s and took several pictures of the Twin. When they
showed the pictures to me, that was it! I knew that I wanted to try
to deal for the truck. Finally in September 1985, Andy and I made a
trade. He was coming to Kansas that next winter to pick up some
tractor parts and agreed to deliver the truck to my farm.

Having seen the truck only from pictures, I didn’t know
quite what to expect. When Andy drove in the yard, I was pleasantly
surprised. The old truck was more than I had expected and
what’s more it was in MY yard!

I mentioned an interesting history. Evidentally this old 1923
Twin City had not been used very much before being abandoned. The
engine was not stuck and after dismantling it, we found it had very
little wear. The king pins and bushings showed little wear. The
original radiator was intact. Hard rubber tires were on the truck.
However, there were some problems! No cab, no hood, no
differential, wooden wheels were in sad shape and a multitude of
other things needed tending. Oh yes, someone had cut about three
feet out of the frame, then welded it back together. Well, I could
go on and on. Everyone who looked at it just shook their heads and
tried to discourage me from ever starting on it! I never did like a
‘pessimist’!!! I finally got to the place that I didn’t
care to show it to anyone, so just pushed it back into a corner in
a shed. However I would go into the shed every few days and look at
the old truck and dream. In fact, I stood and looked at that thing
so long that whenever I walked into the shed I could almost see the
grand old colors of Twin City gray and red emerging from the rust
and rubble! You really need to have an imagination to be in this

Work on the project began in November, 1986. Knowing that the
Minneapolis Centennial Exposition was scheduled for September,
1987, I made a personal commitment to try to have the Twin City
truck ready for that event. I knew that I had a lot of work to do.
Very seldom does one accomplish a task all by himself. Such is this
case. I had some assistance now and then and I certainly appreciate
the help from these good friends. My hope is that sometime, I can
help them, somehow.

Time or space will not permit me to go into the restoration
details but one or two things I would mention. A new frame was
formed and hot riveted together as original. The correct
differential, a Clark 2D was located in Edinburg, North Dakota.
With new bearings, seals, and brake shoes the rear end was in nice
condition. As for the woodwork on the C cab and grain bed,
measurements and detailing were taken from the book and from photos
of Twin City trucks coming out of the assembly shops at
Minneapolis. We are grateful to the Minnesota Historical Society
for these pictures.. A unique addition for the grain bed is a hand
crank operated underbed hoist. It is a Little Giant, built at
Peoria, Illinois.

Time for the Minneapolis Expo did arrive, we were there, and
what a super display of various Minneapolis and Twin City equipment
it was! The Western Minnesota Steam Threshers Association put on a
fine show. They certainly made us Kansans feel welcome. It was our
pleasure to exhibit the restored Twin City in the State of
Minnesota where it was built some sixty-five years ago. Very few of
the native Minnesotans realized that the Twin City Company did in
fact build trucks.

In this business of collecting and restoring, we, and I believe
I speak for most all of us, often wonder if it is really worth all
the time, effort and expense that we put into it. Whatever it may
be that each of us choose to collect, be it a tractor, gas engine,
steam engine or whatever, we should keep in mind that when we do
restore something, we are in a small way paying a tribute to those
early day engineers and laborers that took such great pride in
their work. Our hope should be that after we are gone, someone else
will appreciate our small efforts and they in turn will continue on
with this great and satisfying hobby.

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