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TowZone

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  1. Tow business is down 80% during the pandemic, he says. It’s hard out there for tow truck operators right now. It’s hard for everyone, but few think about the towing industry — probably because it’s something they’re usually trying to avoid. Lew Blum thinks about it constantly. The guy whose signs are so ubiquitous around the city that he’s been called “Philadelphia’s Tow-Truck King” and “the most hated man in Philadelphia” fears what the pandemic will bring for his already struggling operation. On the upside, he’s been hearing an unexpected positive refrain. “Some of them have thanked us,” Blum said of drivers whose cars have gotten hooked, in reference to the care his staff takes to avoid potential coronavirus contamination. “We will open the door, spray the steering wheel, spray the shifter, spray the drivers’ seat.” To make sure his fleet of four drivers are safe while they work, and to keep car owners from worrying about whether a tow equals infection, Blum has gotten creative. In place of hand sanitizer, which is hard to come by and which Blum said “makes your hands dry and scaly,” he’s been providing drivers with bars of Dove soap in plastic bags. Paired with a screw-cap gallon jug of water kept in the truck, his drivers can “wash their hands any and every time [they] need to.” Then there’s the spray, which Blum makes by diluting ammonium-based sanitizer and uses on basically everything. The small waiting room at the Lew Blum Towing impoundment lot in East Parkside gets sprayed every time someone new enters, he said, kicking off a miniature cascade of antiviral acts. “They give us their key, we take it with gloves on, we set it down on a tin cup and spray it. They give us a credit card, we spray it — [or if] they give us cash, we spread it across the counter, and spray it and let it dry before we touch it.” Not many people have seen that performance play out; Blum said business is down 80% since the lockdown started. The PPA has cut back on citations during the pandemic, and Philly law requires tickets on cars before they can be towed. Blum was so fired up and angry about that requirement, newly enacted in 2015, that it spurred him to campaign for a seat on City Council. “That ticket-to-tow idea was bad,” he said, noting his staff is already shrunken to one-third its previous size, “but it’s almost like this coronavirus is the nail in the coffin.” For now, the 64-year-old tow magnate is determined to keep things running. He imagined scenarios where people emerge from self-quarantine for important errands only to find a stranger’s car blocking their garage. “People are gonna call me, ‘Lew, I gotta get to the doctor, I gotta get to the grocery store!’ “I can’t shut down,” said Blum about the business he started in 1978, following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather. “I am an essential company.” RESOURCE LINK
  2. NEAR ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -- A St. Charles man died Sunday night after crashing into a parked tow truck on Highway 52. According to the Minnesota State Patrol, 32-year-old Dane Christenson was driving a 2011 Chevy Cruze southbound on Highway 52 around 5:30 p.m. Sunday. When he approached 36th Avenue SE, he struck a Ford F650 that was parked on the shoulder of the highway. Road conditions were snowy and icy at the time of the crash. Two people were inside the tow truck but were not hurt. RESOURCE LINK
  3. This is a question I asked nearly a year ago. Seems like a good time to bring it around once again. It should be a difficult to get responses while things are slow and leaders are easy to recognize. Leaders Lead in times of crisis, I've see a few break out and reach out to motive while offering hope. If you've lost hope then you've given in too soon. This crisis may actually have reach apex, if so some states will begin to come back online figuratively by the first of May. While to larger regions may be on hold till the end of May. New York is the Hardest hit along with New Jersey. If those are you, let us your viewpoint. Detroit & Chicago are seeing the number of cases along with deaths increase. Is that your area? Is your area seeing a spike or is yours like mine and has very low number in comparison. Oh right this topic is about Leaders, so easy to be distracted. Can you add an industry leaders name to the list?
  4. OK, just to up date... I do not want to miss anyone cause it looks like this offer will absolutely end May 1st. So, with that said Owners there is still plenty of time to speak up. If your a Driver we do have a Drivers Lounge that is available to all Driver Members regardless of supporter status. To those who have asked to join both Clubs, it doesn't work that way. Thanks
  5. A 30-year-old Hamilton man, killed when he was crushed by a vehicle that fell off his tow truck, is being remembered as a hard-working man and provider for his three young children. Peter Szymczak was working on a vehicle outside his home on Southcote Road Monday afternoon when, for an unknown reason, it unexpectedly detached from his tow truck and fell on him. Szymczak worked for Fast and Friendly Roadside Services. Several family friends identified him to The Spectator. Emergency services were called to Southcote Road, near Butter Road, around 2 p.m. April 6. He was pronounced dead at the scene, said Hamilton police Const. Jerome Stewart. The Ministry of Labour is investigating. “It was reported a worker was fatally injured while working under a vehicle,” said ministry spokesperson Janet Deline. Mike Shea, whose family has known Szymczak and his family for many years, said Szymczak often bought older vehicles and stripped parts to sell. When the accident happened he was working to remove a catalytic converter. Szymczak’s wife called for help, with his dad and brother rushing to the scene. Szymczak is the father of three young boys. “He was a hard-working kid,” Shea said, adding that he was always working and always there to help family and friends. Shea’s daughter, Samantha, said she has known Szymczak and his brother since she was 18. “Peter was an amazing man, great father and husband,” she said. “He would do anything for friends and family.” She said she spoke with his brother Mike who was too shaken up to talk right now. Many friends and those from the towing industry posted messages remembering the young man on social media. In one post he was remembered as a “young wonderful soul.” In a post on Towing in Canada Facebook page, Szymczak was described as a “smart young kid full of interest.” “Almost every tow truck driver in Hamilton has met him though they do not know him they only knew ‘Peter the chaser,’” Brian Stephenson wrote. “This was truly a horrible and senseless tragedy and a reminder to all of us to never let your guard down. My family and drivers will always remember Peter in a good way.” RESOURCE LINK
  6. Warren Roosevelt would certainly have loved to have seen your GMC W35 completed as he loved his 1948 Chevrolet Holmes 515E Wrecker which resides in the Towing Museum.
  7. I might add that I confirm the train is stopped at least twice prior to recovering a vehicle from the tracks. Just know that you are not going to save that vehicle if you place your equipment and safety at risk because you did not confirm the tracks were clear and the trains were stopped. If the train isn't stopped and it hits the vehicle, then it takes out one vehicle and not two. This tow company could also be looking at a legal issue as well for failure to report. That is a Federal Crime, the RAIL ROAD DOES NOT PLAY. The cost of delay of train could be high for failure to report a vehicle on the tracks prior to recovery. Every Tow Company if not fully aware of this should be and go over it with the dispatchers and drivers. i'm willing to bet this was a new driver who meant well and thought he could save that vehicle in time. Lucky no one was injured or worse.
  8. The Two Metal Poles worked much like heavy gauge metal fence posts back in the day. Instead of dropping into a slot the round posts were slid a larger round metal receptor welded to another metal rod that held the two bearings, wheels and tires just like the dollies we us today. I am sure someone has a time line of dolly innovations someplace as I recall seeing something like that at one time. Kinda surprised it isn't on the wall at the museum. I remember pan were then added to the posts, then the two posts became one round post then one square post (As Pictured). The square must have been found to be stronger as we progressed to extending Bars and back two an innovation of the original design. I was thrilled when the heavy metal was changed to aluminum, although I have see those who overload their trucks overload the dollies till they look like a sway back horse and are difficult to retract. The earliest dollies I can recall using were on the super cradle I pictured in the vintage forum. They were similar to the picture above but the pans were no where near as deep. I don't know where I picked up the "teeter totter" method using Jack Stands as I do not recall seeing anyone doing it around here. Now I am sure there were, I just didn't see them and those that saw me were interested when I called it a "teeter totter". Like I said that was what it looked like and later I found others around the country had done the same for years. KInd of like when I did an "Air Lift" only that has numerous names. Getting back to the "teeter totter" method, some may ask how the dollies were loaded other then using jack stands. You picked up one end of the vehicle set the dollies, then moved to the other end to load for tow. When these early dollies were designed there were no auto-loads. he wheel lift systems being designs were certainly not auto loads. Now I am far from a Historian, for that we would have to look to Wes Wilburn. He can surely fill in the blanks.
  9. A car was crushed under a tractor-trailer in Manchester Friday. Firefighters worked for 1.5 hours to free the driver of the vehicle. MANCHESTER, NH — Manchester Fire, AMR, and Manchester Police responded to Campbell St for a car under a tractor-trailer. When crews arrived they had a car under the back of a tractor-trailer which had a fork truck on the back of it. A passenger of the car was quickly removed but the driver was significantly pinned. MFD crews used jaws of life, blocking materials, hydraulic tools, and cutting tools in an attempt to free the woman. They had the driver of the tractor-trailer try to raise the fork truck which gave them some room to work. They called Eastern Towing who came to the scene with a flatbed tow truck who assisted in lifting the fork truck. Crews removed the roof of the vehicle and after 1.5 hours the driver was removed. The driver remained conscious during the extrication but was given pain medication to tolerate the pain. She was transported to the Elliot Hospital Trauma Center with serious but what appears to be non-life-threatening injuries.I Sources at the scene say that it appears the tractor-trailer was backing across Campbell Street to make a delivery of a pallet of stone to a house. The truck driver was uninjured. NHSP Troop G and Manchester Police are investigating. Incredible video of extrication and still photos RESOURCE LINK
  10. A semi recovery vehicle towing a larger truck through an intersection Friday night inadvertently snapped two utility lines, causing a power outage at nearby neighborhoods, Colorado Springs police said Saturday. The outage began about 7:40 p.m., when the truck drove under low-hanging power lines near Robinson Street and South 25th Street, and snapped the lines out of the poles, police said. Century Link responded to repair the lines, authorities said. No injuries were reported. No Further Details RESOURCE LINK
  11. HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A train crashed into a stalled car and a tow truck that was there to help in southwest Houston on Friday night, officials said. A BMW was stalled on the train tracks at Main Street and Hillcroft Street at around 11:30 p.m. A tow truck driver tried to help the BMW when the train came and smashed into both vehicles, police said. The people in the stalled car said they were able to escape in time without injuries. "By the time he hooked it up and pulled off, the train was close. Everyone had to disperse. It hit the car. It hit both cars," said Rajshah Haywood, a passenger in the stalled car. The train dragged the tow truck several feet down the tracks. Officials said no one was seriously hurt. RESOURCE LINK with video
  12. With more states beginning to crack down because citizens are not properly Social Distancing these Letters will likely become a requirement in the near future. If your company is already issuing these in the event that occurs can you share yours. I know some states have specific letter, while some companies using guidelines have made up their own. Other States have not gotten that far, one of our national chains here supplied this letter to their employees company wide other numerous states more than a week ago. Please respond...
  13. I know you'll never tell, but I have to ask. Is the Gold the MACK or is it Protecting the Gold? Now, that I look at it a second time, I see there is another Pot of Gold just beyond the trees.
  14. I'll let someone much more knowledgeable than I explain the recovery mechanics for the split booms. I never used one, but they were for side pull recoveries. A Wrecker Driver/Operator would swing the booms, side to side then tie off on one side while winching off the other. Sort of an early day rotator or simply side puller.
  15. Here are some more images found in the archives. Image supplied by LarryLange Image supplied by Larry Lange Images supplied by Townhooker who added: Here are a couple shots of my Fentron Wrecker. We bought the truck in Oakland CA, had it trucked to PA. It was a 78 Chevy 4X4, it was a great truck, we parked it in the summer and ran in during the winter months. It was rust free! It was a nice truck, liked the auto idle for the winches, was a beast in the snow or off road. It was totaled out Jan of 08 when a wreckless driver plowed into the rear of it while I was working a wreck on the interstate. I almost lost my leg, but the truck took a hard it at 60mph. I loved those older Chevys, was a good wrecker I worked it hard! Michael Myers said: They went out of business in the late 1970's. They started out being called the Oberg Hydraulic (twin-boom) Wrecker. The same folks who do the Oberg Racing oil filter. Then they changed the name to The Fentron twin-boom wrecker Mfg'd by Fentron Hi-way Products. They were manufactured in Lynnwood, WA. north of Seattle, WA. Due to the high cost of labor in the Seattle area compared with that of Tennessee they just couldn't compete. Michael Myers - 253.588.1757 ext 150 I'll have to see if I can prompt Danny Cassello into this topic as he has more images.
  16. Michael Myers is one of the best I know is the industry when it comes to identifying vintage tow trucks. He said he thought it may be a mid 70's Fentron @michael212
  17. The new system did not pick up on quite a few of the Owners from the Previous system. So, that was a reason for this topic. Some Owners who were able to access the Old Owners Den found they could not access the new one. Several have not spoken up and some who did not have a supporter status requested access. Those members were advised of the requirement, some followed through others did not. While the industry has slowed and funds are not at a needed level for any of us, I have decided to Open the Owners Den to All Verified Owner Members through the end of 2020. Access will continue regardless of supporter status after January 1, 2020. Though non supporters will be asked to provide this needed support, we all want to get back to where we were before this Virus Event took us out. For TowForce we have been hit more than once with the system change a couple of years ago. I see once this passes for business to return to all industries very quickly as the economy kicks back in. I do not see a slow return, but I could be wrong. Take Precautions, Increase Your Precautions as the next 2 weeks will be critical. Now is the TIME to STAY OUT OF ALL VEHICLES, Require the use of PPE. When possible keep your drivers out and away for the office and shop. This will reduce the risk of spread within your operation. Companies are getting berated for extreme actions, keep that in mind when a tow company reports they have been directly effected. God Bless and those Owners who want in the Owners Den add a reply here. Drivers are always Welcome to request access to the Drivers Lounge, they is no requirement other than verified company information. Understand TowForce Members can only access one or the other and not both.
  18. I do not recall Charlies having a Super Cradle though I do recall they had several Early Cradles. There was one that sat in front or the Gulf Station on Poplar Level for years. I also know where one is in near showroom condition. I check on it from time to time and let the owner know I would like to retire it to the Towing Museum when he retires. If he outlasts me I sure home someone gives it a good home. This one pictured died in an Alley behind a business and was hauled away as scrap. I thought about saving it, but the only think left was the boom. The rest needed far too much work.
  19. Actually if it did, it never showed it during the 18 months I drove it. We'll it may have only been on there for about a year. It was lighted so it could be seen at night. A company that made them for cabs made it. I honestly didn't care much for it, but it was creative. Sure, got a laugh from other Tow Companies!
  20. The Owners Den is a designated Owners Only Forum. The Topics in the this Club Level Forum are By Owners For Owners. It has been a supporter level forum on Tow411 over the years. Now for the first time I can recall we are opening this up to a select number of Non Supporters for the remainder of 2020 Simply ask for access either in this topic or via inbox. See you in the Owners Den. Drivers there is also a Drivers Lounge that has never seen much use. Drivers have never been require to attain a Supporter Status to access the Drivers Lounge. Sorry. No Owners or Managers.
  21. In Remembrance of Donnie Cruse who would have turned 75 years today. Seems like just the other day Donnie spoke to me but in fact it was now more than 18 years ago, only 18 months into Tow411. I believe Donnie would have been a Mentor if not a Friend. However, he was taken from us far too soon. I would like to see the topic become a recognition of the life of Donnie Cruse. Please reply with your WreckMaster Number and Memories of Donnie from those who knew him. I realize we have many that never met Donnie and even fewer that actually knew Donnie. Those who were fortunate enough to really spend time with the man will understand. Donnie Cruse - WM91001 Ken Cruse - WM91002 Terry Humelsine - WM91003 Mike B - Mike Bower - WM001516 8/9 DAVESTOW -David Washburn - WM040136 Kevtowz - WM120717 Keep it going!
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