palmers_address

Nate Nate Palmer


"The Kaiser, you'll see that there are 4 pictures, 2 before and 2 after, the original two pictures were taken when it was in a train wreck in 69 down in Savannah Georgia, it was being shipped out to Vietnam, but they lost like 300 cars in a train wreck, so they just went in and grabbed everything they could, threw it on flat cars to get it out of there to clean up the wreck and get the track opened up, and actually they did as much damage to the truck pulling it out of the wreckage than what actually happened to it when it rolled over.
It's a Kaiser Model M543A, the military has it listed as a 5 ton light crane, which is totally under-rated for what you can do with it. But at the time, my Dad had a 1945 Federal with a big old six cylinder Hercules engine in it which you can get to a roaring 38 miles per hour downhill if you really pushed it. It had a big old wooden cab, it was a 5 man cab, it was the coolest old beast you ever did see, it just couldn't get out of it's own way. It was a hell of a powerhouse, so we thought well we're going to re-up, we're going to go to the hydraulic mentality with the crane, everything on the Federal was all mechanical, winches and cables and things. It was going to be a big step up and God you could roll down the road 45, 48 miles per hour with it. It was such an improvement for the time frame. When we got that truck it was one of the things I cut my teeth on.
My Dad was always building things, and creating things, he saw this truck and of course, I think there was seven of those similar wreckers on the train wreck when it rolled off and of course my Dad, true to form, bought the worst looking one of all of them. There was a couple of them that just had a few little scratches and dings that were written off, could of bought that but there was no challenge to that. We wound up locating that truck through a surplus military dealer over in Keeseville, New York, he bought I think four of them and like I said we took the worst of all of them. The cab was actually off of a 45 Mack, the fenders were off a 62 Kaiser, we bought all our used parts there and re-assembled the thing and everybody who looked at it and anybody I've talked to afterwards thought “God, your Dad's got to be crazy to have ever bought that thing”, because it looked so bad, but he was able to look at it and see that most of it was superficial wounds. He was really optimistic about it, I was just a kid at the time, going to the salvage yard with him, and I was always diving under the truck to look at this and that to see what was underneath there and how it was set-up and everything. I was kind of the runt of the crowd so I could get into all the little tight spaces to check things out. That's where I actually first started doing electrical wiring, underneath the dash of the cab, it was pretty basic wiring and everything was labeled with real clear military markings so you just pull out a wire and plug a new wire when you're replacing a wiring harness. I mean this is the kind of thing I grew up with and I really thought that this was what everybody's family did, I didn't realize it was anything special. When my Dad bought the truck, he had to borrow money to do it, he borrowed it from a private friend, whose wife said “My God, what are lending Morris that kind of money for, you'll never live long enough to see that come back to you.” And in 69, after we got the truck going, my Dad had about 400 hours into it not mentioning volunteer labor from the kids and whoever else he could rope into it, we got it on the road.
In the winter of 69 it was absolutely brutal, every night we were down on 22A just pulling out one truck after another, it was one of those winters, everybody was totally hemmed up, and sometimes my Dad would go by the high school in the afternoon, and just grab one of us to go with him, take us right out of school, and say “Hey, we've got to take a trip.” I didn't realize until years later but actually he worked the truck hard enough and rebuilt it quick enough and as economical as he could, he actually paid for the truck the first winter. Everbody used to talk about “Oh he charges a hundred dollars an hour”, but the wrecker rate in those days was thirty dollars an hour. It was a good truck for us, we ran it for twenty or thirty years, I think it had 32,000 miles on it when I finally did sell it. Right now it's over in another shop and the guy's in the process of stretching it out and putting an under-axle lift under it and going to totally rejuvinate the truck and put it back on the road again which is kind of cool, to see it go back in service. Like I said, that was the kind of thing I cut my teeth on. We'd jump right into projects like that, tear right into them, put them right back together. And that's the way that one went."

palmers1957

Palmer's Garage: 1957

Kaiser

1969 Kaiser Jeep Wrecker

Kaiser

Kaiser

Kaiser

Kaiser

The Federal


aerial

Tire Shredding


Nate Palmer:
"Well, let's see, that must have been around 91 or 92, it's a tire shredding operation we got into, back in the mid 80's we had quite a bit of a wrecker business going on and we were bringing in a lot of junk cars and we were at the point that we were crushing about a hundred cars every six weeks and the only place to get rid of the tires was either the farms or Vicom, the incinerating plant that was coming on line and at that point it was going to be like 5 bucks a tire to get rid of your tires down at Vicom. It actually got to the point where one year we crushed out for like eleven dollars a ton, so with five tires with your car a lot of times you didn't get enough salvage out of the car to even pay for the tire disposal. So well, there's got to be a better way, so I started looking around for equipment and ways to deal with tires in other areas and shredders were what a lot of people were doing, so I dug around and found the smallest shredder I could find which would still shred up a couple of hundred tires an hour, so well, if I could collect 300 tires a day and then just one day a week I could turn it on and shred the tires up and it could be a part time job along with the shredding and the business and the garage and the wrecker and everything,... When I went to get the shredder, it was in Massachusetts, I let a few people know that we were going to go into the shredding business, if they had tires they could drop them off and when I got home I'd take care of them and I did a small job in New Hampshire on the way home and when I got back there was over twenty thousand tires in the junk yard already. There were so many tires coming in, it took us almost a year to find all the cars that were buried underneath the tire pile that accumulated, so,... We slowly worked our way out of it and then worked into a bigger shredder and stuff but,.. It was just kind of one of those necessary evils and it seemed like it should be a really good business but there was just not enough revenue in tires after you shred them up, what to do with them, because we really just wanted to recycle them, find a new use for them, a hard thing to do and that's why that business didn't keep going. But it was fun and entertaining, we got to build a whole lot of cool equipment for it, and we took practically nothing and made something out of it. We were trying to recycle the tires so that we could use all the rubber, steel and nylon in them over again, we needed to get rid of the tires,... we had some companies we were hooking up with that wanted to use the rubber product for new products, you know rubber mats and and all kinds of things like that, but there was a whole lot more hype in the industry than there was reality, you know you set up for some of these markets and it turned out that they weren't as far developed as people were saying they were. And that's that."


Morris

Morris Palmer


Morris

The First "Palmer's Garage" was under the Opera House in The Hollow.

This is a picture at camp, that was “down” time, you know, my Dad was a workaholic, and that was the only time he took off was deer season. That was on some of the Rice Lumber property over in Lincoln, it was a school bus they'd move it you know to campsites in various places, for the hunting season then bring it back to the shop and park it in back of the yard. That's Uncle Heeman on the bunk, and Paul Rotax was in that picture too. You know that was his only time down in the fifties you know he would work 72 hours and sleep six, so he was just “on” most of the time, you know work til he'd pass out, get up and go again. My older cousins would say it didn't matter what they did even though they were thirty or forty years younger, you know they were thirty years younger and they could never keep up with him. So when it came to deer season time it's like he just disappeared for two weeks, go out and get his deer the first morning and the next two weeks was time to decompress. Boom.


Morris


Morris

Palmer's then moved to the Four Corners, across the street from the present location.