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car wash history book

19 replies created over 7 years ago
posted by KeithThomas over 7 years ago

Does anyone have or know of a book ever written showing early automatic car washing plants


reply by kdoyle over 7 years ago

Are you looking for narrative or pictures? Gus Trantham, the ex-President of the ICA wrote a manuscript of the history of the car washing industry. Poorly written, but full of facts. It was never published.

There is a published author out of Denver writing a history book on car washing. Not an academic type book, more a fun book with lots of old pictures. I'm meeting with him next month.

I did a video called The Birth of Car Washing on some of the history that I had found at!prettyPhoto/23/


reply by SMOKUN over 7 years ago

Gus was never President of ICA, Kyle. He was executive director of ICA, and replaced by the current company. He also was involved in carwashing in the Chicago area, and now brokers real estate.

reply by Keith over 7 years ago

SMOKUN is on top of things. Thank god he corrected you with "Gus was never President of ICA, Kyle. He was executive director". We would never be able to live with that innacuracy!!!! Thank you SMOKUN for gettin everything right and telling everyone how to make their business run. I can't believe you didn't fit the "Flex Serve" model into your post.

reply by Robert Roman over 7 years ago

Over the years, I have learned a lot of common sense from Steve that is analogous to things like – don’t spit in the wind – don’t look at a gift horse in the mouth – etc.

With all due respect, Keith, if the woman who actually built the New Tampa wash would have taken advice to rely on flex rather than traditional full-service, I have no doubt she would still be in business today.

Ergo, you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make them drink.

Keith Thomas,

If you want history, I would look to Hanna, a company that pioneered the development of equipment and innovation in the carwash industry.

reply by SMOKUN over 7 years ago

Mr. Feltner...

Kyle is truly a professional who genuinely appreciates factual information. I'm relatively sure he took the heads-up as it was intended, just as I would.

You operate some very attractive carwashes in Tampa... and your website is very nice; quite engaging.

You, too, seem to be somewhat of a perfectionist. So, given the circumstances, I guess you don't want to know about the conspicuous misspelling on your website menu. Ah, what the heck: JAMB, not jam.

Have a nice holiday!

reply by KeithThomas over 7 years ago

Well I contacted Hanna but they only go back to the late 1950's tunnel full service as already established, I tired getting archives of Hanna first equipment but none available very strange I was after pictures of early equipment, myself should get on with now

reply by Robert Roman over 7 years ago


If you want pictures, you might try contacting Stefan Budricks, Editor-in-Chief, Auto Laundry News.

ALN has been around since 1953 and may have some of what you are looking for in its archives.

reply by KeithThomas over 7 years ago

Well Stephan budricks did send me pictures of equipment a few years back and I have obtained some very interesting details but their archives only go back to 1958, but I have think finished my research, though now but pity that Sherman Larson did not reply to my letters last year and was too ill and sadly I heard died earlier this year.

What i do know is that the First Firms like Chem Therm were obsorbed into Sherman then into Hanna and sadly their history went with it. Why on earth some of the old equipment was not restored surprised me and there is no car wash museuams surprises me, Some of the equipment from the 1950's actually does not really look that different, but they used Nylon brushes instead of todays textile. Funny Though when I started researching it, I though Textiles would have come first then Nylon, But is Tampco material then Nylon etc Bizzare. Tampco I beleive was a cactus plant. Europe did not use rotating brushes until the late 1950s but was rare. Chem Therm Brought their stylis machine to Britain in 1961. It was scrapped in 1969. By then German Manufacturers had developed their own system

reply by PanamaJim over 7 years ago

Keith, there is a conveyor car wash in Vancover that has Chem Therm equipment, chain pulled, steam guns, original Hot Wax glitter sign...all restored for a Toyota commercial 9 years ago. Ben Alford and I found the wash at a ICA board meeting back then and were blown away by everything looking brand new.
I've tried finding the wash on google maps but have not been able to locate it. But I know it must still be there. It's like a live museum.

reply by KeithThomas over 7 years ago

Love to see this machine, Chem Therm Design were classic

reply by KeithThomas over 7 years ago

Well Panamajim If you can give me details on the commerical I looked on Youtube not loaded do you have their address and e-mail details what colour were the brushes and how old the machine

reply by PanamaJim over 7 years ago

I think this is it...opened in 1952

Oasis Automatic Car Wash Ltd
5318 Kingsway, Burnaby, BC V5H 2E9, Canada
+1 604-433-7141,-122.986992&spn=0.001839,0.004469&sll=49.224309,-122.987241&layer=c&cid=16079255397255618371&cbp=13,221.79,,0,0.96&panoid=LFBgQ1ZlQrjMv4KmmAOghg&hq=Oasis+Car+Wash+vancouver&t=h&z=18&cbll=49.22437,-122.986993

reply by KeithThomas over 7 years ago

Thanks for that PanamaJim. I emailed them via a website no reply as yet, I may write to them or Telephone them. Pity you have no pictures of This plant or a video I could get from the Internet. I do not know why I cannot get adverts of Old American Equipment from 1949 - 1956. There appears no archives or any on Hanna first tunnel equipment either very strange. I noticed another Brand called Wilson that started in 1949 as in an advert in Auto Laundry News very similar equipment to Sherman

reply by KeithThomas over 6 years ago

Well Panama Jim, i looked through flick website and i saw it, looks fantastic and to be honest the equipment actually looks a modern design in fact better than some current so called tunnels, I just cannot understand how chem therm did not survive to this day as an independant manufacturer, I am still interested to receive your old stuff sometime soon may regards Keith Thomas

reply by KeithThomas over 6 years ago

Well I am making progress on this subject but what hard work, But i am still waiting for material to be sent to me

reply by KeithThomas over 6 years ago

Well I have received some interesting old stuff that goes back further and it appears that after World War Two the modern type of Equipment with rotating brushes was developed of course in the United States before Europe in the early 1961 onwards how things date very quickly is interesting and how the early manufacturers have gone

reply by KeithThomas over 5 years ago

After my requests, and responses thanks for your replies etc, seen that this years is the 100 anniversary of the production line car wash. Strange that more was not documented and that interest was slow Sadly the UK has gone backwards and little of the let up of hand car washes

reply by JHurwitz about 1 year ago

I have many photos of the exteriors (and some interiors) of a few of the nine car wash locations of the Philadelphia Minit-Man Corp taken between 1947-1960, listed by Auto Laundry News (in 1955) as the largest auto laundry operation in the world (at the time). I also have a copy of that ALN issue. Here are two example photos:

reply by JHurwitz about 1 year ago

Hey Kyle Doyle: The links to the videos on your website don't seem to work. I was looking forward to watching "The Birth of Car Washing." Are they available somewhere else?

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