Cupertino Historical Society & Museum

Kelly Truck

by Alecia Thomas



The vehicle is very rare. Fewer than 15 were ever made and there are only about a dozen Kelly trucks of any kind that exist assembled today. Founder Edwin S. Kelly purchased the Frayer-Miller auto company in 1909 and renamed it the Kelly Motor Truck Company. In 1912 it became the Kelly-Springfield Motor Truck Company. The company initially produced trucks with air-cooled engines designed by Freyer, but in 1913 introduced water-cooled engines of its own design on 4 models: the 1.5 ton K-31, the 2.5 ton K-35, 3.5 ton K-40 and the 5-ton K-50. [1] The basic design of these trucks can be attributed to Charles Balough, an innovative man who was part of the team who worked on the design of the Model-T for Henry Ford before coming to work as the head engineer and plant manager for the Kelly-Springfield Truck Company. [2]

The business expanded across the United States, including headquarters in San Francisco, branches in Seattle and Indianapolis and the distributor dealership in Los Angeles. In April 1914, the Pacific Motor Coach Co. of Los Angeles placed an order for 105 of its trucks, possibly "the largest single order ever placed for motor trucks" up to that time to quote a news article of April 5 1914. [3] By then Edwin S Kelly had left the company due to retirement and James Geddes was president. [4] Other large orders completed were making 301 of the 9,364 Liberty trucks supplied to the U.S. Army for World War I. In addition they supplied K-40s to the Canadian Army and K-35s to the French Army. The Canadians hated the vehicles as they did not stand up well to the rigors of military use and were unreliable. [1] The company fulfilled an order for 5900 trucks for the United States Post Office in September 1918. [5] Production increased 600% between 1914 and 1919.Nevertheless in 1920, they were taken over by Hare's Motors while keeping the Kelly name.Trucks ranging in size from 1.5 to 6.5 tons were produced at the large plant in Springfield, Ohio. [6] On February 14, 1927, Congress approved bill H.R. 1105 [9] meaning an approved loan to keep the company afloat. It was too late however as they had been struggling for years after the war. Operations were ceased later that year and the Springfield plant was sold. [7]

This truck is the 1912 5 ton K-50 model with 32.4 horsepower. It uses an air-cooled Frayer engine seen on only the earliest models. The Water-cooled engines with 4-cylinder pair-cast units of Kelly's own manufacture were adopted in 1913. Those trucks featured a Renault-type hood with the radiator behind the engine. Transmission was via a 3-speed gearbox and double chain drive. The original 4 1912 models were principally a stripped chassis, though the 2.5 and 3.5 ton models could be had with open express bodies. The wheels were spoked. The green paint is the original shade.

These trucks were slow movers with a top speed of around 7 MPH. This made it perfect for the farm and orchard work needed in Cupertino and the valley. The original owner was Alfred Deane who had a prune orchard on Homestead Road. William Butler was the next owner and kept it until May 1990 when he donated it to the new Cupertino Historical Museum. At the time it was mostly in pieces packed in boxes with the radiator and truck bed separate. But Louis Paviso and Judith Carson Crowe recognized what a valuable object it was. The Elmwood restoration shop was recommended by the San Jose History Museum and they agreed to take on the project. They started in 1990 and in six months the truck looked like new. A new wooden steering wheel was carved by hand and a set of hard rubber spoked tires was also acquired. The truck is fully drivable and is a powerful symbol of the Valleys agricultural past. [8]

References

[1] Gosling, Tim “A Goddamn Truck” article for KeyMilitary.com May 18 2017

[2] Clark County Historical Society Clark County Ohio “Who is it Wednesday – Charles Balough” Facebook Post Sept 17, 2015

[3] Mill Supplies Farm Journal article January 1914

[4] “Shanks off for east tomorrow – popular Auto man leaves to assume management of Kelly truck company” San Francisco Call October 27 1912

[5] KELLY SPRINGFIELD MOTOR TRUCK FACTORY CAPACITY GROWS TO MEET DEMANDS Topeka Kansas Daily Capital February 23, 1919

[6] Hares Motors takes over Kelly Truck Lansing Michigan State Journal November 20, 1920

[7] Complete Manufacturing plant for sale at Springfield Ohio Detroit Free Press November 22, 1927

[8] All further information is from document from CHS

[9] Catalog of the Public Documents of the Sixty-Ninth Congress and of All Departments of the Government of the United States for the Period from July 1, 1925, to June 30, 1927 . United States Government Publishing Office . 1932. p. 1274.


Pictures of our truck

Pictures of truck documentation

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck

×

Kelly Truck