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Junkyard Gem: 1969 Walker Power Truck

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The sparsely populated and remote state of Wyoming has never been known for vehicle manufacturing, although Laramie saw its first locally-built horseless carriage hit its streets in 1898. You never know what you’ll find in a junkyard, though, and I managed to spot a genuine Wyoming-built vehicle in a self-service yard just south of the Denver city limits: a Walker Power Truck utility vehicle.

Max Walker was a farmer in southwest Kansas with serious fabrication skills and plenty of creativity, and he moved from building his own tracked farm vehicles to starting a business building slick-looking gasoline-powered golf carts in 1957. Those carts evolved into the first rear-steering Walker Power Trucks in 1962 and then to further refinements for these very useful utility vehicles made for use in factories, airports, farms, etc.

According to an interview with the son of the company’s founder, Max Walker built about a thousand Power Trucks through 1968. Then a cash shortage led him to sell his company to an oil-and-mining outfit in Casper, Wyoming. The new Walker Manufacturing Corporation built Power Trucks until its bankruptcy in 1970. I am guessing the model year of this Power Truck as 1969, but it could have been built at any time during the 1968-1970 period.

Max Walker went broke as a result of the Wyoming bankruptcy, but he bounced back and began building agricultural cab coolers in Greeley, Colorado (which happens to be the home of one of my favorite car graveyards). Starting in 1980, he began building innovative mowing machines. Max Walker passed away in 2011, but Walker Manufacturing is still making mowers to this day. There’s a lot of history in the junkyard, if you know where to look!

Power comes from an Onan boxer-twin four-stroke gasoline-burner. The early Power Trucks had 16-horsepower Onans, but I couldn’t get specs for the Casper-built examples. This likely isn’t the original engine, anyway, given how many Onan made.

Power goes through a centrifugal clutch and a very simple transmission.

There’s Drive, Neutral, Reverse and a choke. What more do you need?

There’s an off-the-shelf Stewart-Warner speedometer. Speeds above about 20 mph must have been exciting. The odometer reads 7,723 miles.

It has been sitting outdoors for many years, but such a simple machine with a sold-by-the-millions generator engine shouldn’t be too hard to get back into operation. Colorado Auto & Parts will sell entire vehicles, unlike most of the big corporate chains, so give them a call if you want to rescue this rarity.

The Walker Power Truck in this video is a rear-steerer, unlike today’s front-steering Junkyard Gem, but you get the idea.



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