Vacuum Truck Columnist, Industry Truck Builder Bob Carlson Passes Away

Vacuum Truck Columnist, Industry Truck Builder Bob Carlson Passes Away

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Robert “Bob” Carlson, longtime writer of the Truck Corner column in Portable Restroom Operator (PRO) magazine and an occasional contributor to Pumper magazine, passed away Oct. 17. He was 65.

Carlson dispensed advice on vacuum truck maintenance in the column, which began before COLE Publishing bought the magazine dedicated to the portable sanitation industry and continued until 2014. Sometimes injecting humor, he answered reader questions and conducted an annual Truck Corner quiz.

Carlson had been involved in the pumping industry since starting to work at his family’s Arizona-based vacuum truck building company, Glendale Welding, in 1979. He was manager-owner of the business from 1986 to 2009. During that time, he became well known to contractors in the wastewater industry through the Pumper & Cleaner Expo (now the WWETT Show) as an exhibitor. For many years he sold trucks on the show floor, along with industry-related books, music CDs and T-shirts.

Carlson authored a popular book on vacuum truck maintenance, Pumper 101 – The Complete Guide to Owning and Operating a Vacuum Truck, that remains in print. He also wrote a number of novels. Using the name The Pumper Gang, Carlson recorded two CDs for pumpers, with humorous songs including “Suck It Up,” “I Could Have Been a Pumper,” and “A Straight Beats a Full House.”

In 2004, Carlson nearly died when he suffered an aortic aneurysm while driving a new truck to display at the Pumper & Cleaner Expo in Nashville. The truck careened down a highway embankment in Texas. His death was caused by complications related to a follow-up operation in 2012, according to his son, Bobby Carlson. 

Carlson ended his last Truck Corner column in July 2014, with this advice:

“My final message is the same as the first: Get to know your equipment and how it operates best. I have often told my kids, ‘You can’t know too much.’ So keep on learning, and more importantly, keep on pumping!”

Carlson, who lived in College Station, Texas, is survived by his wife, Penny, five children and two grandchildren. He can be seen singing one of his pumping-themed songs with his granddaughters in this video posted on his Facebook page in 2014, below.

Memorials may be sent to Neema House at



Posted by Icarus Barnabus on Thursday, July 31, 2014


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