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Dump Trucks - an Illustrious History

By Truck Hammer Subscribe to RSS | January 17th 2012 | Views:
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In today’s world, dump trucks are trucks that have a special dump bed attached to the chassis and it is used to haul materials such as dirt, sand, rocks, gravel or other material for various industries from farming to construction. There are single axle dump trucks, tandems, tri-axle dump trucks, Quad –Axle, Quints and off road dump trucks; anywhere there is something to be hauled, you can bet there is a specific dump truck for the task. There are also dump trailers which hook up to the 5th wheel on a tractor and are operated by a hydraulic pack more commonly known as a wetline kit.

First Dump Trucks

Before gasoline or diesel engines powered dump trucks, there were dumping carts of a sort pulled by horses. These horse drawn dump trucks were a tub like body with an opening rear gate on a hinges that worked by the force of gravity. When the front was locked down, it stayed in place and carried the material to the work site. When it was released, it dropped down and dumped it out. These were very useful in their time and were used quite a bit by the railroad companies to haul materials. By 1900, the dump truck carts had graduated into a larger flatbed cart that required four horses to pull it. It was worked with a special hand hoist in the front. Besides these horse drawn dump trailers, trains and trolleys also were used to carry and dump loads.

First Real Dump Trucks

A few years later in 1904, the dump truck as we know it started to appear. It was still based on gravity to dump the materials, but it was a dump bed mounted on a truck body. The Mann Company from England was responsible for the first gravity dump truck in 1904. As improvements were made, hydraulics started to replace gravity as a force to activate the dump. The gravity system created not only a problem with weight distribution, the majority of the load had to be past the wheels in order for it to dump. Also if the lock in the front broke or came loose you would lose your load. One of the first dump trucks made using this was created by Robertson Steam Wagon and had a hoist run by hydraulics and a steam engine for the truck. Another hydraulic run dump truck was made in 1907 by Alley & McLellan of Glasgow that was also powered by a steam engine.

Industries That Benefited by the Use of Dump Trucks

By the 1920s, dump trucks that were able to work faster and more efficiently came out and were used to haul coal. Thus, the coal industry benefitted, just as the railroad industry did years before when they had primitive dumping carts. The coal industry used a special kind of dump truck that was similar to a hopper railroad car. This type of dumping mechanism had a body raised up with struts and beams that were arranged scissor-like underneath its body. When they wanted to dump out the contents, they pulled the beams closer together to bring up the dump bed, which let the load free and gravity did the rest.

Pioneers in Dump Truck History

One of the companies considered to be a pioneer in making the dump truck is Euclid. A hydraulics engineer named George Armington Jr. is credited with bringing into being the version of today’s heavyweight, off road truck and the wheel tractor style dump truck. The first of these came out in 1934 and was called a Trak Truk and was an off road dump truck. The other followed in 1936 and was an IFD truck that weighed a staggering 15 tons. This beauty of a dump truck ran on a diesel engine, and had modern features like leaf spring suspension, pneumatic tires, and modern drive lines.

The bottom dump truck was considered a huge jump forward and Euclid‘s version could haul its load much further than other trucks had in the past. The next couple of decades brought even heavier and larger dump trucks into the industry. US made dump trucks were starting to lead the pack by the 1950s with their bottom dump trucks. The 50s brought several types of dump trucks including one that could hold 20 tons and was made by Faun, in 1958 a dump truck called the AP40 Autocar that was considered the biggest single engine dump truck of the time at 600 horsepower. In 1957, a huge improvement called the Haulpak was made by Ralph Kress, a consultant for Komatsu, which had hydro-pneumatic struts, and could haul 32 tons and also pull a trailer that weighed 75 tons. This eventually was to develop into the dump truck style of choice for mining and other industries.

Other Dump Truck Manufacturers

Many other companies made and continue to make all kinds of dump trucks. Some of these include Freightliner Trucks, which started in 1929 by Leland James. It was originally called Consolidated Freight Lines. James was an innovator of his times and was always trying to find ways to customize and make his trucks better. Freightliner Trucks built trucks that carried cargo and he wanted to make lighter, yet stronger trucks that could carry more and go further. By the 1950s, the company made about 100 different kinds of custom trucks. During this timeframe Freightliner Trucks partnered with White Motor Co. of Cleveland in1951. By 1960, they were responsible for selling 1,000 trucks from their new lines. In the 1970s Freightliner was a well-known truck making company that was famous for their successes in the business. During that timeframe, they ended their partnership with White Motor Co.

Freightliner continued its success by acquiring several other trucking companies throughout the next 20 or 30 years, including American LaFrance, Thomas Built Buses, Western Star trucks, and Ford Motor’s heavy trucks. Today, they are known as Daimler Trucks North America and in 2007, the company had sales over two billion dollars.

Kenworth Trucks

Another truck manufacturer is Kenworth, which makes several kinds of trucks, including dump trucks, which started in 1923. They designed custom trucks in the 1920s and 30s and were the first truck company in the U.S. to use diesel engines. Over the next several decades they made several advances in the trucking industry and helped bring about improvements such as better fuel mileage, more cargo space, and less wind resistance. They have continued to bring about other improvements during the 1990s with dump trucks such as the Kenworth T800 T/A dump truck. Today, they specialize in selling trucks worldwide. International Trucks International, is another truck manufacturer that makes dump trucks, straight trucks, road tractors, school buses and specialized military vehicles. They also make diesel engines. Today, Navistar, Internationals parent company, has more than 1,000 dealerships all over the world. All in all, dump trucks have helped the trucking and other industries develop and become more efficient. Even in today’s modern computerized world, dump trucks are doing site work and hauling loads to and from construction sites all over the world.

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