Jul 02, 2018

History of the Dump Truck

History of the Dump Truck

What would modern society be today without the dump truck? With a design dating back to the time of horse-drawn carriages, it has long played a vital part in the construction business. Although dump truck history started before the combustion engine, modern innovations have kept “tipper trucks” useful and in demand. In fact, there are nearly 50 manufacturers worldwide working on meeting the needs of the industry.

Dump Truck History

British vehicle producer Thornycroft is credited with coming up with the idea of a cart that emptied its own contents. It was the late 1800s when the company began selling carts that tipped back when detached from the hitch. When motorized vehicles made the scene, operators had to manually crank a rope and pulley to dump loads from the first actual dump trucks.  In 1910, U.S. manufacturers stepped in to help dump truck history along by motorizing the dumping process.

World War I played a key role in dump truck history, creating a huge demand for large trucks that could haul heavy payloads and dump them with ease. It was during this time that hydraulics were first used in the trucks, making unloading even easier. After the war, dump truck companies kept growing. They saw no limit to how the trucks could be used, especially if an assortment of sizes were available. The companies began making a few smaller bodies. They also made some express bodies that could be used on standard heavy-duty chassis or even installed on converted Model T chassis. All they needed was a heavy-duty drivetrain and suspension. Plus, the large trailers that were useful for the military were proving to be just as useful for mining and road construction companies.

Improvements to Design

Variety in size isn’t the only thing that changed the course of dump truck history after the war. By the 1920s, winches and lift gates went hydraulic, too. Over the ensuing decades, dump trucks evolved even more. Superdump trucks have a load-bearing axle that’s liftable, allowing them to carry a “super” payload larger than typical standards. Plus, transfer dump trucks are capable of pulling an additional dump trailer that has its own motor.

Also, altering the rear-dump feature on some trucks made them more useful in special conditions. For example, some dump trailers have a bottom dump feature that empties the load out through a dump gate under the trailer. Side dump trucks pour out their contents to the right or left side of the trailer. Roll-off trucks dump the dump bed off the vehicle’s frame, rather than the load it contains. What’s more, adding plow blades to some dump trucks and filling the beds with ice-melting agents make them useful in winter. These specialized vehicles plow snow and spread calcium chloride on iced-over roads in wintertime.

Top Dump Truck Manufacturers

Ever since the U.K.’s Thornycroft transformed trash-hauling wagons with a tipper device, many companies have played a part in dump truck history. America’s Freuhauf and Galion joined the ranks of dump truck manufacturers after vehicles became motorized. Currently building dump trucks, Galion is the oldest known still in business today.

If you’re looking for the best dump truck manufacturer, there are many to choose from. The top 5 are a mix of well-known names from around the world in trucking, construction, and technology. Starting with the American companies they include:

  • Freightliner (Daimler Trucks North America)
  • Kenworth
  • Hitachi
  • Scania
  • Volvo

Making safe, reliable vehicles engineered with cutting-edge technology are what these companies are good at. While Freightliner and Kenworth are two of the best-known Class 8 truck builders, it may be surprising to see names like Hitachi and Volvo on the list. However, both companies have entire divisions devoted to construction equipment. Applying their expertise to dump trucks was a logical step. In the end, more and more advances should keep dump trucks useful well into the future.