This month in our industry (April)

April 1, 2009
Looking back at industry milestones of the past five decades

In our first April issue…South of the border

Trailers de Monterrey in Monterrey, Mexico, builds just about every type of highway equipment outside of passenger cars.

Pole position

F.A.B. Manufacturing Company in Oakland, California, develops a pole carrier for Pacific Gas and Electric that requires just one man to load the pole, cross-arms, and transformers.

Bulk trailers

Butler Manufacturing Company in Kansas City devises a trailer that uses air pressure plus steep slope hoppers to unload the bulk material without bridging.

Containerization enthusiasm

Morgan Forgash, president of the Universal Carloading and Distribution Company, says that new methods of piggyback transportation constitute “a sleeping giant about to awaken the nation's entire transportation system.”

April 1969 Best ever

Although the total dollar value of production of truck trailers, tank trailers, and containers declined by nearly $1 million in 1968, it was a record year for total units — 147,769, topping 131,895 in 1966.

Standard proposed

The Administrator of the Federal Highway Administration is considering rule making that would result in amending 49 CFR Part 371, Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard: Rear Underride Protection — Trailers and Trucks with GVWR over 10,000 pounds. The highly debated regulation eventually became law almost 20 years later.

Capacity increase

Highway Trailer Industries opens a new manufacturing plant in Edgerton, Wisconsin, with 200,000 square feet devoted strictly to assembly.

April 1979 Another record

Trailer manufacturers enjoy their second-best January in history, shipping 15,700 complete truck trailers.

In the halls of Congress

Senator Edward Kennedy is expected to re-introduce legislation that would require states to set truck length solely on the size of the trailer, and if a state desires to set overall tractor-trailer lengths as well, the overall limit would have to exceed the actual trailer length by at least 15 feet. The measure eventually passed, creating demand for 48' × 102" trailers and leading to a record number of trailers being produced in 1984.

New design

Williamson Truck Equipment Corp in Salt Lake City, Utah, unveils a bottom dump hopper trailer that makes use of fiberglass-reinforced plastic overlaid plywood for the sides, front and rear, and the slops sheets of the frameless hoppers.

Safety first

Pak-Mor Manufacturing Company invites the Michigan Department of Labor to make a voluntary inspection of its refuse trucks and containers.

Better on the bottom line

Despite a versatile product mix, Medical Coaches of Oneonta, New York, has been able to standardize many of its components. Combined with a computerized inventory control system, the company experiences a $40,000 reduction in monthly inventory costs.

April 1989 End of an era

The Fruehauf trailer division was sold to Terex Corp for $169.4 million, plus $63.1 million of Fruehauf's long-term debt. After exiting the trailer business, Fruehauf continued to manufacture passenger car wheels, brakes, and antilock under its Kelsey-Hayes subsidiary.

Environmental protection

A polyurethane insulation system that reduces chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) content by 50% without decreasing trailer thermal efficiency is now being used to insulate refrigerated van trailers at Trailmobile.

Great deal

Great Dane's purchase of the SuperSeal trailer line from Timpte Industries Inc gives the company a modern manufacturing plant dedicated to refrigerated trailer production in the Plain States, along with a respected trailer marque with a salable difference.

Growth spurt

Utility celebrates its 75th anniversary by announcing the opening of its fifth manufacturing facility in Marion, Virginia, a $20 million investment that spans 300,000 square feet.

Silver anniversary

The National Truck Equipment Association holds its 25th convention in Reno, Nevada. Bob Abel assumes the presidency from Phil Carrott.

April 1999 New Expo format

The NTEA announces that it will change its trade show to include more light-truck accessory manufacturers, truck trailer manufacturers, and builders of specialized vehicles such as ambulances, fire and rescue vehicles, buses, and utility and rescue vehicles.

Not enough bubble wrap …

Former First Lady Barbara Bush gives the keynote address at the NTEA Convention, saying she and the former president have moved 34 times: “This makes me the owner of more broken china than anyone else in America.”

New product

American LaFrance Corp rolls out the Silver Eagle line of stainless-steel aerial ladders, providing a yield strength of 50,000 psi.

As part of our 50th anniversary coverage, each month Trailer/Body Builders will present items of interest from archived issues.