TBB July 1988 front cover
The July 1988 Buyer’s Guide issue included a cover story on Utilimaster making its own chassis for its new Aeromate walk-in van.
Trailer Shipments chart
Manufacturers shipped 180,142 complete trailers in 1987, an 8 percent increase from the year before, according to figures published by the Bureau of Census. That was the best number reported since then then-record 213,911 trailers shipped in 1984. By comparison, the Top 25 (plus 3) trailer builders produced 315,427 trailers in 2017.
Back in 1988, when Utilimaster was designing its new Aeromate walk-in van, the company couldn’t find a front-wheel-drive chassis with a gross vehicle weight of 6,000 pounds, so it decided to make its own. Here, an engine is dropped into the compact walk-in van’s Utilimaster chassis.
Utilimaster turned to Dexter for the rear axle on its newly designed chassis, which also featured Chrysler brakes. The frame rails are made of steel tubing, giving the chassis the desired frame strength while keeping the cross section low.
Ready to go
This completed chassis used many of the same components found in the day’s Dodge mini-van, including engine, transaxle and brakes.
The hood of Utilimaster’s Aeromate was made entirely of fiberglass in 1988, and the entire nose assembly was designed to swing forward for easy access. The Aeromate body was all-aluminum, with sheet-and-post construction. The exterior skin was 0.1 inches thick and fastened to extruded hat section sideposts using solid bucked rivets.
Utilimaster said at the time it didn’t expect Aeromate sales to cut into its full-size walk-in van business. The van pictured here was part of the company’s production for a 220-unit order from Roadway.
Gunning for the top
By 1988, Fontaine Truck Equipment had increased sales of outside truck equipment lines by almost 400 percent during the previous four years, prompting the company’s branches to change from factory outlets to full-line truck equipment distributorships. Fontaine unveiled its new-look Dallas branch, seen here behind, from left to right, Randy Elston, Ed Wentz and John Puckett, with an open house in May, 1988. The Dallas facility, which opened in 1963, was one of the first Fontaine branches.
Fontaine’s upgrade to its 12,000-square-foot Dallas facility included new shop doors.
Look what we have here
Fontaine previously had no place to merchandise its parts, so the company built this parts counter and display wall inside the parts warehouse and adjacent to the accessory showroom.
A place to paint
After the Dallas upgrade, painting was done in a 35-foot-by-16-foot Binks paint booth. Fontaine said in-house painting would give it the quality control it didn’t enjoy while sending work to outside painters.
Robots in ’88: Less costly, easier to use
The best robots manufacturers could buy were on display at the Robots 12/Vision ’88 trade show and conference sponsored by the Robotic Industries Association, the Automated Vision Association and Society of Manufacturing Engineers. Shown here are robots performing multiple tasks at the Kuka booth, including the IR 161/8 applying sealant in the foreground
This long-armed industrial robot from Milacron in Greenwood SC featured a six-axes extension that could reach 102 inches horizontally and 106 inches vertically, with a load capacity of 50 pounds.
This robotic press brake operator moves blank sheets into the press brake and then stacks them on the table in the foreground. The Motoman robot could place sheet into the press with extreme accuracy.
Auto hauling van
New cars are delivered showroom-ready “right out of the box” when they ride to the dealership in this intermodal van trailer built by Autohaul Industries in Flint MI. The vans could be sealed and locked, protecting cars from weather, handling hazards and vandalism. The tri-axle trailer with single wheels shown here is fully loaded with the roof raised.
This 43-foot, five-axle tractor and trailer was one German company’s answer to the problem of transfer trailers tipping over in remote landfills with uneven ground. Called the Pusher Dumper, it was a combination of an end dump and a horizontal dump trailer with an ejector plate in the nose. It could legally carry a 48,500-pound payload within an 88,000-pound load limit.
After the ejector in the front portion of the Pusher Dumper trailer pushes part of the load out the rear, the rear portion of the trailer is tipped for dumping.
Peterson Manufacturing Co ad
Dorsey Trailer’s new (for 1988) Commander horizontal-discharge trailer could unload an entire trailer full of non-uniform solid waste in as little as three minutes. Made of heavy-duty aluminum, the trailer was custom-tailored to meet the needs of a waste disposal service.