Construction throughout the world is an endlessly fascinating topic. One could speak for eons about how the tools available to builders in the past literally shaped today’s world. One of the most fundamental of today’s arsenal of construction machinery is the one every five year-old boy knows: the mythical dump truck. In a child’s mind a dump truck is typically yellow, has four wheels, and can tip its back part, but this vital tool is so much more than that. Without it how else would construction workers deliver materials like sand, gravel, and dirt, and what else would toddlers look at with wonderment? The world may never know, but it certainly is thankful for the prevalence of the modern dump truck.
The modern dump truck began hundreds of years ago as a simple concept formed out of a need for efficiency. Today’s dump truck’s ancestor was a two wheeled cart drawn by a horse or horses. It was the latest technological advancement.
At a moment's notice, the cart could be unhinged from the horses, rotated, using the wheels as an axis, and have its contents dumped to the ground. This early innovation was the predecessor to today’s hydraulic masterpieces. Surprisingly, hydraulics are no modern creation. One of the next dump trucks created in history was the hydraulic-enhanced dump truck in 1907 by Alley & McLellan of Glasgow. The enhanced model used pressurized steam to help lift and dump the load.
Next came the 1920’s coal craze, and with it dump truck also changed. Soon dump trucks came equipped with a coal hopper, a scissor-like device that would quickly raise the coal to be dumped by closing the ‘blades’ of the ‘scissor’. In this way a variable amount of coal could be dropped off in an instant.
In the 1950’s dump trucks hit their prime. Boasting around one hundred and eighty horsepower, the gargantuan machines dominated the construction industry.
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Today dump trucks come in all sorts of types. Most simple of which is the standard dump truck, the image in the mind of the five year-old, offering increased mobility but a smaller payload. Beyond that is the articulated dump truck, which features a closed cab attached to a trailer-like bed. This type of truck is longer and ideal for off-road conditions. Another variant is the rigid dump trucks. These trucks are more stout with a single section that holds the payload on top. As a result these trucks have a larger payload and usually are supported by just two axles. A final classification is in wheel type. There are tracked or ‘crawler’ dump trucks that use the more secure track instead of a tire. Crawler trucks are perfect for heavy loads paired with an incline but fall behind in speed and maneuverability. There is also a range of more specialized dump trucks including multiple trailer trucks, heavy duty trucks, and side-dump dump trucks. It is clearly seen that this diversity is indicative of the widespread use of dump trucks today as an integral part in modern construction processes.