Dump Trucks – History

Dump Truck History – Designing Into the Future!
By Christopher M. Hunter

One type of heavy-duty equipment that is used extensively in a wide variety of industries is the dump truck. It has superseded the basic truck design by automating the process of unloading. By automatically tipping the bed, hundreds of cubic yards of loose material can be unloaded at one time. So how did this ingenious invention come about? The following is a quick look at the history of the dump truck.

Early Predecessors

The history of this equipment goes back to before the time of internal combustion engines before wheels were powered by engines; it goes back to when carriages were drawn by horses. A two-wheeled box cart can be considered as the earliest automated tipper, since the method used for emptying its load closely resembles that of modern-day equipment. When the box cart was unlatched, it would tip to its rear, instantly unloading its cargo.

With the invention of the internal combustion engine and the development of motorized vehicles, it did not take long before these vehicles were modified for transporting cargo. The tipper was a modification to the flat-bed design which was meant to automate unloading. Unlike the modern version today, the first design required manual operation. The bed was tilted by manually cranking with a rope and pulley system.

Some of the earliest designs also utilized gravity to automate unloading. This was made possible by shifting the position of the bed. The Mann Gravity Dump that was sold in 1904 is a good example of a gravity tipper.

The development of the hydraulic system paved the way for the modern dump truck of today. Without any manual cranking required, the hydraulic system has fully automated the operation of the dump bed. The very first hydraulic-powered tipper created on record was the Robertson Steam Wagon.

Modern Features

The design of the early dump truck was a far cry from the modern ones that are in use today; however, despite the differences in the appearance and the technology that powers these vehicles, they still share some similar design features with predecessors.

    • Truck Frame - Like its earlier predecessors, modern tippers still employ a basic truck frame design that is also shared by other heavy equipment. The frame that is utilized in both new and used dump trucks is specially reinforced to provide added rigidity to the equipment and prevent it from bending or breaking under heavy loads.


    • Hydraulic System – Little has changed with the hydraulic system since it was first introduced. It consists of the hydraulic pump, lines, and ram. The hydraulic ram proves the necessary power to lift the bed vertically and to slowly retract it back onto the frame. Unlike early hydraulic versions that got their power from steam, modern hydraulics are powered from the main engine via a PTO drive train.


  • Dump Bed – Little has changed in the design of the bed as well. The equipment still makes use of a box-shaped bed with a latch that is located on the rear end that opens when raised. As diesel engines have become more powerful over the years, the size of the bed has also increased to accommodate heavier loads. The standard bed is attached to the rear end of the base frame via two massive hinges to permit vertical movement.

The dump truck has come a long way and has undergone various design changes. This equipment comes in a wide assortment of designs, each one for a specific application. Despite these changes, both new and used dump trucks remain true to their original design concept of unloading cargo quickly and easily!

Christopher M. Hunter is an expert in commercial specialty trucks. To find out more about Used Dump Trucks, go to the main website at: http://www.centraltrucksales.net/home.