The semi-truck has been the workhorse of American industry for more than a century. Thanks to their rugged durability and spacious trailers, the semi has long been the transportation mode of choice for business owners throughout the country. While you can’t travel anywhere without seeing an 18-wheeler on the road today, there was a time when moving goods throughout the U.S. wasn’t so easy. According to the truck parts and service experts at Hobbs Spring & Suspension in Hobbs, NM, the rise of the semi was brought about by the need to transport a higher volume of goods with more flexibility.
Truck Parts & Service Expert Explains the History of the Semi-Truck
1. The Beginnings
It used to be that horse-drawn carriages were the mode of choice for transporting goods from town to town. Later, the first automobiles were used to shoulder the burden of hauling goods, but could only handle a couple hundred pounds at a time. Cleveland, Ohio-based carmaker Alexander Winton invented the first semi-truck in 1898 as a way to transport his vehicles throughout the country without putting hundreds of miles of wear and tear on his new vehicles. They quickly became the vehicle of choice for large-scale shipping needs that were impossible for trains to meet.
Winton’s semi-truck was a simple tractor design with a two-wheel trailer hitched to the rear. In the subsequent decades, other manufacturers continued to tweak the design to allow for more towing capacity. The arrival of World War I brought more innovation to semi design as railways were too congested to haul goods. The introduction of heavy-duty tires, engines, and truck suspension components quickly followed. With the arrival of the interstate system years later, the country’s infrastructure finally caught up with semi-truck capabilities to make long-distance hauling a reality.
3. Where We Are Today
The simple two-wheel trailer that Winton engineered in the 19th century has now been replaced by 18-wheel behemoths that dominate the road. By 2006, there were 26 million trucks on U.S. roadways responsible for hauling roughly 70% of the country’s total freight by volume. After more than 120 years of innovation, the semi truly has truly become the vehicle that keeps the country connected.
With all the trucks on the road today, the need for reliable semi-truck parts and service has grown immeasurably. If you’re a business owner or fleet manager, rely on the experts at Hobbs Spring & Suspension for all your truck parts sales and service. Call them at (575) 393-3051 or visit them online for more information on their full inventory and truck mechanic services.