1913 — Hendrickson — 2013
By courtesy of Peter Morrow.

I have been recently read this history of the Hendrickson Company.

Think A4 size with 50 mm added to the width and 300 odd pages and you have some idea of its size.

But apart from being a history of the company it provides information on a whole range of subjects to someone interested in transport.

Until the start of the 20th century, apart from the railway, land transport and travel was by horse or, perhaps, oxen, camel or donkey. Almost everything moved by rail started and finished its journey by horse also.

But horses eat all the time (4 tonnes of hay and oats a year) and produce stuff — 7 to 14 kg of manure plus liquid a day — which in cities had to be stored then disposed of. Accidents with and by horses added to costs.

Firstly petrol powered passenger cars, considered a fad for the rich, then trucks started to appear. Electricity was tried with some success but had its limits

Trucks did not start to appear in any numbers in USA until after World War I. Road conditions held back truck development in USA until the Interstate Highway Act of 1956 produced the roads we take as the norm there.

In 1887 Magnus Hendrickson (born 1864) arrived in Chicago from Sweden to join his brother. After working as a maintenance man and cycle builder he was asked to build a vehicle to carry a magic lantern show, the forerunner of moving pictures. He produced a cab-over truck making all the components in his workshop.

Following the building of a couple of cars he met a Mr Lauth, a leather tanner, interested in these new machines. Lauth in association with a paint manufacturer employed Hendrickson as "chief engineer" to design and build the Lauth-Juergens truck. Introduced in 1911. Production was 200 in a year.

The Hendrickson Motor Truck Company, a family business, started in 1913. They tended to build specials — cranes, builders (winch) trucks and fire pumps — along with "highway models until 1985 when the now Hendrickson Mobile Equipment division was sold to a Michigan company. They are still made as HME trucks.

Slowly improving roads and the introduction of pneumatic tyres helped improve the design of trucks and the Goodyear (tyre) company built a six wheel (3 axle) truck in 1920 to prove that 3 axles were more effective in a number of ways as loads increased.

In 1924 only one truck maker and a couple of bus builders were building 6 wheelers to Goodyear's design (a centre mounted inverted spring layout with torque rods between the 2 drive axles.) A 1925 study agreed with Goodyear's concept and Hendrickson was asked to build a 6 wheeler and, after his intended improvements to their design was rejected, designed his walking beam suspension.

Hendrickson's major design feature was the mounting of the beam below the centreline of the axle. It remains, virtually unchanged, in the same form today.

As part of the 6 wheel truck design Hendrickson also invented the interaxle differential (power divider or 3rd diff.) to eliminate "wheel fight" in the rear axles.

Following differences with axle makers Timken Detroit and Rockwell's Wisconsin Parts Hendrickson entered into an arrangement with Eaton Axles (Eaton was a shirt and collar maker who bought an axle company from another Swede, Viggo Torbensen).

Signing a supply agreement with International Harvester in 1929 gave Eaton and Hendrickson their first major contract. Due to the depression the first IH / Eaton / Hendrickson units were not built until 1936. Magnus Hendrickson died in 1944.

Post WWII truck building expanded and in 1948 Hendrickson and Eaton were given permission by IH to sell their combination to other truck makers although IH remained their biggest customer

Variations to the walking beam suspension and other steel suspension were introduced. It has to be remembered it was introduced in an era of poor roads, not only in USA. It was simple and effective. Better roads permitted the suspensions of today

The Hendrickson logo notes "A Boler Company". John Boler had a production and component background and bought the Hendrickson Company from the family in 1978

In 1936 the company noted that they designed and built:-
    •1st American worm drive axle
    •1st Single plate clutch
    •1st Sliding jaw (constant mesh) transmission
    •1st hollow spoke cast (spider) wheel
    •1st practical 6 wheel truck
    •1st to offer pneumatic tyres on 6 wheelers
    •Most practical 3rd differential for rear axles.

The Club is obtaining a copy of the book. Put your name on a list to read it.

Something else from the Hendrickson book.
Consider the International Harvester logo (badge) - a red lowercase i over a black capital H. .
Created in 1948 by Raymond Loewy, the man who gave us the 1947 Studebaker, it represents a farmer sitting on a tractor. The dot on the i is his head. .
DB 6-7-14

Historic Commercial Vehicles Club of Australia Inc.  Post: P.O. Box 2020 Bayswater Vic. 3153    Clubrooms: Unit 8 / 4  Macquarie Place Boronia    Club Phone: 0400 025 525    Club Rooms:  03) 9738 1558