EP. #2

#2- Trucking Up History: The Evolution of Tankers

In this special episode of Trucking Up History presented by Liquid Trucking, we bring you the evolution of tanking.


In this special episode of Trucking Up History presented by Liquid Trucking, we bring you the evolution of tanking.  Whether you’re rolling around in the newest and safest tanker tech, or still have a soft spot for the Doodle Bug, you’ll be sure to love this episode!


Welcome to another episode of Trucking up History with me, your host Marcus Bridges today, a brief history of Tanking. Welcome to the Gold Standard of podcast for the Gold Standard of Drivers. This is the Liquid Trucking podcast with your host Marcus Bridges. There’s a scene in the movie Wild Wild West starring Will Smith, where rattling crates of nitroglycerin are being transported by horse which in more than one way, felt a little too explosive if you know what I mean? Other problems with the movie aside, it felt reasonable for me to assume that horses just dragging nitroglycerin across the frontier was one of the most unrealistic things about the movie lo and behold. The story of tanker trucks begins on the backs of horses doing exactly that hauling liquids of any kind from one place to another with nothing but wagons crates and a rider. In fact, it actually took so long for people to make a switch from horses to tankers that there was a period where both were on the road together. What gets me the most is that before there were wagons, horses were just dragging around barrels and I’m sure there’s more to it once science gets involved. But there will always just be something ridiculous about the idea of horses dragging around things like nitroglycerin as if it’s no big deal. When in fact, it would be a very big deal. Some people might even say it’s the bomb. Don’t worry, I’ll stop now or will I? But seriously, Trucker Nation, let’s break down the serious inefficiency that came with horse drawn halls to start. Let’s think about the cost that came with animal upkeep like food, water and unaccounted for catastrophe. There are some who might argue that this would likely be similar to truck maintenance and diesel. And to that, I say what happens when a horse suddenly dies on the road? AAA doesn’t cover red dead redemption style issues. This doesn’t even mention the loss of product that could come with a dead horse situation either by way of weather or unsavory rap scallions. The landscape of the world has changed a lot in the last 200 years and roads used to be little more than dirt and were left to the aggression of the elements throughout the 18 hundreds. The buckboard wagon was the most popular form of transport with liquid being loaded on it in crates to make it worse. Buckboards were uncovered, leaving the goods inside, completely exposed to the elements. Wooden wagon wheels were notorious for creating ruts that became nearly impassable trenches when muddy. And remember if you think that you’re stuck in a rut. Some of these are still visible to this day at sites like the Oregon Trail. I guess what I’m saying is that no matter how boring something might be, it can still make a lasting impression. Looking at you, Kim Kardashian. It wasn’t until the early 19 hundreds that Anglo American, a subsidiary of standard oil produced the first set of tanker trucks. These grandpas to today’s cylindrical 18 wheeler had rounded or rectangular back ends with cabs shaped like a model teas in the front, which created an interesting aesthetic to say the least. It was this style of design that was used for the first hes model toy trucks. Early models of tank trucks also took on a streamlined approach like the Texaco doodle bug, which was able to carry about 1500 gallons versus today’s tankers where even the smallest are able to haul 3000 gallons at minimum. Out of the 22 tank truck manufacturers that started with tank in the early years, only five remain today. With those being Mac GMC, Ford, Dart and Hendrickson. While the first batches of tanker trucks were released to the public in 1905. It wasn’t until 1910 that they started gaining popularity due to the implementation of company brand names across the trucks, turning them into mobile billboards. They were also more efficient for short distances than trains and other types of developing machinery at the time, with the ability to keep tanks, pressurized, non pressurized insulated or non insulated, depending on what was being hauled. According to the heil company, a truck body manufacturer, Welding was what boosted tank transport to the level that it is when it comes to food safety. There was very little of that throughout the 19 hundreds and tank trucks didn’t even have refrigeration as an option until the mid 19 twenties. After the demand for tanks rose as every good trucker knows it’s all about the bodies. And for a while, things were a little sketchy as the industry landed on the best design for a tank. Early models were made rounded with the common oval shape, not coming into fashion for several years, but a few of the early models were not so lucky in finding a cylindrical body and were produced with rectangular bodies. These trucks likely were not invited to the truck picnics, which is why we don’t see them today. When it came to the way trucks were built, the first tank trucks were made with solid rubber tires creating durability for the tank trucks through challenging conditions, airfield tires did not begin appearing on trucks until the 19 twenties and even then they were optional. And to be completely honest, I don’t understand why we aren’t still using solid rubber tires. They really seem like the super tire compared to the ones of today that seem to pop faster than a NASCAR driver. Now, I’ve mentioned the Texaco doodle bug a handful of times and for all the trucking history fanatics listening, I think it’s time to tell its story. Besides creating one of the greatest vehicle names ever after the Studebaker dictator, the Texaco company also worked to redefine everyday America’s relationship with oil. Throughout the 19 thirties, most of America was still using coal to heat their homes. It was a dirty greasy product to work with. And the oil industry saw an opportunity to market their cleaner product and they did so with the creation of the Texaco doodle bug, Texaco was looking to rebrand their image as something modern, clean and attractive to the public at large. Their goal was to create a delivery system that was as clean as the product. They were trying to market essentially a milkman for oil that would have fit perfectly in a city version of Disney World’s Tomorrowland. At the time, the iconic block lettering of the Texaco company that we all recognize today was created together with beautiful streamlined bodies and fire truck, red coats of paint. The first fleets of the doodle bug were loosed upon the public at large by way of the Chicago World’s Fair in 1933 the specs for the doodle bug were equally impressive with the truck offering a 180 degree field of vision for drivers. Due to the implementation of a double curved plate glass windshield, the windshield style wouldn’t be used again until the late 19 fifties with the Chrysler Imperial. Today’s trucks are behemoths of the road titans on tires, but the height of the doodle bug was 72 inches, which is only four inches taller than the average Ford sedan at the time. Although I’m sure that meant there were less of the truck’s natural enemy. The truck eating low clearance bridge, despite all the hype and all of the modernism behind them, only six doodle bugs were ever produced. Where are they today? You might ask as of public record, no doodle bug has been able to survive the test of time as all of them have been lost to the darkest corner of trucking history while they may not have been long for this world. The Texaco doodle bug was undoubtedly influential for the designs of the tank trucks that followed and then came the war as troops charged the shores at Normandy and ships waged battle for the midway over the Pacific Theater. Tank trucks were doing their part to keep the allies moving forward no matter what was thrown their way. Tank truckers were dauntless in their work hauling fuel, day in and day out to keep everything moving on both sides of the ocean, whether it be civilian life or in combat. World War Two was a time of urgency for the American people as they did their best to support their boys overseas. Petroleum was no longer safe to be carried by ship as they became easy targets for German U boats which turned the attention of the United States government toward the rail system and the tiny yet steadily growing trucking industry, tank trucks were used day in and day out whether it be to transport fuel from one base to another, deliver water to troops or provide relief support to railway transportation back home. The primary focus of tank trucks was to transport petroleum to local gas stations and airports on a day to day level. So civilians could keep moving long standing rules around transportation were changed in order to allow the trucking industry to adjust to its newfound role in the war effort, such as dot directive number seven, which kept tank trucks limited to a 25 mile radius. Prior to the war, the trucking industry was focused on short haul runs of petroleum, which is interesting because when they were called up to provide support for the war effort, they were working with their direct competitors, the railways, it was this kind of cooper operation that created the need for the first long haul petroleum runs that went from one coast to the other. Still, it’s interesting to think about there being a time frame where all kinds of transportation united to become a kind of support Avenger for the allies. Today. The role of tank trucks expands far beyond petroleum and into categories such as fertilizer, chemicals, and food. Some of the more interesting things hauled by tank trucks are pumpkin pie filling and 100 proof rum, which to me just sounds like a fantastic Saturday night. The modern tank truck is better equipped for its products with improved linings to prevent contamination and leakage. Engineering has adapted to create tanks able to carry multiple kinds of liquid at a time, improving delivery efficiency where early models of tanker trucks were barely taller than the average sedan. The liquid haulers of today reach upwards of 14 ft tall. Today’s tanks are also safer than the ones of the past by compartmentalizing liquids and using baffles to prevent sloshing. But overall tank trucks have cemented themselves as a mover and a shaker in America’s history and a critical piece of the infrastructure that keeps us moving besides the expansion of height and roll. The tank truck has also expanded in variety. Currently, there are four different genres of tank truck, agricultural, petroleum, chemical and liquid food and beverage. The most used kind of liquid trailer is the Rocksteady MC 406 liquid trailer that we all know and love fun. Fact. Did you know almost all orange juices are a blend of Florida and California juices. So drivers will have to take a load from Florida, pick up a load in California and haul it back down to Florida just in case you thought your commute to work was redundant to end the history of tanking. We have to look forward to the future and my friends, the future is now in 2012, the same year Florida, Georgia line dropped their song cruise before promptly fading back into obscurity. The first sets of cryogenic tankers were realized for those out of the know cryogenics is in a reductive sense. The process of freezing things. There was a period of time from the eighties to the early two thousands where people were seriously considering the idea of freezing themselves to be unfrozen in the future when diseases are cured, it’s also believed to be the same process used to freeze. Walt Disney’s head under Disney world. If the conspiracy theory is to be trusted. But what is cryogenics in trucking, cryogenic trucking is the act of hauling frozen gasses. This may not seem like all that much, but when you look back at where we started, we see a testament to the adaptability of truckers, liquid or otherwise and their undaunted sense of spirit. Before we end, I want to share a liquid trucker secret. While customers are often traveling from one store to another based on price, aesthetic or perceived benefits. Almost all liquid food is coming from the same places, just different warehouses. What do you think is this trucker conspiracy? True or the ramblings of another crazy ratchet jaw. We appreciate you joining us here for this very special episode of trucking up history. The history of tanking as always, I’m your host Marcus Bridges and if you don’t like it, build a bridge and get over it. Also, stay fresh cheese bags. We’ll see you next time. Thanks for tuning in and being the gold standard of drivers on the road. Be sure to like and subscribe to the channel and tune in next week for another episode of the Liquid Trucking podcast.