History of Tow Trucks

In 1908, Ferdinand Porsche of Austro-Daimler developed the M08, which was an artillery tractor for the Austro-Hungarian army. One of the designs was built as a recovery vehicle for the others, having a large winch on the platform at the rear. Tow-trucking service, especially 24-hour towing service makes the world go round in a quiet manner. It is one of those services that people seldom talk about on a daily basis, but it is very important when the right time comes. Only at few instances do we imagine what modern life is going to be if there were no tow trucks.

Heavy-duty tow trucks are not as appreciated as they are supposed to be. This is especially true of people whose commercial vehicle has never broken down in the middle of nowhere. It is during these aggravating and helpless times that people come to appreciate the true value of towing. It has been 100 years since the tow truck as we know it today was invented but it is as important as ever in the times that we need the tow truck.

History of Towing

It was during desperate times that the tow truck was born. In the year 1916, Ernest Holmes, a mechanic who hails from Chattanooga, Tennessee needed to face an unusual task. He had to recover a Ford Model T that belonged to his former professor who lost control of his car and drove off road. The professor ended up in a creek. In order to retrieve the vehicle, it required six men, countless blocks, eight hours, plus a lot of rope that served as props and tools. The car was saved eventually.

Holmes began his work on making a simpler method for recovering vehicles and created a crane and pulley system which he attached to a 1913 Cadillac. This appeared really good in theory, but as it turned out, his new towing system simply just wasn’t stable enough for recovering vehicles. Undaunted, he continued working on his towing designs and ended up adding outriggers to stabilize as well as support his invention. Holmes earned a patent for his invention in 1919, and a new business was born, tow trucking.

The first commercial truck for towing built by Holmes was the Holmes 680 and was supposed to retail at $680 but it was just simply too expensive at that time. Holmes then made a less expensive version which he called the Holmes 485. He sold it for $485. Holmes connected his system to a 1913 Locomobile. It was a steam-powered vehicle with a six-cylinder engine and four-speed manual transmission. Another interesting fact is that Holmes’ company, which was sold in 1973 and now known as Miller industries, created military vehicles when the US entered the Second World War.

Through the years, the tow truck continued to develop and different manufacturers evolved different kinds of towing systems for different situations. One of these systems is the hook and chain. The hook and chain system have chains that loop around the axle and frame of the car and a boom winch that    lifts it. However, the equipment is only going to work for cars that have steel bumpers that do not have all-wheel drive or it is going to damage the drivetrain or bumpers.

The wheel lift is now among the most common types of towing equipment, where a yoke fits under the wheels of the car and lifts a part of the car off the ground. The boom is a system with a boom winch connected to the vehicle that needs towing and lifts the vehicle. The flatbed is truck that tows a flatbed behind it. The towed car is mounted on the flatbed above the ground. The combo or integrated system has both the boom as well as the wheel lift equipment.