old versus new melton trucks

8 Things You Don’t See in Modern Trucks

The trucking industry has come a long way — not just in the way freight is moving or the regulations, but the technology in the trucks as well. In the last several decades, we’ve seen improvements to safety technology, tracking, and support, as well as a major shift in focus on driver well-being.

We’ve come a long way in implementing some top-notch tech into our dashboards, and today’s trucks look like luxury cars compared to what their earlier models looked like. Those who’ve been on the road for a while will remember times when the fanciest thing they had was a CB radio. Here are a few things you might not spot in a new tractor-trailer:

Twin-Stick Transmission

Transmissions — yes, plural. The main and the auxiliary. Today, they are bundled together with the two gearshifts replaced by the shift lever and a hi-lo range selector. But, there was a time when a driver had to take one in each hand (with an elbow looped through their steering wheel to keep things steady) just to change gears!

Twin-stick transmission

Brodie Knobs

Back in a time before power-assisted steering, older trucks had a heavy and slow response, requiring a lot of hand-over-hand turning and it made for some slow turns. This free-rotating knob used to be popular because it helped improve those turn times, and also gave for a better grip while drivers were changing gears or reaching for their radios.

Brodie knob

Clutch Pedal

Back in the day when manual transmissions were more common, clutch pedals were around a lot more to be used when shifting gears. You’ll probably be able to find this today if it’s something you prefer, but a major complaint long-haul drivers had was that using it so often eventually led to some leg and knee strain.

Clutch pedal

Window Cranks

Power windows became a regular thing in cars and trucks back in the 80’s and 90’s. Before that, it was considered a ‘luxury feature’ and could only be found in high profile cars! Back then, if you needed a bit of air on the road you had to contend with the manual crank on the front doors. Anyone that tried to crank one of these bad boys open in the winter can probably attest, it’s a big workout!

Window crank

8 Track Tape Player

Power windows became a regular thing in cars and trucks back in the 80’s and 90’s. Before that, it was considered a ‘luxury feature’ and could only be found in high profile cars! Back then, if you needed a bit of air on the road you had to contend with the manual crank on the front doors. Anyone that tried to crank one of these bad boys open in the winter can probably attest, it’s a big workout!

8 track tape player

Road Atlas

With the major improvements that have come to GPS navigation and smartphones, road map usage has become rare in the present day. Rand McNally first introduced their road atlas back in 1924, that condensed those large single-state maps you used to spread across the dashboard, into a handy book for drivers to use.

Road atlas

Paper Logbook

While we still keep paper logs as a backup for when your digital communications are down, it’s not common anymore for drivers to keep a book of these as their primary tracker for their workdays.

Paper log book

Wig Wag Low Pressure Indicator

Today, if you’ve got problems with your brakes, you’ll have a little indicator appear on your dashboard. But there was a much more ‘in your face’ indicator with this low-pressure warning system introduced in the 50’s. As air brake system pressure drops below a safe level, the Wig Wag arm (mounted above the windshield) instantly drops into the driver’s forward field of view warning “Stop Low Air.”

wig wag low pressure indicator

As the industry continues to change, it can leave anyone wondering what our trucks are going to look in another 50 years! If you want to see what modern Melton trucks come equipped with, be sure to check out our trucking equipment page here.

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