Hendrickson Motor Co. - Hendrickson Mfg. Co. - 1913-present - Chicago, Illinois - Lyons, Illinois


Magnus Hendrickson built his first truck in 1900, and later was chief engineer for Lauth-Juergens. Leaving this company in 1913, Mr. Hendrickson returned to Chicago and formed his own company with sons George and Carl, and also David Nyman and Al Ostby. Son Robert joined later, after leaving Lauth-Juergens, and some years later, Edward, the fourth son, joined the company when he became of age.

The first truck from the Hendrickson factory was a cab-­over and chain-driven, with artillery wheels and solid tires. The front windows of the cab were built like a 3-section bay window of a house, like the last ones Hendrickson designed for Lauth-Juergens. Right from the start, Hendrickson trucks were specialties, with Magnus Hendrickson's inventive genius providing the solution to a variety of customers' requirements, such as a patented hoist for stone-hauling trucks and special dump bodies for refuse hauling.

In 1920 the regular Hendrickson line-up included three models of 2'1.-to 5-tons priced from $3200-$5250, with worm drives, and solid tires all around.

The 1922 line-up included a l ˝ -ton model $2200 with worm drive and pneumatic tires. Other sizes had solids, duals on the rear, with pneumatics optional except the 5­ton model. All had multiple disc clutches, most had 4­speed transmissions and all had Timken worm drives. By 1924 a 6-ton model replaced the 5-ton. Special chassis sizes were also made to order.

In 1926 Magnus, with sons Robert and George, designed a tandem suspension unit using the now-famous equalizing beam with center pivot to distribute the load evenly to the rear axles and also reduce the effects of uneven terrain by 50%.

An assembly plant was built in 1927, and by 1930 there were some 30 employees.

A major lift for the company came in 1933 when the International Harvester Company of Chicago signed an exclusive contract for use of the tandem suspension. The results were mutually beneficial; to Hendrickson for the necessary business at the bottom of the Great Depression; and to International for the large percentage of the heavy duty market it captured with those early 6-wheeled units. This relationship continued until 1948 when International agreed to let Hendrickson, at its own request, make the suspensions available to all truck manufacturers. These suspensions are a major production item today.

Hendrickson also built fire engines on International chassis and installed diesel engines in International's large trucks.

The regular Hendrickson truck range by 1936-1939 included some cab-overs again, and had expanded from 2%- to 12-tons at $1760 to $9000, with 6-cylinder Waukesha engines being the standard, since 1932, and having SAE hp from 33.8 to 60. Cummins diesels were also offered by 1938. The 1940-1941 range was 2-to 10­tons with more SAE hp; 35.8 to 79.4. Many of Hendrick­son's sales were in the Chicago area.

During the 1930's Mr. Hendrickson invented a power divider which enabled both tandem axles to be powered, and in World War II the company was kept busy supplying Hendrickson suspensions to International at the rate of 600 per week. Other varieties of suspensions were developed through the years, including the use of air.

The conventional Hendrickson trucks used the standard K (or KB) series International cab and had a set-back front axle and a long hood. These same ideas were carried over then the B series came in 1950, also using International's cab, this one with the curved windshield. Model B came in several variations; long nose, standard length, and a short sloped nose with a somewhat higher cab. The latter had a simple screen mesh grille, very flat. The successor H series for 1970 was a larger, but sometimes lighter truck, again using International's Fleetstar cab, and this model is still current. The hood, one of the longest on conventional highway trucks today, is made of steel re-enforced fiberglass.

Diamond T won a National Design Award in 1951 for a new tilt-cab-over, and this was also used by Hendrickson and International until the early 1970's, each with its own grille. Hendrickson also had its own tilt cab-over in the early 1950's, this one tilting to the rear, including the upper part of the bull-nose hood. A taller line-haul cab-­over was added about 1950, using International's cab once more (this one CO-405). Some cab-over and cab-­forward designs other than International's were also used in small numbers.

Hendrickson's truck production was small in numbers with 60 to 100 units or so per year in the early 1950's" and they became more and more custom-built with the customers' wide choice of components and equipment to choose from. They included diesel, gasoline, or propane engines, and aluminum, fiberglass or steel construction.

As time progressed, more and more specialties came from the active engineering department. Some long-nosed conventionals in the B series came with the cab over the front axle, or even over tandem steering axles.

The company expanded into the crane carrier field with a wide variety of cab-over and cab-forward types, including low profile cabs, tandem axles front and rear, and even tri-axles front and rear, in an over-all range from 15 to 200 tons.

Hendrickson's airport ground support equipment includes fuel tankers, plane towers, snowplows, and special cargo and passenger vehicles, the bodies of which reach plane-loading heights by scissors elevators.

Other truck manufacturers come to Hendrickson for truck sub-assemblies, or even the entire vehicle with the customer's own label. The new Ryder truck is one of these. The Manitooc crane carrier is another. The Cline Truck Company of Kansas City, Missouri, bought some of Hendrickson's sheet metal for its trucks. Hendrickson also built chassis for International fire engines.

Several companies operate fleets of Hendricksons, mostly around Chicago, in heavy duty local or interstate hauling. Mid-America Truck Lines, which has possibly the largest fleet, operates about 140 line-haul tractors in the general 7-state area between Chicago and Kansas.

Yearly production is 300-command for the early 1970's, all custom-engineered and hand-built. Lifetime production of Hendrickson (trademarked) trucks is estimated at 5500 units.


    For more information please read:

Walter M.P. McCall & George H. Dammann - American Fire Engines Since 1900

Fred W. Crismon - Fire Engines

Bob Dubbert - Encyclopedia of Canadian Fire Apparatus

Donal M. Baird - A Canadian History of Fire Engines

Phil DaCosta - One Hundred Years of America's Fire Fighting Apparatus

Bill Hass - History of the American Water Towers

Hans Halberstadt - The American Fire Engine

Hans Halberstadt - Fire Engines

T.A. Jacobs - A History of Fire Engines

Matthew Lee - A Pictorial History of the Fire Engine

M.W. Goodman MD - Inventing the American Fire Engine: An Illustrated History of Fire Engine Patents

Consumer's Guide - The Complete Book of Fire Engines: A colorful Review of Today's Fire Apparatus

Sheila Buff - Fire Engines in North America

Sheila Buff - Fire Engines: Motorized Apparatus Since 1900

Neil Wallington - World Encyclopedia of Fire Engines: an illustrated guide to fire trucks around the world

Keith Ryan & Neil Wallington - The Illustrated History of Fire Engines

Paul Barrett - Heavy Rescue Trucks: 1931 - 2000 Photo Gallery

Larry Shapiro - Aerial Fire Trucks

Larry Shapiro - Fighting Fire Trucks

Larry Shapiro - Hooks and Ladders

Larry Shapiro - Pumpers: Workhorse Fire Engines

Donald F. Wood - American Volunteer Fire Trucks

Donald F. Wood - Big City Fire Truck 1900-1950

Donald F. Wood & Wayne Sorensen - Big City Fire Trucks: 1951-1996

Donald F. Wood & Wayne Sorenson - Motorized Fire Apparatus of the West, 1900-1960

Donald F. Wood & Wayne Sorensen - New York City Fire Trucks

Donald F. Wood & Wayne Sorenson - Volunteer & Rural Fire Apparatus Photo Gallery

Kenneth Little - Chicago Fire Department engines: Sixty years of motorized pumpers, 1912-1972

Kenneth Little - Chicago Fire Department hook & ladder tractors, 1914-1971

Ron Jeffers - The apparatus of the Jersey City Fire Department: Yesterday and today

John Rieth - Jersey Shore Fire Apparatus: Classic Thru the 60's

Philip R. Lincoln - Massachusetts fire apparatus: A pictorial Collection

Charles Madderom - Los Angeles City Fire Apparatus: 1953 Through 1999 Photo Archive

George Klass - Fire apparatus: A pictorial history of the Los Angeles Fire Department

John A. Calderone - Wheels of the bravest: A history of FDNY fire apparatus, 1865-1992

Peter Aloisi - Apparatus and fires across America: Featuring former FDNY apparatus

Scott Schimpf - Fire Apparatus of Philadelphia

Harrold Shell - Past and present: A history of Phoenix fire trucks

Leo E. Duliba - Industrial & Private Fire Apparatus: 1925 Through 2001 Photo Archive

G.N. Georgano & G. Marshall Naul - The Complete Encyclopedia of Commercial Vehicles

Albert Mroz - Illustrated Encyclopedia of American Trucks & Commercial Vehicles

Daniel D. Hutchins - Wheels Across America: Carriage Art & Craftsmanship

George W. Green - Special-Use Vehicles: An Illustrated History of Unconventional Cars and Trucks

William T. King - History of the American Steam Fire-Engine

John M. Peckham - Fighting fire with fire: A pictorial volume of steam fire-fighting apparatus


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