Talbert Manufacturing’s first trailer was featured in the American Historical Truck Society’s...

Talbert Manufacturing’s first trailer was featured in the American Historical Truck Society’s booth during the Mid-America Trucking Show. It was the first-ever trailer with a removable rear suspension, which significantly enhanced safety when loading and unloading heavy equipment. 

Photo courtesy Talbert Manufacturing

The Mid-America Trucking Show, the annual celebration of the industry and all the apparatus that’s used in it, includes a side show of sorts – antique commercial trucks and trailers brought in by members of the American Truck Historical Society, or ATHS.

Among the many aged but usually new-looking vehicles at the 2018 MATS last March was the first trailer ever produced by Talbert Manufacturing, a specialty builder founded in 1938 in suburban Chicago, and later moved to Rensselaer, Indiana. It was the first time this trailer was shown at MATS.

The 80-year-old gooseneck unit was on display in the society’s booth, giving show attendees an up-close look at the trailer that was an innovation in its day. It’s owned by Andy Tanner, Talbert’s president.

Designed by company founder Austin Talbert, it has a removable rear suspension, allowing the trailer’s rear end to be set on the ground and crawler shovels and the like to easily move onto the trailer’s bed without doing a balancing act over the rear wheels and tires. That was a boost to safety.

The trailer has a fixed gooseneck. Soon after, Austin Talbert designed a removable gooseneck, a fixture now common. The gooseneck is detached and pulled away from the trailer by a tractor, so equipment can then be loaded over the trailer’s front end.

As a side note to the sideshow, the company says Arnold Braasch, who has held several roles with Talbert since he was 16 and continues to contribute to the firm’s day-to-day operations, co-founded the ATHS and has served as president. He’s now on the society’s board of directors.

Braasch is 88, which means he was 8 when the trailer was built, and in eight more years began working for the company. That sounds as interesting to me as the trailer’s pioneering design. 

Related: Book On Trailer Manufacturing History Recalls Personal Stories

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Tom Berg

Tom Berg

Former Senior Contributing Editor

Journalist since 1965, truck writer and editor since 1978.

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