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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Truck Up: 1928

Truck Up: 1928

Washington, D.C., or vicinity circa 1928. "Four Wheel Drive hill-climbing demonstration." Our second look at this exciting test of trucks and traction. National Photo Company Collection glass negative. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

Friction winch rollers

Those rollers are used for friction winches, a rope is wrapped around the roller several times, by pulling on the rope it grabs onto the roller like a friction clutch and transmits the power from the winch, easy way to control operation and loads of pulling power, the tighter you pull the rope the more power transmitted, let up on the rope and the pulling stops. The belt drive mentioned by PTO would not have had sides on the pulley; the pulley would be slightly crowned in the center but no sides or flanges.

Disturbingly Close

The spectators seem to be dangerously close to the action. In particular, the lone guy on the right seems vulnerable. I see no chains to safely hold this vehicle should it slip backwards, so why would one assume that it would fall back in a straight line?

Rocks On

Notice the wooden box o' rocks and other stuff, including a shovel, behind the cab temporarily (judging by its cobbled-together look) mounted as far forward as possible in an effort to get some extra weight on those front driving wheels OR to minimize the possibility of a crowd-pleasing 1928 FWD truck wheelie. I wonder what water tower that is in the distance?

One final thing, whatever the photographer was standing on, it's much higher than the far side of the draw/arroyo/small canyon. His position so near the action and unobscured view seem to indicate he was shooting from a building that stood on the edge on the high ground. This could have been at the Army's Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland, not far from me, which has been testing military equipment including tanks and trucks since 1917. Note the uniformed gent in the foreground. At first I thought that was a boy with the bike, suggesting some informal setting open to anybody, but I think he's an adult, so it could be on government property.

This looks like

A stretch of Rock Creek Parkway between M and P Streets (before the bike path was paved).

Kids to the front!

Interesting that the kids and the one on the bike got in front of the suits and the Army officer observing the demo!

Hill climbing tips

Whether he makes it to the top depends a lot on how fast he was going when he started the climb.


It might be possible to figure out where this photo was taken if anyone recognizes the water tower[?] in the background above the truck. It looks like there may be a sign painted on it, but I can't make it out.

Toothsome Winch!

Wonder what the wicked looking winch on the back was to be used for. Pretty serious towing or dragging by the look of it. Note the rear towing hooks on the frame as well.

FWD/Seagrave is still alive and well in Clintonville, Wisconsin, where the High School team is the “Truckers.”

Good Lord

Subtitled "Accident waiting to happen."


It looks like those rollers would be engaged against the rear wheels, in turn operating the exposed gears. To lift a dump bed, perhaps?

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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