The company that I worked for in Saskatoon had built a winch truck that was one of a kind. They took a cab over Kenworth with a V8 Cat, then mounted a 5-speed main, a 4-speed auxiliary and a three-speed Browning box. They mounted a winch, and for traction, they took a belly plate about 1 inch thick, reinforced it, and cut teeth on one end. On the other end, they put a hinge. All of this was mounted onto the frame rails between the back of the cab and the power divider on the rear wheels. If there was nothing to anchor to, like trees or larger machinery, you could lower the plate with a hand winch and adjust the chains on each side of the frame. This truck had a long frame, and the plate was approximately 4 feet by 8 feet long. You would hook onto whatever you were winching and wind the cable in. As it pulled the truck backwards, it pushed the plate deeper into the ground. (Kids, don't do this while parked on asphalt.) You just put the truck into granny and granny's granny low gear to lift the plate. As you pulled ahead with this low gearing, the plate easily pulled out of the ground. You would then use the hand winch to raise the plate parallel to the frame rails and hook the chains to the frame. Now, you were ready for another adventure.
Another truck I saw was being built by Kleysen's Transport out of Winnipeg. They had a Potash haul from Esterhazy, Saskatchewan, to Northgate in North Dakota. They had two bulk tank trailers hooked up in an A-train setup. The tractor was hooked to the first trailer by the fifth wheel. The second trailer was connected to the back of the first trailer with a pole to a tandem hitch. In order to get more power for the river hills, they mounted a GMC 350 horse V8 diesel coupled to an automatic transmission on the hitch of the back trailer. The controls were electric over air. It worked well until it rained or freezing rain or fresh frozen slop. A friend of mine drove one of these units. He said when the electric couplers got wet, the controls would not let the R.P.M. go up or down, and the transmission had its own way of thinking. I think they only used it one summer until fall, and it also became a prototype.
Another home-built truck and trailer came from Winnipeg, built by Lupul Building Movers. It was made to move prairie grain elevators. They made a cradle frame on tracks for each corner of the elevator. In those days (mid-60s), the elevators were 90 feet tall. It was set up so that the hitch could be pulled from both sides. If you needed to back up, you could unhook the pole and take it around to the opposite side, attach it to the cradles, and pull it back. The tractor was custom-made by the Lupul family in their shop. The truck was an I.H.C. Emeryville, if I remember correctly. It had three transmissions and a heavier suspension so they could load concrete on the truck's deck. The weight was about 18 tons. That gave it the extra traction it needed. It was driven by the owner's son, who was 16 years old at that time. A lot of the local people came out to watch, including me.
Ever since then, I wanted to be like him and haul loads that other people do not have a chance to haul.
I've never hauled a grain elevator, but I have hauled a modified gravel crusher with no brakes that I have written about in an earlier edition of Pro-Trucker Magazine.