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Goodyear Four-Wheel-Steer-Four-Wheel-Drive Transit Bus

After the Goodyear Tire Company had proven that coast-to-coast truck trips with its pneumatic tires were possible, the next goal was to make the transport of goods take less time. To test its own smaller diameter tire designs, Goodyear built six-wheel trucks that not only sped up truck transport, but also allowed for carrying a heavier payload.

According to period press reports Goodyear developed the tandem-drive rear axle for its six-wheel trucks to provide better traction. Following this development the Six-Wheel Truck Company was formed.

Which brings us to the unique Goodyear four-wheel-steer-four-wheel-drive transit bus in the lead image photographed on June 21, 1922. The first six-wheeled bus was constructed in 1921, photos of this machine and three Six-Wheeled trucks can be viewed below.

The eight-wheel bus was then designed and constructed. It has been reported that this machine was used by the Rubber Company to transport workers to the Akron tire plants from the Goodyear Heights housing development in the City.

The coachwork used for this bus is a modified street car body that was designed by Peter Witt and constructed by a coachbilder. More details about the bus are covered in the June 8, 1922, Automotive Industries. In the September 1920, Electric Traction, is an article with photos covering one of the first six-wheeled buses.

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A photo of the lower half of the Bus equipped with four-wheel steer, four-wheel drive and four-wheel brakes in 1922.

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The Goodyear Six-wheeled Bus and three Six-Wheel Cargo trucks, photographed on August 17, 1921. At this time it is not known if this fleet was used for local testing or for a long-distance campaign.

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An image of a Six-Wheeled Truck with updated wheels and tires dated September 12, 1921.

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 A Six-Wheeled truck chassis displaying the shaft-driven tandem-drive rear axles dated December 19, 1921.

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  • This truck and its load was the feature image in a four page article: “The Pneumatic Truck Tire.” It was published in the “Motor Age” April 29, 1920, issue covering the six-wheeled developments. 

15 responses to “Goodyear Four-Wheel-Steer-Four-Wheel-Drive Transit Bus

  1. A definitive source on this is a 1920 paper by M.D. Scott of the Goodyear Company titled “Pneumatic-Tire and Motor-Truck Development Experiences. The paper was published in Transactions of the Society of Automotive Engineers, Volume 15, Part 2 and begins on page 416. The paper may be viewed online by searching for the title or the publication. This paper was likely a major source for many the articles published in the various commercial journals concerning the Goodyear company bus and truck operations.

    Goodyear discovered that the cushioning effect of the pneumatic tire combined with the higher speeds required for modern long distance trucking required trucks of a different type than commercially available.

    An illustration of the state of the industry at that time is the debate which was going on in the same issue concerning the superiority of wood wheels as compared to wire spoked wheels, or the newly introduced steel disc type wheels.

      • You are welcome,thanks for the excellent site, I’m glad to help people find this info.

        There is another related 1920 SAE article authored by C. M. McCreery who was employed by Goodyear. Title “Design of Pneumatic-Tired Trucks” which published in “The Journal of the Society of Automotive Engineers, Volumes 6-7” the February 1920 issue beginning on page 87.

        Also available with internet search.

  2. I notice that the Six-Wheel Truck Co. chassis, both above and shown more clearly on the Six-Wheel Truck link, don’t have power dividers (inter-axle differentials) on the lead axle, like the tandems I’m familiar with. Anyone knows when power dividers came into use?

    • Hi Jim, I read, Mack introduced the power divider in 1931 on it’s AP trucks for the Hoover Dam project. These look like Timkin-Detroit “drop in” worm drive units, and had no power divider. Apparently, most army trucks had no power divider either, and they became popular after the war as tandems became necessary.

      • Thanks for that information, Howard. As for WW2 Army trucks, somebody told me the Studebaker six-bys had a separate driveshaft for each rear axle. Never seen one up close, so I don’t know if that’s true.

        • Hi Jim, the Studebaker 6×6( and Dodge too, I think) had a funky transfer case, with 2 driveshafts going back. The front drive axle was offset and that shaft also drove the steer axle. Apparently, it worked.

          • I was once told that this design allowed the rear axles to be the same. I have never checked to see if both rear axles are interchangeable.

          • yeah, two drive shafts to the back and for DUKW’s based on a similar Duece and a Half, they also had two propeller shafts to power the props in the back, running out of the transfer case I think. Prop shafts had thrust bearings mounted on the rear axles. Supposedly, the manual stated that if the props stop operating in the water, just put the transfer case in high range and floor it, the tires acting as props to give a max speed of 2 mph….and if that doesn’t work, it recommended using rifle butts as paddles!

    • The only drawback I’ve run into with four-wheel steering is the larger turning radius. When you’re trying to maneuver in a tight spot you find yourself doing a lot more back and forth to get where you want to go. Out on the road though the turning radius is usually not a concern.

  3. In the middle of the last century a lot of logging in the Santa Cruz mountains was done using 10 wheel trucks. Both rear axles were powered but the differentials were welded solid to make solid axles. The logging roads were steep and muddy so traction was more important than differential action. This old technology has been replaced by articulated logging tractors which are 4 wheel drive with huge tires.

    Last Friday I had to stop for a cement truck that was backing into a driveway. It had the four wheel steering. I see a lot of large cranes with this kind of steering too.

  4. And then there was Milton O. Reeve’s Octoauto, predating the Goodyear trucks by a decade. Informative article at Silodrome Gasoline Culture.

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