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Eight-Wheeled Bus and Truck 1922

The Eight-Wheeled Bus and Truck Mystery Resolved

Updated – At the end of the post. Over four years ago we posted the lead image showing both an eight-wheeled bus and truck parked out in front of the Service Truck Tire Co. At the time, the only detail known was that the photo might have been taken in San Francisco.

Previously Daniel Strohl of Hemmings Daily posted the photo of the eight-wheeled automobile (below) sent in by Mike Rettie of Alameda, CA. The 1928 photo was from the estate of Lewis Clark, also of Alameda. Input from reader John Perala, of Richmond, CA, indicated he believed it might have been built by the Eight Wheel Motor Vehicle Company.

Eight-wheeled automobile 1928

  •       Eight-wheeled automobile photographed in front of side door of the Palace Hotel in San Francisco.

Later before Dan posted the photo of the eight-wheeled bus and truck, John Perala’s comment came to mind. Armed with the Eight Wheel Motor Vehicle Company info he researched it and found the Patent no. 59,728 and drawing (below), plus a later tandem rear axle patent by Rollie B. Fageol that was assigned to the Eight Wheel Motor Vehicle Company.

While researching for an article about Rollie B. Fageol, we found the Road Vehicle Patent no. 1,660,188 that he filed twenty days before the wheel and fender patent was granted. More information was also found about both the bus and truck being built by the National Axle Corp. in the September 1922 Power Wagon, a trucking magazine.

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  •        Rollie B. Fageol 1921 patent for the wheel and fender design like that used on the bus and truck.

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  • The R.B. Fageol Road Vehicle chassis patent filed twenty days before the fender design patent was granted.  

The Power Wagon reported that both units, a “8-wheeled motor bus, streetcar and truck” were being built by “the National Axle Corp. of San Jose, CA under contract with the Eight Wheel Motor Vehicle Company of 350 Post Street in San Francisco.”

A mention in a truck axle article in the January 5, 1922, Automotive Industries was also found that confirmed that the National Axle Company in San Jose, CA built worm drive axles as were used in the two vehicles.

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  •     September, 1922 Power Wagon article.

The Fageol brothers, Rollie, Frank, Louis, and William, also used worm drive axles in the Fageol trucks they manufactured as early as 1917 and the Fageol Safety Coach that was introduced in 1922. In addition both the Saftey Coach and the Eight-Wheeled Truck both used Westinghouse air brakes.

If we connect all the dots, all of the companies were located in the Northern California “Bay Area” and apparently all worked together. The only part of the story that has not been figured out yet is, who were the principles behind the Eight Wheel Motor Vehicle Company?

Can any of our readers tell us more about the eight-wheeled car or add more to this eight-wheeled bus and truck story?

Learn the reasons for the use of eight tires and view an interesting article and images of the Goodyear eight-wheeled bus built at about the same time.

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  •     1921 Road Vehicle patent drawing of power plant and construction of the front suspension.

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  •              1921 Road Vehicle patent drawing of twin screw worm drive axles, suspension and frame.
  •    1921 Road Vehicle patent drawing of the layout of the power plant, steering, axles and suspension.

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Update – Thanks to reader Bob Symmes, who lead us to an excellent post on Coachbuilt.com about Rollie B. Fageol by Mark Theobald, we are now able to clear up this entire story.

Fageol sold the patents and rights to the American Highway Transportation Company of San Francisco. The first unit produced was the “Pacific 8 Wheeler” (below) built by the National Axle Corporation. American Highway was headed by chief investor Emory Winship, who later formed the Eight Wheel Motor Vehicle Company.

Shortly afterward Winship contracted with the National Axle Company to construct the second eight-wheeled bus and the truck discussed above for the new firm. The entire effort only resulted in these three prototypes being produced.

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                                                    Bus Transportation, December 1922.

8 responses to “The Eight-Wheeled Bus and Truck Mystery Resolved

  1. Other than selling more tires, what was the advantage of tandem front wheels? Seems to add complexity and weight. I could see it on the large truck as making a difference in load bearing, but is the bus significantly bigger that it would necessitate such a set up? The chassis drawings resemble a rail car, perhaps that was the inspiriation.

  2. Another reason for 8 wheels was to get a smoother ride….an earlier American 8 wheeled car was the Octo-auto….which also had a six wheeled companion…the Sexto- auto. I do not believe there is an example of either one in existance today….

  3. The radiator is definitely Marmon. I would say type 74. That looks like a 27 Essex behind it, so that sort of sets the date. Brian

  4. Large trucks were manufactured in San Francisco in a building at 11th and Folsom street, currently home of a Mercedes dealer repair facility. At one time they had photos of the truck works on the walls of the service drive. Wish I could remember the name of the manufacturer, but from the look in the photos it would have been late 20’s era.

  5. I drove concrete trucks for many years and always thought that a tandem steer axle was good from a safety point of view. Mixers use oversize tire, tho not as fat 30 some years ago. A blowout in a fat tire is completely unpredictable. Having four tires seems like it would result in better control in a blowout situation. However the downside is more drag offroad in mud and there more limited traction.

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