Missouri Drom Decks
Story and illustrations by Duke Doubler, Christiana, Tennessee
Sometimes, the most unexpected things can spark a memory. So it was when I read
the article “An Introduction to Droms,” by Martin Phippard, in the June/July
2004 issue of Old Time Trucks. It’s a fine story, made all the better by
the excellent photos.
The Federal Highway Safety Administration (FHSA) definition of dromedaries
quoted in that story includes decks, the form of droms that I used to see in St.
Louis, Mo. The decks performed a unique service for truckers operating into and
through Missouri during the years preceding federal deregulation that took place
in the early 1980s.
For a clear explanation, roll your clocks back to the decades from the 1940s to
the 1970s, now known as “The Golden Age of Trucking.” Despite the upbeat name,
these years were also some of the most confounding for cross-country truckers.
Back then each individual state had its own laws concerning length, axle weight,
axle spacing, and gross weight ratings. Rarely were any two states identical in
all these restrictive areas, therefore complying with the differing laws
demanded careful design of tractor trailer trucks. Drivers faced the challenge
of making sure that their trucks conformed to the wide variety of laws of each
state that they entered during their journey. Generally speaking, states west of
the Mississippi River feature more expanses of sparsely populated open country
and therefore allowed longer lengths. However, states east of the muddy
Mississippi, being more densely populated and quite hilly, have tight, twisting
roads that require shorter trucks.
For the whole story, subscribe to Old Time Trucks® and read the
Dec04/Jan05 2004 issue.