History Of the Tow Truck (Where It All Began)

The Towing Industry is fairly new in the grand scheme of things. As cars became more common among every day Americans, things were going great until they came across a very important piece of the puzzle. What to do if the car breaks down? What to do if the car drives off the road or crashes? Well up until the early 1900’s they used shear man power to pull cars out of ditches. Mechanics were commonly called out to help pulls cars out of difficult situations. So how did towing come to be?


The First Tow Truck.

It begins in Chattanooga Tennessee where Mr. Earnest Holmes, a self made mechanic was phoned out one day to retrieve a car that had drove off into a creek. He needed some rope and the power of 10 men to get the car free. This struck an idea in Mr. Holmes, “What if I could use another vehicle to do the lifting for me?” This set everything in motion for the beginnings of the FIRST TOW TRUCK.

In 1913, Holmes assembled a pulley system with ropes and steel to create the first twin-boom wrecker. It wasn’t perfect and he found that using just the winch the vehicle needed more support or it would slide backwards, to solve this issue he added braces to the bottom frame of the vehicle called out riggers. These gave him enough stabalization and support to get almost any regular vehicle out of a ditch and in 1918 the first tow truck was born. He used the rig to help bring people into his mechanic shop to get more work, but he later began selling them to other companies for $680. The first production wreckers named after the price and sold as 680’s.


The start of a new industry, The Tow Industry

Earnest Holmes Co continued to revolutionize the towing industry and created several different types of rigs from light duty to heavy duty and improved his wrecker lifts by including rotators, extendable booms and more. He even manufactured 7,000 wreckers for the military during World War 2. Sadly in 1945 Ernest Holmes Sr. passed suddenly and left his company behind to his son Ernest Holmes Jr where he owned and ran the company until 1973. 


Holmes Co. and Miller

In 1959 Holmes Jr. developed the first Sling and Car Dolly to diversify the types of vehicles that can be towed. And in the late 70’s Holmes designed and developed Century Hydraulics, perfect for lifting heavier vehicles up to 40 tons. Around the same time Gerald Holmes, Holmes Sr’s Grandson was accredited with the development of the first automotive wheel-lift and opened his rival company called Century. It was short lived though because in 1990 Holmes Co and Century were bought out by a company the towing industry knows very well and is even in the trucks here at Jeff Smith Towing, Miller Industries. Miller is the leading brand of tow units and rigs for a reason and it all started with Ernest Holmes Sr. and his big idea. 

Today tow trucks have changed drastically but you can vist the Hall Of Fame Towman Museum, 3315 Broad St. in south Chattanooga Tennesee where you can see some of the first wrecker rigs as well as learn about the history of towing from past to present. The museum started with a group called “Friends of Towing” where they made their dream a reality and opened the first ever towing museum. Not only do they share history but they also give back to the families that have lost loved ones in the line of duty. Towing can be a very serious and dangerous proffesion. Do your part and watch for road side assistance vehicles and move over. If you would like to donate to the Survivor Fund click here.

Houston Texas Repossession Towing  is always ready for any service you may need. With fast response times, unbeatable prices, and southern hospitality we are the towing company for you. We service the area Baytown Towing, Channelview Towing, Laporte Towing, Crosby Towing, Pasadena Towing, Highlands Towing, Clear Lake Towing and most of the greater Houston area. With light medium and heavy duty trucks we can handle all repossession, roadside and recovery work you may need. For more helpful tips check out our blog page. And for a closer look in the towing industry look us up on YouTube @HTXREPO. Call now if you need a tow 


Different Types of Wrecker Trucks

You may not have thought about it, but there are a lot of different types of tow trucks out there. There are not really two alike from the engine to the paint job. But there are three main categories you may have seen a lot on our site, and we are going to go into detail about them now. Light, medium and heavy duty; what do they mean and how to know which type of tow truck you will need?

Light Duty

Light duty tow trucks can lift a vehicle that ranges from 7,000-10,000 pounds. This is the most common tow truck because it picks up smaller common cargo such as cars, minivans, SUVs, and most pick-up trucks; the majority of the vehicles on the road. These trucks suspension is beefed up, they have very strong springs and are usually always a dually. Common trucks that are converted into tow trucks are Dodge Ram 3500-4500s, Ford F-350s, and Chevy Silverado 3500’s. There are a few different options when it comes to what unit the tow truck actually has.
Self Loader: A self loader tow unit that is custom made for towing by a company such as Miller. The lift is operated from the cab of the truck to the hydraulics in the arm and is powered at the flip of a switch. It is a very safe way to tow a vehicle because it is controlled and can be adjusted even while in motion. The bed is made with tool boxes integrated in the side for convenience and designed in a way for easy access to the dollies if needed. These trucks are perfect for getting into tight spots while working a private property parking lot. And convenient controls from inside the cab make it ideal for repossession. There are some awesome wreckers out there. There are also slides in units that can be mounted in the back of almost any pickup truck. But keep in mind not just any truck is good for the job it depends on the weight and carry capacity of the vehicle. Dodge Rams have a heavy Cummins engine and work really well for slide in tow units. These types of lifts are great for people who already own a truck and want to have a cost friendly option. All you have to beef up the suspension and your on the road.


Medium Duty tow trucks are the trucks that can haul 7,000 to 22,000lbs-max, depending on the truck. So these are what you need if you broke down in a cargo van, a very large pick up truck or a small bus. There are some medium duty self loader tow trucks out there driving a Dodge Ram 5500 but in most cases they are Flat Beds.
Flatbed tow trucks are ideal for a lot of specialty towing. It’s bed can extend down to the ground and it can drive or pull whatever is being hauled right onto the bed of the truck. These tow trucks are used frequently for towing things like lowered vehicles, all wheel drive SUV’s or badly wrecked vehicles. There is often a winch attached at the front of the tow bed to pull cargo up slowly and safely.


Heavy duty tow trucks are the big dogs that can haul a whopping 30,000 pounds. These rigs haul from Freightliners to Peterbilts, class A RVs, and loaded dump trucks. They are able to pull heavy trucks from mud and use their tow arm to shift loads. These trucks can be Freightliner, Perterbilt, Kenworth, or International and usually with a Cummins or Cat engine. A lot of towing companies don’t have a Heavy Duty truck in their fleet because it takes towing to a new meaning handling equipment that can potentially be very dangerous. Towing in general keeps our team alert at all times and handles everything from tows to heavy duty recovery in a safe and professional manner.

heavy duty tow truck in baytown

When calling for a towing service it is important to let the operator know the make and model of the vehicle and what is wrong with it. Knowing what is wrong with the vehicle can give the tow truck driver an idea of how the vehicle needs to be towed. When a vehicle is being towed it is necessary to lift the drive train off the ground. This means for a front wheel drive car you would need to tow it from the front, rear wheel drive is towed from the rear. In some cases a vehicle might need to be placed on dollies if 1) It is all wheel drive or 2) there is something wrong with the wheels of the car. In most cases a wheel lift or self loader tow truck will be the best option and a flat bed is almost nowadays obsolete.
If YOU NEED a tow truck in the Houston, Baytown, Channelview, La Porte, Pasadena, Humble, Atascocita, Mont Belvieu or any Houston area be SURE to call us NOW. Call 713-306-1816 We are here for you. Jeff Smith Towing has got you no matter the circumstance or situation. Towing is our duty for Houston and AMERICA. We are the towers to call. Call today. And be sure to check out our YouTube channel @ HTXrepo. God Bless and stay safe out there.