Cline Off-Road Truck

By Keith Haddock, Contributing Editor | September 28, 2010


Cline coal hauler
Cline's 50-ton coal hauler was offered with Detroit or Cummins power in the 420-hp range; it came with 6-speed power shift transmission and torque converter.


In 1952, Max Cline started Cline Truck Manufacturing Co. in Kansas City, Kansas. Before that, he had been top salesman at Dart Truck Co. in the same city and felt the need for well-built, heavy-duty, no-frills vehicles for off-road earthmoving and other special applications.

With other personnel from Dart, the small new company quickly established a market for its vehicles, and in its first year of operation received an order for nine crane carriers. By the end of 1954, Cline had built more than 32 trucks for various applications. More designs followed, and in 1956 the St. Joseph Lead Co. ordered two 10-ton underground trucks, the first of many such orders.

Max Cline died in 1957, but truck production continued and sales expanded into different markets. Cline built single and tandem-axle vehicles and trailers to serve the logging industry, special slag haulers for steel mills, and sold vehicles to railroad companies featuring road/rail conversions.

In the 1960s, drill-rig carriers and coal haulers were the most popular company products. The 35-ton 6x4 coal hauler powered by a 380-hp Cummins NT-380 engine became almost a standard item in the Appalachian coal fields. Cline claimed its long chassis, three-axle design with 10 rubber tires on the ground lowered tire costs, increased stability on tight corners and enhanced safety at the dump. It also resulted in a lower loading height allowing wheel loaders to center the load properly. By the mid-1970s Cline coal haulers included rear dump sizes from 12- to 65-ton capacity and tandem-drive tractors capable of pulling up to 90-ton wagons.

In the early 1970s, Cline enjoyed substantial sales of its rugged 50-ton tandem-drive coal hauler. Offered with Detroit or Cummins power in the 420-hp range, it came with 6-speed power shift transmission and torque converter. This truck was renamed the Isco IC-250C when Cline became a division of Isco Manufacturing Co. in 1972. During the Isco era, the range included rigid-frame dump trucks from 13- to 50-ton capacity, a 23-ton articulated dump truck, a tandem-drive tractor unit capable of pulling 90-ton wagons, and vehicles equipped with the patented "Ryd-a-Rail" conversion for road and rail use.

In 1979, the Cline name re-emerged under new owner T & J Industries, which kept the company until 1985. Since then, Cline Truck Manufacturing has operated as a division of C.B.T. Corp. C.B.T. discontinued building the trucks in 1993 but still rebuild and service older Cline trucks.

You can read more about the evolution of construction equipment in Keith Haddock's book "Giant Earthmovers an Illustrated History" available in most bookstores. Also, consider a membership in the Historical Construction Equipment Association,