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They're really hauling!

Wabash National Corp. has quickly become the country's third-largest truck-trailer manufacturer.

Cross a truck with a train and what do you get? No, it's not a traffic accident. The answer: the Road-Railer, a product of Lafayette's Wabash National Corp.

Imagine the time and expense involved in unloading goods from a railway car to a truck--or vice versa. Wouldn't it be great if you could take a car from the train, fasten it to a truck cab and just roll away? The RoadRailer makes that possible.

The concept of a train/truck hybrid isn't new; the first ones were made in the 1950s. The idea died, but was resurrected during the '80s. In previous versions, the rail wheels were permanently attached to the car and raised for

highway travel. A disadvantage to that system was the weight of the wheels and the time it took to raise them. The RoadRailer model has detachable rail wheels which can be left alongside the tracks. Units are 3,000 pounds lighter than earlier ones, and that means big fuel savings on the highways.

Since February, RoadRailers have been tested for postal-service use. Unlike the cars used for freight, the mail cars are placed behind passenger cars. Here the key element is speed. Freight trains may go around 60 mph, but Amtrak units travel at 90 mph. (The new mail cars have tested up to 103 mph.)

Wabash National manufactures and markets a variety of standard and customized truck trailers. Only Fruehauf and Great Dane have more of the U.S. commercial trailer market. Founded just a few years ago, the company has enjoyed phenomenal growth with 1991 sales of $199 million. Last November, Wabash National went public and its stock is traded on the New York Stock Exchange.
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Title Annotation:Wabash National Corp.'s truck-trailers
Publication:Indiana Business Magazine
Date:Jun 1, 1992
Words:294
Previous Article:Southwest Indiana update.
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