In skateboarding, the term truck refers to the metal device attaching the wheels to the deck. Trucks were originally used to attach roller-skate boots to their wheels. Sometime around the late 1950’s or early 60’s someone decided to attach them to a plank of wood. The primitive turning mechanism of a roller-skate also worked (and still works) well on the new ‘skateboard’.
The skateboard truck is made up of two main parts with various bolts, washers and bushings to hold it all together.
The Baseplate – This is the part of the truck that attaches directly to the board. It has 6 (though it is sometimes 4 on newer trucks) holes in the base through which the bolts are inserted to attach the truck to the deck. Four of the holes are positioned near the outside edge (towards the nose/tail) and two holes on the inside. The two holes on the outside edge nearest the inside edge are usually used on a shortboard/freestyle setup, whilst the others are used for longboards.
There is one other large hole in the baseplate used to hold the kingpin. This is a bolt that is used to hold the truck together. If a kingpin snaps whilst the skateboard is being ridden the wheels literally fall off. Finally, there is a cylindrical indent which is used to house the pivot cup. This is a thimble shaped piece of rubber that holds the pivot point of the hangar. It works in a very similar way to a ball-and-socket joint.
The Hangar – This is the part of the truck that the wheels are attached to and also the part that takes the most abuse. It is a vaguely T-shaped bar that has bolts extending from the arms of the T and a hole in the middle. Through this hole goes the kingpin once it has been inserted into the baseplate.
Turning Bits – There are also four bits of the truck that allow it to turn smoothly and return to straight when desired. These are the bushings and washers. They are slotted onto the kingpin and help hold the hangar to the baseplate.
Construction – To put the truck together first check you have the following parts:
- Pivot Cup
- 2 Bushings, one large, one small
- 2 washers to match the bushings
- Nuts to go on the end of the hangar bolts
- A Kingpin
First take the baseplate and insert the kingpin (having removed the nut!) so that it sticks out the top. Now insert the pivot cup into the pivot cup indent. Slot the large washer followed by the large bushing onto the kingpin.
To pick up the hangar and place the pivot into the pivot cup and slot the hole over the king pin. Now place the smaller bushing followed by the small washer onto the kingpin. Screw the kingpin nut back on the kingpin until as tight as desired.
It may take a couple of hours for the kingpin to ‘settle’. Keep a tool with you to adjust tightness as needed.
How does it work?
When riding a skateboard the user presses down on an edge with their feet to turn the skateboard in that direction. Here’s what’s actually happening:
When pressure is placed on one side it forces the bushings to squish down on that side, allowing the wheel to move towards the deck. The wheel, however, is attached to the hangar which can only turn around the point of the pivot cup. This means that as the wheel is squished towards the deck it is forced sideways. As the trucks are set up facing each other this causes the wheels to either be pushed away or forced towards each other creating an arc which causes a turn!
Note: You’d never think something so simple could be so complicated…