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There were a number of patents awarded for fifth-wheel design.
Edward and Charles Everett, Quincy, Illinois patented a type of fifth wheel in 1850, followed by Gutches' metallic head block and fifth wheel in 1870 and Wilcox fifth wheel in 1905.
The configuration is sometimes called a turn-table in Australia and New Zealand, especially if it is a rotating ball-race-bearing type.
The advantage of this type of coupling is towing stability.
When they formed the Martin Fifth Wheel company Martin was president and Farr was named secretary. After all, the purpose of the fifth wheel is to link the tractor and the trailer; indeed, trailers existed before Charles H.
Martin introduced the Martin Rocking Fifth Wheel in 1915.
What makes the fifth wheel so important is the ability it gave fleet owners to attach large trailers to tractors easily and safely and the freedom it gave them to switch out trailers.
Basically a wheel was placed on the rear frame section of the truck, which back then only had four wheels; this wheel that was placed on the frame was the "fifth wheel", hence the name.
The trailer needed to be raised so that the trailer's pin would be able to drop into the central hole of the fifth wheel.
It was submitted for patent in 1915, and finalized in 1916.
Herman Farr invented it, and Martin hooked up with him and became the assignee. "It's a fair question whether you really can consider the fifth wheel as a milestone separate from the semi-trailer.