A dumper is a vehicle designed for carrying bulk material, often on building sites. Dumpers are distinguished from dump trucks by configuration: a dumper is usually an open 4-wheeled vehicle with the load skip in front of the driver, while a dump truck has its cab in front of the load. The skip can tip to dump the load; this is where the name "dumper" comes from. They are normally diesel powered. A towing eye is fitted for secondary use as a site tractor. Dumpers with rubber tracks are used in special circumstances and provide a more even distribution of weight compared to tires. Continuous tracks allow the operator to carry heavier payload on slick, snowy, or muddy surfaces, and are popular in some countries.
Early British dumpers had a payload of about a ton and were 2-wheel drive, driving on the front axle and steered at the back wheels. The single cylinder diesel engine (sometimes made by Lister) was started by hand cranking. The steering wheel turned the back wheels, not front. Having neither electrics nor hydraulics there was not much to go wrong. The skip was secured by a catch by the driver's feet. When the catch is released, the skip tips under the weight of its contents at pivot points below, and after being emptied is raised by hand.
Modern dumpers have payloads of up to 10 tonnes (11 short tons; 9.8 long tons) and usually steer by articulating at the middle of the chassis (pivot steering). They have multi-cylinder diesel engines, some turbocharged, electric start and hydraulics for tipping and steering and are usually four-wheel drive. An A-frame known as a ROPS (Roll-Over Protection) frame, may be fitted over the seat to protect the driver if the dumper rolls over. Some dumpers have FOPS (Falling Object Protection) as well. Lifting skips are available for discharging above ground level. In the 1990s dumpers with swivel skips, which could be rotated to tip sideways, became popular, especially for working in narrow sites such as road works. Dumpers are the most common cause of accidents involving construction plant.
Nowadays these vehicles are also called "dumper" in some mainland European languages.