When experts said it couldn't be done, Lee Hunter invented a way to quick charge automobile batteries. He then went on to build a highly successful company to manufacture and sell his other inventions that would soon after revolutionize the automotive service industry. Today, Hunter Engineering Company designs, manufactures and sells a wide range of auto service equipment for a global market. Hunter products include PC- and Windows®-based wheel alignment systems, suspension and brake testing systems, computerized wheel balancers, on- and off-car brake lathes, tire changers and vehicle lifts.
Hunter Engineering Company owes its beginnings to a discharged automobile battery. Lee Hunter Jr., a 23-year-old St. Louis architecture student, found himself frequently confronted with car battery failure in his Packard convertible.
In 1936, it took several days to recharge a car battery. Hunter was determined to find a better, faster way. With the help of a former Washington University electcial engineering professor, Hunter began experimenting and his efforts paid off. His quick-charge battery recharger was based on a diverter pole generator. He put this new product on the market and during the Great Depression, the Lee Hunter Jr., Manufacturing Co. sold the $497 Kwikurent charger as fast as the company could make them.
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After serving in both the U.S. Army Engineering Corps and Ordnance Corps during World War II, Hunter returned to St. Louis in 1946 and reopened his business at Ladue Rd. and Hunter Ave. in Clayton, Missouri, under the name of Hunter Engineering.
The Tune-In balancer, Hunter Engineering's debut product, is a revolutionary on-the-car balancer and Lee Hunter invention.
Scene shows Lee Hunter - drawing board always close at hand - in his office, circa 1948.
Lee Hunter always taught his engineers a hands-on approach to the engineering process.
In the 1950's, Hunter began assembling what would later become the largest dedicated U.S. field sales and service team in the industry. Hunter also laid the foundation for a global distribution base for Hunter products.
In 1955 Hunter developed a new wheel alignment system called "Lite-A-Line," which became the industry standard. Lite-A-Line was the industry's first simplified light beam wheel aligner. Wheel mounted instruments used projected light beams to achieve precise wheel alignment.
The development of innovative products to serve the booming automobile industry during the 1960's made Hunter the undercar service leader.
In 1962, Hunter's Tune-Align became the first mechanical alignment system capable of compensating for lateral wheel runout, a major factor affecting wheel alignment precision.
Hunter is named sole supplier of alignment and balancing equipment for Ford Motor Company's manufacturing and service; a relationship that lasts to this day.
Hunter moves to 23-acre campus-like factory and administrative office and research and training center, near St. Louis' Lambert International Airport.
Hunter's F60/70 Dynamic-A-Liner becomes the first successful computerized dynamic wheel aligner. Vehicle's wheels are automatically centered on sensor rollers for analysis of alignment settings, indicated by large meters on the console. Computer provides paper printout of alignment settings.
Bridgeton Training Center opens adjacent to the company headquarters, research and development center and manufacturing plant. The 18 bay facility is the most advanced in the industry.
Electron-A-Line, the first all electronic aligner using wheel mounted sensors. Alignment parameters are measured by potentionmeter cams and light beams as well as electrolytic cells, and are routed through the system's internal computer.
Durant, Mississippi manufacturing facility, opened to accommodate expanding business, produces alignment racks, off-the-car wheel balancers, tools and accessories.
Autron-A-Line introduces computerized electronic static wheel alignment using electronic sensors to transmit caster, camber and toe measurements to meters on the console.
The S7 Electron-A-Line introduces the Thrust-Line principle to wheel alignment. Measuring front wheel toe in comparison to rear wheel thrust line provides a better alignment, improved tire wear and steering.
Stephen F. Brauer appointed President, the first leadership change since Lee Hunter founded Hunter Engineering. Mr. Brauer joined Hunter in 1971 as a Sales Correspondent and later became a Massachusetts Sales Representative. Additional posts included Vice President of Marketing and Executive Vice President. Brauer guides the company into a period of rapid growth and the integration of new computer technology.
Computer driven A111 offers a lineup of wheel alignment firsts: First to use complete 4-wheel alignment technology; first use of CRT; first use of graphic display screens to guide vehicle adjustments; first production aligner capable of comparing measurements to vehicle specifications stored in computer's internal database.
C111 introduces Sliding Block Adjustment Bar Graphs. Guides alingment using graphic display that shows amount and direction of adjustment.
Raymond, Mississippi manufacturing facility opened to accommodate expanding business.
D111 aligner using the most advanced computer technology of the day is the only system on the market with built-in vehicle specifications, step-by-step instructions and vehicle adjustment graphics.
B400 computerized Brake Tester measures actual brake performance using a 4-minute drive through test procedure.
St. Louis Service Center opens.
Truck Safety Center opens in Bridgeton, Missouri expanding research, product development and technician training for heavy-duty vehicles.
WinAlign® Globe screen is the first Windows™ - based alignment screen.
DSP-RF Cordless Alignment Wheel Sensor eliminates connecting cables from sensors to terminals, and introduces Electronic Ride Height Measurement.
DSP Wheel Balancers are the first to use digital signal processing for unparalleled balancing accuracy.
Lee Hunter is inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame in Auburn, Michigan where he shares the spotlight with industry giants like Henry Ford, Louis Chevrolet, Walter P. Chrysler and Soichiro Honda.
SA400 Computerized Suspension Analyzer measures suspension adhesion and damping performance in a two-minute drive-on test. Results are provided on graphic CRT display.
Series 411 Alignment Systems incorporates the most advanced personal computing hardware and software systems to date. It uses a Pentium® processor and Windows™ 95 operating software.
Hunter again revolutionizes wheel vibration control. The GSP9700 offers a computer simulated road test to solve non-balance related wheel vibration, a major source of vehicle owner complaints and non-billable service for shop owners and vehicle manufacturers. Patented features and software CRT displays provide test results and step-by-step instructions for repair.
DSP400 digital imaging sensors speed and simplify alignment by replacing electronic sensors with durable, easy-to-handle reflective targets. Four cameras in the aligner tower measure the position and orientation of each wheel-mounted target providing initial measurements almost instantly.
Hunter revolutionizes alignment rack design when introducing the 9,000-lbs. capacity RM wheel-contact lift that uses patented Hunter technology to eliminate all cross-beam obstruction to the vehicle's underside.
Hunter announces major advances in alignment system technology.
WinAlign® 4.0 Alignment Software - The newest generation of Windows® - based software offers more easy-to-use tools that increase productivity and profit potential.
611P Plus Alignment Console - Hunter's most advanced Windows® - based aligner console provides more computing power and more standard features.
Hunter's new RX Scissor Lift Rack offers a space-saving design that gives technicians front to rear pass-through access to the underside of the vehicle.
The first production unit of the GSP9712 - Hunter's enhanced version of the highly successful GSP9700 Vibration Control System - is shipped. GSP9712 refinements improve serviceability and reduce the long-term cost of ownership.
Hunter Deutschland GmbH first opened in 2002, being the first company-owned subsidiary outside of North America. In 2008, Hunter Deutschland opened a new free-standing training, service and administrative office in Greifenberg, Germany, near Munich.
Hunter Completes Takeover of Canadian Sales Operations.
The WebSpecs.NET™ Subscription is launched, allowing downloads of the newest vehicle specifications and access to adjustment and inspection digital photos and illustrations from any Internet-connected computer in the shop.
StraightTrak™ Lateral Force Measurement is introduced, a feature that measures tire-related drift and pull and provides corrective instructions. StraightTrak LFM, combined with proper alignment, balance and GSP9700 radial force measurement service, give shops an additional tool to solve elusive handling problems.
New 811 Console, DSP600 Digital Imaging Sensors and WinAlign® 7.0 is released. The new sensors refine the best of preceding Hunter alignment technology, adding features to increase productivity, profitability and value.
WinAlign Software 7.0 includes new capabilities and features to speed and simplify alignment and provide quicker and easier access to information.
Hunter introduces 3 major improvements to the OCL400 Brake Lathe:
ACT (Anti-Chatter Technology) eliminates vibration buildup (chatter) when machining rotors at a fixed speed.
ServoDrive™ Variable Spindle Speed lets operators vary speed and rotational torque during compensation and machining.
Pro-Comp™ Computerized Compensation provides lateral runout compensation by simply pushing a button and making a single adjustment.
Hunter Digital Imaging Alignment Systems Approved by German Automakers
The German Automakers BMW Group, DaimlerChrysler AG and Volkswagen AG eac approved customized Hunter digital imaging alignment systems for use in their dealership service operations worldwide.
SmartWeight™ Balancing Technology (left) is introduced, reducing wheel weight costs and service time.
PowerSlide™ Alignment Rack Slip Plates (right) debut, saving time and preventing accidental damage. The controls are conveniently located on the lift console. One touch of a button locks and unlocks them.
Along with WinAlign® 10.0 being released, Hunter introduces HawkEye High-Definition Digital Imaging Wheel Alignment which are optimized for speed and efficiency.
Hunter introduces the Auto34 Leverless Tire Changer.
Years of research and development make the Auto34 the technolovy choice for shops that service performance and custom wheels, including difficult low-profile and run-flat combinations.
Hunter's new ForceMatch® wheel balancer is introduced, bringing advanced vibration management and wheel uniformity measurement to the heavy-duty shop.
Hunter debuts its next generation of four-post lifts that offer greater capacities and capabilities to speed service on any vehicle from passenger cars to box trucks.
The open-front L441 and closed-front L444 provide a massive 18,000-lb. lifting capacity, increased maximum wheelbase service ranges, and the widest runways and most powerful motor of any comparable four-post lift on the market.
Hunter introduces WinAlign® 11 Alignment, simplifying alignment service with new tools to handle advancing vehicle technologies.
New capabilities include 2-minute alignment measurement, award-winning CodeLink® steering angle sensor reset, informative TPMSpecs™ database, and instant AutoVIN spec recall.
Hunter introduces HawkEye Elite® featuring WinAlign® 12 software. HawkEye Elite simplifies alignment service with new tools to handle advancing vehicle technologies.
Hunter Engineering opened a wholly owned subsidiary office in Beijing, China to promote the sale of Hunter products and support the rapidly expanding Chinese