Trailer Talk

Electronic Measuring Devices Warn If Obstacles Are Too Low

OWL and Giraffe gauge wires and bridges above, and could make poles obsolete, their makers say.

OWL magnet-mounts on the roof of a pilot car and is plugged into a laptop with an operating program. It knows how far from the road it is, and includes that in its vertical obstacle measurements. Photo: LSA Autonomy

In many states, rigs carrying oversize loads are escorted by pilot cars, some of them equipped with poles to gauge overhead obstructions. There are better ways. READ MORE

Tags: Technology, Oversize Loads

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Wednesday, June 29, 2016 11:55 AM | » Comments(1)

Inventor of Flip-Type Placards Retires at Age 95

Abe Samuels devised an easy way for carriers to display proper hazmat labels for many types of dangerous goods.

It was a challenge when a carrier transported a mixed load of various dangerous goods that needed to be identified. Today there are nine categories of hazards with 24 divisions among them. READ MORE

Tags: Hazardous Materials, Hazmat, Labelmaster

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Tuesday, June 21, 2016 9:08 AM | » Comments(1)

Lift Gate Trailers Can Load Normally with New 'Lok' Device

Jeffrey Soule perfected his Liftgate-Lok over months of designing and testing. Its bar "fought the Dok Lok to a tie," he declared.

Liftgates do not have a place that dock restraints can grab onto, so many safety-minded shippers will not load them. This greatly cuts backhauling opportunities.

Lift gates cannot mate to dock restraints because they lack attachment points for the hooks, so shippers won't load the trailers, until now. Tom Berg has the details in his Trailer Talk blog. READ MORE

Tags: Vehicle Safety, Lift Gates, Dock Restraints

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Monday, June 13, 2016 6:54 AM | » Comments(0)

Tanker Fleet Manager Praises Air Disc Brakes

Jim Fox, a manager at aviation-fuel-hauler Pinnacle Express, is a strong believer in disc brakes. This mechanic and million-mile former driver declares that drum brakes are "obsolete." Read more in Tom Berg's Trailer Talk blog. READ MORE

Tags: SAF-Holland, Liquid Tank Trailers, Air Disc Brakes

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Friday, June 10, 2016 7:41 AM | » Comments(0)

Whoa, How'd This Rig Hold Together?

It seems amazing that the tractor stayed hanging there instead of breaking loose and falling onto the street below. But fifth wheels and trailer kingpins are very strong.

Strong coupling mechanisms supported the tractor and kept it from falling onto the street below. Photos: Tom Berg, from ABC World News Tonight

There are no federal government or SAE strength requirements, so standards were set by the marketplace, and now by European rules. READ MORE

Tags: Accidents, Trailers, Fifth Wheels

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Wednesday, June 1, 2016 10:49 AM | » Comments(0)

Trailer Aero Devices Help Save 1 mpg, Manager Says

Air Tabs vortex generators and Laydon side skirts smooth air flow and make trailers easier to pull.

Latest tractrors are streamlined Peterbilt 579s. They average 7.7 mpg while pulling Great Dane and Utility vans with full aerodynamic equipment.

“All you have to do is ride a motorcycle behind the trailers to notice the difference” between aero and bare trailers, says John Drake, a Harley-Davidson enthusiast. Learn more in the Trailer Talk blog. READ MORE

Tags: Aerodynamics, Fuel Economy, Trailer Skirts

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Tuesday, May 24, 2016 1:18 PM | » Comments(2)

Unlucky Tip Over on the Tappan Zee Bridge

Did you see that scrap-hauling rig tipping over on the Tappan Zee Bridge over the Hudson River last Friday?

Scrap-hauling dump trailer heels over just ahead of car in the adjacent lane on the Tappan Zee Bridge over the Hudson River. Photos: Tom Berg, from video by "Hypotenuse"

Did you see that scrap-hauling rig tipping over on the Tappan Zee Bridge over the Hudson River last Friday? The rear axle broke loose and the trailer lost its footing. What a Friday-the-13th happening! READ MORE

Tags: Equipment Issues, Safety & Compliance, Dump Trailers, Accidents

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Wednesday, May 18, 2016 6:34 PM | » Comments(0)

Driverless Tesla vs. Parked Trailer: Owner's Fault?

Was a "beta-test" version of the advanced electric car's control software to blame?

Car was short enough to slip under the trailer and its load and suffer only a smashed windshield. Photos: from KSL-TV news report.

Rear-underride collisions upset safety advocates because they badly hurt auto drivers and passengers. What about a front-underride incident with no driver and no injuries? READ MORE

Tags: Underride Guard, Underride, Driver Safety, Vehicle Safety

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Thursday, May 12, 2016 11:55 AM | » Comments(3)

Fruehauf Trailer Reunion Set for Next Month in Detroit

Enthusiasts invited to event honoring the long-gone company and its people.

Ruth Fruehauf continues her "Singing Wheels" efforts to preserve the trailer builder's history. Enthusiasts are invited to the event, honoring the long-gone company and its people. READ MORE

Tags: Trailers, Trucking History, Fruehauf

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Thursday, May 5, 2016 9:39 AM | » Comments(2)

Snow Doesn’t Stop Poland Spring's ‘Safety Blitz’

Bottled water rides in trailers, and the shipper wants them all shipshape.

Hook and drop operations are hard on landing gear, so they're checks for bent bracing and legs, missing pads and worn gear drives.

Senior Editor Tom Berg braves the cold and freezing moisture to watch inspectors check equipment important to this transportation segment. READ MORE

Tags: Vehicle Safety, Fleet Safety, Inspections

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Tuesday, April 26, 2016 6:06 PM | » Comments(0)

Why Black's Popular for Heavy-Haul Trailers

In any display of lowboy and other heavy-haul trailers, the dominant color is black. And there are two reasons, says the president of Rogers Brothers Corp.

Rogers 70-ton platform-deck lowboy is painted black, the standard color for many heavy-haul trailers in the industry. Photo: Rogers Brothers Corp.

"You spray one coat of paint over a checkerboard test panel and if you see the checkerboard underneath, you need to spray another coat. With black, it’ll cover in one coat." READ MORE

Tags: Vehicle Paint, Paint, Rogers Trailers

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Wednesday, April 20, 2016 6:52 PM | » Comments(0)

A Lot of Thought Went Into This Tanker

"They track better when the axle’s up,” the driver said. “And they turn corners easier.”

Mac trailer's forward axle is raised when the tank's empty. Note also the shrouding around the hoppers and the stairs.

On the road last month, Senior Editor Tom Berg spotted a pneumatic tanker trailer with some non-traditional features. He shares some insight from the driver in his latest Trailer Talk blog. READ MORE

Tags: Driver Safety, Fuel Economy, Mac Trailer, Lift Axle, Tire Inflation

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Thursday, April 7, 2016 7:20 AM | » Comments(3)

Thermo King Solar Panels Keep Batteries Charged

Got Power? ThermoLite panels make sure you do.

A single 26-watt panel is the smallest one, but two larger panels are available to generate addiational wattage, hermo King says. Photo: Thermo King

Devices are aimed at reefer use, but there's almost no limit on how they can be employed, the company says. READ MORE

Tags: Solar Power, Thermo King, Reefers, Solar Charging

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Friday, April 1, 2016 10:36 AM | » Comments(0)

A Flatbed Ford Is on the Corner in Winslow, Arizona

A park commemorates a verse from the '70s Eagles' tune, and it's been drawing tourists since the late '90s.

1960 or so F-500 is clean and at least cosmetically restored. Nose emblem has a lightening bolt, indicating there's an inline 6 under the hood.

It wouldn't be complete without the F-500 stakeside, of course, and that's the first thing I went to. READ MORE

Tags: Truck Bodies, Ford, Arizona

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Monday, March 28, 2016 3:00 PM | » Comments(2)

Special Trailer Helps Promote the Trades to Young People

Arkansas initiative aims to convince students, parents and school counselors that training for skilled jobs is as worthwhile as going to a four-year college.

Be Pro, Be Proud rig was displayed in the equipment expo during TMC's annual meeting in Nashville last week. Photo: Tom Berg

Among the many job openings a new program in Arkansas seeks to fill are truck driving and truck technicians. Tom Berg has the details from TMC in his Trailer Talk blog. READ MORE

Tags: Training, Arkansas, Technician Training, Arkansas Trucking Association

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Thursday, March 10, 2016 9:33 AM | » Comments(0)

Stronger Impact Guards Are Already Here

Canadian-spec "bumpers" have been standard on vans and reefers for a decade or more, so the feds' upcoming mandate for stronger equipment is not a big deal.

Is that bumper a Canadian- or American-spec? It could be either. Photo: Tom Berg

Absorbing an extra 5 mph amounts to almost double the force that slams into a trailer's rear, but isn't that expensive to produce, explains Tom Berg in his Trailer Talk blog. READ MORE

Tags: Underride Guard, Trailers, Vehicle Safety, Regulations

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Wednesday, March 2, 2016 6:56 AM | » Comments(2)

Lighter Trailers Get Break From FAST Act

Change in federal law will allow "tandem towing" of more units heading to dealers.

Pairs of light- and medium-duty trailers, like these horse transporters, will be seen more often on interstate highways, thanks to the federal FAST Act. Photo: NATM

Only eight states allowed a truck to tow two trailers, but lengths varied and none of the eight were contiguous. Then congress added a provision in the FAST Act that legalized tandem towing in all states, and liberalized combination length. READ MORE

Tags: Trailers, Doubles, Double Trailers, National Association of Trailer Manufacturers

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Friday, February 26, 2016 12:11 PM | » Comments(0)

Trailer Maker Says EPA ‘Overstepped’ on GHG/Fuel Economy Proposal

Utility Trailer says the agency has no authority to regulate non-motorized vehicles with its proposed Phase 2 rules – and they probably won't save as much as regulators think

EPA wants new, environmentally friendly insulation for the insides of walls, ceilings and floors of reefer trailers by 2020 – a very difficult task, Utility says. (Drawing is an artist's rendering of a trailer cross-section, not an actual model.) Courtesy Utility Trailer Mfg.

EPA wants more fuel-saving devices on trailers under proposed greenhouse-gas-reductoin rules. But one trailer maker says they won't provide as much benefits as regulators think. Tom Berg explores why in his Trailer Talk blog. READ MORE

Tags: EPA, GHG emissions, Utility Trailer Manufacturing, Phase 2 GHG Proposals, Aerodynamics

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Thursday, February 18, 2016 4:17 PM | » Comments(1)

O-O? Trailer Transit Might Need You

It's strictly hook-and-drop, whether it's loaded or not.

Trailer Transit hauls "anything on wheels," from new trailers to this special load for NASA.

Tom Berg has been intrigued for a while by Trailer Transit, which, as its name implies, is a transporter of trailers. The Indiana-based outfit's owner-operators pull "anything and everything,' a veteran recruiter says. Learn more about it in his Trailer Talk blog. READ MORE

Tags: Trailers, Haul-a-Way, Owner-Operators

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Thursday, February 11, 2016 7:35 AM | » Comments(0)

An Unusual Trailer-Mounted Concrete Pumper

Putzmeister built the high-capacity unit in Germany, and it'll work in Texas for Western Concrete Pumping.

M-B Actros is common in Europe but seldom seen in the U.S. A conventional-cab Mack will be built and outfitted to pull the pump trailer to work sites in Texas.

Most pumpers are mounted on straight trucks, some with multiple axles, but this large, heavy one is better carried on a long 10-axle rig. READ MORE

Tags: World of Concrete, Custom Vehicles, Trailers

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Tuesday, February 2, 2016 10:46 PM | » Comments(0)

Twin 33s Issue Revived in Constitution-Related Bill

Longer pup trailers are among the matters addressed in legislation proposed by Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo.

Last year Wabash National displayed a 33-foot pup trailer marked to show its extra capacity over current 28s.  Photo: Tom Berg

Double 33-foot trailers were pulled from last December's spending bill by senators who objected on safety grounds, but as Tom Berg explores in his Trailer Talk blog, they may not be dead yet. READ MORE

Tags: U.S. Congress, Doubles, Double Trailers, Truck Size/Weight

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Friday, January 29, 2016 11:50 AM | » Comments(0)

Model Train Show Includes Trucks that Deliver Memories

Children and parents were amused by the fantasy worlds, and older men remembered the boyhood hours they spent “playing with trains.”

S-scale modeler Larry Robertson chats with a visitor as his freight train pauses on the tracks. Note the trailer-on-flatcar loads, an activity of progressive railroads starting in the 1950s. Photos: Tom Berg

The Greenberg Great Train & Toy Show is an annual event at the fairgrounds in Columbus, Ohio. On the show's layouts as in real life, trucks and trailers play an important transportation role. READ MORE

Tags: Railroads, Piggybacking, Intermodal, Containers

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Wednesday, January 20, 2016 11:34 AM | » Comments(0)

Roll-Off Truck’s Raised Rails Batter a Bridge

Truck vs. bridge: This time the truck wins.

The truck driver calls in the incident, and was reportedly fired. He probably forgot to turn off the PTO, whose pump re-raised the roll-off's rails.

Roll-off truck drivers: Did you turn off the PTO? Trucks and trailers are sometimes incompatible with overpasses. Tom Berg has more in his Trailer Talk blog. READ MORE

Tags: Accidents, Preventable Accidents, Bridges

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Tuesday, January 12, 2016 8:06 AM | » Comments(1)

No Fast-Forwarding Past This Commercial

We pause a recording to really look at this message, and the vehicles in it.

Is it a real Kentucky household goods trailer? And who's "Systems"?

This TV spot packs a lot of action into 10 seconds, and never mind that its details vary quite a bit. READ MORE

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Wednesday, December 23, 2015 7:36 AM | » Comments(0)

LTL Carriers Group Unhappy Over Rejection of Twin 33s

Longer doubles would've boosted efficiency, but Congress killed the idea on safety grounds.

Wabash National displayed a 33-foot trailer at an industry meeting last year. Labels showed the extra 5 feet of cargo space vs. current 28-footers. Photo: Tom Berg

Longer doubles would've boosted efficiency, but Congress killed the idea on safety grounds. The Coalition for Efficient and Responsible Trucking, made up of less-than-truckload and package carriers with outside backing, expressed its unhappiness this week in a statement, reports Tom Berg in his Trailer Talk blog. READ MORE

Tags: Productivity, Vehicle Safety, Trailers, Truck Size/Weight

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Wednesday, December 16, 2015 8:20 AM | » Comments(0)

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Author Bio

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Tom Berg

Senior Editor

Journalist since 1965, truck writer and editor since 1978. CDL-qualified; conducts road tests on new heavy-, medium- and light-duty tractors and trucks. Specializes in vocational and hybrid vehicles.

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