Trailer Talk

10 Die in Trailer in Latest Human Trafficking Incident

Blog commentary by Tom Berg, Senior Contributing Editor

Border Patrol agent uses a laser thermometer to read the temperature near the trailer's ceiling. It registered 143.6 degrees Fahrenheit.

It might have been 130 degrees or more inside that trailer. How long can anyone stand that? It’s amazing anyone survived. READ MORE

Tags: Reefers, Human Trafficking

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Wednesday, July 26, 2017 3:15 AM | » Comments(1)

Truck Washing's a Growing Business, Especially at This Company

Blog commentary by Tom Berg, Senior Contributing Editor

Custom-bodied Class 6 trucks are heavy enough to carry water and equipment, but don't require CDLs to operate.

Fleet Clean USA CEO Scott Marr, now 27, ran a part-time washing business and realized that he made more money washing trucks than working at a bank. Learn more in Tom Berg's Trailer Talk blog. READ MORE

Tags: Fleet Management, Maintenance Management, Truck Washing

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Thursday, July 20, 2017 3:13 AM | » Comments(0)

Old Dominion's Baseball Trailer Promotes Series Sweepstakes

Blog commentary by Tom Berg, Senior Contributing Editor

Trailer was vinyl wrapped for the trip to Miami and the All Star Game. Wraps came off at Marlins Park. Tractor is a Freightliner New Cascadia.

A special Duraplate van has heavy plexiglass panels to reveal its sporty load. Guess the number of baseballs and win World Series tickets. Blog commentary by Tom Berg, Senior Contributing Editor READ MORE

Tags: Equipment, Old Dominion Freight Line, Wabash National

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Tuesday, July 11, 2017 3:00 AM | » Comments(0)

Be a Virtual American Trucker with New Game from Germany

Blog commentary by Tom Berg, Senior Contributing Editor

Images via astragon Entertainment

TransRoad: USA, Trucks and Trailers, puts players in the executive seat of a virtual trucking company, starting by choosing virtually appropriate equipment for a virtual haul. READ MORE

Tags: Games, Trucking

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Friday, July 7, 2017 7:49 AM | » Comments(0)

Film Promotes Pennsylvania RR's TrucTrain Service in the 1950s

Blog commentary by Tom Berg, Senior Contributing Editor

The guy on the running board is there strictly for the camera, because drivers in piggyback terminals were very good at backing trailers onto flatcars. Photo: Pennsylvania Railroad/Classic Trains

Trucking is called "a great industry," and footage shows how many trailers were traveling by rail instead of on crowded highways. That's still a good idea. READ MORE

Tags: Piggybacking, Intermodal, Driver Shortage

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Friday, June 23, 2017 6:14 AM | » Comments(0)

'Bomb Carts' Haul Containers at Busy Port of Charleston

Blog commentary by Tom Berg, Senior Contributing Editor

TICO terminal tractor and shuttle chassis carry off a pair of 20-foot ocean-going containers. The trailer can also carry  a single 20- and a single 40-foot "box." Photo: Tom Berg

A Pro-Shuttle has a floor of stout steel beams with short, slanted sides that guide a container into place as the gantry crane lowers it. For the short trips within the port, containers are not tied down. Tom Berg has more in his Trailer Talk blog. READ MORE

Tags: Ports, Containers, Port Trucking, Container Chassis, TICO, Intermodal

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Friday, June 16, 2017 1:22 PM | » Comments(1)

Smithco's Side-Dumper Is Strictly for Off-Road Running

Blog commentary by Tom Berg, Senior Contributing Editor

Really big rig pauses while Western Star dealers and customers listen to presenters at the Michelin Proving grounds in South Carolina. Photos: Tom Berg

While pulling the Smithco tipper, a Western Star 6900XD acted as a tractor, but it’s really a straight truck fitted with a fifth-wheel kit. This is part of Carco Industries' MBT-40 Multi-Body Transformer system. Blog commentary by Tom Berg, Senior Contributing Editor. READ MORE

Tags: Western Star, Palfinger, Extreme Duty Trucks, Smithco

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Friday, June 9, 2017 8:36 AM | » Comments(0)

Bicyclists Were Original Advocates for Good Roads

Blog commentary by Tom Berg, Senior Contributing Editor

Rutted dirt was the rule on rural roads, like this one in Arizona. Rains made them muddy quagmires. Tall wheels with narrow tires worked well in these conditions. Photos: America on the Move

Motorists and truckers can thank touring "wheelmen" and isolated farmers for together pressuring lawmakers to improve primitive dirt byways, notes Tom Berg in the Trailer Talk blog. READ MORE

Tags: Infrastructure, Highway Trust Fund, Highways, Infrastructure Funding

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Friday, June 2, 2017 7:45 AM | » Comments(1)

Driver Keeps Hands Off As Eaton System Docks a Trailer

Blog commentary by Tom Berg, Senior Contributing Editor

Dock Assist tractor pushes van toward a simulated loading dock at a creep speed. It’s very slow, but precise. Photos: Tom Berg

Docking was precise and gentle, but it took much more time than an operator would have patience for. However, as development continues, the system should get faster and more capable. READ MORE

Tags: Trailers, Autonomous Vehicles, Eaton

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Friday, May 26, 2017 8:46 AM | » Comments(0)

Railcar Wins Swedish Steel Prize, But Wabash’s Entry Still Admirable

Blog commentary by Tom Berg, senior contributing editor

External spiral rails grab Helix Dumper's load-carrying tub and smoothly tip it to discharge the load, then set it back on the railcar's frame. This won the annual Swedish Steel Prize for Kiruna Wagon. Photo: Tom Berg, from Kiruna Wagon video

The Helix Dumper is a major advance and worthy of a prize. But I'd have voted for Wabash National's RIG-16 rear impact guard. READ MORE

Tags: IIHS, Highway Safety, Sweden, Wabash National, Trailers

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Thursday, May 18, 2017 2:08 PM | » Comments(1)

Airplane Hits Trailer in 'Amazing' Encounter

Blog commentary by Tom Berg, Senior Contributing Editor

The airplane left part of its landing gear, including a wheel and tire, near the left-front corner of the 53-foot van. Photo: Sandusky Register

The plane came in too low and its landing gear clipped the top of the South Shore van, tearing off and embedding itself in the roof and side panels. The plane continued on and its pilot put it down safely on its belly. READ MORE

Tags: Collision Repair, Trailers, Safety, Airports

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Thursday, May 11, 2017 9:00 PM | » Comments(0)

How Fruehaufs and Whites Once Hauled Unique Steel Houses

Blog commentary by Tom Berg, Senior Contributing Editor

Lustron's fleet included 200 White WC-42s (though the number was probably 160) and 800 custom-made Fruehauf flatbeds with racks and boxes. Vehicles were painted a vivid blue-and-yellow.

Trailers were loaded with panels and hardware as they left the assembly line, then hauled to their destinations. At building sites, parts that were needed first had been loaded last, so they came off in the exact order required for erection. READ MORE

Tags: Private Fleets, Specialty Vehicles, Fruehauf, White Motor Co.

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Sunday, May 7, 2017 7:06 PM | » Comments(0)

Truck Driver 'Didn't Know' He Was Dragging a Car

Blog Commentary by Tom Berg, Senior Contributing Editor

It appears the car has been pulled up under the trailer's corner by its spinning tires. Like many truck-car accidents, the car's driver seems to be at fault. But still....

Checking the mirrors should be a normal part of driving, but maybe 'Mike' had other things to look at than the car caught up in his trailer. Tom Berg has more in the Trailer Talk blog. READ MORE

Tags: Driver Safety, Driver Behavior, Driver Training, Safety

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Wednesday, April 26, 2017 5:39 AM | » Comments(5)

Where Did the North Koreans Get Those Missile-Toting Trucks?

Blog commentary by Tom Berg, Senior Contributing Editor

Civilian version of Wanshan's WS51200 is meant for off-road hauling of timber, ore and fuel. But paint it olive-drab and outfit it with an erector-launch body, and the rough-terrain truck becomes a military threat.

Where did North Korea get its trucks and trailers to haul weapons? On the internet there are reports that the trucks and tractor-trailers were made in China, with – yikes! -- American and German components. Tom Berg explores the question in the Trailer Talk blog. READ MORE

Tags: Cummins, China, ZF, Military Vehicles, Military Trucks, North Korea

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Tuesday, April 18, 2017 8:20 AM | » Comments(1)

Rear Impact Guard Puts Wabash Up for Swedish Steel Prize

Blog Commentary by Tom Berg, Senior Contributing Editor

HDT's Tom Berg says his friend Mike, who died in a rear underride crash more than 44 years ago, would be happy about recent safety advancements. Read more in the Trailer Talk blog. READ MORE

Tags: IIHS, Rear-End Collisions, High-Strength Steel, Wabash National, Safety, Rear Impact Guards

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Wednesday, April 12, 2017 7:12 AM | » Comments(1)

Drop Decks, Aluminum Transition Radii, and the Romans

Blog by Tom Berg, Contributing Senior Editor

Can you see a Roman arch in the radius under the transition area of this Mac single-drop aluminum trailer? The radius directs weight away from the 90-degree joint above.

I looked at the transition radius on a Mac aluminum drop deck and it occurred to me that the radius is an arc, a portion of an arch – that engineering marvel devised by Roman engineers more than 2,000 years ago. READ MORE

Tags: Aluminum, Dropdeck Trailers, Engineering, Trailers, Steel

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Friday, April 7, 2017 12:10 PM | » Comments(0)

Semitrailer Inventor August Fruehauf to Enter Automotive Hall of Fame

The semitrailer, Hemmings.com says, “triggered the wide-scale distribution of modern consumer goods."

August Fruehauf, a German immigrant and blacksmith, found inspiration for the semitrailer from the horses he shoed.

Fruehauf, as a blacksmith, noted that horses that pulled rather than carried loads were in better shape. He reasoned that trucks would likewise last longer if they towed rather than toted loads. READ MORE

Tags: Trailers, Trucking History, Fruehauf, Semitrailers

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Wednesday, March 29, 2017 11:09 PM | » Comments(0)

Second Connector Needed for Tractor-Trailer Communications?

Stopping distances could be even shorter and stability better with more precise signaling between tractors and trailers, which an extra cord or LAN would allow.

Second electrical cable (lower right) on this beverage trailer carries power to charge its liftgate batteries. It coud also carry signals to a high-performance braking system.

Increasing need for electronic communications between tractors and trailers could require use of a second electrical line, say brake-performance specialists. READ MORE

Tags: Brakes, Bendix Spicer Foundation Brake, Safety, Bendix, Air Brakes

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Wednesday, March 22, 2017 3:21 PM | » Comments(0)

Jackknifes Happen Often on Dry Roads, Too

This all occurred in just a second or two, though it took several seconds for the rig to stop, the trailer jammed against a corner of the tractor’s sleeper.

The rig lurches to a stop with probable damage to the tractor's sleeper and who knows what else. No word of any injuries.

Anti-lock braking systems are supposed to keep brakes from locking, but this time didn’t. Why might that be? READ MORE

Tags: Trailers, ABS, Safety

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Monday, March 13, 2017 8:47 AM | » Comments(4)

Regulations Will Widen Use of Aero Devices, Wabco Says

Operators will realize solid fuel savings that will pay for the devices in under two years, unless the devices are damaged or need other repairs.

Trailer skirts are common on vans and reefers, and soon will become standard equipment. Other devices will be necessary to meet federal requirements by 2021. Photo: Tom Berg

Starting Jan. 1 of next year – fewer than nine months from now – all new 53-foot box-type trailers will come with trailer skirts, like ‘em or not. Tom Berg has more in his Trailer Talk blog. READ MORE

Tags: Trailers, Fuel Economy, Aerodynamics, Emissions, EPA

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Sunday, March 5, 2017 10:30 PM | » Comments(1)

FlowBelow Shows Aero Device for Trailer Wheels

The Trailer AeroKit uses wheel covers plus fairings in front, between and behind the wheels, similar to a tractor AeroKit.

Trailer AeroKit includes fairings ahead, between and behind the wheels on a trailer's tandem. Photos: FlowBelow Aero

Wheel covers and fairings smooth the complex air flow around trailer wheels and suspension. They complement other trailer aerodynamic devices. Tom Berg highlights one of the newest entrants in his Trailer Talk blog. READ MORE

Tags: Fuel Economy, Aerodynamics, Trailers, FlowBelow

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Monday, February 27, 2017 12:20 AM | » Comments(0)

On Slick Pavement, ‘The Sliding Wheel Wants to Lead’

Whichever wheels are skidding on a tractor-trailer will want to get in front and take the rest of the rig with it.

ABS is supposed to prevent jackknifes, but somestimes can't when pavement's icy, as on this freeway in the Northeast a few weeks ago.

When encountering a slick road, it’s a real good idea to test the brakes to see how the rig behaves. Then you'll know what to expect in a real application. READ MORE

Tags: Driver Safety, Safety, ABS

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Friday, February 24, 2017 9:03 AM | » Comments(4)

Old Sayings Apply While Driving Through Bad Weather

Slow way down in blinding conditions? Sure, but not so suddenly that you get rear-ended. Even better, park the truck in a safe place and wait out the storm.

Maybe that container simply had to get there no matter what. But now its contents have been badly shaken up in this tipover.

Fog and whiteouts caused by blowing snow can often be anticipated by considering the time of the year and what regularly happens along certain stretches of roadway. READ MORE

Tags: Driver Safety, Weather, Safety, Weather Alerts

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Thursday, February 16, 2017 7:01 AM | » Comments(0)

The Twin 33s Idea Returns. Will It Fly This Time?

Revival might be riding on enthusiasm over President Trump’s pro-business beliefs and his promise to improve America’s infrastructure.

A pair of 33-foot pups would have 10 feet more floor space for cargo than a set of 28s, as the labels on this concept trailer show. And two 33s would have 13 more feet than a single 53-foot van. Will truckload shippers demand their use?  Photo: Tom Berg

A pair of longer pups would haul more than two 28-footers, so LTL carriers and shippers are in favor. But truckload carriers still want no part of them. READ MORE

Tags: Fleet Management, Productivity, Trailers, TCA, Double Trailers

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Wednesday, February 8, 2017 11:13 AM | » Comments(3)

Tanker Crashes, Driver Dies, Road Damaged, But a Fair News Story

"Tanker trucks hauling food, fuel and chemicals are part of the backbone of the economy. To some people, though, they are a growing danger." That's called even-handedness.

News report of a recent fatal tanker crash painted a sympathetic picture of the truck driver who was killed and explored the sometimes dangerous world of transporting hazardous materials.  Photo: Tom Berg, from WCMH-TV news video

We we might never know why the rig hit the guardrail, because as the story said, the truck and any evidence, electronic or otherwise, were destroyed in the fire. READ MORE

Tags: Fatal Accidents, Hazardous Materials, Tankers, Liquid Tank Trailers, Safety

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Tuesday, January 31, 2017 5:04 PM | » Comments(1)

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Author Bio

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Tom Berg

Senior Contributing 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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