Trailer Talk

Using Archimedes’ Lever Principle to Help Propel a Tractor-Trailer

Multiplying the tractor's pulling force could reduce required input and save 80% in fuel, this concept's inventor believes.

1. Floating kingpin  2. Linkage arm  3. Carrier bearing assembly  4. Front and rear levers  5. Trailer chassis 6. Tire-wheel assembly  7. Landing gear  8. Suspension  9. Axle  10. Input pivot (top of lever) 11. Fulcrum pivot at axle12. Output pivot at bracket mount

September 19, 2014

Archimedes, the scholar and mathematician of antiquity, was quoted as saying, “Give me a place to stand and a large enough lever, and I will move the earth.” That’s debatable, but some pretty big and heavy things can be nudged into motion with a lever – and trailers are among them, says an inventor in Ohio. Tom Berg has the story in his Trailer Talk blog.

Tags: Trailers, Fuel Economy, Inventions

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Friday, September 19, 2014 5:30 PM | » Comments(0)

75-Ton 9-Axle Lowboy Hauls More, Saves Money for Equipment Dealer

Moving large, heavy machines in one piece avoids the time and work otherwise spent in teardown and reassembly, saving big money.

Trailer includes a 3-axle "jeep" dolly, 3-axle lowboy and 3 flip-down axles. Axles can be removed for lighter-weight loads.

September 5, 2014

Bill Miller Equipment needed a trailer of higher capacity, with axle configurations and versatility to haul it through numerous states. Talbert built one. Tom Berg has the story in his "Trailer Talk" blog.

Tags: Lowbed, Talbert Trailers, Trailers, Heavy Haul

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Friday, September 5, 2014 2:00 PM | » Comments(0)

Here’s to Tequila Patron, Which Made This Trailer Possible

Senior Editor Tom Berg's day is brightened by this clean and colorful van. But what's inside?

Don't the graphics on that clean trailer make you want to sip a bit of Mexican tequila?

August 20, 2014

“Now why would a trucking company that hauls booze advertise it?” I mumbled. “That’s asking for a hijacking.” Senior Editor Tom Berg investigates in his "Trailer Talk" blog.

Tags: Image, Trailers, Specialty Trailers

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Wednesday, August 20, 2014 12:00 AM | » Comments(0)

Liquid Nitrogen – How Cool is That?

Guest post: Toss the diesel and pump in some liquid nitrogen for super-cold cooling.

The Cryometrix CB-40 pollution-free reefer.

August 8, 2014

Reflect Scientific says a Cryometrix CB-40 transport refrigeration unit made history by delivering its first commercial load of frozen foods using a new pollution-free refrigeration technology.

Tags: Cryogenics, Reefers, Transportation Refrigeration Units, Trailers

Author: Rolf Lockwood, Executive Contributing Editor | Posted @ Friday, August 8, 2014 12:00 AM | » Comments(0)

How Important are Claims About Towing Capacity?

Who's really 'best in class,' and do customers really care?

The latest truck maker to claim towing capacity superiority is Ford, which has upped the horsepower and torque of its Power Stroke V-8 diesel to propel an F-450 pickup and a trailer as heavy as 31,200 pounds.

July 31, 2014

Senior Editor Tom Berg branches out a bit in his Trailer Talk blog this week to talk about how much trailer load heavy pickups can haul. In a demonstration a couple of weeks ago, Ford pitted a pair of Power Stroke-powered F-450 pickups against a Ram 3500 dually pickup with a Cummins Turbo Diesel to demonstrate towing capacity.

Tags: Ford F-Series Super Duty, Ram Heavy Duty, Pickup Trucks, Trailers, Ford

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Thursday, July 31, 2014 12:00 AM | » Comments(0)

Back a Double-Trailer Rig? There’s an App for That

A demonstration by ZF engineers a couple of weeks ago in Germany was impressive because it wasn’t being done by a driver, but a guy with a tablet computer.

July 22, 2014

The point is productivity: A vehicle longer and more complex than the single semis normally used in most of Europe could be employed to haul more cargo in one trip. And with little training, its driver could back it into position for loading or unloading.

Tags: Productivity, long combination vehicles, Remote Controls, ZF Friedrichshafen AG

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Tuesday, July 22, 2014 12:00 AM | » Comments(0)

Curved Upper Edge on Trailers Avoids Tree-Branch Damage

The idea came from truck bodies, but Darry Stuart put it to use on trailers.

July 8, 2014

Tree branches batter top nose rails and corner caps of trailers because they snag on the sharp channels. Tom Berg talks to one fleet manager who found curved surfaces up there let the branches slide past harmlessly.

Tags: Vehicle Damage, Hyundai Translead, Trailers, Dry Vans

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Tuesday, July 8, 2014 12:00 AM | » Comments(0)

Squinty Tail Lights Have a Reliability Benefit

July 2, 2014

Tom Berg spots an unusual trailer lighting system on the road. Grote LED light bars need only three pigtails to connect to the sealed wiring harness, reducing the chances for corrosion and electrical failures, he explains in his Trailer Talk blog.

Tags: Trailers, Fontaine, Grote, Lighting, LEDs, Flatbed Trailers

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Wednesday, July 2, 2014 12:00 AM | » Comments(0)

Solar Panels Cure Problem of Run-Down Liftgate Batteries

There are various remedies for weak batteries, but Darry Stuart, a contract fleet manager, looked to the sun for a solution.

June 23, 2014

A single 100-watt solar panel keeps the trailer's four Group 31 batteries charged and the liftgate operating reliably.

Tags: Trailers, Idle Reduction, Reefers, eNow, Solar Charging

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Monday, June 23, 2014 12:00 AM | » Comments(0)

Done Properly and Legally, Supplemental Signal Lights Enhance Safety

In heavy street traffic, a flashing light cues motorists to react early by slowing down or moving over to avoid being delayed -- but they also can cause confusion.

June 16, 2014

The Transportation Safety Equipment Institute reports that its member companies are seeing an increase in requests to add innovative lighting devices, and questions arise about their legality. Senior Editor Tom Berg takes a closer look in his Trailer Talk blog.

Tags: Lighting, Auxiliary Lighting, Transportation Safety Equipment Institute, Truck-Lite, Peterson Manufacturing, Trailers, Safety, Regulations

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Monday, June 16, 2014 12:00 AM | » Comments(0)

Get to Know Hucktainers, Says Alcoa Fastening Systems

Several manufacturers use it to assemble van trailers and truck bodies, and it claims strength and vibration resistance.

June 6, 2014

The compact Hucktainer has a head, sleeve and pintail, and is installed quickly with a special tool, clamping together the wall and sill materials and crimping off the excess length of the sleeve in a spiral-locking process.

Tags: Trailers, Truck Bodies, Hucktainer, Alcoa Fastening Systems, Huck

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Friday, June 6, 2014 12:00 AM | » Comments(0)

Big-Fleet Demand for Vans Leads Surge in Trailer Orders

Switch to 33-foot pups could cause new business, ACT's Frank Maly thinks.

The growth of the dump business could be threatened by the lack of progress on a highway bill in Washington.

May 27, 2014

Freight growth gives fleets confidence to buy, while low cancellations push backlogs to six months. Tankers are also up strongly, but lack of a highway bill could upset dump-trailer business.

Tags: Trailers, Fleets, Freight, Tankers, Trailer Sales, ACT Research

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Tuesday, May 27, 2014 12:00 AM | » Comments(0)

All-Electric Reefer Unit Goes No Where But Uses Less Power Doing It

Redesign of an engineless Vector system saves more energy and money than one from 2010, Carrier Transicold says.

May 16, 2014

We think of trailers as cargo conveyances, carrying their payloads from shipper to receiver. But some never move because they’re meant to store products on-site.

Tags: Carrier Transicold, Reefer, Electric Reefer

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Friday, May 16, 2014 12:00 AM | » Comments(0)

One Kingpin Locked, Another Bare in North Carolina

Here's an atta-boy to the driver who slapped this lock in place.

May 6, 2014

This intelligently locked reefer trailer was parked in a small truckstop in western North Carolina. Three slots away was a loaded flatbed with its kingpin bare, just waiting to be swiped.

Tags: Fleet Management, Vehicle Theft, Cargo Theft, Security, Trailers

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Tuesday, May 6, 2014 12:00 AM | » Comments(0)

Twin 33s Would Be Safer than 28s, U of Michigan Researcher Says

A 33-foot trailer's 5-foot-longer wheelbase would make it more stable when part of a doubles combination.

April 23, 2014

Double-trailer rigs with a pair of 33-foot trailers would be “inherently more stable” and therefore safer than the twin 28s now running throughout the United States, according to John Woodrooffe, director of commercial vehicle research at the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute.

Tags: Vehicle Safety, Safety, Doubles, Trailers

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Wednesday, April 23, 2014 12:00 AM | » Comments(1)

Trace Down Circuits Before Replacing Liftgate Parts

Lower green cord is the “stinger” that carries power and a return ground line to trailer batteries that operate the liftgate. Connector cord should remain plugged in to keep a load on the line while its circuit is tested. Photo: Con-Way Freight

April 14, 2014

Proper methods of testing for voltage drop on the circuits that power trailer liftgates were discussed at TMC’s recent annual meeting in Nashville, Tenn. Senior Editor Tom Berg has more in his Trailer Talk blog.

Tags: Trailers, Idle Reduction, Technology & Maintenance Council, Purkey's Fleet Electric, Electrical System, Batteries

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Monday, April 14, 2014 12:00 AM | » Comments(0)

X-Ray Van, Old Winnebago Take Doctor’s and Nurses’ Medical Care to the ‘Hollers’

An 18-wheeler and an old RV carry medicine and hope to Appalachia.

April 7, 2014

Senior Editor Tom Berg was moved by Sunday's "60 Minutes" story on Health Wagon, carrying medicine and hope to Appalachia -- and intrigued by the X-ray trailer and the medical director who went to tractor-trailer school to learn to drive the rig. He has more in his Trailer Talk blog.

Tags: Charity, Medical Fleets, Truck Driving Schools, Trailers

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Monday, April 7, 2014 12:00 AM | » Comments(1)

Wabash Shows What a 33-Foot Pup Would Look Like

Stretching a 28-foot pup trailer to 33 feet would not be difficult, and Wabash National already has a procedure ready to go.

March 31, 2014

Congress is supposedly inclined to approve a proposal to allow twin 33-foot doubles. If so, trailers like this would probably become common. Tom Berg has the story from last month's TMC meeting in his Trailer Talk blog.

Tags: Productivity, Wabash National, Doubles, Twin Trailers, Pups

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Monday, March 31, 2014 12:00 AM | » Comments(5)

Amber Rear Turn Signals Are Safer Than Red, But Few Use Them

A light flashing yellow means "turn" and one flashing red means "stop." The result is less confusion for drivers behind.

Tanker fleets are more likely to use amber turn signals than other operators. This trailer also has white backup lights.

March 13, 2014

Lights on the rear of most vehicles have all red lights because that's all the regulation requires. Maybe that should change.

Tags: Safety, Trailers, Lighting, Truck-Lite, Wabash National

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Thursday, March 13, 2014 12:00 AM | » Comments(1)

You Don’t Need to Hammer on These Thin LEDs to Appreciate a Bright Idea

Plate-thin, these new lights are the latest thing in light-emitting diodes.

March 10, 2014

Ever hear of Innotec? Neither did senior editor Tom Berg. Now he sees what it does, and so will you.

Tags: TMC, Phillips Industries, Electrical System, LEDs, Innotec, LED Lights

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Monday, March 10, 2014 12:00 AM | » Comments(0)

‘Fool’ Web Story Notes Cummins-Peterbilt SuperTruck MPG Number

You can't compare pickups with big rigs, but one writer did.

February 24, 2014

Except for highway wrecks, it isn’t often that the general news media get interested in big rigs. But one online outlet, www.fool.com, now has a story about the SuperTruck project, specifically the Peterbilt-Cummins vehicle recently displayed in Washington, D.C., for President Obama’s announcement about fuel economy standards for commercial trucks.

Tags: SuperTruck, DOE, Cummins, Peterbilt

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Monday, February 24, 2014 12:00 AM | » Comments(1)

Oversize Load Chases Traffic from I-24 in Kentucky

If you had to use US 62 from Exit 40 to Exit 27 between Eddyville and Calvert City, here's the reason why.

February 19, 2014

A huge and heavy boiler aboard a wide platform trailer couldn't squeeze by maintenance equipment on the eastbound Tennessee River bridge, so it moved to the westbound span.

Tags: Kentucky, I-24, Oversize Loads

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Wednesday, February 19, 2014 12:00 AM | » Comments(0)

YouTube Videos Show Exactly What Happens at Low Overpasses

Cameras are almost everywhere, so watch what you drive under.

February 18, 2014

You'll cringe while watching trucks and tractor-trailers too tall to pass beneath various bridges but whose drivers try to do so anyway.

Tags: Low Overpasses; Low Bridges; Low Clearances;

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Tuesday, February 18, 2014 12:00 AM | » Comments(0)

Passing Thru Zanesville: Forlorn Trailers, the ‘Y-Bridge’ and a ‘Telltale’ Warning

Why are all those old trailers parked there? Been over the "Y-Bridge"? Stay off Linden Avenue or....

February 10, 2014

Tom Berg see items of trucker interest in old Zanesville, Ohio, along the historic National Road.

Tags: Trailers, Van Trailers, Bridges, Retired Trailers, Low Overpasses, U.S. 40, National Road

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Monday, February 10, 2014 12:00 AM | » Comments(4)

Nothing Blocks a Highway Like a Semi Whose Skidding Wheels Led It Astray

But on ice, controlling anything becomes really difficult.

January 31, 2014

Recent news photos remind senior editor Tom Berg of some anti-jackknifing training he had a while ago.

Tags: Winter Driving, Driving Safety, Jackkniffing, Trailers

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Friday, January 31, 2014 12:00 AM | » Comments(2)

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Author Bio

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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