Trailer Talk

Electronics can cut rollover wrecks; so can structural stiffness and lighter weight, Fontaine says

Box sections replace crossmembers in Fontaine Trailer’s Revolution flatbed, making it more resistant to flexing and rollover.

Rollover wrecks by tractor-trailers are among the worst kinds of accidents, safety people say, because property damage is high and driver injuries are severe READ MORE

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Friday, February 17, 2012 8:29 AM | » Comments(0)

Underride guards in Japan look weaker but cover more area than here

Like all commercial vehicles of any size, this trailer sports underride barriers on three sides. Its tractor's engine was idling, like all other heavy vehicles at this Japanese truck stop.

Underride guards are becoming topical in the United States as the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is petitioning federal safety authorities to toughen the regulation that govern the design on rear bumpers on trailers. READ MORE

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Friday, January 20, 2012 2:09 AM | » Comments(0)

Pickup bed coating wards off corrosion from calcium chloride, this fleet manager finds

Dark blue Herculiner material covers the lower third of this steel tanker owned by Peckham Materials. More than six years later, the coating is still in good condition.

What's the best way to combat corrosion caused by aggressive anti-road-icing salts? One fleet manager has coated the undersides of trucks and trailers with a product used to line pickup beds READ MORE

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Sunday, January 8, 2012 5:44 PM | » Comments(0)

Forget the evils of CO2. It's actually an environmentally safe refrigerant, Carrier says

First NaturaLine units will be for use in temperature-controlled sea containers. Later, the CO2 concept might be used in trailer reefers.

The way that environmentalists bad-mouth carbon dioxide, it should be a four-letter word. Of course it is abbreviated to three characters - CO2. READ MORE

Tags: Reefers

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Wednesday, December 28, 2011 9:33 AM | » Comments(0)

Oil boom needs special equipment on trailers and trucks

Crude oil analyzer was installed on this Heil tanker by Rush Peterbilt's shop in San Antonio as part of its work to support the oil boom in the region, says Service Manager Fred Scott.

No one wants to haul a load that's going to be rejected, so checking the commodity before loading makes a lot of sense. That's why Rush Enterprise's Peterbilt store in San Antonio has been installing a special piece of gear on tank trailers at a customer's request. READ MORE

Tags: Specialty

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Tuesday, December 13, 2011 2:37 PM | » Comments(1)

Strong, versatile van provides two-way haul for truckload fleet

Steel coils are easily supported by the XD-35's strong floor and underframe. The Wabash National van can also carry other dry freight and protect all cargo from theft and inclement weather.

Operations people at Nussbaum Transport had a couple of one-way hauls involving the same customer, and wanted to turn them into a more efficient and profitable headhaul and backhaul on the same semitrailer. READ MORE

Tags: Dry Vans

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Monday, November 21, 2011 5:58 PM | » Comments(0)

'Fracking' requires sand, which boosts 'air can' use in Marcellus Shale area

Sidley plans to soon have 50 pneumatic tankers hauling fracking sand to area natural gas wells. Photo by Tom Berg.

A recent visit to northeast Ohio put me face to face with people involved in the production of shale gas that I've been hearing and reading about in the news READ MORE

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Monday, November 14, 2011 6:34 PM | » Comments(1)

'Monocoque' lightweight flatbed will carry more, maybe more safely


"Monocoque" is a French word that usually describes the construction of an airliner's fuselage (also a French word), whose outer skin adds strength to the inner frame. Remove some of the aluminum panels and the fuselage loses both aerodynamics and strength, and would probably collapse if stressed READ MORE

Tags: Flat Beds

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Sunday, October 30, 2011 9:12 PM | » Comments(2)

Werner outfitting entire trailer fleet with tire inflation systems

Werner trailers will soon be sporting the ubiquitous tire inflation system hoses.

Tires are expensive and prices keep rising, so they're worth protecting by keeping them properly inflated. That's not easy with a large fleet's trailers, which can be scattered around the country and don't often pass through its inspection and maintenance stations READ MORE

Tags: Maintenance

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Wednesday, October 19, 2011 6:10 PM | » Comments(1)

Watching old-fashioned intermodalism at North Milwaukee's 'plastic tracks'

Don Hackl, a driver for Tom Donahue Trucking, monitors the pneumatic transfer of plastic pellets from the railcar to his Heil tanker. The pellets will be molded into squeezable food containers.

First, a confession: Before I was a truck nut I was a train buff READ MORE

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Wednesday, October 5, 2011 3:28 PM | » Comments(0)

'Roadability' defects found in 17% of intermodal chassis inspected

Federal and state inspectors are not finding a lot of "roadability" problems with container chassis, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's chief safety officer, Jack Van Steenburg. READ MORE

Tags: Maintenance

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Monday, September 26, 2011 12:23 AM | » Comments(0)

Aging trailers, healthy freight business push fleets into buying new equipment

That commercial vehicles have been getting old has become an adage in the last few years, and here are more numbers to support it READ MORE

Tags: Trends

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Monday, September 19, 2011 7:26 PM | » Comments(0)

Liftgate Steps and Lighting: More Complicated Than You Think

Hmm. Just a couple of boxes for this stop. Don't need to use the liftgate. I'll just hop up there...." Delivery drivers do this every day, but how easy or difficult is it for them to climb up and over the liftgate and into the truck to fetch those boxes READ MORE

Tags: Specialty

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Tuesday, September 6, 2011 12:10 PM | » Comments(0)

'E-Z Guider' begs the question, Why don't trailers have backup lights?

Ever back a trailer into a dark alley or loading dock? Talk about a black hole! READ MORE

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Thursday, August 25, 2011 1:33 PM | » Comments(0)

Pre-trip preparations can maximize reefer uptime in hot summer temperatures

If something on a reefer unit is going to fail, it's likely to happen when components are working hard to overcome summer heat READ MORE

Tags: Maintenance

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Monday, August 8, 2011 8:16 AM | » Comments(0)

Skirts built to last 1 million miles, and slide over the gap ahead of the tandem, their maker says

Everyone who sells a product talks up its advantages over the competition. Jim Reiman's claims about his Aerofficient side skirts include some that I've not heard before: 1 million-mile life, and ability to close the gap ahead of the trailer's wheels READ MORE

Tags: Fuel Economy

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Friday, July 29, 2011 5:25 AM | » Comments(1)

Streamlining a tanker began on a computer screen, and it's saving fuel

The front face of the Polar tanker is reshaped and the cone is lowered to duck out of the way of air coming over the tractor. Supporting interior ribs have transitions to aid cleaning, and exterior remains smooth for easy air flow.

Polar Tank has built an aerodynamically smoother trailer at the request of a hauler of bulk products in South Dakota. In regular service, the trailer is saving a third of a mile per gallon compared to older tankers READ MORE

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Monday, July 11, 2011 8:29 AM | » Comments(0)

Trailers do their share to meet stopping-distance requirements, now and soon to come

In three weeks' time, new, shorter federal stopping distance limits go into effect for three-axle tractors, most of them over-the-road power units that pull semitrailers READ MORE

Tags: Regulations

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Thursday, June 30, 2011 7:18 PM | » Comments(0)

Ryder orders 1,044 Utility vans - the largest order the builder has ever gotten -- for use by CEVA Logistics

Utility 4000D-X 53-foot dry vans have thin composite walls for high cube and are skirted to reduce air drag and fuel use.

Ryder System says it's expanding its full-service lease contract with a major logistics firm by ordering 1,044 van trailers from Utility Trailer Manufacturing. The order for the 4000D-X Composite dry vans is the largest single order it's ever received, Utility says READ MORE

Tags: Dry Vans

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Thursday, June 30, 2011 7:17 PM | » Comments(0)

Deadline for CARB trailer rules is imminent; skirts, other aero improves might be needed

Many fleets operating in California have until July 1 to tell the state's Air Resources Board how they will equip their box-type trailers with fuel-saving devices READ MORE

Tags: Regulations

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Sunday, June 12, 2011 5:22 PM | » Comments(0)

Must-see video shows twister tearing up a trailer, but driver survives

Tornados that ravaged parts of Oklahoma on May 24 included one that hit a tractor-trailer right where it was on a highway READ MORE

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Friday, June 3, 2011 11:43 AM | » Comments(0)

Trailers from Con-way, Prime become storage sheds in Joplin disaster area

Storage is an effective second use for van trailers, which act as long sheds on wheels that can be taken wherever they're needed. One place is Joplin, where a huge tornado recently devastated a large part of the city in southwestern Missouri READ MORE

Tags: Dry Vans

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Tuesday, May 31, 2011 10:14 AM | » Comments(0)

Beautiful custom-built models start with long sheets of styrene

Some truckers are so proud of the equipment they operate that they want scale models to display in their homes or offices. One man who makes that happen is master modeler Kuenn (pronounced Quinn) McClinton READ MORE

Tags: Specialty

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Tuesday, May 17, 2011 7:41 AM | » Comments(0)

Here's more scientific and real-world proof that trailer aerodynamics work.

Gina Angsten recently saved 0.7 mpg when she pulled an aero-equipped Duplainville Transport trailer with her already aerodynamic Freightliner Cascadia.

Jack Latimer sells Airtabs, the wishbone-shaped aero enhancers that many truckers apply to the trailing edges of tractors and trailers. He keeps tabs (so to speak) on studies of truck aerodynamics and recently sent us this information READ MORE

Tags: Fuel Economy

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Tuesday, May 10, 2011 7:13 AM | » Comments(0)

Sometimes people keep lightweight equipment from paying off

Investing in lightweight equipment like this aluminum-and-steel landing gear from Jost could be for naught in some situations. (Photo by Tom Berg)

Many truckers seek lightweight equipment so they can carry more payload, and manufacturers strive to cut poundage from their vehicles. But in the real world, how much cargo goes aboard often depends on the guy doing the loading READ MORE

Tags: Trends

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Sunday, May 1, 2011 6:43 PM | » Comments(2)

Author Bio

sponsored by

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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