Trailer Talk


1  -  25  of  95

‘Oh, Shift!’ What Slamming On The Brakes Will Do

Blog commentary by Tom Berg, Senior Contributing Editor

Stack of steel members slipped forward and rammed the tractor's sleeper. It could've been worse. Images: Tom Berg, from YouTube

August 10, 2017

What do you do when the load on the trailer shifts, ramming your sleeper just behind you? Thank the Lord that the stack of steel didn’t stab you in the back. Then call for a wrecker. Tom Berg muses on the topic in his latest Trailer Talk blog.

Tags: Flatbeds, Safety, Load Securement, Wreckers, Trailers

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Thursday, August 10, 2017 12:54 PM | » Comments(1)

Quick Feet Help in Parking Trailers with this Machine

Blog commentary by Tom Berg, Senior Contributing Editor

The Dutch device can move a trailer weighing up to 20 tons, according to the company's website.

August 3, 2017

V-Move Electrotrekker is a walk-behind (and -ahead) device from Verhagen Leiden, an outfit in Holland. It's electric powered and runs on 36 volts.

Tags: Trailers, Battery-Electric Vehicles, Terminal Tractors

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Thursday, August 3, 2017 5:49 PM | » Comments(0)

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

May 26, 2017

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.

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

May 18, 2017

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.

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

May 11, 2017

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.

Tags: Collision Repair, Trailers, Safety, Airports

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

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.

April 7, 2017

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.

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, 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.

March 29, 2017

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.

Tags: Trailers, Trucking History, Fruehauf, Semitrailers

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Wednesday, March 29, 2017 11:09 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.

March 13, 2017

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

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

March 5, 2017

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.

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

February 27, 2017

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.

Tags: Fuel Economy, Aerodynamics, Trailers, FlowBelow

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Monday, February 27, 2017 12:20 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

February 8, 2017

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.

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

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

Why Are So Many Trailers Just Sitting There?

Very few of the trailers seen from the passenger train were at loading docks; most sat in long rows, side by side, looking forlorn and forgotten.

Because of the tracking device on its nose, Schneider dispatchers can find this van any time. Photos: Tom Berg

January 10, 2017

Managers strive for “productivity” and “equipment utilization,” but how many trailers are moving freight even half the time in their lives? Tom Berg's Trailer Talk blog muses on the number of trailers just sitting around.

Tags: Fleet Management, Trailers, Trailer Tracking, Fleet Productivity

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Tuesday, January 10, 2017 10:26 AM | » Comments(1)

Fruehauf’s 'Engineering' Story Told in New Book

“A truck is like a horse. It can pull more than it can carry,” was the slogan of August Fruehauf and his company, and it appeared as part of the firm’s advertising for years.

December 19, 2016

Vintage ads help Ruth Ann Fruehauf, granddaughter of the founder of Fruehauf Trailer Corp., tell how the company designed and built trailers for many uses.

Tags: Trailers, Automotive History, Trucking History, Fruehauf

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Monday, December 19, 2016 12:32 PM | » Comments(0)

Lights Help with Hooking Up, But Inspections Still Necessary

Whoops! Landing gear collapsed and the trailer fell on its nose as a tractor pulled away.  Photo: "Trailer James" via

November 14, 2016

There’s dropping trailers, as in hook-and-drop operations, and there’s dropping a trailer, as in whoops! In his Trailer Talk blog, Tom Berg looks at two recent product announcements aimed at addressing the potential of trailers coming loose from fifth wheels.

Tags: Fifth Wheels, SAF-Holland, Purkey's Fleet Electric, Safety, Drop and Hook, Trailers

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Monday, November 14, 2016 10:47 AM | » Comments(0)

Powered Trailer Axle Provides an Off-Road Boost

Run off the tractor's wet kit, the hydraulically driven axle adds traction in rough conditions and can eliminate 4x4s used by some European operators.

The 4x2 tractor can't get the rig moving on a slippery upgrade, so the trailer's powered rear axle provides a boost. Photo: Tom Berg from SAF-Holland video

November 4, 2016

“SAF Trak” axle is powered from the tractor’s hydraulic wet kit. On the trailer, two hydraulic motors, one at each axle end, turn the wheels to help get the rig moving in slippery conditions.

Tags: Trailers, SAF-Holland, Dump Trailers, Global Trucking

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Friday, November 4, 2016 8:12 AM | » Comments(1)

For Tankers, 'Vapor Recovery' Works Two Ways

Hauling fuel for this company is a lot easier than dealing with heavy freight containers, says driver Jeff McMannus.

Driver Jeff McMannus checks progress as he delivers a load of biofuel through an appropriately green hose. He was careful to avoid spills. Photos: Tom Berg

October 14, 2016

He stood at an open pipe at the tanker and held his hand in front of it, checking air as it flowed inside. During product loading, vapor-laden air is drawn out of the tanker to keep it from bursting.

Tags: Biodiesel, Environmental Protection Agency, Trailers, Biofuels, Tankers

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Friday, October 14, 2016 9:59 AM | » Comments(0)

SuperDuty Pickups Ably Tow, and Back, Heavy Trailers

Towing is a big deal for some pickup-truck owners, and Ford says its 2017-model SuperDuty pickups are more capable than ever.

This Load Max gooseneck trailer, laden with block and stone, weighed 29,960 pounds, a Ford engineer said. The F-450 easily handled it. Photos: Tom Berg

September 30, 2016

The heftiest trailer was a Gladiator Load Max gooseneck, loaded with concrete blocks and decorative limestone, and weighing almost 30,000 pounds.

Tags: Trailers, Safety, Ford F-450, Ford F-250, Ford F-350

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Friday, September 30, 2016 12:00 AM | » Comments(0)

Trailers an Important Part of 2016 SuperTech

Techs from TravelCenters of America dominated the Trailer Track competition, winning 12 of 15 awards announced.

Check the lights? Sure. The electrical system was among 12 items tested in the Trailer Track competition at TMC's SuperTech event in Raleigh, N.C., Sept. 18-21. Photos: Marsh Galloway

September 23, 2016

Trailers get little enough attention in the real world, and this new focus gives them the respect they deserve. Trailers (and truck bodies) are where the payloads go, after all.

Tags: Maintenance, Trailers, TMC, TMC SuperTech

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Friday, September 23, 2016 12:59 PM | » Comments(1)

TMC Looks at Special Trailer Repair Issues

A new or existing task force might bring in trailer-builder and repair-shop representatives to speak to it.

This lowboy's deck remains unbowed, but overloading has been known to bend the structure. How do owners repair such damage? Photo: Rogers Brothers Co.

September 21, 2016

How do you repair a lowboy trailer whose deck structure has lost its arc? That might deserve some scrutiny, the organization figures.

Tags: Trailers, TMC, TMC SuperTech, Lowboy Trailers, Trailer Repairs

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Wednesday, September 21, 2016 6:32 AM | » Comments(1)

Hyliion's Powered Trailer Axle Goes to Europe

The company is exhibiting at the giant IAA truck show in Hannover, Germany, by sharing a booth with its battery supplier, Gentherm.

Like the North American version, the powered axle for Europe would replace a "passive" axle. Image: Hyliion Inc.

September 18, 2016

The Intelligent Electric Axle axle replaces a “passive” axle on a standard trailer tandem or tridem, and promises big fuel savings – 10 to 20% from hybrid-powered operation alone, Hyliion claims.

Tags: Trailers, IAA, Fuel Economy, Europe, Hybrid Trucks, Hyliion

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Sunday, September 18, 2016 3:53 PM | » Comments(0)

Trailer Aerodynamics Not Overly Popular, Study Shows

Among seven categories of fuel-savings devices for over-the-road rigs, trailer aero devices had the lowest acceptance rate, about 21%.

Trailer aerodynamic devices have caught on, but it apparently took the California ARB rules to force most fleets to begin adopting them. Photo: Tom Berg

September 12, 2016

It appears that it took a government decree to push operators into it, and it will take another set of rules to force further adoption of drag-reduction methods for trailers.

Tags: Trailers, Aerodynamics, NACFE, Trailer Aerodynamics

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Monday, September 12, 2016 8:30 AM | » Comments(0)

Phase 2 GHG Regs for Trailers Both Simple and Complex

Box-type and vocational trailers are both affected in 2018-27 rules, and the U.S. is the first country in the world to regulate them.

Flatbeds, among the vocational trailers newly regulated for fuel economy and emissions by the federal Phase 2 rules, will need tire pressure management devices and low rolling-resistance tires to comply. Photo: Tom Berg

August 24, 2016

Trailers have long been regulated for safety. But trailers’ contributions to fuel economy and reduced emissions are new matters for for federal authorities.

Tags: Trailers, EPA, Fuel Economy, NHTSA, GHG Phase 2

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Wednesday, August 24, 2016 1:53 PM | » Comments(2)

Force Field Could Form 'Electric Boat Tail' to Cut Turbulence

Now being developed for aircraft and cars, the concept has fuel-saving possibilities for tractor-trailers, its backers say.

Actuators installed on the top and sides of a van. They will work with swing and roll-up doors.

July 22, 2016

Plasma, the stuff of lightning and the Northern Lights, can be harnessed to alter the flow of air over trucks.

Tags: Trailers, Aerodynamics, P.S.I.

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Friday, July 22, 2016 8:15 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

June 1, 2016

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

Tags: Accidents, Trailers, Fifth Wheels

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

Fruehauf Trailer Reunion Set for Next Month in Detroit

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

May 5, 2016

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.

Tags: Trailers, Trucking History, Fruehauf

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


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