Trailer Talk

Trailers

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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, Vehicle 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, Fleet Study, 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, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, NHTSA

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)

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

March 2, 2016

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.

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

February 26, 2016

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.

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

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

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.

February 11, 2016

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.

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.

February 2, 2016

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.

Tags: World of Concrete, Custom Vehicles, Trailers

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

December 16, 2015

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.

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

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

Curtainside Trailers Made for Alley Deliveries

A soft-sided trailer can be loaded and unloaded through rear doors, but usually is worked over its sides.

If this rig suffers a flat tire, its driver has plenty of spares. Naw -- he's delivering the load to Peterbilt's plant in Denton, Tex.

November 25, 2015

The concept came from Europe, where not many factories have loading docks, but they do have alleyways for trucks to make pickups and deliveries.

Tags: Trailers, Peterbilt Motors Company, Utility Trailer Manufacturing, Curtainside Trailers

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Wednesday, November 25, 2015 12:22 PM | » Comments(0)

AeroKits for Tractors Now Offered for Flatbed, Tanker Trailers

Like the kit for vans, the product need be applied only to a tractor, not the trailer, which saves money.

Indian River Transport successfully tested the AeroKit for tankers and decided to retrofit many of its tractors, FlowBelow said previously. The product for tractors pulling tankers and flatbeds is now generally available. Photo: FlowBelow

October 17, 2015

FlowBelow Aero Inc., the manufacturer of fairings and wheel covers that control air movement around a road tractor’s drive wheels, is now selling a version for tractors that pull flatbed and tank trailers.

Tags: Trailers, Tankers, Flatbed Trailers, ATA MC&E

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Saturday, October 17, 2015 7:42 PM | » Comments(0)

Tri-Axle Trailers and Economics in the 'Market'

Another trailer axle would add 11,000 pounds of gross weight, but does it make dollars and sense?

Regular road tractors can pull tri-axle trailers with gross combination weights as high as 100,000 pounds in Maine, says Hartt Transportation.

September 21, 2015

The strongest argument against heavier rigs is the lack of payback due to low revenue from stingy shippers. That's the "market" at work.

Tags: Productivity, Trailers, Size and Weight, Vehicle Safety Regulations, Longer Combination Vehicles

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Monday, September 21, 2015 8:00 AM | » Comments(0)

Fairings Over Tractor's Tandem Save Fuel for Tanker Fleet

FlowBelow Aero devices control air flow and boost economy by 3%, says Indian River Transport.

Wheel covers and fairings between and behind the tractor tandem's wheels reduce turbulance and save fuel.

September 9, 2015

Stainless steel tanker trailers look smooth enough to easily slip through the air, but they have characteristics that cause drag. One fleet has turned to an aero system for the tractor tandems to help smooth the air flow over the trailer.

Tags: Fuel Economy, Aerodynamics, Tankers, FlowBelow, Trailers

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Wednesday, September 9, 2015 5:00 PM | » Comments(0)

Replacing Rivets with Adhesives Yields Smoother Sides That Could Save Fuel

Computational fluid analysis interpreted air flow over the trailer panels’ surfaces, finding some drag produced by rivet heads.

As trailer aerodynamics improve, the small amount caused by air flow over sidewall surfaces will become more important. Art via Lord Corp.

August 26, 2015

Lord Corp., which makes bonding adhesives, has done research that indicates eliminating rivets from a trailer’s walls might cut aerodynamic drag by about 1%.

Tags: Trailers, Fuel Economy, Aerodynamics

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Wednesday, August 26, 2015 3:00 AM | » Comments(0)

Trailer Weight Cutting Suggestions Total 2,500 Pounds

How many of these items are usable in your van trailers?

Aluminum crossmembers instead of steel can save 203 pounds in a van or reefer, according to ICCT's list. Another 430 pounds can be slashed by using aluminum in the upper coupler assembly, but the kingpin remains steel. Photo: Tom Berg

July 22, 2015

While poring through more than 1,300 pages of proposed regulations, staffers found themselves immersed in details of trailer design, including weight reduction.

Tags: Trailers, Size and Weight, Regulations, GHG

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Wednesday, July 22, 2015 3:00 PM | » Comments(0)

The Army Uses Serious Rigs to Haul Armored Vehicles

Armored vehicles can “road march” to battlefields, but suffer high rates of wear and tear when doing so. It’s far better to carry them.

M1000's five axles are mounted along most of its bed length. Loading ramps are part of the trailer's equipment. Photo from U.S. Army via YouTube

July 9, 2015

The U.S. Army operates some of the more serious tractor-trailer combinations in the world, as Tom Berg explores in his Trailer Talk blog. The M1000 gooseneck trailer, for instance, weighs 50,000 pounds before it's even loaded.

Tags: Military Trucks, Heavy-Haul Trailers, Trailers, Military

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Thursday, July 9, 2015 10:00 AM | » Comments(0)

Designing, Testing Tires for Drop-Deck Trailers Challenging

Spread tandems sometimes generate extreme lateral forces, and drop-decks use smaller sizes that are especially vulnerable to damage.

Wide-spread tandems, especially on drop-decks, can subject tires to extreme lateral forces in sharp turns. Photo via Utility Trailer Mfg.

July 2, 2015

Dropdeck trailers with spread-axle tandems are torture on tires. Tom Berg explores one tire maker's quest to design a product to stand up to the beating in his Trailer Talk blog.

Tags: Cooper Tire & Rubber Co., Dropdeck Trailers, Trailers, Tires

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Thursday, July 2, 2015 1:00 PM | » Comments(0)

A Fruehauf Lowboy Carried Palomar Observatory's Mirror

At 20 feet in diameter and weighing 28,000 pounds, the load was big, heavy and priceless.

Massive mirror was placed on a supporting and adjustment structure at the observatory. Photo via Fruehauf Trailer Historical Society

June 17, 2015

What transpired was a meticulously planned two-day journey involving Belyea Truck Co. and Pacific Crane & Rigging, plus support vehicles, California Highway Patrol motorcycle escorts, and cars bearing press reporters and photographers.

Tags: Heavy Haul, History, Trailers

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Wednesday, June 17, 2015 6:00 AM | » Comments(0)

Are Trailers More Aerodynamically Important than Tractors?

Experts agree that wind drag on trailers is more significant than what the tractor faces.

Photo via ATDynamics

June 1, 2015

ATDynamics, now part of Stemco, says 75% of wind drag at highway speeds comes from the trailer.

Tags: Trailers, Aerodynamics, Fuel Efficiency, Trailer Skirts

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Monday, June 1, 2015 5:19 AM | » Comments(0)

Piggyback Equipment at Pennsylvania’s Toy Train Museum

Trucks, on the road or on flatcars, are often part of model railroads, as Senior Editor Tom Berg found at the Toy Train Museum.

Photos: Tom Berg

May 7, 2015

There was a time when railroads were in the motor transport business, as their parent companies recognized that freight was being grabbed by fast, flexible long-haul trucks and they might as well grab some of the revenue.

Tags: Piggybacking, Trailers, Museums

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Thursday, May 7, 2015 8:29 AM | » Comments(0)

EkoStinger: A Different Way to Beat the Wind

An arrow-shaped aero device diverts wind away from the tandem, while a covering of the frame rails and crossmembers reduces turbulence there.

Photo via Eko Stinger

April 28, 2015

Unlike most skirts that are stationary, the stinger moves with the tandem as it’s slid fore and aft, so it smooths air flow no matter where the tandem is set, said the system’s inventor.

Tags: Trailers, Aerodynamics, Fuel Efficiency

Author: Tom Berg | Posted @ Tuesday, April 28, 2015 11:53 AM | » Comments(1)

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