Trailer Talk

'Hybrid' replacing 'composite' in the trailer and body business

April 11, 2011

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Since the advent of fuel-saving hybrid-drive cars and trucks, the "h" word has taken on enough shine that it's now sometimes employed in place of older terms. I notice things like this because I'm a word merchant, see?
R/S Godwin's HybriDump uses an aluminum tailgate and sides with a Hardox steel floor. Should it be the ComposiDump?
R/S Godwin's HybriDump uses an aluminum tailgate and sides with a Hardox steel floor. Should it be the ComposiDump?


"Composite" meant the use of two materials, like steel and aluminum, to save weight and money. For example, flatbeds with steel frame rails and landing gear were combined with aluminum crossmembers, floor extrusions and other hardware to shave off pounds, but the vehicle cost less than an all-aluminum version.

Utility Trailer still has a dry van called the 4000D-X Composite, so named for its sidewalls. They have a polyurethane foam core injected between an aluminum outer skin and a plastic interior lining.

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So that company stays with "composite," but nowadays such a product is just as likely to be called "hybrid." At the recent Mid-America Trucking Show I ran across two products named hybrid, but for different reasons.

First, R/S Godwin, which builds dump trailers and bodies in Kentucky, showed steel-and-aluminum vehicles that it calls "HybriDump." They combine Hardox 450 steel floors with lightweight aluminum sides. The durable steel can take a beating from rock and other abusive materials, said representatives at the company's booth, while the aluminum cuts a ton or more of tare weight so more payload can be hauled.

Ohio-based East Manufacturing's Genesis Hybrid aluminum dump trailer, introduced about a year ago, was given a prominent place in the company's booth. "Hybrid can mean the combining of two ideas," said Charlie Wells, a sales executive, who pointed out what they are: flat sides and a semi-round bottom to increase strength and lower the center of gravity.

The sides are aluminum box panels stacked vertically and welded together, and the half-round floor uses heavy aluminum sheeting. If Wells had asked me what to call the trailer, I might've suggested Flat Round, but he and his colleagues went ahead and combined Genesis, which first described a line of flat-floor end dumps, with Hybrid. (Does that make it a hybrid-hybrid trailer?)

As for R/S, I guess I'd have called the steel-aluminum product the ComposiDump. But I'm behind the word times.


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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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