Makers of trailer aerodynamic improvers are well aware of truckers’ suspicions that the devices will be damaged, sooner or later. That’s why many of the latest ones are made with materials that are flexible and impact resistant.
One is TrailerTail, the folding-panel product that mimics a boat tail to smooth the flow of air off a trailer’s rear end, saving fuel and money. Seeing one traveling down the road or just sitting still, you know that those panels are going to get bashed, and that the wires and springs that do the folding are going to be broken or shake themselves to pieces.
But they don’t, according to fleet officials who use TrailerTails. In a video recently released by the product’s maker, ATDynamics, a half-dozen managers and executives testify that the devices are “durable and reliable,” “require very little maintenance,” and “if the driver forgets to close it when he’s backing into a dock or other stationary object, the tail does collapse on its own.”
The video shows this happening when a TrailerTail hits a wall, where the panels bulge and bend before folding back against the trailer’s doors; as the trailer moves away from the wall, the unscathed panels redeploy. Another scene shows a panel bumping the top of a Jeep; the panel’s lower corner bends inward, sparing itself and the Jeep’s fiberglass top from damage.
There’s a short clip of two men bending and twisting a panel, and another of heavy-handed guy bashing one with a mallet. Again, no harm is done.
Shake-testing at the Bosch Proving Grounds in Indiana is also shown. The wires and springs vibrate slightly, not enough to damage them but sufficient to shrug off snow and ice, ATDynamics’ founder, Andrew Smith, told me a while ago.
The video is convincing and entertaining. View it here.