The other day I spotted this tractor and trailer parked near a shopping area off of U.S. 23 in Lewis Center, Ohio, north of Columbus. The tractor was backed just short of coupling onto the trailer, leaving no way for a prospective thief to swipe the flatbed. “Nice job,” I’d have told the driver if he had been around, because too often I see parked and unattended trailers.
Then again, the fact that the tractor was detached suggested that the driver used it to run an errand, then returned and backed it to the blocking position. In the meantime, somebody with a tractor and empty fifth wheel and a malice-infected heart could’ve come across the scene and grabbed the trailer. But now it was secure.
I also liked what I saw with the tractor. It was a no-nonsense Freightliner Cascadia in bland white, but its flatbed-oriented equipment behind the cab showed some thought. The headboard, popularly known as a “headache rack,” appeared sufficiently stout and able to stop loose cargo from punching through the back of the sleeper, depending on velocity, of course. If the load is tied down properly, it’d probably stay put in a mishap, though.
Check the steps leading to the platform: They’re stairs so they’re easy to climb – not unusual, but still a good idea. Close by is a handrail that the driver can grab while ascending or descending, though if he’s young, he’s more likely to hop down.
There’s no stack to get in the way because the Freightliner’s diesel exhales through a horizontal exhaust pipe. Years ago, when diesels produced stinky fumes and smoke, I cursed them. But now diesel exhaust is very clean, and I think frame-mount exhausts save weight, space and money.
Work lights are mounted high on both sides of the rack, and the platform leads to the access door on the front of the trailer. The aluminum flatbed (I didn’t catch its make) has been fitted with an Eagle Retractable Tarping System, whose proprietor says he attended to its construction and operating details after asking truckers what they like and don’t like about rolling tarps (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zKxQnC0uFZc). The YouTube video shows how easy the tarp is to roll back or forward to allow side access to trailer and its loads, or they can be forklift-handled from a dock through the opened rear.
Note that all wheels are aluminum for light weight and true running, maximizing tire life, but they’re not highly polished, maybe because “chrome (or bright metal) doesn’t add a dollar of revenue,” at least according to the fleet owner who made that declaration to me many years ago. Yet this rig was clean and safe-looking, which is a tribute to its owner, Loudon County Trucking, headquartered in Loudon, Kentucky.
On the passenger door were two stickers: “Electronic Driver Logs,” which indicates a safety-minded management, and “Veteran” just below a United States Navy emblem, a proud identifier of the driver’s background. Here’s a salute to you, old sailor, and your company.