FREIGHT HAULING TRAILER TYPES

Freight hauling trailer types in the shipping industry

Once freight comes into the port from overseas, its the trucks that are most common for transporting said freight to its final destination.  More than 80% of the total inland freight volume is moved around the country by trucks.   In order to move this freight, trucks need to have trailers to carry it. There are many freight hauling trailer types on the road, each of which have their own different load capacity and serve an alternate purpose.

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Flatbed Trailer

The flatbed trailer is the most commonly used trailer in the freight transporting industry.  These trailers are highly versatile which is why they are on the road so often.  From steel coils to construction material, flatbed trailers can carry a maximum of 48,000 pounds.   The lengths vary as follows: 24 feet, 40 feet, 45 feet, 48 feet, and 53 feet, the most common being the 48 feet flatbed trailer.  Flatbed trailers height from the ground typically is 60 inches total, which would be considered dock high in many cases.

Since the deck is flat and open, the cargo may require tarps to protect it from the outer elements.  Tarps range from the standard 4 foot to 8 footers.  Different loads require different tarps.

  • Maximum freight weight of 40,000 – 48,000 pounds
  • Maximum Flatbed Trailer Length- 48 ft – 53 ft
  • Maximum Flatbed Trailer Width- 8’6″
  • Maximum Legal Freight Height- 9 ft

Expandable Flatbed Trailer

Flatbed stretch trailers are also referred to as extendable flatbed trailers. They are mainly used for carrying excessively long loads that are unable to fit on a standard type of trailer. Known for providing maximum support, these stretch trailers make it possible to avoid the risks of overhanging freight.

115 ft Expandable Flatbed 

  • Maximum freight weight of 36,000 – 45,000 pounds
  • Maximum Expandable Flatbed Trailer Length- up to 115 ft
  • Maximum Expandable Flatbed Trailer Width- 8’6″
  • Maximum Legal Freight Height- 9 ft

Step-Deck Trailer / Drop-Deck Trailer

step deck or drop deck trailer has no sides, roof, or doors, resembling a platform. This type of trailer is a semi-trailer that has two deck levels, with the higher, shorter one positioned closer to the front. The higher, shorter deck level is designed to clear the edge of the tractor unit, but can also drop down in order to handle taller loads. Stacking goods on the lower level is a great way to use the extra space for transporting more products at a time.

  • Maximum freight weight of up to 40,000 – 46,000 pounds
  • Maximum Step-Deck Trailer Length- 48 – 53 ft
  • Maximum Step-Deck Trailer Width- 8’6″
  • Maximum Legal Freight Height- 10 ft

Conestoga Trailer

Conestoga trailers are basically flatbed trailers with a hard or soft shell giving complete protection to the freight inside. They offer more coverage than use tarps to tie down and protect cargo, and reduce the occurrence of tarps damaging the cargo they’re attempting to protect.

  • Maximum freight weight of up to 48,000 pounds
  • Maximum Conestoga Trailer Length- 48 – 53 ft
  • Maximum Conestoga Trailer Width- 8’6″
  • Maximum Legal Freight Height- 9 ft

Removable Gooseneck Trailer (RGN)

Both lowboys and RGNs are commercial trailers known for their impressive hauling capacity, especially when it comes to moving tall, heavy freight. But there are some differences to understand to ensure that you’re choosing the right trailer for your job.

Often, this class of commercial trailers is used to haul over-sized machinery such as construction and industrial equipment. People are likely most familiar with seeing these trailers moving bulldozers or excavators with “Oversize Load” across the back.

The advantages of using lowboy trailers lie in their ability to transport large loads without additional permits. They can have axles added for increased weight capacity, and the drop-down feature allows for taller equipment to be moved without height permits.

Double Drop Lowboy RGN 2 or 3 Axle

Double drop RGN (Removable Goose Neck) trailers are typically used for hauling cargo that can be driven onto the trailer. For example, Titan Worldwide may use them to haul forklifts, cranes, agricultural combines and similar freight.

  • Maximum freight weight of up to 36,000 – 42,000 pounds
  • Maximum RGN Trailer Length- 26-30′
  • Maximum RGN Trailer Width- 8’6″
  • Maximum Legal Freight Height- 12 ft

Expandable Blade Trailer

This freight hauling trailer type of trailer provides a specialized solution for hauling wind tower blades. This versatile heavy-haul wind trailer can be adjusted to fit any size or brand of blade. It features a unique hydraulically operated self-steering system which increases safety and efficiency by automatically keeping the axles in line with the kingpin. At 184-feet fully extended, length is not an issue.

  • Maximum freight weight of up to 60,000 pounds
  • Maximum Expandable Blade Trailer Length- 200 ft
  • Maximum Expandable Blade Trailer Width- 8’6″
  • Maximum Legal Freight Height- 12 ft

Expandable RGN Trailer

Most standard expandable RGN trailers are used for transporting over-dimensional or heavy-haul freight.  There are many variations of the gooseneck trailer.  Typically these freight hauling trailer types of trailers will range from 61’5” in length to 92’ 8” for a beam deck trailer.  Lowboy trailers (or Low-Loaders or Low-bed) have been around since the 1920’s however removable goosenecks have been around since the 50’s.  Mechanical Folding goosenecks offer a ramp that drops to allow for easy loading.  Detachable gooseneck trailers are great for carrying heavy-duty freight on long hauls.

RGN Expandable Double Drop Deck 2 Axle

  • Maximum freight weight:  This can easily exceed 150,000 pounds
  • Not Expanded: 29’ 7” Long x 8’6″ Width (102”) x 12’ High (144”) – has 27” ground clearance
  • Expandable:  By 20’ 6”
  • Front Deck:  10’ 7” Long x 8’6″ Wide (102”) x 8’ 5” High (102”)
  • Rear Deck:  21’ 1” Long x 8’6″ Wide (102”) x 10’ High (120”)

75 Ton 6 Axle Front/Rear Steer Dolly and 70 Ton 3 Axle Bunk Trailer

  • 48 degree turning
  • 8″ lift bunks on dolly and bunk trailer
  • No pin removal is required for center bunk over-travel when turning
  • 130 ksi steel construction used for light and low profile frame

55 Ton Hydraulic Detachable Gooseneck

  • 4 beam lowboy style deck design
  • 20″ loaded deck height
  • Main deck has 25′-7″ well for load

75 Ton Half Schnable with 6 Axle Rear Steer Dolly

  • Center load carrying bunk has 22″ hydraulic lift
  • Auto and manual steering on the front (3) axles
  • Caster self-steering axles on the rear (3) axles

130 Ton 22 Axle Dolly and Jeep System

  • (2) 6 Axle 75 ton manual/auto steering dollies
  • 8″ stroke hydraulic lift boxes over dollies
  • Modular design for alternate configurations

Lowboy

Lowboy trailers are used for the transportation of heavy equipment and other items. As such, they should be made of a material that can withstand the weight of this type of cargo. Typically, freight hauling trailer types such as lowboy trailers are made out of steel or aluminum. The preferred choice is high-strength steel.

  • Freight weight: 40,000 pounds for two axles, 80,000 pounds for anything beyond two axles
  • Well height: 18 in. to 24 in (The well is the container.)
  • Well length: 24 ft. to 29.6 ft
  • Legal width: 8’6″
  • Legal freight height: 11.5 ft. to 12 ft.
  • Legal overall load height: 14 ft.

Straight Truck

A straight truck, also known as a cube truck, cube van, box van, or box truck, is a truck that carries cargo on the same chassis as the power unit and cab. These types of trucks are often used to move furniture, home goods, and smaller items, or for “hot-shot” expedited freight deliveries.

Dry Van (Enclosed) Trailer

Dry van trailers are generally enclosed and are commonly used to carry and protect freight from the harmful elements of the weather or the roads. Your shipment can be loaded on the rear of the trailer, normally using a loading dock. In cases where a loading dock is not available, some trailers come equipped with lift-gates that can help get your freight from the ground to the trailer and back again.

Refrigerated Trailer

A refrigerated trailer is meant to maintain the temperature during the transport of perishable and temperature-sensitive goods. The purpose of refrigeration is to remove heat, take it from one place, transport it, and release it to another.

  • Maximum freight weight of 42,000 to 45,0000 pounds
  • Maximum Reefer Trailer Length- 53 feet
  • Maximum Reefer Trailer Width- 102″
  • Maximum Legal Freight Height- 13’6″
  • Coupler Height: 47″

Power-Only 

Most types of trucking trailers have an often over-looked and under used function: storage. … Power-only shipping is a trucking industry term for using an independent driver’s or a logistics company’s tractor to move your trailer that you have either purchased or leased.

Drive-Away

In Drive-Away you will not, as a general rule, be wagging a trailer around behind a semi truck and “bumping docks” as it is termed.  This just means to back a trailer to a loading dock to facilitate the loading or unloading of goods.

In the Drive-Away industry there are three distinct ways of doing the work. They are:

  • SINGLES:  Singles is when a bobtail truck is moved.  This is the semi truck tractor all by itself.  Some Singles drivers pull a vehicle behind the semi truck so they have transport to the next job.  Other drivers depend on public transportation, such as taxi service, rental car agencies, airlines, bus, or the kindness of strangers to get them to their next destination.
  • BOOMS:  Boom drivers take two trucks, one facing backwards with the rear axles raised off the ground and they attach a device to the front truck they will drive.  Some Boom drivers have their “chase” vehicle, as it is called, attached to the front bumper of the rear truck and it is pulled along.  The “chase” vehicle is then used to get the person to the next destination.
  • DECKERS:  Decker drivers have three or more trucks all facing the same direction.  The steering axles of the mounted trucks are raised above the frame of each truck in line before it.  Some Decker drivers have a ramp assembly that is attached to the last truck and their “chase” vehicle is driven then secured to the rear frame of the last truck.

There are some outside costs involved in which ever set up the driver decides to use.

  • SINGLES:  A tow bar/hitch is attached to the front frame of the “chase” vehicle.  These devices come in a myriad of combinations.  Attach with a ball and hitch, attach with a pintle hook and ball, attach with a fifth wheel pin and is stubbed into the fifth wheel of the semi truck.  These devices have DOT Certifications and Specifications that need to be adhered to for safety on the highway.
  • BOOM:  Booms come in an assortment of types as well.  There are “telescoping” booms, which in effect just means the boom pieces slide in and out of each other  for ease of use.  There is a “static boom” which is long and does not have the ability to decrease in size.  Then there is the “sectional” boom which comes apart in many pieces for ease of storage.   These booms also must meet DOT Certifications and Specifications for highway safety.
  • DECKERS:  Deck drivers have an assortment of “J” bolts, or “J” pins, saddle mounts, and other equipment that is attached to the rear frame member of the truck it is either following or attached to.  Devices are added to the undercarriage of each truck that is going to be towed on the rear axle.

Hazardous Materials

A hazardous material is any item or agent (biological, chemical, radiological, and/or physical), which has the potential to cause harm to humans, animals, or the environment, either by itself or through interaction with other factors. Hazardous materials professionals are responsible for and properly qualified to manage such materials. This includes managing and/or advising other managers on hazardous materials at any point in their life-cycle, from process planning and development of new products; through manufacture, distribution and use; and to disposal, cleanup and remediation.

Hazardous materials are defined and regulated in the United States primarily by laws and regulations administered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). Each has its own definition of a “hazardous material.”

Single Vehicle Hotshot Trailer

Car shipping truck companies tend to offer this type of service for short distances. For this service a dually truck with a tow trailer behind is what’s used. A dually is a pickup with dual rear wheels on both sides. Behind is a goose-neck trailer that’s just big enough to haul one vehicle. Another occasion that might call for a single vehicle hotshot trailer is when an expedited service is necessary. On this particular occasion, it’s used for long-distance deliveries.

Single Level Multi-Car Carrier

If more than one car needs to be transported, car shipping truck companies often offer this service. Goose-neck trailers are again used for these car transport services, but in this case they’re big enough to carry between two to six vehicles. These might be cars, trucks, small RV’s or a combination of all three. A car hauler might also use a semi rather than a dually, if the trailer is a little larger. A 90-foot car shipping truck struggles to make deliveries in narrow city streets. A much smaller car transport carrier, on the other hand, won’t have such a problem.

Multi-Level Multi-Car Carrier

If you encounter a shipping auto hauler when you’re out on the road it’s more likely to be this type. It is the standard method for transporting your car. For most situations, shipping truck companies use this type because it’s economical, cost-effective, swift and reliable.

Enclosed Car Transport Services

Enclosed transport services, on the other hand, use a transport truck trailer that’s more like a shipping container. Vehicles being moved are completely enclosed and protected from the weather and any traffic grime. A shipping car hauler is the most popular choice for owners of custom, antique, classic, high-end and luxury cars.

When your car is being transported using an enclosed trailer, there are several options to choose from.

Single-Level, Single-Vehicle Enclosed Trailer

If you’ve got a particularly valuable or precious motor, you might choose to use car shipping truck companies that offer this service. Both bumper pull and goose-neck trailers are used to provide this service. A dually truck is used for pulling. As with the open version, it’s used mostly for short distance or expedited deliveries.

Single-Level, Multi-Vehicle Enclosed Trailer

Enclosed car trailers aren’t limited to transporting just one vehicle. There are versions that can carry up to three. When more than one vehicle is being hauled, however, it’s usually done by a semi.

Multi-Level, Multi-Vehicle Enclosed Trailer

When a car transport company needs to haul more than three motors in an enclosed trailer it uses a multi-level, multi-vehicle enclosed trailer. Enclosed car transport loading takes place using adjustable deck ramps.

You might also be interested to learn that car shipping companies are also able to offer a variety of different freight hauling trailer types of enclosed carrier. They can be hard or soft-sided. A soft-sided car transport trailer, also known as curtain-sided, will have vinyl side curtains that are PVC-coated. Because these curtains can be lifted up when a vehicle is loaded and unloaded, it makes securing the cargo much easier. That being said, these car shipping trucks tend to be hard-sided.

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