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Trailer Types

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Types of Trailers in the Shipping Industry

Standard Flatbed Trailers:

Most of us see standard flatbed trailers being pulled down the road daily. They come in a variety which is usually either 45′ long, 48 feet long, or the longest we know of is 53′ in length.

Flatbed Spread Axle Trailer:

Flatbed spread axle trailer is very popular in North America – especially California, where road weight restrictions are much more regulated than in other states. A flatbed spread axle trailer is exactly the same as a standard flatbed trailer except for the difference between the rear axles. Instead of having tandem axles, they are single axles spread apart at a greater distance than tandem axles. The size is the same as the standard flatbed, with manufacturers making them in various lengths and widths ranging from 45’, 48’ & 53’ with a standard width size of 96” or 102” wide. This trailer type is less damaging to roads and highways when loaded correctly.

Flatbed spread axle trailer.
Spread axle flatbed trailer.

Step-Deck Trailer:

The step-deck trailer is like a flatbed trailer except for the step in its deck. This type of trailer design was originally done to fit heavy equipment on its deck with a place to hold its bucket, hydraulic arm, or other equipment, such as a detachable dozer blade. The step deck trailer is now a very popular trailer type, with most of them equipped with ramps. Ramps enable operators to drive their machinery onto the trailer at loading times. This is a very versatile trailer, provided the items(s) being shipped are not over about 47-52,000 lbs depending on the weight of the semi-truck.

Note the step-deck trailer has a step in its deck.

What is a Double Drop Trailer:

The double-drop trailer (“doubledrop, double drop”) was designed by manufacturers explicitly to ship/haul tall shipments that would normally require oversize trucking permits to ship on a standard flatbed trailer. It’s very helpful for shipping boats, heavy equipment, farm equipment, houses, etc. The double-drop is a successful trailer design and is now a trucking industry standard. Most double-drop trailers are typically not constructed or designed to move items classified as over-weight (heavy-haul) however, with its deck design being so close to the ground, there have recently been various new trailers manufactured with additional axles thus making it capable of handling more diverse and heavier shipments. A double-drop trailer can transport a wide variety of machinery, equipment, and excessive-height goods. The illustration below is of a standard double-drop trailer. Sizes vary in length, but production models typically don’t exceed 53 feet in length. A common size for this trailer is 38-48 feet in length however; it should be noted that double-drop stretch trailers do exist serving more specific moves such as wind tower blades, long pipes, poles, lumber, conveyor belts, and other longer items that require transport.

Double drop trailer designed for shipping items and excessive height equipment.

Conestoga Trailer: 

A Conestoga trailer is also known as a “Curtain side trailer.” It’s made with tarps to cover the goods and protect them from damage. The retractable tarping system covering the entire deck makes the loading and unloading of goods easy and fast. They come in different sizes, including step-deck Conestogas, flatbed Conestogas, and double-drop Conestogas.  48ft and 53ft step-deck Conestogas can haul a maximum of  41,000lbs. Flatbed Conestogas, which are 48ft or 53ft, haul a maximum of  44,000lbs in weight. Double drop Conestogas are mainly 48ft and can transport loads of up to 35,000lbs. A Conestoga trailer comes in handy when transporting delicate goods through harsh weather conditions.

Drop Deck Trailer:

Also known as lowboy trailers, drop deck trailers are made for shipping tall loads exceeding the maximum height limit. They allow easy transportation of loads requiring shipping permits if regular trailers are used. The design of drop deck trailers makes them very close to the ground, compensating for the height of a load calculated by adding the height of a load and that of a trailer. They have flip axles on their deck, which are handy when hauling heavy loads. Most drop deck trailers have several ramp capabilities, making loading and unloading easy and fast. They can transport loads between 44,000 to 45,000 pounds; their main deck length is 37 to 38 feet, while their deck widths are96 to 102 inches. The stretched versions extend upto 76feet. Some loads shipped on drop deck trailers include tractors, agricultural equipment, forklifts, excavators, tanks, and construction equipment. 

Landoll Trailer:

A landoll trailer is used in the transportation of oversized and overweight loads. They’re equipped with hydraulic systems that make loading from the rear stress-free. In addition, they have similar features to those of a removable gooseneck trailer, making them the best option when shipping complex loads. Their ground clearance and length is adjustable allowing them to ship complex loads with ease. A landoll trailer has an undercarriage roller system that allows them to accommodate heavier loads than a standard RGN trailer.  This trailer can ship loads of between 110,000 to 120,000lbs in weight, 48 to 74ft in length, 8.5ft in width, and 11.5ft in height. Due to their weight distribution capacity, that makes them ideal for hauling superloads such as bulldozers, articulated dump trucks, and large excavators. 

Removable Goose Neck (RGN) Trailer:

Removable gooseneck (RGN) trailers are made for hauling wide and tall heavy machinery or equipment like combines, cranes, forklifts, caterpillars, and backhoes. They’re easy to load and unload because the gooseneck in the front is removable hence the name “removable gooseneck trailer.” A standard RGN trailer can transport a load of up to 42,000 pounds. Its main deck can accommodate a load that’s 29ft long, 8.5ft wide, and 11.5 high, while the front deck can accommodate 10ft in length, 8.5ft in width, and 8.5ft in height. The rear of a standard RGN can hold a load of up to 9ft in length, 8.5ft in width, and 10ft in height. A more specialized design of this trailer is called a stretch RGN, and it can accommodate a load of between 42,000lbs to 150,000lbs, and its main deck accommodates 29ft to 65ft in length, 8.5ft in width, and 11.5ft in height.

Lowboy Trailer:

Heavy Haul Trailer Types:

Heavy haul trailers, RGNs, double drops, extendable double drops, and flatbeds are available in various axle length and load limit variables depending on what kind of shipment they are designed for.

Trailer types for heavy haul shipping.
Different heavy haul trailer types.

More Information About Heavy Haul Trailers

Heavy haul trailers are used to ship huge and heavy stuff. They call them heavy haul trailers for a reason which is self-explanatory; they’re made for transporting heavy objects over the road. Many things are transported with them, like wind towers, gensets, generator sets, heavy equipment, turbines, homes, industrial plants, crane shipments, large fabrications, moving transformers, large timber, airplanes, jets, and all kinds of stuff. You can usually tell when a heavy hauler is moving down the road or highway as they are accompanied by escort vehicles or pilot cars. Pilot cars usually have flashing lights and signs that say oversize load and flags even on the side of the load. Basically, a heavy haul trailer is a flatbed trailer with a whole bunch of wheels and tires on it. Some of them have a unit in the back called the steerable jeep, which makes them steerable to get around corners. So there’s a driver in the back steering the shipment and a tractor in the front steering it so they can get around a turning radius. A good example of this is an antenna transporter. At one time, they had to transport a radio telescope, it was 115 tons, so they used a steerable heavy haul trailer to relocate it. After this event, the industry started to develop further and finally into what it is today.

In many cases today, heavy haul trailers are designed and manufactured specifically for the one single item that they need to ship. We see this a lot in the shipment of boilers and mining equipment, which require custom trailers. Trailers like this are used for a short time only and then scrapped. Of course, they don’t throw everything away, but they utilize all the parts and pieces they must assemble for the next trailer.

The whole reason the heavy haul industry exists in the first place is to prevent damages. Once you exceed a certain weight (80,ooo lbs), you risk damaging the road or highway. A trailer with multiple axles displaces the weight over an even surface area and doesn’t cause damage to the road structure. You can learn more by visiting the Federal Bridge Formula section. Today we see more and more heavy haul trailers in use on the highways. We also see more trailers with double wheels and single trailers with wider tires. Also, notice super singles and trailers with more and more axles designed to move overweight items. Of course, to ship items that are super heavy like that, you must obtain permission from either the state, county, or even city permits may be required to do it. They call these oversize trucking permits.

One of the things does to help the heavy haul trucking industry is to give all companies access to the same customers. We strive to ensure that everybody has access to bid or quote on the shipments. This way, the smaller companies can keep in business instead of all the freight going to the bigger companies with huge advertising budgets. We’re kind of ballast in the industry that helps keep things fair and the overall industry alive and thriving.

We connect you with the right machinery movers and equipment moving companies in North America, shipping to all points, including international shipping for private parties and businesses. Oversize flatbed trucking and heavy haul trucking companies in every U.S. City, Canada, Mexico, and Alaska.