Spec’ing a trailer

Max Kvidera | September 01, 2010

One advantage of spec’ing wide-base singles on a trailer is the estimated savings of 800 pounds compared with duals, Baldwin says. “For many haulers, that’s an additional pallet,” he says. “Wide base works well because of the stability and shape of the contact patch.”

Another potential benefit of wide singles is their superior cooling effect on trailer brakes. Baldwin says, “We’ve had reports from operators reducing their maintenance costs on trailers because brake life has been extended.”


Optimize resale value

If you spec your trailer to fit your needs and you plan to hold on to it until it wears out, you don’t need to worry about versatility. But spec’ing a trailer too closely to your application will limit its resale potential, says Fontaine Trailer’s Dan Giles.

Coatings, such as Great Dane’s CorroGuard, help protect and prolong longevity for landing gear and other trailer components.

For example, a 45-foot trailer will attract fewer buyers and generate less trade-in value than 48-foot or 53-foot models. Consider these other specs:

AIR RIDE SUSPENSION. It will bring more at resale than a mechanical spring system because the trailer would be in better condition and have more versatility in what it can haul, says Hendrickson’s Brian Buckham.

AIR-ASSISTED PIN PULL MECHANISMS. These devices on air suspensions enhance operation and potentially avoid back injuries when repositioning the tandem, says Ken Lang, of Arvin Meritor’s North America Trailer Products Division. The company offers a PinLoc feature in which the locking pins’ ends are angled to allow easier engagement in case you forget to relock the pins before taking off.

AUTOMATIC DOCKING CONTROL. This allows precise positioning as you drop the trailer.

DECK LOCK. This SureLok device maintains the deck’s height for easier loading and unloading.

TRACK WIDTH. If you spec the standard track width of 77.5 inches, Buckham says, you could equip the trailer with standard duals or wide-base single tires using 2-inch outset wheels. On the other hand, if you spec an 83.5-inch track using zero outset wheels to accommodate super singles, buyers won’t have the option to use duals.

KING PIN SETTING. Spec’ing a standard setting will appeal to more buyers than a customized setting.

STABILITY SYSTEMS. These are gaining in favor as a spec to improve handling, avoid rollovers and increase trailer longevity. Another benefit is protecting trailer door seals from premature wear from excessive roll, Lang says.

AUTOMATIC TIRE INFLATION SYSTEM. “Tire inflation is important to enhancing durability, increasing resale potential and reducing cost per mile,” says Lang. “With the advent of wide-base singles, many are spec’ing automatic tire inflation devices.” Utility Trailer’s Chuck Cole notes that these systems also help improve cornering and overall handling. n


SmartWay add-ons focus on aerodynamics

For trailers, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s SmartWay program focuses mostly on aerodynamic technology that can be spec’d with new equipment or acquired as add-ons. These devices include gap reducers, boat tails, side skirts, end fairings and trailer skirts.  

Carrier Transicold, for example, offers AeroFlex, a trailer skirt for dry vans or reefers. The flexible plastic panels meet California Air Resources Board requirements for 2011 trailers and offer an SAE/TMC-verified fuel savings of 7.5 percent, although some fleets report even better results, says Jason Forman of CT.

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