One of the trailer industry's largest manufacturers introduced a new line of dry-freight vans, reefers, and platforms. One of the industry's smaller manufacturers unveiled a big change in flatbed design. And a lot of people came to see.

This year's Mid-America Trucking Show, held March 22-24 in Louisville, Kentucky, attracted a crowd of people and innovation. According to the show organizer, the 80,972 viistors who attended the show were the most ever, as were the number of international visitors. The 2012 edition of the show attracted people from 77 countries.

Visitors had 1,200,000 square feet of exhibits to view and 1,070 exhibits to see. Here are but a few of them:

Newest flatbed design is also lightest weight

The newest design in platform trailers is by far the lightest in weight (see photo above). Even before the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, Kentucky, pre-show publicity promoted the Alutrec Inc “Capacity” aluminum flatbed trailer as “the world's lightest”. The show model did not disappoint.

The 53-ft long, 102-inch wide, all-aluminum trailer riding on wide-base single tires scaled 7,800 lb. That was about 850 pounds heavier by Alutrec standards because of a number of options incorporated in the show model. The “standard” 48-ft by 102-inch Alutrec Capacity platform weighs 6,950 lb.

The heaviest option in the show model, aside from the five feet of extra length, is the 8-ft long sliding toolbox that pulls out below the rear floor. It provides storage space for tiedown equipment, tools, and even load dunnage.

The show trailer incorporated a 121" spread tandem, with both axles individually mounted and sliding. The wheelbase and spread of axles can be individually moved to make the trailer legal in all states and provinces. Also adding weight were the 16 tiedown winches and load straps.

The biggest weight-saving feature is that there are no longitudinal I-beams to carry the load. Instead, there is a large underfloor box constructed of quarter-inch aluminum sheet. It is a deep box in the mid-section but tapers to a shallow box at the front and rear to accommodate the axles and upper coupler. Besides weight savings, it provides an aerodynamically smooth underbody.

The flowing lines of this boat-like underbody structure contribute to fuel savings, confirmed by SAE fuel tests, and also increase the structural torsion resistance by 900%, say the developers. Air and electrical lines are protected inside this “hull”.

Load capacity is listed as 90,000 lb gross vehicle weight. Concentrated load capacity is 60,000 lb in four feet. Floor thickness is 2½", of quarter-inch material.

The show trailer was a hand-assembled prototype, one of several after two years of development and another three years of lab testing and road testing. Assisting with the development of the Capacity were aluminum industry research laboratories and local universities. The company, Alutrec Inc has been building more standard aluminum platforms for 20 years in Quebec, Canada.

Alutrec co-owner, Stephane Labillois, says production will start in October in a plant now being outfitted with robotic welding equipment. The underbody frame box, while hollow in the mid-section, has multiple vertical reinforcing plates of quarter-inch aluminum welded inside the nose section.

Plant capacity will be four per day.

Alutrec Inc, 820,Chemin Olivier, Suite 201, Saint-Nicolas QC, Canada G7A 2N1. Website: www.alutrec.com.

Adhesives replace rivets on new Vanguard trailer

Newest innovation at Vanguard National Trailer Corp in Monon, Indiana, is a smooth, rivet-free side sheet (see photo in the related image gallery). Adhesives join the .050 aluminum side sheet to ¾" inch deep side posts on 16-inch centers. Rivets are used only at the top edge and bottom edge, to join the sheet to the top rail and lower side rail.

The adhesive is the critical element in this smoother sidewall, says Mark Roush, VP-engineering at Vanguard. After experimenting with other adhesives during the past year, Vanguard has settled on a terpolymer by Uniseal of Evansville, Indiana. It has a lap-shear strength of 2,500 psi and is pumpable for use on the sidewall assembly line.

The hat-section side posts are punched for attaching cargo control straps, and the polypropylene interior lining fits into slots between posts. Thus, the shallow ¾" deep posts provide an interior load width of 100.5 inches. Floor boards of the van trailer shown at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville were Eko-Flor pultruded boards of polyurethane reinforced with fiberglass, “It saves 400 pounds”, says Roush.

A further refinement under the floor is a Smart Truck Under-Tray by Aero Systems. Instead of side skirts, this aerodynamically shaped device smoothes the air flow under the trailer to effect fuel savings, in combination with wide-base single tires.

Great Dane shows redesigned vans, flats

Great Dane announced it has redesigned its product line, including dry-freight vans, refrigerated vans, and platform trailers.

The multi-line manufacturer said its new Champion dry freight van has standard features designed to provide added resistance to the challenges of everyday abuse (see photo in the related image gallery).

The new Champion line of dry freight vans consists of three models: SE for heavy-duty productivity, the CL model that is highly customizable, and the CP made with Great Dane's composite panel technology. All come standard with Great Dane's new EnduroGuard rear door frame that has been designed for added strength and corrosion resistance.

The extruded aluminum bottom rails are fastened with aluminum rivets to I-beam crossmembers. Roof bows are galavanized steel. The standard composite swing-type rear doors have galvanized steel skins and polymer core. Dual-seal gaskets protect against moisture pentration.

Stemco's Platinum Performance Plus wheel end system, backed by an extended six-year warranty, is now standard. Other standard components include Grote's Micro Nova DOT LED lamps and Great Dane's Long Life Light System. The system combines the flexibility of a custom wiring system with the durability of a fully sealed modular harness that comes with a 10-year warranty.

One of the available options for the Champion CP van is a lightweight package that incorporates a heavy-duty base rail with a lighter weight side panel. The 21-inch high bottom rail adds rigidity, reducing bulging of the composite panel sidewall, and protecting against sidewall damage.

This lightweight package is designed specifically for floor loading operations, such as in the beverage industry, and it also includes a composite frontwall design, aluminum crossmembers, and other weight saving options.

Composite panels for the Champion model feature completely smooth interior walls to withstand repeated snagging of cargo and inevitable forklift damage. The floor is made of laminated hardwood reinforced with a composite underlayer rated for up to 24,000-lb. Alcoa aluminum wheels are available as an option.

The undercarriage and support gear of Champion trailers can include CorroGuard, the key component in Great Dane's comprehensive corrosion prevention package. CorroGuard was developed specifically for trailer underbody protection from rock and stone impingement, de-icing chemicals and road hazards.

Reengineered reefer

The Everest reefer series has been reengineered, including the TL and SS models for long-haul truckload carriers and the CL model for specialized foodservice and multi-temp applications (see photo in the related image gallery).

New standards for all Everest reefers include stainless steel rear frame, a patented corrugated aluminum roof that adds stiffness to the structure, and PunctureGuard interior lining — a lightweight, glass-reinforced thermoplastic material produced exclusively by Great Dane.

Also standard are aluminum doors with dual-sealed gaskets, aluminum duct flooring, and full-width composite floor sills.

New Freedom flatbed

All models in Great Dane's new Freedom flatbed series are designed to strike a balance between strength (see photo in the related image gallery). Durability, weight, and price. They are offered in steel, combination steel and aluminum, and all-aluminum models.

The Freedom SE is a heavy-duty all-steel trailer with available straight, drop or extendable body styles. Structural steel side rails and other steel components that are shot-blasted and then protected with a two-part paint process composed of an epoxy primer and black urethane topcoat.

The Freedom LT combo steel and aluminum trailer is built for weight savings and reduced maintenance costs, while the ultra-lightweight Freedom XP is rated to handle up to 120,000 lbs of uniformly distributed loads, but designed to be 1,000 lbs lighter than its combination counterpart.

Standard lighting on all Freedom platform models includes LED lamps and the Great Dane Long Life Light System.

Great Dane noted it has established its Dallas factory branch to serve as a distribution hub for flatbeds beginning April 1st. This branch will be the “go-to site” for Freedom sales, factory and aftermarket parts and accessories.

Five of the of the trailers, including two models of its new Everest series of refrigerated trailers, two models of its Freedom platform line, and the all-new Champion dry-freight van.

Best-selling reefer now weighs less than 14,000 pound — even when fully dressed

Utility Trailer Manufacturing Company staked out a new claim at the Mid-America Trucking Show. As the industry's largest manufacturer of refrigerated trailers, it also has the most popular model reefer trailer, the 3000R, which has been the #1 market leading refrigerated trailer in North America for 17 consecutive years. (see photo in the related image gallery)

Craig Bennett, senior vice-president sales & marketing, says the reasons for this are the increased durability and lower tare weight of the trailer, as well as its high level of thermal efficiency.

“About 30 percent of our van trailers are equipped with aerodynamic side skirts”, says Bennett. “Even with this added weight, a fully equipped 3000R with refrigeration unit and fuel will weigh less than 14,000 lb (13,820 lb for the show model).” Utility side skirts are SmartWay verified and CARB compliant when teamed with low rolling resistance tires for at least a 5% fuel savings.

“We are the only manufacturer that uses a mandrel foam insulation process to fully insulate the entire trailer without foam voids”, says Bennett. “Our high impact-resistant interior lining protects against loading damage, and also is an excellent barrier against water vapor penetration into the foam insulation. We use the same Versitex liner, only thicker, as a wearband to protect the interior lower sidewall against loading damage.

Utility's refrigerated trailers are manufactured at their Marion, Virginia, and Clearfield, Utah, plants. Utility dry freight vans are built in Paragould, Arkansas, and in Glade Spring, Virginia, where a tornado tore off the roof and interrupted production for several weeks last summer. Now the plant is bigger than before with a 56,000-sq-ft addition and second assembly line that started production April 16, 2012.

Vacuum insulated panel in roof assembly reduces heat loss 10%, improves headroom

Vacuum insulated panels are part of the insulation package of the new ThermoTech MCII at Hyundai Translead. (see photo in the related image gallery)The new design adds a half-inch thick vacuum panel right under the corrugated roof sheet and joins the two adhesively. Then a full inch of polyurethane foam is injected to make a 1 ½-inch deep roof assembly that is 10% more efficient than the former 2" foam roof assembly, says Chris Lee, VP-engineering.

Sidewalls also have 1½" insulation , providing a load width of 98¾". The 1½" deep roof assembly allows an inside height of 107¾" and a total trailer volume of 3,850 cubic feet.

Crude oil tank trailer Is MAC's newest

A crude oil tank trailer is the latest product offering from MAC Trailer Manufacturing of Alliance, Ohio, and it comes with the announcement of another plant expansion. The new crude oil tanker will be built in Kent, Ohio, in a 186,000 sq-ft plant dedicated solely to MAC liquid tanks (oil and water tanks). (see photo in the related image gallery)

This new MAC Trailer LTT is a standard DOT-407 code trailer built to handle pressures up to 25 psi. It is fabricated from quarter-inch alloy 5454 H32 polished aluminum. The double conical design has low profile stiffening rings two inches deep. The subframe is of galvanized steel, even the push bumper that is cosmetically wrapped in a polished aluminum overlay.

The overall design is heavy-duty for off-road use, says Ed Mansell, MAC Trailer director of engineering, who designed the new unit. Even the side ladder and its mountings are heavy-duty. The tank is mounted on a Hendrickson Intraax ATT250 suspension and has a 13" ride height.

Overall length is 42 feet. With a 200 barrel (8400 gallon) capacity, it has a tare weight of 10,400 pounds.

J&J adds tank trailers for oilfield work

Somerset Welding of Somerset, PA got an early start on the Pennsylvania drilling boom three years ago, building truck-mounted water tanks hauling from 80 to 135 bbl (3360 to 6000 gallon) loads in the oil field.  (see photo in the related image gallery) Their PVT (pressure vacuum tank) bodies are marketed as J&J Truck Bodies & Trailers. Now, in 2012 Somerset and J&J have added trailers.

The new J&J pressure vacuum trailer exhibited at the Mid-America Trucking Show has a capacity of 130 barrels (5460 gallons) of brine or oilfield residual liquids. The non-code tank is built to DOT 412 specifications except for the material, says Brian T. Ferguson, the engineer who designed the trailer. It has a design pressure of 35 psi internal and 15 psi vacuum.

The head and shell thickness is a quarter inch, of A36 steel, which is welded by the submerged arc process. The eight external rings are 3/8" by 2½", and the 60" diameter tank has two internal baffles. Two manways are on top, and one in the rear head. For corrosion resistance, the tank interior is spray coated with Madison Chemical's Corrocote II to a depth of 30 mils.

Exterior paint is Sherwin Williams Genesis M acrylic polyurethane.

The tank is mounted on a Cor-ten steel subframe with Reyco 9-leaf , 52,000 lb suspension. It runs on 24.5" wheels and tires. Weight of the 40-ft long trailer is 19,000 lb with the Fruitland RCF 500 vacuum pump in place.

East shows lowest all-aluminum drop-deck

The 36-inch deck height on the new East Manufacturing drop-deck trailer is the first in an all-aluminum trailer, says Bill McKenzie, director of dealer development and flatbed products at East Manufacturing Corp, Randolph, Ohio. (see photo in the related image gallery) The 53-ft long, 102" wide trailer rides on three axles and 17½" wheels and tires. The 36" deck height assumes a fifthwheel height of 46½".

The 28"-drop mainframe beams are fabricated using East's traditional full-length, one-piece top and bottom flanges. Beam depth in the mid-section is 21". The top beam flanges are knurled and the floor is aluminum with three nailer strips. Tare weight with three axles is 11,485 lb.

Trail King slims down mechanical gooseneck

Aluminum crossmembers and outer rails in the upper deck and wheel area helped Trail King take out 750 to 1,000 lb of tare weight (depending on capacity model) of its new mechanical detachable gooseneck trailer. (see photo in the related image gallery) For easier gooseneck removal, it is equipped with rollers and air-operated locking pin, as well as an air-operated support arm. Fifthwheel height is adjustable using a five-position, notched control bar.

The 29-ft long main deck is constructed using four I-beams, which are tapered for front approach. Crossmembers alternate between 8" and 4" steel I-beams, with apitong decking. This load deck is 18” high. Three models have a load capacity of 60,000, 75,000, or 90,000 lb.

Talbert reveals double-drop trailer

Talbert Manufacturing featured its new 35-ton SRG double-drop trailer, a heavy-hauler that features aluminum pull-outs to add a full two feet on each side. (see photo in the related image gallery)

Because of the pull-outs, the 35-ton SRG can transport wider equipment and at lower heights, a good combination for moving agricultural equipment such as sprayers and combines. The 8-foot, 6-inch deck width has the ability to extend to 12-feet, 6-inches with the optional aluminum pull-outs. Additionally, the 35-Ton SRG offers an 18-inch loaded deck height with a six-inch ground clearance.

Overall length of the tandem-axle trailer is 48 feet, including a 29-foot deck length with a rated 35-ton distributed capacity. It comes with a mechanical removable gooseneck, air-ride suspension, and apitong flooring. Available options include aluminum wheels, strobe lights, battery backup, and connections for a flip axle.

Side-dump has in-cab controller

Side dump trailers are increasingly popular among truckers who want to avoid end tipping and tip-overs. Hand levers front and rear lock down one side as the other side is unlocked for dumping. Now a new electronic device lets the driver control the side dumping cycle from inside the cab.

The new controller was demonstrated at the Mid-America Trucking Show by Thurston Manufacturing Company of Thurston, Nebraska, on their Circle R side dump. (see photo in the related image gallery) Switches and indicator lights show which side the tub will dump toward. The show trailer is a 42-ft tri-axle on air-ride with a 34-ft tub capacity of 24 cubic yards. Besides the usual hydraulic cylinders front and rear, this trailer also has three hinge points per side, providing additional mid-length support.

Find the Mid-America Trucking Show Report archive with articles from 2012 to present