Mid-America Trucking Show Coverage

Trailer manufacturers positioned themselves to take advantage of increased demand for trailers, introducing a variety of new products and making enhancements to existing ones.

The innovations were on display at the2011 Mid-America Trucking Show, held March 31-April 2 at the Kentucky Expo Center in Louisville, Kentucky. More than 76,000 people attended this year's event, which featured exhibits by 1,039 companies from 47 states and nine countries. Here is a sample of what they saw:

Western Australia side dump body Never seen before in America. This side-dumping rock body from Australia made its U S debut at the Mid-America Trucking Show. The entire left side of this side-dump trailer opens up during dumping to make it easier to handle rocks and big boulders. The door-opening cylinders are sequenced to open fully before the body begins tipping. The tub is made of Hardox 450 steel and the trailer frame of Domex steel. Dave Marron and Peter Lombardi of Roadwest Transport Equipment and Sales in Perth, Western Australia, point out the unusual tire guards (fenders) made of recycled mine conveyor belting and suspended on tension springs.

Roadwest Hard-Lite side-dumper The unusual shape of the Roadwest Hard-Lite side-dumper is visible in this front end view. The entire 27.5 ft long tub is formed from two sheets of Hardox 450 joined together in a longitudinal lap-joint welded both sides. The body shape deforms slightly during dumping, which aids in discharging sticky loads such as ores and mineral concentrates. When loaded, the body rests on rubber strips on the top flange of the trailer frame. The trailer is designed to haul six times its tare weight of 8,100 kg or 17,870 lb. Australian regulations limit the triaxle trailer to 23 metric tonnes or 50,600 lb. Road trains of three such triaxle side-dumpers plus converter dollies and prime mover can gross 140 metric tonnes (308,000 lb or 154 tons) in Western Australia.

Wink Trailer dump trailer UHMW plastic fitted inside aluminum framing Wink Trailer Corporation of Rockport, Indiana, specializes in dump bodies and trailers made with sheets of UHMW plastic fitted inside aluminum framing. At this year's Mid-America Trucking Show, Wink expanded the concept to include side-dump trailers. Besides weight savings, Wink says the tough thermoplastic material resists impact and abrasion better than steel or aluminum. Wink also invited their Australian friends, Roadwest Transport Equipment & Sales, to bring their Hard-Lite Side-dump trailer with full length side door to the Louisville show.

R/S-Godwin dump trailer The R/S-Godwin dump trailer uses the same hybrid steel-aluminum construction with Hardox 450 single-piece floor clamped with Huckbolts to the extruded aluminum smooth outside wall welded to the 5454 aluminum inner wall. The front wall is inclined 30 degrees from vertical so that no hoist well is necessary. The 22-ft body is mounted Florida style on a 28-ft trailer having a fabricated steel frame. Load capacity is 25 tons.

Clement's ADW (Aluminum Double Wall) dump trailer is now in production at the Clement Industries plant in Minden, Louisiana. The double wall design uses 10" wide hollow-core extrusions with 1/16" outer skin and .190 inner skin welded together for a watertight sidewall and tailgate. The floor is made from a quarter-inch sheet of 5454-H34 aluminum alloy supported by 3½" by 8" sloped crossmembers. The suspension subframe for the frameless trailer is weld-free Huck-bolted aluminum construction.

R/S-Godwin hybrid steel-aluminum dump body Two hybrid steel-aluminum dump bodies were introduced by R/S-Godwin Truck Body Company. Both have smooth extruded aluminum sidewalls (the extrusions run vertically) and Hardox 450 floors. Each of the two hybrids were the first units off the line of the R/S-Godwin Truck Body Company in Ivel, Kentucky. One of the hybrids is mounted as a truck body. The other is trailerized as a 22-ft body on a Florida spec 28-ft trailer.

The smooth sidewalls appear to be hollow-core extrusions but are instead F-shaped extrusions welded to a 3/16" sheet of alloy 5454 aluminum. The interlocking extrusions are welded to the interior sheet individually as they are assembled. They are also welded to the aluminum top rail, but at the bottom the sidewall is clamped between the upturned steel floor sheet and a steel backing strip and fastened with Huckbolts, with barrier to prevent electrolysis. The tailgate is also assembled with the same extrusions and aluminum sheet.

The floor is a single sheet of 3/16" thick Hardox 450 steel that is press-formed with a 12" radius at the sides. The understructure is crossmemberless using trapezoidal formed long sills that rest directly on the rubber-cushioned truck frame rails.

CIMC Vanguard rivetless sidewall CIMC Vanguard showed a new rivetless sidewall at the Mid-America Trucking Show. Its ThermaLite R8000 refrigerated trailer was equipped with side sheets that lock into a channel in the wide, thin side posts. Individual aluminum sheets are formed with a 90-degree flange that fits into the post channel. They are bonded to the post with structural adhesives.

Eliminating 5,000 rivets makes for smooth sidewalls that are easier to decal. The design should also eliminate potential moisture leak points that can contribute to degradation of the polyurethane foam insulation, says Charles Mudd, president of Vanguard National Trailer Corp in Monon, Indiana.

Vanguard reefer sidepost extrusion The Vanguard reefer sidepost extrusion is shown at left. At right is the extrusion with the flanges of adjoining aluminum sheets locked into the post channel, and the sheets are bonded to the post.

Dorsey LiteGuard 5000 reefer Dorsey Trailer is celebrating its 100th year by introducing a new refrigerated trailer. The LiteGuard 5000 is the “toughest, lightest, and most energy efficient reefer that the company has ever produced.” Jeff Pitts, president of Pitts Enterprises that acquired Dorsey in 2007, said that “Dorsey's goal is to continue to build the most durable trailers on the market.” He backed up that statement by announcing a new 10-year warranty for the new refrigerated trailer.

The LiteGuard 5000 10-year warranty is contingent upon ordering the trailer with these 10-year specifications: super-duty upper coupler assembly, reinforced bay area, reinforced landing gear subframe, super-duty rear entry and floor assembly, and heavy-duty 17" scuff plate. Purchased components such as axles and suspensions will hold only the warranty provided by their manufacturer. Weight of the LiteGuard 5000 with these 10-year specifications is approximately 14,295 lb. Price is dependent on the Dorsey dealer network, but is estimated at about a 10 percent premium above other reefers.

Showing Dorsey Trailer's new LiteGuard 5000 at the Mid-America Trucking Show are Trey Gary, vice-president and chief operating officer; J P Pierson, sales; and Jeff Pitts, president.

Hyundai Translead HT Duralite Hyundai Translead claims its new HT Duralite is the lightest combination aluminum-steel flatbed on the market today. The 53-ft,102" wide flat with 121" fixed spread tandem exhibited at the Mid-America Trucking Show has a tare weight of 10,500 lb. It has a rated capacity of 68,000 lb in 10' or 55,000 lb in 4'.

The high-tensile steel frame is hot-dip galvanized after welding. Main beams have web thickness of 3/16" and 3/8" flanges. The 4" deep crossmembers on 16" centers are also hot-dip galvanized and are bolted to the main beam using brackets. The floor is of extruded aluminum and 1⅛" apitong nailing strips. Side rails, stake pockets and rub rails are aluminum also. The suspension is Hendrickson Vantraxx air-ride. Wheels are steel disc with 22.5 low-profile radial tires.

Great Dane lightweight classic reefer Great Dane Trailers' new plant in Statesboro, Georgia, will open in April 2012 to produce “the industry's lightest weight refrigerated trailers, the Classic product line.”

The Classic Reefer line includes both single-temp and multi-temp foodservice trailers. In a press conference during the Mid-America Trucking Show, Adam Hill, engineer responsible for product design and development, described how excess weight was engineered out of the Classic truckload reefer.

Starting with the roof, it was found that by bonding the major components, less material thickness was required to jointly handle the major stresses. Also, lighter weight plastic parts in non-structural applications save weight without sacrificing integrity. New plastic materials available today allow the refinement of sidewall linings to have the same strength but are 20% lighter, offering a potential 200 lb saving.

Redesign of the front wall eliminates some steel components and substitutes lighter weight aluminum. Also, reinforcing material needed to support the air-return bulkhead was moved outside and could be eliminated when no air-return bulkhead was specified. Under the trailer floor, steel end clips were eliminated in favor of aluminum that reduces both weight and corrosion from road salts. Many other small savings in the continuing redesign will result in an estimated total weight saving of some 500 lb for the first truckload Classic Reefer that will be built in the new Statesboro plant.

Among the technologies to be used in the new plant are robotic welding, computer-controlled foaming operation, automation of side panel and rail riveting, torque tooling for bolted connections, and an optimized material handling system. Green initiatives include a climate-controlled working environment on the plant floor, energy-efficient lighting throughout, load monitors to ensure optimal operation of plant equipment, automatic control of lights, air quality and building temperature, and a low water consumption program.

When completed in 2012, Statesboro will be the eighth plant in the Great Dane line-up. It will cover 450,000 sq ft, including offices and showroom. The 118-acre site is 50 miles from Savannah. Employing over 400 people, it will have an annual capacity of over 5,000 trailers.

Transcraft platform trailers Celebrating 50 years. Transcraft Corporation commemorated 50 years in business by adding some refinements to its line of platform trailers. The upgrades include a new formed front plate, redesigned fifthwheel plate, rerouted air and electrical lines for added protection, and the bolt-on aluminum mid-turn bracket shown in this photo. A subsidiary of Wabash National Corporation, Transcraft manufactures its Eagle and Benson brand trailers in Cadiz, Kentucky.

MAC Step-Up flatbed trailer The MAC Step-Up is a new retractable stair designed to reduce climbing accidents on flatbed trailers. It can be pulled out from between the frame rails, and slides back in out of sight for road travel. A handrail (post) is also part of the package, as demonstrated by Jim Maiorana, executive vice-president at MAC Trailer of Alliance, Ohio.

MAC-VAC liquid tank trailer MAC Trailer of Alliance, Ohio, entered another new market with its MAC-VAC liquid tank trailer, after entering the dry bulk tanker market three years ago. The new entry, a 6,300- gallon non-code tank, is designed to haul water to drilling sites for fracturing oil and gas formations.

The 60-inch cylindrical tank has a quarter-inch shell of 5454 H-34 aluminum and is reinforced with formed channel external rings and three internal baffles. Design pressure is 14.7 psi and 13" Hg vacuum. Loading lines at the rear are 4" and 6". Also standard are a rear sight tube, five man-ways and hose troughs on both sides. The fixed safety rail on the show model will be replaced with a folding safety rail on the walkway, says Jim Maiorana, executive vice-president at MAC Trailer.

Talbert Manufacturing drop-deck trailer Ratchet up. Talbert Manufacturing is adding a new twist to the fine art of fine-tuning the height of its drop-deck trailers. Rather than using shims, Talbert will be offering a ratchet system to adjust deck height. The feature will be available when the company introduces its 2012 models in July. Brian Sharp demonstrates for Talbert Manufacturing, Rensselaer, Indiana.

Trail King detachable gooseneck trailer New hydraulic detachable gooseneck trailer from Trail King Industries has a five-position gooseneck height adjustment that adjusts coupling height +/- 4", as seen in the inset. The 53-ft trailer has a capacity of 110,000 lb in 12 ft and a 25'9" load deck 102" wide.

A hydraulically operated lift for a flip axle makes it easy to reduce length and axle capacity when traveling empty. Globe Trailers of Bradenton, Florida, just received during the week before the Mid-America Trucking Show the patent on its new power-lifting device that pivots the flip axle 180 degrees onto the deck of the lowboy trailer or back down into road position. Globe Trailers manufactures platform trailers, demolition dumps, tag-a-longs and a wide variety of lowboys up to 70 tons capacity.

Jeff Walters of Globe Trailers Jeff Walters Jr, VP-engineering at Globe Trailers, shows the patented power-lifting device that “flips” the flip axle 180 degrees. A double-acting hydraulic cylinder under the trailer deck pushes the two rollers encased in inboard facing steel channels and the lever arm to pivot the flip axle. Visible at the bottom of the photo are the two locking pins for the flip axle, as well as the hydraulic cylinder that operates them effortlessly.