Thin-Wall Vans Lead New Products At 2001 Mid-America Trucking Show

DRY VAN CUSTOMERS continue to demand thinner walls and higher cube. Several trailer manufacturers used the recent Mid-America Trucking Show to unveil new ways to achieve 101" inside width.

For example, Utility Trailer's new 3000D-X extra-wide dry freight van uses conventional sheet-and-post construction to achieve its 101" interior width. Its interior lining is 80,000-psi galvanized steel panels that have twice the puncture resistance of quarter-inch plywood.

Side posts are 3/8" deep and are punched with “A” slots on 12" centers. Fasteners are recessed, providing 101" clear width between linings. A 12" high Utility-designed wearband is also of 80,000 psi galvanized steel. Width at the floor level between wearbands is 100⅝".

Plastic Lining Between Posts

Great Dane Trailers modified its successful P series van to provide a high-cube version with 101" inside width. It is still a sheet-and-post van with its ease of repair, but the high cube P-101 has 80 cubic feet more interior capacity.

Instead of plywood, the interior lining of the P-101 is a polyethylene plastic. It fits between the slotted logistics posts and is secured by a hook design without the use of fasteners. The white plastic lining brightens the interior, and it is full height of the sidewall.

Even with its thinner sidewall, the van has square corners inside at the front, made possible by a three-inch front corner radius on the outside.

The show trailer at the Mid-America Trucking show paid a pictorial tribute to Dale Earnhardt, a former Great Dane employee who worked as a mechanic in the Charlotte NC branch before becoming a legend on the stock car racing circuit. The digitally produced images on 3M film covered both sides of the 53-ft van.

Thin-Wall Combo

Manac's high cube van gets to 101" inside width in a most unusual way. It is a plate van, but not with aluminum plate. The sidewalls have extruded aluminum stiffeners, but the skin is 80,000-psi steel, galvanized and prepainted inside and out. For that reason, it is called a Combo PlateVan.

Other than the steel PlateVan sidewalls, the high cube Manac van has standard aluminum van construction including aluminum lower siderail, and five aluminum hinges per door. The approach and coupler plates are a standard 5/16" steel. Weight of the 53-ft van on 22" wheels and air suspension is 14,100 lb.

The Manac Combo PlateVan exhibited at the Mid-America Trucking Show had one other unusual feature. It was equipped with a “BoatTail” aerodynamic device at the rear. The aluminum aero top panel and side panels are hinged so that they fold up when the doors are swung fully open and hooked open. These aero panels are spring mounted so that they are self-deploying when the doors are closed.

The manufacturer of the BoatTail (MAKA, 8498 Saint-Hubert, Montreal, Quebec H2P 1Z7) claims a 5% reduction in aerodynamic drag. Driver visibility is improved due to reduced splash, and there is less dirt accumulation on the rear doors.

The Combo PlateVan is manufactured in Manac's van plant in Orangeville, Ontario, Canada.

Other Innovations

A variety of other innovations also were introduced at the Mid-America Trucking Show — particularly from the manufacturers of platform and dump trailers. Held March 22-24, the exhibition included these new products:

East Designs Platform for Concentrated Loads

The MMX all-aluminum platform trailer is the newest addition to the product line at East Manufacturing Corporation, Randolph OH. A 48-ft MMX is rated to handle concentrated loads of up to 72,000 lb in four feet. The MMX is available in lengths to 53 ft.

The MMX meets or exceeds all of the requirements of the North American Cargo Securement Standards (NACSS) scheduled for implementation this summer. The winch track is integral with the side rail, inboard of the rub rail.

“We have patents pending on the outside rail and are registering two trademarks associated with the design — ‘Securetight’ and ‘Securelight,’” said Bill Wallace, platform trailer product manager at East Mfg. “The Securetight system includes both an extruded track for tiedowns and an extruded winch track as part of the side rail. It is standard on both sides of the trailer.

“The side rail design creates a void that is used as a conduit for marker lights down the side of the trailer. Thus the side wiring is fully encased in the aluminum side rail, just as the rear light boxes are encased in aluminum. This is our Securelight system.”

The MMX weighs only 20 lb more than East's current all-aluminum platform, the Beast, which was introduced in 1984. Base weight of a 48-ft MMX 96" wide with cast drums, 24.5" steel disc wheels, and winch track on both sides is 9,185 lb.

R/S Forms Railstar Trailers

This Conestoga 2000 tarping system is mounted on a new aluminum platform manufactured by a recent entry into the field of flatbed trailers. R/S Truck Body Co Inc of Allen KY, manufacturer of dump bodies and dump trailers, is expanding into platforms. The flatbed shown at the Mid-America Trucking Show was the fourth prototype for Railstar Trailers. This separate company is being formed to set up trailer dealers and market the new all-aluminum platform. The show trailer had two-piece extruded aluminum main beams 22" deep. Equipped with Intraax axles, 24.5 aluminum wheels, and Duralite hubs, the 48-ft platform has a tare weight of 9,000 lb.

Manac Enters Aluminum Platform Market

Manac showed its “100% Aluminum Platform” at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville. This all-new design has a three-piece aluminum mainframe beam 29" deep. The extruded flanges are riveted to the web plate with stainless steel rivets. The extruded floor boards are supported by aluminum 4" channel crossmembers on 16" centers.

A steel kingpin structure with integrated nose ramp is bolted to the frame at the front, and Intraax axle-suspensions at the rear. Heavy-duty pipe spool tiedowns on the side rails have a 5,000-lb working load limit.

This new all-aluminum platform is being manufactured in the former Fabrex plant in Trois-Rivieres, Quebec, that Manac purchased from Kalyn-Siebert at the end of 2000.

Transcraft Redesigns Steel Dropdeck

Transcraft showed a redesigned steel dropdeck platform at Mid-America. The new DTL 2100 uses 130,000-psi high tensile steels to get a distributed load rating on the lower deck of 80,000 lb, or 55,000 lb concentrated in 10 feet. The redesign reduces tare weight to 11,000 lb. Transcraft Corp, P O Box 500, Anna IL 62906.

35-Ton Sliding Axle Tilt Deck from National

This National Equipment 35-ton trailer has a 6 degree loading angle and can tip to 28° to dump. The 48-ft trailer has hydraulic traveling axles that move forward when tilting the deck for loading. Axle movement is made easier by 5" wide rollers on the suspension subframe, the rollers moving on the 6" wide T-1 steel beam flanges.

The main deck has four longitudinal beams, each 15" deep. Junior I-beam crossmembers are 4" deep and are on 7" centers. The lower deck is 37'4" long and 102" wide. Deck height is 37" when loaded. It rides on 17.5" steel disc dual wheels, Ridewell air suspension, and 25,000-lb axles.

The upper deck has a 15,000-lb capacity planetary winch and 100 feet of half-inch cable. The winch is controlled by a wireless radio remote to permit one-man loading. A unique feature for easier tiedown is the four-way keyhole slots down the center of the deck in addition to the double keyhole slots on the outer beam flanges.

Weight of the National 2000 is 17,500 lb. It is a two-year-old design distributed by a 17-year-old company, National Equipment Distributing of Franklin, Ohio. It is manufactured by Talbert Manufacturing Inc of Rensselaer IN.

Trailstar Reduces Aluminum Dump Weight

Trailstar has taken 1,000 to 1,500 lb out of its all-aluminum dump trailer, achieving a weight of 9,240 lb. Even the draft arms and stiff-leg supports are of aluminum. The draft arms are made of 3" × 3" aluminum tubing with a half-inch wall at the pinning point.

The Trailite is a tapered body with its 39-ft body width tapering from 90" OD at the front to 96" at the rear. The floor is 1/4" aluminum plate supported by 3½ × 3½" U-section extrusions. Sidewalls are 54" high with tapered side posts. The aluminum coal door in the rear tailgate even has an aluminum handle.

Subframe of the Trailite is an aluminum I-beam with a 3/8" top flange and 3/4" bottom flange, to which is bolted the Hendrickson Intraax AA250 air suspension. The low weight was achieved with aluminum wheels, Centrifuse drums, and 24.5" Lo-Pro tires. Trailstar, 20700 Harrisburg-Westville Road, Alliance Ohio 44601.

Clement Adds One-Ton Payload to Steel Dump

The StarLite is a new design by Clement Industries, Minden LA. This steel trailer now weighs 2,000 lb less than its predecessor model, thus providing a ton more payload capacity. The show model with aluminum wheels weighs 10,000 lb. With steel wheels, it would weigh 10,300.

Fabricated of 50,000-psi steel, the floor, tailgate, and headboard are of 10-gauge material and the sides of 12 gauge. Sides are 35" high, providing the 38-ft trailer with a 29-cubic-yard capacity. Adding 6" aluminum sideboards increases the capacity to 33 yards.

The body shell is a new shape having both a curved floor and curved sidewalls. One of the weight-saving features is a single, very wide hat-shaped longitudinal. It replaces the two rectangular long sills, thus eliminating center crossmembers and numerous weld joints.

The StarLite has no axle stops, so the wheels stay on the ground through the dump cycle. Maximum dump angle is 46 degrees. It uses an H-900 suspension with capacity rating of 36,000 lb and two 22,500-lb axles with parallel spindles.

A new patent-applied feature is the FlipLite that swings the rear lights and flaps out of the way automatically when the tailgate lock opens.

Air Cylinder Pulls Tailgate Hinge Pin

Benson International showed an improved tailgate design at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville KY. Some dump bodies have a dual-hinged tailgate that is top-hinged and barn-door swung. To keep from having to climb on the body to remove or insert pins when changing from top-hinged to a barn-door swing, Benson Intl has added an air cylinder to unlock the top hinge on one side. Bill Gibson, national sales manager for Benson Intl, Mineral Wells WV, demonstrates how the driver can stand on the ground, operate the air cylinder with his left hand to unlock the hinge, and swing the tailgate with his right hand. The picture at right shows the special hinges on the right side of the body.

Non-Electronic ABS Needs No Dash Light

A non-electronic antilock braking system was shown at the Mid-America Trucking Show by Air Brake Systems Inc, 4356 East Valley Road, Mt Pleasant MI 48804. ABS Inc has developed the MSQR-5000 differential pressure regulator and quick release valve. The equipment increases braking efficiency, prevents unbalanced braking, prevents single wheel lock-up, and reduces stopping distance, according to Ken Langly and William Washington, pictured above holding the units.

The MSQR-5000 is a single unit combination of the quick release valve and automatic pressure regulator. It is installed at each braking axle into the service air lines centered between brake chambers. When the brakes are applied, the pressure wave front generated by the air under pressure causes a shock to the brake chambers, creating a reflection wave. The pressure reflection waves from opposing brake chambers can cause a pressurized dead air effect, developing a momentary lock-up of the brakes and loss of braking power. The pressure discontinuities caused by worn brakes and out-of-round drums add to the loss of braking power, resulting in single-wheel lock-up, pulsing brakes, pulling brakes, brake chatter, flat-spotting tires, premature brake wear, and brake fade.

The MSQR-5000 with its piston and rubber shock absorber reduces the negative effects of the pressure wave front.

Auto Hauler Transforms for Backhaul

An eight-car auto hauler that “transforms” itself into a 40"-high dropdeck trailer is a new invention by Transformer Trailers Inc of Poplar Bluff MO. As an auto hauler, the top deck is loaded first when it is in the down position. The deck and four automobiles are then raised to transport position so that the bottom deck can be loaded with four more cars. The driver does no climbing.

One of the advantages is the trailer's versatility. For example, it can haul a mixed load of four cars and four SUVs, or a mixed load of cars and pickups. With the top deck all the way down, it can haul very tall vehicles, such as two chassis-cabs with cargo van bodies mounted in place. It can haul lumber and other flatbed loads when autos are not available for transport. It can also haul wrecked or disabled cars and trucks. No wet kit is required on the truck-tractor. Only one control button is required for raising the deck.

The 53-ft high-mount auto hauler is 101" wide. With the top deck fully raised, it has a 77" overhead clearance over the rear axles. The narrowest load point on this lower deck is 85". The deck is raised by eight Parker Hannifin industrial cylinders. Tiedown equipment includes 40 ratchet assemblies with chains. The trailer runs on 17.5" wheels, air suspension, and 25,000-lb axles. Tare weight is 20,200 lb.

Powered Tarp Roller

One Benson International dump body on display at the Mid-America Trucking Show was equipped with a prototype electric motor-operated, side-to-side roll tarp. Bob Lohr of Benson Intl, Mineral Wells WV, demonstrates the Roll-Rite tarp roller.

New Trailer Leasing Company

APEX Trailer Leasing & Rentals is a new company set up by Wabash National Corp to provide another means of utilizing the many used trailers taken in as trades. Apex maintains a trailer leasing specialist at each Wabash and Fruehauf branch. This leasing division is about a year old and has operated as a separate company since January 2001. Its fleet of lease trailers numbers about 8,000 as of March.

Apex Trailer Leasing specialists pictured at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville are Russell Kessler, Jeffersonville IN; Brad Leming, Cincinnati OH; Clay Nall, Evansville IN; and Steve Havens, director of Apex, St Louis MO.

Trailer Safety Stairs

Pro-Step is a portable stair system for climbing onto and into trailers more safely. At the Mid-America Trucking Show, Ted Krish demonstrates the Pro-Step Trucker that hooks onto the rubrail or into the stake pockets of flatbeds. Hand rail posts rotate up and into a locked vertical position to provide a secure handhold.

The Pro-Step Reefer travels in a belly box, then is pulled out and placed at the side door. Besides the top platform, boxes can be assembled on side shelves that pull out from both sides of the platform.

Pro-Step LLC is headquartered at 177 North Wenzel St, Louisville KY 40206.

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