Roads & Paving
Spec’ing the right paving trailer
Moving paving equipment comes with its own set of challenges. Here, the top three considerations when choosing a new trailer
September 16, 2021 By Troy Geisler
Paving equipment presents a number of unique challenges when it comes to transportation.
In addition to low ground clearance and gentle slope transitions from the front ramps to the deck and from the deck to the rear of the trailer, operators must also consider mixed-load versatility to maximize not only efficiency, but overall trailer ROI.
Additionally, ensuring the safety of crews, the public and equipment relies on spec’ing the right trailer. Here are three considerations to help contractors select an appropriate trailer for safe, efficient paving equipment hauling.
When it comes to hauling paving equipment, one of the biggest challenges is often getting the equipment onto the trailer. Rollers, pavers and other low-clearance equipment require longer loading inclines, whether loading from the front or rear. Larger capacity models also require a gentler load angle at the rear. Meeting this extreme requirement isn’t impossible, though, it just takes the right approach.
For equipment 25 tons or under, tag-a-long trailer models can be used to transport low-clearance equipment. Load angles will vary by manufacturer with some as low as seven degrees. However, minimizing load angle is achieved through longer ramps and beavertails.
This can limit where a trailer can be loaded or offloaded. Additionally, longer ramps are also heavier, making raising and lowering them manually a labour-intensive process. To eliminate the need to handle heavy ramps, look for a trailer with air ramp or air tilt capabilities. This increases efficiency and safety.
Removable gooseneck trailers are another option that offer higher capacities for better mixed-load versatility. This design eliminates the need to drive up and over the trailer’s rear axle – saving time, hassle and expense while extending the life of the trailer. These trailers don’t always provide a low load angle, though, so it’s best to work with a manufacturer for a custom design that’s optimized for any intended load, whether that’s paving equipment or a mix of other construction equipment.
Additionally, hybrid models are available that combine the benefits of a lowboy design with specialized features for hauling paving equipment. These units offer a longer loading incline and best-in-class lift capacity. A 26-foot deck and 50-ton capacity allows operators to haul a greater range of equipment, from loaders and excavators to rollers and pavers. Specially designed “bolt-on” ramps provide a more gradual load angle at the rear — 15-degree rather than the standard 35-degree angle — increasing versatility for a larger audience of contractors.
Lastly, when considering load angle — regardless of whether equipment approaches the trailer from the front or rear — a smooth transition from surface to surface is imperative. Any bumps between the ground and the deck or the deck and the rear bridge can make loading more difficult and dangerous since it forces equipment operators to increase power to clear the obstacle.
Next to load angle, capacity is probably the most important factor in spec’ing a trailer. Unfortunately, it can also be deceiving at times, since determining a trailer’s true capacity often means looking beyond the number on the spec sheet.
Not all 55-ton lowboys are created equal. They might all be capable of hauling 55 tons, but informed operators know load concentration plays a huge role in how well they perform at that weight.
Some trailers will need the entire deck length to haul 55 tons safely, while a trailer from another manufacturer might only need half the deck length for the same weight. Since loads are rarely uniform, having a trailer rated in half deck capacity gives operators a more realistic indication of what the trailer will be able to handle without structural failure.
Manufacturers that offer half-deck capacity usually design with a two-point rigid load base that accounts for the tire spacing — or hot spots — of large equipment and heavy machinery. This makes trailers with a half-deck rating more versatile and efficient for these loads.
In addition to load angle and capacity, operators must also consider the size of the equipment they will be hauling. Starting with the largest piece of equipment, identify the height, width and weight. Keep in mind what’s on the spec sheet might not include accessories. Additionally, operations looking to move multiple pieces of equipment in one trip should factor in the combined weight and dimensions.
This information will help determine the maximum loaded deck height to keep the load from being oversized — less than 13 feet, six inches tall. All trailers are designed with a certain degree of camber, or the arch that forms in the centre of an empty trailer, which helps prevent excessive deflection in the main beams. As the trailer is loaded, the arch flattens.
A full load means a flat deck, resulting in the advertised loaded deck height. Keep in mind, a trailer that’s not loaded to capacity might be higher because the deck has not completely flattened under the weight of the load.
Once maximum dimensions are determined, it’s time to find a trailer that brings it all together.
Paving a path to success
Spec’ing a trailer for paving equipment might come with a few more considerations, but having the right rig promises increased safety and efficiency on every job.
Taking the time to work through the options with experienced dealers and manufacturers helps operations ensure they’ve got the right trailer riding between the road and the load for long-term success.
Troy Geisler is the vice-president of sales and marketing for Talbert Manufacturing. He has more than 15 years of experience in trailer sales, including more than five years with Talbert.
This article appears in the July/August 2021 issue of Rock to Road. Read the digital edition.
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