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Knowing the main types of trailers and their specifications will help shippers choose the right one to transport their freight. Although there are more than 14 types of trailers, specially designed to meet different custom shipping demands, we`ll focus on the 3 most common types of truckloads: Flatbed,Step Deck and Double Drop Deck.


1) Flatbed trailers are very versatile, making them a common asset for carriers. It is a basic form trailer, with no sides or roof, providing quick and easy loading and unloading.  Common uses include heavy loads that are not perishable, delicate or vulnerable to precipitation – since there is no cover to protect the freight. Examples of typical cargo:

  •          construction equipment
  •          machinery
  •          tubing
  •          lumber
  •          scaffolding
  •          Steel products

Capacity:   Max. Freight Weight 48,000 lbs

Length 48 feet

Width 8.5 feet (102")

Height 8.5 feet (102")

2) Step Deck, or Single Drop Deck, is a type of trailer that is similar to flatbed, but with two deck levels: upper deck and lower deck that drop down after clearing the tractor unit. Generally, step deck trailers can haul taller loads than Flatbed trailers and often have ramps for unloading. They also tend to be safer for forklift pickup, due to the fact that they are closer to the ground. Examples of typical cargo:

  •          tractors
  •          machinery
  •          heavy freight that is over 9 feet tall


Capacity:   Max. Freight Weight 48.000 lbs.

Lower Deck            Max. Dims.                     Upper Deck                        Max. Dims.

Length                  37 feet                               Length                            11 feet

Width                    8.5 feet (102")                    Width                              8.5 feet (102")

Height                   10 feet (120")                     Height                             8.5 feet (102")

3) Double Drop Deck trailers are used for oversized freight that is taller than 10 feet. It has a longer piece of trailer, called a “well”, in the middle that dips below trailer axles. The well ranges from 25 to 29 feet, making it ideal for taller, shorter freight. Double Drop Deck trailers usually have 2 or more axles, and a “Flip axle”, which can flip up and lay on the deck or flip down and create extra axle for balancing weight. Examples of typical cargo:

  •          construction equipment
  •          forklifts
  •          cars
  •          trucks
  •          tanks

Capacity:   Max. Freight Weight 45.000 lbs.

Well             Max. Dims.            Front Deck        Max. Dims.          Rear Deck              Max. Dims.

Length         29 feet                   Length                10 feet                Length                        9 feet

Width           8.5 feet (102")        Width                  8.5 feet (102")      Width                         8.5 feet (102")

Height         11.5 feet (138")        Height                8.5 feet (102")       Height                       10 feet (120")

Since there are variations in terms of capacity and dimensions within each trailer type, the numbers provided above should be used only as guideline.  For more information on these and other trailer equipment requirements and specifications, download our Trailer Equipment Guide today. 



Topics: Transportation, 3PL

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