Lift Axle Position Bad Weather

Topic 21982 | Page 1

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Firehog's Comment
member avatar

Need some experienced help

53 foot Flatbed, loaf 16,000lb Max height, ice and snow, manually dropping axel for traction.

Would you leave them spread or together for better traction??

Turtle's Comment
member avatar

I don't have the specific experience to answer your question, but my gut tells me to leave the axles closed in that case. With them closed, you're applying more of the load weight to the trailer axles, vs spreading them which will put slightly more weight on your drives.

So I guess it depends on where you want the increased traction, trailer or drives. I'd prefer more on my trailer in bad weather.

Firehog's Comment
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Turtle thanks for your input. Really appreciate it.

Dave Reid's Comment
member avatar

I don't know anything about operating a spread-axle trailer.

HOWEVER, it is better to have more weight on the drives, not the rear trailer axles - ESPECIALLY in bed weather.

More weight on the drives = better fuel economy, and better traction. Also, if there is more weight on the trailer tires, a pendulem effect can develop and result in the trailer swinging around, especially if it is windy.

I don't have the specific experience to answer your question, but my gut tells me to leave the axles closed in that case. With them closed, you're applying more of the load weight to the trailer axles, vs spreading them which will put slightly more weight on your drives.

So I guess it depends on where you want the increased traction, trailer or drives. I'd prefer more on my trailer in bad weather.

Turtle's Comment
member avatar

I was never taught this, so I'm basing my answer strictly on my own experience and observations. During slick or windy conditions I'm not worried about fuel economy or a pendulum effect since I'll be slowing down anyway. I'm worried about my trailer tires sticking to the ground.

I do hear what you're saying though, and mostly agree. Normally I try to balance my weight from front to rear. Closing the axles on a spread only shifts a thousand or two pounds, depending on the load.

It's just that I've already seen too many instances where trailer tires lock up under braking on snow. And one instance in Wyoming where a trailer was blown halfway into the other lane.

Like I said earlier, I don't have an educated answer for this, only what my gut tells me. And in bad weather with a light load I'm going with my gut. Once the roads are clear I'll open them axles right back up again.

I'd love to hear other opinions on this topic.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar

HOWEVER, it is better to have more weight on the drives, not the rear trailer axles - ESPECIALLY in bed weather.

More weight on the drives = better fuel economy, and better traction. Also, if there is more weight on the trailer tires, a pendulum effect can develop and result in the trailer swinging around, especially if it is windy

I have to say I don't agree with this. It's best to have your weight balanced evenly between your drive axles and trailer tandems. Don't forget, you need traction during acceleration and during braking. If you take weight off the trailer tandems they're going to lock up more easily under braking.

Not only that, but a trailer isn't going to swing around very much in the wind if it's loaded. If the wind is that severe it's time to park it.

You're not going to have any sort of pendulum effect unless you have an extremely high weight bias toward the rear and the effect is much worse on shorter trailers than on 53 footers.

And why would more weight on the drives mean better fuel economy? Presumably because the front of the trailer is lower and out of the wind? That's the only reason I can think of and it's not worth worrying about to be honest. If it's an important factor then there are many different ways of addressing that issue without creating a weight imbalance.

Tandems:

Tandem Axles

A set of axles spaced close together, legally defined as more than 40 and less than 96 inches apart by the USDOT. Drivers tend to refer to the tandem axles on their trailer as just "tandems". You might hear a driver say, "I'm 400 pounds overweight on my tandems", referring to his trailer tandems, not his tractor tandems. Tractor tandems are generally just referred to as "drives" which is short for "drive axles".

Tandem:

Tandem Axles

A set of axles spaced close together, legally defined as more than 40 and less than 96 inches apart by the USDOT. Drivers tend to refer to the tandem axles on their trailer as just "tandems". You might hear a driver say, "I'm 400 pounds overweight on my tandems", referring to his trailer tandems, not his tractor tandems. Tractor tandems are generally just referred to as "drives" which is short for "drive axles".

PJ's Comment
member avatar

I pull spread axles but they don’t slide. I know some do. I just do my best to balance the weight. It has worked fine for me.

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

100% agree with Brett. Balance...absolutely the best formula for a safe, efficient, and comfortable ride regardless of road/weather conditions. If I can stay legal on Kingpin Law, I'll move the tandems one hole to achieve it, with the goal of <500 pounds difference between the drives and tandems.

Hypothetical but realistic, "cubed-out" 30 pallet example (leaving out steer axle weight to avoid any confusion):

Legal...yes at; 28,000lbs on drive axles, and 32,000lbs on the trailer tandems sitting in the 6 hole. Balanced? No, way too much weight on the tail, behind the tandems. The ride quality will be awful.

Balanced and legal; 30,000lbs on the drives, 30,000lbs on the trailer tandems sitting in approximately the 11 hole. Balanced, much smoother ride.

Tandems:

Tandem Axles

A set of axles spaced close together, legally defined as more than 40 and less than 96 inches apart by the USDOT. Drivers tend to refer to the tandem axles on their trailer as just "tandems". You might hear a driver say, "I'm 400 pounds overweight on my tandems", referring to his trailer tandems, not his tractor tandems. Tractor tandems are generally just referred to as "drives" which is short for "drive axles".

Tandem:

Tandem Axles

A set of axles spaced close together, legally defined as more than 40 and less than 96 inches apart by the USDOT. Drivers tend to refer to the tandem axles on their trailer as just "tandems". You might hear a driver say, "I'm 400 pounds overweight on my tandems", referring to his trailer tandems, not his tractor tandems. Tractor tandems are generally just referred to as "drives" which is short for "drive axles".

Dave Reid's Comment
member avatar

Maybe I should have added the word "slightly" :-). I did not mean to advise putting a lot more weight on the drives than on the tandems. I agree with the balanced approach...I just try and have the drives at slightly more than the tandems , if I can do so within the kingpin distance regs. The reason that I brought this up at all is that a prior poster advised putting more weight on the trailer axles than on the drives. That is counter to what I have been told by many instructors. I'm a new trainer now and I advise students to try and balance the weight between the drives and tandems, attempting to get a little more weight on the drives than on the tandems - like one whole more, or up to 500 lbs. If I'm in high winds and/or slippery surfaces, I make extra effort to put the tandems as far back as possible leaving a touch more weight on the drives. I'm a coast to coast reefer guy...if I have a load going into California across windy Wyoming, etc., I'll even put the tandems way back for the run across Wyoming and wherever, then stop a little before the California border and slide 'em up to the 40' mark to satisfy those turkeys.

Regarding the fuel economy issue, I don't know or care about the on this. It is just what I was taught by the instructors at two companies including the guy in charge of fuel useage at my current company. Presumably, they know...if not, at least I am doing my best at following their advice.

double-quotes-start.png

HOWEVER, it is better to have more weight on the drives, not the rear trailer axles - ESPECIALLY in bed weather.

More weight on the drives = better fuel economy, and better traction. Also, if there is more weight on the trailer tires, a pendulum effect can develop and result in the trailer swinging around, especially if it is windy

double-quotes-end.png

I have to say I don't agree with this. It's best to have your weight balanced evenly between your drive axles and trailer tandems. Don't forget, you need traction during acceleration and during braking. If you take weight off the trailer tandems they're going to lock up more easily under braking.

Not only that, but a trailer isn't going to swing around very much in the wind if it's loaded. If the wind is that severe it's time to park it.

You're not going to have any sort of pendulum effect unless you have an extremely high weight bias toward the rear and the effect is much worse on shorter trailers than on 53 footers.

And why would more weight on the drives mean better fuel economy? Presumably because the front of the trailer is lower and out of the wind? That's the only reason I can think of and it's not worth worrying about to be honest. If it's an important factor then there are many different ways of addressing that issue without creating a weight imbalance.

Tandems:

Tandem Axles

A set of axles spaced close together, legally defined as more than 40 and less than 96 inches apart by the USDOT. Drivers tend to refer to the tandem axles on their trailer as just "tandems". You might hear a driver say, "I'm 400 pounds overweight on my tandems", referring to his trailer tandems, not his tractor tandems. Tractor tandems are generally just referred to as "drives" which is short for "drive axles".

Tandem:

Tandem Axles

A set of axles spaced close together, legally defined as more than 40 and less than 96 inches apart by the USDOT. Drivers tend to refer to the tandem axles on their trailer as just "tandems". You might hear a driver say, "I'm 400 pounds overweight on my tandems", referring to his trailer tandems, not his tractor tandems. Tractor tandems are generally just referred to as "drives" which is short for "drive axles".

Reefer:

A refrigerated trailer.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar

That all makes sense Dave. I agree that I can't really think of a scenario where more weight on the trailer than on the drives would be beneficial. That seems precarious at best.

A difference of less than 500 pounds in balance on a nearly 80,000 pound vehicle won't make any difference at all I don't believe. As long as it's close to being balanced it's all good.

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