Pros & Cons Of The Different Types Of Trailers?

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Phox's Comment
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So as I have said around recently I'm looking to start a trucking career around March next year.

Something I have thought about recently: How do I decide what kind of trailer I want to be hauling (assuming I have a choice)

From what I have been reading it seems you pick one type and that's the type you haul forever more (ok I'm being funny here)

So how would one decide if they want to do reefer , flatbed, tanker, etc. If anyone is feeling charitable and has the knowledge I would like to know the pros and cons of each and if one pays better or not and also if it allows team driving as an option (not req)

Thanks!

Reefer:

A refrigerated trailer.

The Persian Conversion's Comment
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Here's a simple analogy:

Vans = Saddam Hussein Reefers = Adolf Hitler Tankers = Kim Jong-Il Flatbeds = John Wayne

Reefer:

A refrigerated trailer.

Pat M.'s Comment
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Here's a simple analogy:

Vans = Saddam Hussein

Reefers = Adolf Hitler

Tankers = Kim Jong-Il

Flatbeds = John Wayne

rofl-3.gifrofl-3.gifrofl-3.gif

It all depends on you and what you want out of your driving career.

Except for some local gigs, vans and refers are mostly drive from one spot to another and either grab another trailer or wait for a load/unload. About the only activity you get is cranking the landing gear, sliding tandems , hooking and unhooking the air and electrical lines, pulling the fifth wheel pin and opening and closing the doors.

If you are looking for a job where you are a little more active you have tankers, dry bulk and flatbed/stepdeck/rgn.

A lot of people forget about dry bulk and even consider them tankers but they are not. They haul cement, lime, fertilizer and talc among other products.

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".

Stepdeck:

A stepdeck , also referred to as "dropdeck", is a type of flatbed trailer that has one built in step to the deck to provide the capabilities of loading higher dimensional freight on the lower deck.

Reefer:

A refrigerated trailer.

Brett Aquila's Comment
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We have a great series of articles on choosing the right truck driving job which includes an eight part series I wrote which includes articles like Choosing A Truck Driving Job Part V: Comparing Large Trucking Companies To Small Ones and Choosing A Truck Driving Job Part VI: Dry Van and Refrigerated Companies. Read through all of those and you'll learn a lot.

We also have a chapter in our Truck Driver's Career Guide called finding your first truck driving job which covers a lot of different options. Make sure you follow all of the links you come across.

Finally in our trucking wiki we have a section on types of trailers which covers many of the options available and what you can expect from each. When you check out this page you'll see "Subtopics" at both the top and bottom of the page. The subtopics are the individual trailer types and details about each.

That should keep you busy for a while! But in case you're a speed reader my free online book also talks about life on the road and your various choices of trailers to pull and what life is like for each one.

Dry Van:

A trailer or truck that that requires no special attention, such as refrigeration, that hauls regular palletted, boxed, or floor-loaded freight. The most common type of trailer in trucking.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OOS:

When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.

Phox's Comment
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I did read those brett (before I even made an account) but still really undecided on what kind I would prefer more.

I have never done any of this so I don't know if I would prefer one type or the other. I guess I would like some personal experience stories...

While pay is not my primary reason for wanting to get into trucking it is still a factor (If you can do 2 jobs just as easily as the other but one pays more, obviously you're going to take the better pay right?).

Would I be able to change my choice while being with the same company? That way I could test the waters and see which I prefer.

That analogy made no sense to me at all... not even a tiny little bit.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
DaveDiesel's Comment
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Would I be able to change my choice while being with the same company? That way I could test the waters and see which I prefer.

Phox,

Yes, most of the large carriers will allow you to apply for a different frieght division. However, they might require you to stay in your initial selection for a certian amount of time. For example, if you are a new driver with Crete carrier they won't let you switch to their flat bed division until after completing the first year.

Phox's Comment
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Yes, most of the large carriers will allow you to apply for a different frieght division. However, they might require you to stay in your initial selection for a certian amount of time. For example, if you are a new driver with Crete carrier they won't let you switch to their flat bed division until after completing the first year.

I see... so then we go back to my biggest problem... how does someone choose when they don't know if they'll like a certain type or not... I don't know if I would like it or hate having to tarp / chain down loads (flatbed) so I have no idea if that's right for me... heck I might find dry van/ reefer incredibly boring... I just don't know. I generally prefer a somewhat active life style (one of the things I enjoyed about Americorps, yeah the work was hard at times but it was overall a good experience). I did call center work for 5 years and hated it, it was easy but mentally stressful.

I have a few months (ok more than a few... march next year is what *counts on fingers* 8 months away... gosh that long???)

Dry Van:

A trailer or truck that that requires no special attention, such as refrigeration, that hauls regular palletted, boxed, or floor-loaded freight. The most common type of trailer in trucking.

Reefer:

A refrigerated trailer.

OOS:

When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.

Scott O.'s Comment
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I like drop and hooks so I went with vans... refeer has longer trips.... flatbeds make more money but winter time has gotta suck trapping the load in the snow and ice... they all have thier ups and downs but you just gotta decide which is best for you

Drop And Hook:

Drop and hook means the driver will drop one trailer and hook to another one.

In order to speed up the pickup and delivery process a driver may be instructed to drop their empty trailer and hook to one that is already loaded, or drop their loaded trailer and hook to one that is already empty. That way the driver will not have to wait for a trailer to be loaded or unloaded.

The Persian Conversion's Comment
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I generally prefer a somewhat active life style (one of the things I enjoyed about Americorps, yeah the work was hard at times but it was overall a good experience). I did call center work for 5 years and hated it, it was easy but mentally stressful.

Honestly, for anyone who enjoys physical activity, I think flatbed is a good bet. And the fact that you hated a job where you did nothing but sit and talk all day makes me think flatbed is an even better bet. And I'm not saying that to try and recruit you to my "side," I just think you might find it more rewarding and satisfying.

The analogy was simply meant to show that flatbedders are like all-american heroes and everyone else is evil ;)

Matt W.'s Comment
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I got a good chuckle out of that one, thanks tpc

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