For example, about five years ago, Eager Beaver introduced a detachable trailer initially earmarked for paving equipment. It had a much lower approach angle in the front. "We are selling a good number of those trailers, and not just to the paving industry," says McClure. They are being used to haul multiple equipment, including excavators and graders that can climb the steeper angles of a regular trailer. "They find it is just much nicer to load on these lower profile trailers."
Features separate premium trailers
Many features separate the premium equipment trailers on the market, including the use of high-tensile strength steels. "The higher the tensile steel, the less you need to carry the payload," says Odegaard. These steels can range from 100,000- to 130,000-psi yield strength.
But it takes engineering expertise to properly apply these steels. "We use a blend of materials," says Ladner. "We don't build them all out of 100,000-psi yield material because the higher tensile steels are more flexible. You can't have a trailer that is too rigid or too soft. The thickness of the flanges and heights of the web are a key part. It does take strong engineering to get the beams of those trailers built properly."
Material selection impacts the life of the trailer. Therefore, Eager Beaver trailers are somewhat "hybrids". "We do use high-tensile steels. There is everything from Grade 80 to T-1 in our trailer beams," McClure states. Consider the lowboy trailers. "Many of our competitors are using T-1 for the flanges; we use Grade 80. Even though it is a little bit less in actual tensile strength, we feel it is a better material. It is a little more ductile material. It gives us durability."
Beyond the steel used, there are several component advancements that can reduce maintenance. LED lighting is becoming a standard on many premium trailers. "We feel that it gives the customer better life," says Ladner. "It is a higher quality light."
Outboard hub-piloted wheels can also minimize service requirements. "All of our trailers have hub-piloted wheels now," says McClure. "When you pull a brake drum off to work on the brakes, you don't have to pull the hub and replace the seals."
Centralized lube systems are another time saver. "We can lubricate any grease zerk from a single point," says Ladner. "It makes the service of our trailers easy for the mechanic."
Continuous tire inflation systems promise to not only reduce maintenance, but extend tire life. "It is one of the more popular options that has just come about in the last couple of years," says Ladner. "Load ratings are set at a certain pressure on your tires. If you maintain that, you have proper tire load capacity. If you maintain the tire pressure, you minimize heat buildup, which just destroys tires. There are documented studies that show tremendous payback on continuous tire inflation systems."
Another recent advancement is in tag trailer suspensions. "We use a torsion axle, which is a rubber-mounted spring inside the axle that simulates air ride as close as it can," says Ladner.
Eager Beaver has even seen an increase in the number of air suspension systems used on tag trailers, although the overall number still remains low. "We happen to offer a 25-ton with a third lift axle that is air ride," says McClure. The axles behind it are spring mounted. "It is a nice feature to be able to run around as a tandem when you only need a tandem, rather than have those three axles on the ground all of the time."
Some 20-ton tag trailers are built with an all air suspension system. "There is significant cost to do that," says McClure. "But it significantly helps the load approach angle because you can drop that 5 in. and get a much better approach angle on your ramp."
There are several other items separating a premium trailer from the low-cost units available. Among them are the paints and coatings used, the types of jacks, suspension options, etc.
"Look at the quality that goes into the trailer," advises Odegaard. "Don't always look at price. Look at the workmanship in the trailer and the engineering, as well as the resale."