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What is a Conestoga Trailer  

conestoga trailer with white rolling tarp system at the end while a red forklift loading=
Conestoga trailer

Conestoga trailers are one of the most popular trailers in the trucking industry because of their versatility; they are designed to carry a wide variety of loads. Its design makes loading and unloading easy for truck drivers.

These transport trailers are ideal for hauling oversized equipment. When other container-based trailers are not ideal for transport, the Conestoga style can save the day. Let’s take a moment to discover what Conestoga trailers are, how their structure differs from other trailers, and when you should choose one of these trailers.  

What Are Conestoga Trailers? 

Conestoga trailers are specialized pieces of logistical equipment. These “Curtain-side” trailers are known for their strength, security, versatility, protection from the elements, and easy to use rolling on frame tarping system to save time with easier loading.

The high demand for this trailer is because they are not limited to oversized hauls despite being specialized in hauling large or heavy loads. Haulers often use Conestoga trailers when transporting the following freight:

  • Steel
  • Large items
  • Over-sized hauls
  • Specialized loads
  • Lumber
  • Palatalized loads
  • Machinery

Another primary reason Conestoga trailers are in such high demand is the safety they provide while transporting goods. They offer protection from weather conditions or threats within the load that could harm or damage the cargo or trailer during transport. The Conestoga trailer is also sure to reduce uptime and allow truckers to improve load-hauling efficiency. The trailer’s structure itself is what offers the benefits of safety, security, improved efficiencies, and protection.

truck driving in raining weather on freeway
Truck in wet conditions

Structure of Conestoga Trailers 

Conestoga trailers can haul a maximum freight weight of 42,000 to 45,000 (depending on the type of trailer selected). The structure of these trailers consists of:

  • Read Bows: These bows function to increase the overall load stability with the smooth rolling feature.
  • Rear Speed Locks: When operated from the ground, these speed locks increase the trailer’s safety.
  • Panelized Tarp: Designed to hide the aluminum bows, the panelized tarp protects the load while on the trailer.
  • Uplift Bows: These bows maximize the inside clearance of the freight. 
  • Front Bows: These bows increase the stability of the tarp and its smooth rolling along the track. 
  • Bulkheads: These provide security and stability for the load and the drivers. 
  • Read Ends: These unique locking mechanisms operate entirely from the ground and help to secure the load.

3 Types of Conestoga Trailers

Additional to its strategic structure, Conestoga trailers have different tarp systems to choose from depending on the load you are hauling. Being aware of your trailer options is essential if you want to ensure that you pick the right one for your hauling needs. Here are the three different types of trailers:  

1. Conestoga Flatbed Trailers     

The most common Conestoga is the flatbed. These include a flatbed trailer with a roll-over tarp for protection. Due to its versatility and unloading ease, it is one of the more popular models.  

The Conestoga flatbed comes in two size options, 48 feet and 53 feet. Heights and widths vary, but they are typically 8 feet 4 inches wide and 96 inches high, with a weight capacity of 44,000 pounds.

2. Step Deck Conestoga    

The Step Deck Conestoga has two tiers, a long lower tier, and a shorter upper tier. These trailers allow you to haul anything that requires more capacity than the 96 inches you get with flatbed trailers. 

They are 48 feet and 53 feet in length, and the upper deck height remains 96 inches, while the maximum lower deck height is 110 inches. The load weight capacity for this model is 41,000 pounds. 

3. Double Drop Conestoga    

The Double Drop Conestoga trailer is similar to Step Decks but has a lower bottom, and one step deck in the back. There is also a double drop in the front, which is twice the height of a single step – perfect for oversized equipment that requires more space or multiple loading docks on the trailers. The deck is so low that you can load the trailer below from ground level without using a ramp. 

Conestoga’s standard double drop trailer is 48 feet long. The maximum front deck height is 96 inches, the lower deck maximum height is 139 inches, and the rear deck is 114 inches. The maximum weight capacity of a Double Drop is much lower than a Flatbed or Step Deck, at only 35,000 pounds.

Advantages of a Conestoga Trailer 

Haulers choose Conestoga trailers for the multitude of advantages provided by the structure of the equipment. Here are some of the reasons you should consider a Conestoga:

  • Lower risk of freight damage
  • Easy sideloading and unloading
  • Greater versatility; the more you can do, the more money you can make.
  • Faster delivery times
  • Decreased detention time

If you are still wondering if a Conestoga trailer is right for your freight, you should consult with a logistic specialist who can discuss all of your options. A specialist can cover alternatives to a Conestoga, and discuss rates for your hauling needs without breaking your budget. 

Choosing a Conestoga Trailer 

Conestoga trailers do not require any special maintenance other than regularly greasing the rear locks and inspecting the clap assembly. Nevertheless, drivers must perform a comprehensive load check before opening. Also, they must ensure that the tarp is well-stretched. They should always correct problems found during inspection before they lead to further damage. For this reason, most companies with logistical needs turn to an experienced company for hauling freight. They hire transportation service providers to ensure products arrive safely and securely at their destination.  

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