The majority of all commercial flatbed trailers sold are two standard sizes, either 48x102 or 53x102. Other measures include 40ft and 45ft but not much supply or demand for lengths shorter than 48ft or 96-inch wide trailers. 45x102 flatbeds are not widely popular, but most local haulers use this size to install a Princeton or Moffett kit on the back to be able to haul a forklift. 40-45ft trailers typically carry sod, bricks, or home building material into residential areas, hence the need for a shorter trailer to get in and around tighter neighborhoods.
Forklifts can be as long as 8-10ft, so the shorter 40-45ft flatbeds are needed to have a forklift on the rear and not be over length. The axle spacing on flatbed trailers is essential for many reasons as well. On a 45ft flatbed with a forklift kit on the back, the trucker would need sliding tandem axles where both axles slide together, a sliding rear axle, or a set forward rear axle. Axle spacing is crucial to have the room to install the forklift kit on the rear of your trailer. If your axle doesn't slide forward enough, you will not have the space to properly install a forklift kit on the rear end. We have had many customers purchase a 48ft or longer trailer and try to install a forklift kit on the back, against our recommendation, only to come back later, regretting their decision.
On a 48ft or 53ft flatbed trailer, the axle spacing is needed for different reasons depending on the application used. Different axle spacing is desired for various reasons. Trucking is a game of pounds and inches, and with a spread axle, the trucker is allowed to scale more weight in some states versus a closed axle. The more weight the trucker can carry, the more versatile the truck and trailer combination becomes and the more available loads. The more loads available to you, the more revenue you can drive! Each state has different laws and regulations on how much weight can be carried, axles allowed, measurement from your kingpin to the center of the rearmost axle, spread or fixed, and more.
Trucking companies could prefer axle spacing for other reasons, such as city driving with tighter turns; you might like to have a closed axle flatbed over a spread axle flatbed for tighter turns. Many different variations and customizations can be made to the axles. Truckers can have lift axles, dump valves, front or rear sliding axles, or traveling axles seen on Landoll-style trailers. If you went to a truck stop and talked to ten drivers about axle spacing, you would probably get ten different answers on what they prefer and why. Flatbed trailers also have varying ratings of GVWR, which play into how much weight can be hauled.
80,000 GVWR is most common, while some manufacturers like Reitnouer flatbed trailers have models that go as high as 110,000 GVWR. Fontaine trailers tend to rate their GVWR lower in the 60-70K range at times but usually state that the frame rating is around 80,000 lbs. Frame ratings are generally set at 80,000 pounds, evenly distributed for most flatbed trailers. The empty weight of flatbeds is essential as well. The lighter the flatbed is, the more cargo weight that can be carried. When you have 80,000 gross pounds to work with, the weight of everything matters. The truck weight plus trailer weight subtracted from the 80,000 total weight number allowed in most cases leaves a trucker with the amount of cargo weight left to haul. Truckers can get overweight permits to exceed the 80,000-pound limit, but you may also need more axles in some states. Heavier loads also come with other needs, such as a heavier-duty truck with the proper engine, horsepower, transmission, axle ratings, and more to pull heavier loads. If you run super heavy loads with a semi-truck that isn't set up to pull that much weight consistently, you could end up tearing up your truck in a short amount of time.
Flatbed trailers are usually all-aluminum or have a steel frame (i-beams), aluminum floor, and outer construction. We consider flatbed trailers with a steel frame, aluminum exterior construction, aluminum rub rails, and aluminum floors as combo flatbeds. Sometimes, we categorize a flatbed as a combo that has a wood floor but an aluminum outer construction, aluminum side rails, and a steel frame. To some, combo might have a different technical meaning, but that's how we categorize a combo flatbed. Wood floor flatbeds are out there, and steel floor, rubber, or whatever else a flat deck trailer can be floored with, but are not typical. Flatbed semi-trailers are the most popular open deck hauling trailers that are used to transport a variety of loads. For super long loads, there are even extendable flatbed trailers extending to 80ft and other specialty types like chassis trailers, Schnabel trailers, and more. Whatever your flatbed trailer needs, let us know, and we will work hard to get you what you need.
What is the most common flatbed trailer?
48ft long and 102inches wide is the most common flatbed trailer. There are other sizes, such as 40-45-53ft flatbeds. There are also flatbed trailers that are 96inches wide. Be sure to know what size flatbed you need to accommodate your customers before buying. If you don't know, ask a few customers or fellow carriers.
What are the sizes of flatbed trailers?
48x102 and 53x102 are the most popular size flatbed trailers nationwide. There are different sizes for different needs. If you are unsure, call us, and we can help guide you through what you'll need.
How much weight can a 48ft flatbed carry?
80,000 lbs combined gross weight between your truck, trailer, and cargo is standard. Take the weight of your semi-truck plus your semi-trailer and subtract that number from 80,000. The number remaining is usually a helpful guide to how many pounds of cargo you can carry. Other factors to consider are load positioning, weight distribution, proper securement, truck/trailer specs, and state laws.
How much overhang can you have on a flatbed?
The Department of Transportation sets most all of these rules and regulations. The overhang limits can vary from state to state. A direct link to the DOT website can provide you with a guide on the federal laws and regulations regarding overhangs on a commercial trailer. https://www.ecfr.gov/current/title-23/chapter-I/subchapter-G/part-658/section-658.13
You can buy permits for longer loads permitting you the equipment and resources to comply with the requirements. Each state will have its own escort and equipment requirements; here is a link to more detailed information in Texas. https://www.txdmv.gov/motor-carriers/oversize-weight-permits/escort-and-equipment-requirements.