ORLANDO, Fla. — Fontaine Trailers has unveiled a new aluminum flatbed trailer that promises lighter weights, higher strengths and a stiffer construction than competing models. And the multi-axle designs that are more popular in Canada are expected in the near future, says Buck Buchanan, vice-president, marketing.
The secret to the new trailer known as the Revolution is found in the floor. The unitized design fuses together a series of aluminum channels using a process known as “friction stir” welding. A spinning tool simply softens the aluminum and mixes the material together. There are never any breaks in the weld.
There has been an undeniable reduction in parts in the process. A traditional flatbed trailer includes 3,700 parts, including 1,400 screws, 44 I-beams, eight wing braces and the wood flooring.The Revolution, currently offered in a spread tandem configuration, will be made with 1,500 parts. And the stiffer design is also expected to reduce the lateral bending known as trailer wracking which can cause tires to scrub away prematurely.
While a traditional flatbed would weigh 10,200 lbs, the aluminum Revolution will weigh 8,000 lbs. The Revolution Hybrid that incorporates some steel will weigh 9,000 lbs.
As tractor weights increase with the introduction of new exhaust treating equipment, the trailer weights will become important for those who need to haul loads of coiled steel weighing 48,000 to 50,000 lbs.
But the trailer’s design also offers a number of enhanced load securement tools.
The side rail and rub rail are made with a single piece of extruded aluminum. There are no welded pipe spools or rub rails to be found. Stake pockets are simply cut out of the rail, and increase their related strength by a factor of 12. A simple hook found underneath the rail will also hold the flat hook from a DOT strap in place while drivers secure their loads.
Moveable chain ties can be repositioned in a series of channels, and later stored into an integrated toolbox.
Even Grote’s integrated lighting system is radically different. Traditional stop and turn lamps have been replaced by a series of three LED strips that are set into an aluminum channel. The number of parts and connections has been reduced by 60%. Everything comes together with just four connections that are located at the centre of the trailer, inboard of the tires.
In addition to protecting the lights from damage, the extruded aluminum also acts like a reflector and brightens the appearance of the lights, says Buchanan.
All the air and electrical lines are also fed down a centre channel that is simply bolted into place.
The aerodynamic enhancements that come with the reduction in cross members and wing braces are expected to improve fuel economy. And a yet-to-be-unveiled toolbox will serve double duty as a fairing.
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