Snow and gravel and freight, oh my!

by James Menzies

TORONTO, Ont. – Imagine hauling road salt in one direction and auto fluff on the return trip. Or trash one way and snow on the back haul. Or how about hauling gravel outbound and palletized freight back home?

These and other previously inconceivable opportunities now exist, thanks to a clever trailer design by Trout River Industries that was on display at the recent National Heavy Equipment Show. The Shuttle Floor Trailer is an aluminum dump trailer with a cable-driven moving floor, which spans the full width of the trailer. The objective when designing the trailer was to provide customers with unprecedented versatility, Darrin Mitchell, president of Trout River Industries told Truck News.

“If you want to haul freight, haul freight. If you want to haul snow, haul snow. If you’re not making money hauling gravel, go haul contaminated soil,” Mitchell explained. “You have one product that can go 365 days a year.”

Traditionally a manufacturer of live bottom trailers, Trout River was hearing from customers that they could no longer afford to have trailers sitting idle when construction season slowed.

“We were meeting with customers and they were telling us ‘I have to find new ways to make money.’ We sat down to design this thing and said ‘How do we design something that’s not cheap, but in the end is going to make him more money’?”

The other challenge, Mitchell admitted, was addressing some of the complaints against traditional live bottom trailers, such as excess weight and complex conveyor systems that require too much maintenance. In the end, Trout River replaced the chain conveyor system with a simple cable-driven system that works much like a horizontal elevator. A small pump is all that’s needed to drive the cables and the entire trailer can be unloaded in just 90 seconds, Mitchell said.

The bulkhead has squeegee-style edges so it cleans the walls as it moves forward, allowing operators to quickly switch from one commodity to another. It also keeps loose debris from fouling up the system, he added.

The trailer requires no more maintenance than any other trailer type, Mitchell insisted. Since its launch in September, units have been delivered across Canada and into the US – mostly to customers in Ontario and Quebec. Several customers have since placed orders for additional units, according to the company. At the Heavy Equipment Show in March, Trout River was taking orders for June deliveries.

When asked for specific examples of how the trailer is being used, Mitchell spoke of an owner/operator who puts the trailer to work hauling road salt by day and removing snow from Pearson International airport by night. Another operator hauls mulch in the summer and palletized decorative stone in the wintertime.

“It’s one piece of equipment that won’t stop making you money,” Mitchell said. “You can put it on different jobs and different projects at different times of year – just don’t have it sitting in your yard. If they have a set run, now because of the versatility of the trailer they can pick up different backhauls that they weren’t able to before.”

Mitchell said the trailer is still durable enough to handle the roadbuilding work that traditional live bottom trailers were designed for.

“It’s born for asphalt,” Mitchell said. However, he noted it’s lighter than a live bottom because of its simple conveyor system and aluminum construction. A four-axle unit weighs 23,000 lbs. The unit has the full capacity of a conventional aluminum dump trailer and can be loaded two pallets wide with freight. It also has the added advantage of the moving floor, so a dock isn’t required for loading and unloading.

“You bring the belt back, put the freight on with the forklift and move the belt ahead,” Mitchell explained. “It works for any type of palletized freight you can think of.”

The trailers are built in P.E.I. by Trout River Industries. To see video of how the Shuttle Floor works, visit

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