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Natasha Post, Author
The chances are that you’ve seen a lowboy trailer hauling heavy equipment, but you perhaps didn’t realize it because you don’t know much about it. A lowboy is among the many types of trailers used in heavy hauling, and it’s critical to understand it, especially if you plan to haul large farm equipment.
What is a Lowboy Trailer, and When Should You Use It to Ship Farm Equipment?
A lowboy trailer, also known as a double-drop, float, or low loader, is a specialized semi-trailer that features a lowered platform between two elevated decks; one is the fixed gooseneck in the front deck that stretches over the wheels to the trailer’s rear end. Its design allows heavy-freight transportation companies to position the load significantly close to the ground so that it offers sufficient height clearance to maintain a legal load despite exceeding the DOT height limit.
While the width is the commonly used metric to determine an oversized load, the height can also be challenging when shipping farm machinery. The height and width limit of any in-transit farm equipment in any state is 8.5 ft. Imagine moving a 10-ft.-tall tractor or harvester; you wouldn’t transport it on a flatbed or step-deck due to its excessive height. That’s when you need a lowboy trailer. The double-drop-deck design enables them to carry loads reaching up to 14 ft. tall without requiring a permit. Furthermore, a standard two-axle lowboy has a load-carrying capacity of about 40,000 to 45,000 pounds, but that can increase to a maximum of 80,000 pounds with an axle configuration.
Tips for Preparing Your Farm Equipment for Lowboy Hauling
Once you’ve configured your lowboy trailer to suit the load-carrying demands, it’s time to prepare the piece of farm machinery for transport. If possible, take detailed pictures of the cargo before loading as it helps to confirm any damages following the shipment.
- Read the Manual – The machinery owner’s manual outlines the procedures and steps of preparing the equipment for moving. It provides the measures you need to take when disconnecting the batteries, securing loose parts, or emptying the engine oil.
- Clean the Equipment – Cleaning critical parts of the equipment, such as gears, exposes handholds and hooking points. It also lets you pick up any hidden damages.
- Cover the Vulnerable Parts – Lowboy hauling means your farm equipment will be exposed to environmental elements, like rain, wind, dust, and particles. Hence, cover the vulnerable pieces. In winter, prepare the load against the cold that can potentially damage the lines and tanks.
- Prepare for Pickup – You need to ensure that the trailer is positioned in a flat loading area, complete with clean ramps or cranes. It’s also critical to view the equipment pickup information because every piece of machinery has unique features and dimensions.
The pickup details will inform you of the:
- Truck Entrance Location
- Hours of Operations
- Ramp Dimensions
- Loading Area
- Contact Information
- Ramp Specifications
How to Ship Farm Equipment on a Lowboy Trailer
Accidents lurk on the road, especially when shipping oversized cargo. You can avoid that by practicing the following safety strategies.
Find the Shortest and Most Linear Route:
The transport supervisor must ensure that they survey the route to find the shortest route with minimum obstructions, such as utility lines, overpasses, roadblocks, and traffic. Assess the bridges and challenging terrain in rural areas. The smoother and more straightforward the road is, the better for the equipment safe travel. Tractor transport has been in the shipping industry for years. For this reason, we know almost all the routes from Alaska to Texas, and across the borders to Mexico and Canada.
Get the Permits:
You’ll need a DOT transport permit when hauling oversized farm equipment like combines, cotton pickers, grain trucks, and loaders. Do that months in advance to avoid a last-minute rush. If possible, disassemble the cargo’s accessories and attachment to achieve a legal load. Luckily, you don’t need to go through all the hustles of acquiring the permits and a team of highly qualified logisticians you will do it for you.
Immobilize the Equipment Wheels:
Using robust chains and synthetic tie-down straps is not enough to prevent the equipment from moving forwards and backward on deck. That’s why you need to have wedges, chocks, and cradles and place them on the wheels’ front and back to secure the load perfectly.
Have the Clear Signs and Flashing Lights:
When transporting an over-dimensional load, you might be required to have one or two pilot cars. Together with the pulling truck, the escort vehicles must have a clear “OVERSIZED LOAD” sign at the bumper. There also must be flashing amber lights with height detectors to alert of any bridges or tree canopies. The law also requires that you have the necessary road signs, proper PPE, and repair tools.