When to Use a Step Deck to Transport Farm Equipment

Hyundai HL740-9 Wheel Loader and John Deere Tractor loaded for transport
September 7, 2021 Renan 0 Comments

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Every state has its own heavy hauling restrictions, especially when it comes to loading height. Pieces of heavy machinery come in oversized and over-dimensional designs, and that’s why different trailers are used in various shipments. The step deck trailer is a commonly used rig when transporting heavy equipment, but do you know the specific consignments that warrant their use? We’ve answered that below, but first, let’s understand what a step-deck trailer is.

Understanding a Step Deck Trailer - Step Deck Hauling & Trucking Services

A step deck trailer, also known as a drop deck trailer, is a particular type of trailer rig with no doors, sides, or roof, only a platform/bed. Unlike a flatbed trailer with a flat platform, a step-deck trailer features two decks, one higher and shorter located near the pulling cab and an extended lower deck. The elevated deck is used to clear the power cab’s rear end and can also be used to secure equipment accessories and attachments when transporting a piece of farm machinery.

The two-deck design of a drop deck trailer provides improved versatility in situations where flatbed hauling is not an option. You can transport taller farm equipment without the need to obtain a permit. Additionally, a drop deck enables shipping professionals to position loads from the higher deck to the lower one, significantly increasing the trailer’s load-carrying capacity.

Imagine hauling a header or forage harvester; this equipment can fit in a flatbed trailer, but the height wouldn’t be permissible. A step deck trailer’s lower platform lowers the cargo height, enabling you to maintain a legal load.

Hyundai HL740-9 Wheel Loader and John Deere Tractor loaded for transport

Difference Between a Step Deck and Flat Bed Trailer for Shipping Farm Equipment

Like a step deck, a flatbed is also a trailer without doors, sides, or roof. While the drop deck has two decks, the latter is a simple flat platform with multiple axles pulled by a trailer. Due to their height, loading is done using auxiliary equipment, such as cranes and forklifts. Some step deck trailers feature ramps, making it easy to load self-powered machinery.

While you might use flatbeds to haul large loads, the rig has its limitations. Each state has its heavy hauling restrictions. Typically, the standard legal trailer length is 48 to 53 feet, while the maximum load weight is 48,000 pounds. The height and width limit is 8.5 ft.

Any equipment exceeding that is considered an oversized load. When the height goes beyond 8.6 ft., you’ll need a drop deck trailer. It increases the maximum trailer height by 20 inches over the standard flatbed, allowing you to transport a load with a height measuring 10′ 2″. If the load exceeds that height, the next option would be a double-drop flatbed trailer.

Advantages of Using a Drop Deck Trailer for Transporting Farm Equipment

Drop deck trailers have many advantages over standard flatbeds. They include:

Height clearance

The primary benefit of using a step-deck trailer is that it allows you to transport loads exceeding 8.5 feet in height without requiring a permit. The lower deck pulls the cargo closer to the ground, alleviating any height restrictions. With the deck lowered about 20 inches, you can haul a wide range of farm equipment, including:

  • Tractors
  • Tractor Tires
  • Forage Harvesters
  • Headers
  • Balers
  • Manure Spreaders
  • Mowers
  • Forklifts
  • Scissors Lifts

Suitable for Forklift Loading

Drop deck trailers are closer to the ground due to the lower rear deck. With that height, you can easily use forklifts to load and unload the trailer safely. Furthermore, the machine operator won’t have to raise the forks high. That’s especially helpful when loading overweight cargo. 

Machinery Diversity

Hauling larger equipment is more accessible with step deck trailers because they have a relatively higher load-carrying capacity of between 45,000 to 65,000 pounds. The secret is to position the load properly on the trailer to ensure you meet the weight-per-axle restrictions.