What Is a Lowboy Trailer Used For? The Big and the Heavy!

While lowboys may look like your typical trailer, there’s more to them than meets the eye. Learn everything you need to know about these trailers, what they’re used for, and how to find the best one to meet all your hauling needs. 

What Is A Lowboy Trailer?

A lowboy trailer is a specialized trailer that’s designed to carry oversize or heavy loads. For instance, lowboys are typically used to carry large construction equipment and machinery. Lowboys can transport these loads since they are very low to the ground and sit just above it. 

Lowboys can vary in length and towing capacity. These trailers can extend up to 29.6 feet in length. And although a standard two-axle lowboy can haul up to 40,000 pounds, you can reach a carrying capacity of up to 80,000 pounds by adding the right number of axles. 

The Difference Between Lowboy And Standard Trailers

While a lowboy trailer and a standard trailer may look the same to an untrained eye, there are actually some key differences to consider. Most obviously, lowboys are lower to the ground compared to standard trailers. 

As a result, they can carry loads up to 12-feet high. Additionally, lowboys come with a double-level drop system wherein they have two drops in deck height rather than a standard height across the whole length of the trailer. 

When And Where Are Lowboys Used?

As previously mentioned, lowboy trailers are commonly used to carry heavy or oversize loads. They are commonly used to transport construction equipment and other bulky items all over the United States. Since they are used to transport such heavy and oversize loads, extra safety considerations need to be taken into account when using lowboy trailers. 

Extra Safety Considerations When Using Lowboy Trailers

  • Loading and unloading: There are several ways to load and unload a lowboy trailer, including from the front, sides, or back. Make sure that you choose the right loading and unloading position depending on the size of the trailer and the size of the load. 
  • Securing the load: Since the load is likely very heavy, it needs to be properly secured. Ensure that the load is completely centered and secured at every point so prevent potential shifting and jackknifing. 
  • Braking in time: Braking is important when driving any vehicle, but it’s essential when driving a lowboy. Make sure that you constantly check the brakes of the trailer to prevent potentially disastrous accidents. 

3 Different Types of Lowboy Trailers

You need to know about the three types of lowboy trailers: fixed gooseneck lowboys, fixed neck lowboys, and removable gooseneck lowboys. Let’s explore each one in greater detail to give you a comprehensive understanding of lowboy trailers: 

1. Fixed Gooseneck (FGN) Lowboy 

The first type of lowboy trailer is the fixed gooseneck lowboy. Also known as an FGN, this type of trailer comes with a longer deck length and is lightweight.  

Since it is a lowboy, an FGN is low to the ground and usually has drop ramps in the back for the quick and easy loading of equipment. 

2. Fixed Neck Lowboy

The second type of lowboy trailer is the fixed neck lowboy. This type of trailer comes with a fixed neck that can make it difficult to load from the front since it cannot be detached for easy loading. However, it does offer the lightest weight. 

3. Removable Gooseneck (RGN) Lowboy

The third type of lowboy trailer is the removable gooseneck lowboy. Also known as an RGN, this type of trailer comes with a shorter deck length. The gooseneck can be quickly and easily detached thanks to a hydraulic system that’s able to raise and lower the trailer on demand. An RGN is ideal for driving, rolling, pushing, or pulling the equipment onto the trailer bed. 

Choosing a Lowboy Trailer

Now that you know the different types of lowboy trailers, it’s time to move on to other specifications, including materials, suspension options, tires, carrying capacities, and hydraulics.  

Let’s explore each component in detail so that you can choose the best lowboy trailer to meet your hauling needs: 

1. Material

Lowboys need to be made out of a strong material that can withstand the transportation of heavy machinery and equipment without bending or breaking. There are typically two material options available for lowboys: aluminum and steel. There are pros and cons of each option. 

Aluminum may be lightweight and rust-resistant, but it also has a lower yield strength and comes at a higher cost. Based on this information, an aluminum lowboy may be used to transport cargo that’s under 50 tons in weight. On the other hand, steel is stronger, heavier, and ideal for transporting heavy loads over 50 tons. 

2. Suspension Options

There are several different suspension options to choose from for a lowboy trailer, including mechanical suspensions, rigid suspensions, air ride suspensions, and single-point suspensions. On a similar note, there are also pros and cons to each of these options. 

Mechanical suspensions are a great option for heavy-duty trailers as they are highly stable and offer consistent load distribution. This type of suspension is easy to maintain and is inexpensive and reliable. 

Rigid suspensions are a great option for low-speed transportation of heavy-duty trailers. This is because, with a rigid suspension system, the movement of one wheel depends on the other wheels’ movement. While this type of suspension is inexpensive and easy to maintain, they have a poor damping effect and don’t allow the driver to adjust the ride height for empty or loaded trailers. 

Air ride suspensions are a great option if you’re looking to get better fuel economy and extend the lifespan of your tires. This is because air ride suspensions are lighter, more flexible, and offer good stability. They also lead to less wear and tear on the trailer since there’s less vibration. However, all of the benefits of air ride suspensions often come at a higher price than other suspension systems. 

Finally, single-point suspensions are a great option for trailers consistently carrying heavy cargo over 100 tons in weight. This type of suspension system will cost you a pretty penny but may save you money by also reducing wear and tear on the trailer, thanks to decreased vibrations. 

3. Tires

There are two types of tires to choose from for your lowboy trailer: tube tires and tubeless tires. Tube tires are suitable for heavy loads since they are pressurized. Although they are more prone to blowouts and have a shorter service life, they are easy to repair when needed. 

 

On the other hand, you have tubeless tires suitable for lighter loads since they are unpressurized. However, they are not suitable for rough terrains. Tubeless tires are less likely to blow out in the event of a puncture, have a long service life, and have good wear resistance. That being said, they can be more difficult to repair. 

4. Carrying Capacity

Lowboy trailers typically have to carry capacities of either 25 tons (50,000 pounds) or 35 tons (70,000 pounds). It’s important to note that the carrying capacity doesn’t solely refer to the weight of the load carrier. 

Instead, carrying capacity refers to the weight of the trailer itself and the weight of the load. For this reason, it’s important to take into account the weight of the trailer and the weight of the intended cargo when choosing the carrying capacity. 

5. Hydraulic or Mechanical

Lowboy trailers either come with a hydraulic or a mechanical gooseneck. While hydraulic systems are easier to operate, they are heavier and more expensive. 

On the other hand, mechanical systems are harder to operate but are lighter, cheaper, and require less maintenance than hydraulics. Generally speaking, most operators choose hydraulics for their ease of use. 

Conclusion

Lowboys are the best option for hauling overweight and oversized loads. There are many different types and features of lowboys to consider when choosing your trailer. 

If you’re looking for a way to haul heavy manufacturing and machinery equipment, then you need to reach out to the logistics experts at RPM. RPM offers a whole host of transportation solutions based on our network of over 30,000 carriers. We offer different modes of service for a wide variety of different industries. 

 

Sources:

Cargo Securement Rules | FMCSA

Choosing a Lowboy Trailer Guide | Equipment and Contracting

Air Suspension Basics for Towing | Motortrend

 

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