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Trailer and semi-trailer: types and distinctions

Trailer and semi-trailer in one photo

As you know, there are three main types of freight: sea, air and land (rail and road). And it is the automobile type of freight transportation is in demand in all sectors of the economy. Depending on the parameters and dimensions of the cargo, the route and other factors selected suitable transport. When the load does not fit in the body (saloon or roof) of the vehicle, say, by size or weight, an additional device is attached to the vehicle – trailer or semi-trailer.

Trailer technology is a variety of. There are a significant number of different models, both universal and highly specialized. However, the main characteristic of this technique is its type: trailer or semi-trailer. Let’s figure out what they look like, what features they have. And what kind of equipment is it: trailer and semi-trailer.

What’s this all about:

1. What is a trailer

2. What is a semi-trailer

3. The main differences

4. Types of trailer equipment for passenger cars

4.1. Is category E required for passenger trailer

5. Types of trailers and semi-trailers for cargo equipment

5.1. Types of cargo trailers

5.2. Semi-trailer types

1. What is a trailer

Tractor with a trailer

A trailer is a vehicle for the carriage of goods. A trailer is similar to a normal cart. Its special feature is that it takes all the weight of the load only on itself. It has a traction bar, usually made of metal, with a trailed device at the end. The tractor car has a special device for mounting and moving the trailer, called «hitch».

Trailers differ in the number of wheels (axles), body parameters, load capacity, specialization (scope). Some of them are used in pairs with cars for the transport of common household goods, construction materials. There are models manufactured to transport boats, jet skis or other specific cargo. There are also large trailers for use with trucks or special agricultural machinery.

In addition, some attachments may not be mounted on the vehicle itself but may be in the form of a trailer. Examples include cranes, concrete pumps, generators and other construction equipment.

Important to know! Moving a vehicle with a trailer significantly changes its handling and road behaviour. The Rules Of The Road therefore requires drivers to category «Е» for some types of trailers which used even with a passenger car.

2. What is a semi-trailer

Curtain semi-trailer - Truck

The semi-trailer is designed to resemble a garden car. Like a trailer, it is designed to carry various loads. However, unlike a trailer, a semi-trailer transfers a portion of the weight of the load to a vehicle that does not tow it. The connection to the truck is made by means of a so-called coupling device (or, in a folk-like way, a saddle) on the frame of the machine. Therefore, the vehicle, prepared for use with semi-trailers, is called «truck tractor».

Due to the features of its design, the semi-trailer can stand exactly apart from the towing vehicle only with the use of extendable support legs (racks). They take over part of the load and provide balance of the semi-trailer instead of the tractor.

Tented semi-trailer, in particular «curtain», was the most popular. In the people such vehicles with semi-trailers got the name «truck». This is, of course, the most popular type of vehicle for freight transportation both inside Ukraine and international. This is due to the versatility and suitability for the transport of a variety of goods.

Also often on the roads you can see trucks with semi-trailers-trawls for the transport of special equipment. And also panel carriers for the transport of large-scale building materials, such as reinforced concrete products.

3. The main differences

What is the difference between a trailer and a semi-trailer?

The trailer is designed like a cart, and the semi-trailer – a garden car. This is the main difference between these two vehicles. Therefore, it is clear that the trailer is a more versatile device, as it does not require a tow car serious retrofitting.

In fact, the installation of a traction coupling on a truck makes it specialized only for use with semi-trailers. At the same time, the installation of a farop on the machine only expands its capabilities, in no way «cutting» all the usual functions and areas of operation of the vehicle.

One of the advantages of a semi-trailer is that it is designed to distribute part of the load onto the tractor. This weight distribution between the axles of the semi-trailer and the tractor increases the maximum carrying capacity of vehicles.

Also the advantage of semi-trailers is better road behavior due to the attachment. The semi-trailer is essentially an extension of the machine itself. Driving such a road train and especially maneuvering more difficult than a conventional truck, but easier than a car with a trailer.

4. Types of trailer equipment for passenger cars

Passenger car trailer

Car owners often use trailers to transport goods. This approach allows not only to take more payload per trip, but also not to dirty the cabin, for example, in the transport of dry construction mixtures.

In addition to the usual universal trailers for cars, there is a special trailer for handling specific loads, such as, for example, hydrocycles and boats, motorcycles and ATVs. A separate place among trailers is occupied by «houses on wheels». And a variety of special trailers with equipment mounted on them.

Usually trailers are conventionally divided into such categories:

  1. On-board or universal. They are open and tented. They are used to transport a wide range of goods, from construction materials and equipment to ordinary household goods, such as furniture. On-board trailers are particularly popular with residents of individual residential buildings, including summer cottages.
  2. Frame trailers. They are specially designed for the transport of specific goods, such as boats, hydro- and quad-bikes, motorcycles. They are very different in their general design, and in particular in the cargo attachments, from other attachments. Therefore, such frame vehicles are used only according to their narrow specialization.
  3. With the installed equipment. Most commonly used for commercial purposes. Examples of such trailers include tow trucks, electric generators, a variety of construction equipment.
  4. Home on wheels. Trailer in the form of a car with equipment that allows you to spend time and sleep comfortably on long trips and trips, as well as on trips to nature.

In addition to the above functional features, trailers differ in the material of manufacture, the features of the kit, the number of wheels (axles), load capacity, type of coupling device and other parameters.

Pay attention! The trailer must be equipped with lighting devices. Namely, brake and bend signals, position lamps. Retro-reflectors are also installed on trailers to improve road safety.

4.1. Is category E required for passenger trailer

In Rules Of The Road of Ukraine (paragraph 2.13) says that in category B, a passenger car driver is allowed to tow a trailer with a full mass of up to 750 kg. In some cases, however, this is also possible for trailers weighing more than 750 kg. We will consider more.

Paragraph 5 The Cabinet Orders #340 of 08.05.1993 allow category B drivers to tow trailers with a total mass of more than 750 kg under certain conditions. Namely:

  1. permissible maximum trailer weight is less than the mass of the unladen towing vehicle,
  2. total authorized mass of tractor and trailer does not exceed 3,500 kg.

All categories in driving license

Normally, only drivers with open category with letter E are allowed to tow heavy trailers.
But there are exceptions.

In order to avoid category B in permitted cases, we recommend to have with you documents indicating the weight of the cargo. This will prove your right to drive the vehicle.

And of course, the lack of requirement to open an additional subcategory BE does not mean that you do not need to learn to safely drive a car with a trailer. You need to practice such skills not during the first trips, but in advance, choosing a free training area. Especially interesting for the driver is the exercise with the trailer reversing.

It should be recalled that for vehicles with a trailer in Rules Of The Road of Ukraine there are several separate items (Article 23). In particular, they regulate the speed of travel, the seating of passengers, the use of lighting devices and cases in which towing is prohibited. Take half an hour and reread the Rules! This is very important!

5. Types of trailers and semi-trailers for cargo equipment

5.1. Types of cargo trailers

Cargo trailer in Ukrainian flag colors

Trailers are classified according to the type, size and weight of the goods carried, which usually ranges from 1.5 to 20 tonnes. Cargo trailers are usually divided into the following types:

  • side and tent;
  • cabin;
  • dump truck;
  • cistern.

The side curtain trailer and booth are very similar, but they are nevertheless designed to carry different types of goods. The tarpaulin on the trailer merely protects the load from the direct effects of atmospheric phenomena. In this case, the box can be thermally insulating, which allows it to be used more widely, for example, for the transport of products.

Dump trailer

Tipper trailer, logically, most often used for the transport of bulk materials. In addition to various building materials or soil, this includes grain, animal feed and other agricultural products. Dump trucks are with rear or side unloading.

5.2. Semi-trailer types

As with trailers, semi-trailers are classified according to the tasks for which they are designed. The most common species are:

  • Tent semi-trailer. Versatile and inexpensive. Can be used to transport a wide range of cargoes. Tarpaulin provides protection from atmospheric phenomena (rain, snow, hail).
  • Curtain semi-trailer. Differs from the tarpaulin opening method. In such models, the curtain is moved to the side, allowing loading and unloading on the side. Which is critical in some cases. It is also possible to open the roof for the use of warehouse cranes.
  • Curtain-side semi-trailer. Differs from the previous presence of the sides. Many drivers consider it the most reliable. But at the same time, the rigid sides make loading and unloading difficult.
  • Side semi-trailer. Used to transport goods that do not need to be protected from atmospheric phenomena. For example, brick or reinforced concrete products. Sides are usually foldable.
  • The van. Rectangular semi-trailer with rigid walls. Loading and unloading gates are generally located at the rear.
  • Insulated semi-trailer and refrigerator. It is used to transport goods with specific temperature requirements. For example, frozen products, flowers, medicines and so on. Insulated semi-trailer operates like a conventional thermos. A refrigerator differs from it by the presence of a refrigeration system.
  • Dump truck. Such equipment is most often used in construction or agriculture. Dump trucks are distinguished by the type and design of unloading mechanisms.
  • Car carrier. Depending on the model and configuration, the semi-trailer can accommodate 8 cars, 3 minibuses or 6 off-road vehicles. Additional use of tarpaulin is possible in some models.
  • Cistern. Used to carry a variety of liquids. From products and water to fuel and chemical reagents. The design and internal coating of the tank depends on the type of liquid cargo for which it is intended.
  • Heavy truck or trawl. Used for transportation of special equipment and dimensional equipment. Most often, these semi-trailers carry agricultural or specific construction equipment.

Dump semi-trailer

In conclusion, I would like to note the following. The global road network is more than 23 million kilometres long. Transportation by car is the most convenient and flexible, because the car goods can be delivered almost everywhere where there is a road. In this case, road transport can be combined with other logistics chains, so this type of transportation of goods is the most convenient and practical.