Extreme Trucking is not for the Faint of Heart
I know my fair share of truckers, but the trucks here are not your average Peterbilt tractor trailers. No, these 18 wheelers are hauling much more then you would normally expect. Welcome to extreme trucking. These big Macks haul what is known as super loads. They are the largest maximum load that are allowed on our nation’s roadways. As such, an incredible amount of skill is required to move these loads from point A to point B. In fact, often times several trucks are needed to accomplish the task.
They will either be lined up front in tandem to combine horsepower for pulling, or you will see a few trucks on the front and a few trucks in tandem at the back of the payload for stability. Whenever you see trucks at the back of the payload, it means that the load is too heavy for the front group of tractor-trailers to adequately stop the load. It requires the assistance of the braking system from the rear trucks to help slow the load and keep it from damaging the transmission on the front set of tractor-trailers. In layman’s terms, that payload is extremely heavy and you should probably stay out of the way!
Custom Built Pay Load Trailers
In addition, most of the trailers are also often custom-built to the specifications of the load. Mack did a special project and had a trailer built for their three truck superload haul. When you think about it, custom built trailers for super loads makes sense. It’s not like you could really go to your local trailer manufacturer and purchase a trailer built for hauling a load that is 500+ tons. Trailer construction involves a little bit of structural engineering, as these are not your average hauling trailers. They are usually constructed using steel spanner beams because of their load bearing capability and ability to easily disburse the load across the entire structure. Some of those trailers might look a bit flimsy, but don’t let the spanner beam fool you. Think of them as you would a steel I-beam. I beams were developed to disperse load weight by utilizing compression and tension. They were used heavily when we were an industrial nation, and we have since found other uses for them as well. Building extremely strong trailers is one such use. They are custom built to handle each specific load.
You may even see trailers with wheels that have independent steering at the back. This is not something that is common with regular tractor-trailers. The rear wheel steering allow
Rear Wheel Steering
You may even see trailers with wheels that have independent steering at the back. This is not something that is common with regular tractor-trailers. The rear wheel steering allows the driver to maneuver around sharp corners and turns that would otherwise be impossible.
They have an independent steering system and often times there are escorts or even guides on foot to help navigate tricky situations. A few of those instances can be seen here. Yet, probably the most impressive thing about moving these super loads is simply the amount of wheels that are involved. A few of these examples show you just how many axles it takes to efficiently move a super load to it’s destination. Ironically, this is not all that much different from how the ancient Egyptians used to move items using rolling logs and such. It’s how they built the pyramids, and it is pretty close to how we still move things around today. The only difference is we’ve hooked engines to those wheels to make it more efficient.