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Enclosed Trailer Types

Enclosed Transport Trailers

There are countless equipment configurations in the freight industry designed for specific transportation applications.  In this book we will cover the common pieces and how they are used.  Enclosed trailers are trailers with sidewall and a watertight roof designed to protect freight from the weather related damage.

53’ Dry Van

The most common trailer on North American highways is the 53’ Dry Van.  These trailers are the the long trailers that are seen on virtually every highway at any time of the day or night.  The Dry Van usually has the following size characteristics:

  1. 53’ in overall length
  2. 102” inside width
  3. 110” Inside height

Dry Vans can accommodate a total of 26 4’ x 4’ Pallets. (52 if stackable) and usually the max weight capacity is 44,000 lbs.  Many years ago it used to be that the max trailer length was limited to 48’.  This is why often when you hear a shipper talking about a “Full Load” shipment, they still refer to it as 24 pallets.  Dry Vans are generally used for “Line Haul” moved for freight going longer distances between cities.

Straight Trucks

Straight trucks are shorter (24’ to 26’) fixed body trucks that are usually used for the pickup delivery of LTL freight.   While 53’ Dry Vans move the freight freight between terminals, straight trucks are usually deployed to make the “Last Mile” deliveries and local pickups. to/from the terminal.  The main reasons for this transition from Dry Van to Straight Truck are the following:


  1. Dry Vans are too long and arduous to maneuver in large cities
  2. Straight trucks are often outfitted with Power Tailgates that can lift and lower freight to the ground when loading docks are not available.
  3. Straight trucks are safer and faster to utilize in populated areas for multi-stop applications.


B-Train trailers look similar to a train as one smaller trailer “the pup” is connected to the rear of another trailer “the “lead”.  Lengths configuration for trains are different in various jurisdictions, however generally speaking these trailers can range in length between 28’-32’.  

B-Trains are most commonly used by LTL carriers as they are connected to travel long distances and separated for making pickups and deliveries.  The reason for the separation of units is similar to the Straight truck.


Reefer Trailers

The term Reefer is commonly used to refer to Refrigeration or “Temperature Controlled” trailer.  The unit are most commonly used for foods products, but also can be used for Pharmaceuticals, plants and other biological products.  “Reefer” units are also used when product need to maintain a certain “heat temperature”.  Liquid products that need to be protected from freezing in the winter months also travel on Reefer units.

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