What Is A Double Drop Trailer And When You Should Use One

Jan 12, 2024 | Blog, Trucking Info

Double drop trailers facilitate the transport of very tall, very heavy, or odd-sized loads, thanks to their middle deck that’s closer to the ground. Its low gravity center offers more stability during transit and on challenging routes.

What Is A Double Drop Trailer? 

Double drop trailers are commonly used to carry taller-than-usual loads, up to 12ft (or 3.66m.) in height.

A double drop trailer is a lowboy type that drops below trailer axles. Double drop deck trailers have a very short distance from the ground, 24 inches – or even lower.

This type of trailer has a lower deck section between the gooseneck and the 1st trailer axle, which lowers its gravity center, making it the ideal truck to transport very tall cargo over standard height limits.

Learning Double Drop Trailer Basics

If you need to transport heavy, odd-sized loads, your freight carrier will advise you on the best type of truck.

Still, it’s worth doing some research ahead on the differences between each trailer type, for a more informed negotiation.

Carriers consider double drops to be the best transportation solution to ship industrial or construction equipment, wind turbines, large machinery, etc. 

Fundamental Characteristics Of A Double Drop Trailer – Specifications

Double drops have a unique trailer design and can safely carry loads up to 11.5 ft. – 12 ft. tall because their cargo beds sit as low as 18 in. to 24 in. from the ground.

Double drop trailers have three sections:

  1. Front deck, elevated, attached to the truck. 
  2. Main deck – this is the lower section of the trailer, and it can also be extendable in some cases.
  3. Rear deck, the end section, slightly higher than the well, still lower than the front part.

Dimensions And Capacity Of Double Deck Trailers

Note that the dimensions mentioned below are based on standardized specifications.

Length And Height (Double Drops)

The dimensions of double drops vary, depending on their design, but they typically have an overall length of approx. 48 ft.

The upper deck is about 6-10 ft. long. The main deck (if not extended) is approx. 30ft long, and the rear deck has a length of around 9ft.

The double drop width is usually 8.5ft.

Similar trailer dimensions are valid for double drop trailers with a removable gooseneck (RGN).

Double Drop Stretch Trailer

In double drop stretch trailers, the well can expand to handle freight of approx. 52 ft., or slightly longer.

Overall Weight And Load Capacity (Double Drop Trailers)

When referring to the overall capacity of double drop trailers, it includes the combined weight of the load, the semi-truck and the trailer.

A standard capacity weight for double trailers is around 44,000 lbs. – 45,000 lbs. 

Depending on the number of axles, some types of double drops (especially lowboys) have a load capacity of up to 80,000 lbs, which is the commercial truck axle weight limit in most states within the U.S.

When Is A Double Drop Trailer Used?

As already mentioned, double drop trailers are used for more specialized hauling, for instance:

Transportation Of Very Tall Loads

The lowered middle deck (with a lower gravity center), can carry very tall cargo (11,5 ft-12 ft) in contrast to flatbed trucks that can carry approx. 8.5 ft. high cargo.

These extra feet give you more comfort to your trailer’s height clearance – thus more route choices!

Heavy, Odd-Sized, Large Equipment Hauling On Double Drop Trailers

On top of extendable capacity and max weight options, double-drop trailers can safely carry very heavy, large and overized truckload without the risk of toppling. 

This is critical for more difficult routes with sharp turns, uneven roads, harsh weather conditions, etc.  

The double drop design of the truck makes driving safer and drivers can maneuver with greater ease and confidence.

To further protect the loads, double drops are often covered with tarps – especially under harsh weather conditions. Tarps help reduce the possibility of damage and minimize insurance claims.

Loading And Unloading A Double Drop

Because double drop trailers and lowboys are closer to the ground than other types of trucks, you can easily load bulky machinery or equipment using cranes. 

But, on top of loading, placing and securing large/tall loads on a drop deck trailer, needs extra care and expertise. You need to account for stability, balance, precision and also make sure you secure the load to the finest detail.

Other accessories used with double drop trailers to facilitate loading/unloading are ramps, especially for wheeled equipment, like dozers or scrapers.

Double Drop Deck Trailer Variations

There are various types of drop deck trailer trucks used for overly high or heavy load shipping. Here are 2 of them

Drop Deck Trailer

A drop deck trailer (also called a step deck trailer) is specially made to carry tall loads without exceeding legal height limits.  

Drop deck trailers have a raised font section and a longer rear section that drops behind the gooseneck. The rear deck sits lower than the truck axles, around 24 in. above the ground. 

Drop deck trailer trucks are easy to load with forklifts and are designed to carry a variety of cargo, up to approx. 48,000 pounds.

Lowboy Vs. Double Drop Trailer

The term lowboy trailers typically refers to single drop trailers with a removable goosenecks (RGN) or a folding hydraulic / mechanical gooseneck

Lowboys are ideal for the transporation of overweight and oversized equipment and have ramping capabilities.

Double drop trailers, as their name suggests, have two drops that create a lower cargo bed. This design offers a lower center of gravity, allowing double drop trucks to carry taller loads with increased stability during transport.

Specialized Hauling 

Specialized hauling needs expert solutions. At Pinnacle Freight Systems, Inc., we cover all the continental 48 states, catering to your needs for any type of trucking, even for very heavy or odd-sized loads. 
From 8’ flats to double drops and step decks, we deliver your equipment where it needs to go. Contact us and get a quote today.

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