Great Dane unveils lighter weight dry van trailer prototype

April 1, 2011
LOUISVILLE, KY. Great Dan Trailers revealed a new lighter weight dry van trailer prototype at the 2011 Mid-America Trucking Show – a version of its Composite HBR trailer that weighs 1,700 lbs. less than the model currently in production, according to Rick Mullininx, the company’s executive vice president-engineering

LOUISVILLE, KY. Great Dan Trailers revealed a new lighter weight dry van trailer prototype at the 2011 Mid-America Trucking Show – a version of its Composite HBR trailer that weighs 1,700 lbs. less than the model currently in production, according to Rick Mullininx, the company’s executive vice president-engineering.

“When we started looking to upgrade the Composite HBR, we found the bottom rail strong enough to allow for a reduction in the weight of the trailer’s composite sidewall panels,” Mullininx told Fleet Owner. “We saved 400 lbs. of weight moving to thinner and lighter sidewall panels and by reducing the thickened and weight of the metal ‘skins’ on them.”

From that point, Great Dane decided to see if it could drive more weight out of its 53-ft. Composite HBR (short for “high bottom rail”) model. Over the course of a year, Mullininx said the company made a variety of material and design changes to come up with a prototype that weighs 1,700 lbs. less than its current product.

“Underneath the trailer, we went from steel cross members spaced 12 in. apart to aluminum cross members spaced 10 in. apart,” he said. “We then added a thin layer of composite material under the trailer’s wooden floor, giving it more strength while allowing us to make the wood floor thinner, going from 1-3/8 in. down to 1-1/16 in. thickness.”

Yet that composite layer helps boost that floor’s weight rating to 20,000 lbs., Mullininx stressed. Also, the traditional sheet and post design of the trailer’s front wall has been replaced with two composite panels made from the same material as the sidewall panels in order to cut the unit’s weight further.

Altogether, the prototype version of the Composite HBR model shown at Mid-America has an empty weight of 12,145 lbs, Mullininx said. This model is currently undergoing field trials and should be ready for production by the fourth quarter this year, he added.

“We got so involved in this redesign primary for our beverage hauler customers,” Mullininx pointed out. “Beverage haulers tend to ‘weigh out’ before they ‘cube out’ so we wanted to provide them with a lighter trailer so they could haul more product, yet one with a stronger floor to withstand heavier loads and forklift operations.”

The company also is showing off a new flatbed product, the all-aluminum MXP-120.

The all-aluminum construction eliminates the potential for corrosion found in steel and combination steel and aluminum models, allowing the MXP-120 to keep its like-new image longer. It features two-piece bolted aluminum main beams, and like the popular GPL—the aluminum/steel combination platform—has extruded aluminum side rails, and an aluminum floor, rear assembly and crossmembers.

The trailer weighs 1,000 lbs. less than a comparable combo steel-aluminum unit, Great Dane said. It was tested at 60,000-lbs. concentrated in 4 ft. and loads in excess of 120,000 lbs. uniformly distributed.

Available in 48 ft. or 53 ft. by 103-in. wide models, standard specs include a 10-ft. spread axle with air ride suspension, LED lights, Grote’s long life light system, and full-length built-in sliding winch tracks.

Additional support options include 12-in. center crossmember spacing and a coil package. Steel and aluminum wheels, and wide-base single tire options are offered as well.

About the Author

Sean Kilcarr | Editor in Chief

Sean previously reported and commented on trends affecting the many different strata of the trucking industry. Also be sure to visit Sean's blog Trucks at Work where he offers analysis on a variety of different topics inside the trucking industry.

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