French heavy-haul units handle loads ranging from 28 to 98 ft.
Another way of expanding trailer utilization - truly in the literal sense - may soon arrive in North America, courtesy of France.
What makes this development so interesting is that unlike many trucking innovations in Europe, this one holds the promise of direct application to U.S. and Canadian vocational fleets.
According to French trailer manufacturer Nicolas Industrie, its new Nicolong unit is an extension of its line of steered-axle, low-deck semi-trailers for hauling construction equipment or large industrial loads.
La difference What makes the Nicolong different, as its name implies, is its single or double telescopic deck configuration.
The telescoping trailer can handle loads ranging in length from 28 to 36 ft. long when in the closed position, and from 49 to 98 ft. in length when open.
Designed to transport equipment or loads of up to 80 metric tons, the Nicolong offers fleets the choice of a high-clearance pneumatic or hydraulic suspension as well as the ability to order a three- to eight-axle setup.
A spokesperson for Nicolas Industrie points out that the Nicolongs are also available with an integrated dolly and an articulated gooseneck. The gooseneck features a hydraulic height adjustment that makes it easier to adjust load distribution on the towing vehicle.
Automatic, hydromechanical steering is actuated by the towing vehicle and is fitted with a realigning jack system patented by the French company. Furthermore, the large steering angle of the rear axles produces a "very small turning circle for this type of trailer."
Under the gooseneck The trailer is steered via a steering beam located under the gooseneck. The beam features a cylinder actuated by the truck's fifth wheel and is connected hydraulically to the cylinder at the rear of the running set of axles.
According to Nicolas, this design "gives the trailer an angle to the pivot, which is connected to the countershafts in the middle of each axle. In addition, a realigning ram enables the trailer to keep all axles in line.
The Nicolongs also offer an array of additional options. These include increased deck lengths, single or double rear loading ramps, a hydraulic ramp-positioning system, and a power generator.
Other options include remote steering control, centralized lubrication system, odometer, a traversing saddle, and "abnormal load" warning signs. ABS braking systems are also available.
Nicolas sums up its new products as being "highly maneuverable, easy to on- and off-load, and robust" trailers that are constructed with quality components.
Unfortunately, at this point in time fleet managers can't order up a Nicolong without taking a trip over there and then figuring out how to get their new trailer back here.
But that may soon change, since Nicolas reports it is actively seeking "business contacts" both in the U.S. and Canada.
Fleet managers who just can't wait to learn more about the Nicolongs can e-mail the manufacturer at this address: [email protected]/Web: http:// www. nicolas.fr. Information can also be obtained by faxing a request to the French Technology Press Office in Chicago at 312-222-1237.