At sea or on the highway, the sheer size and weight of haulig large loads of used heavy equipment limits their maneuverability. It can’t start or stop as fast, and it requires a much wider turning radius. Also, in each case, the truck driver must deal with issues of cargo securement—to prevent containers from falling off his flatbed trailer, or a bulldozer from falling off a lowboy trailer.
Like a ship’s captain, the driver of a big rig for hauling heavy construction equipment must receive proper training and obtain a special license. Licensure demonstrates that the individual has met a government agency’s minimum standards of qualification to operate the semi—but a license alone is no substitute for experience.
“I’ve had just three drivers over the past 25 years for my low-bed trailer,” says Warren Gomes Jr., vice president of Warren E. Gomes Excavating Inc., in Rio Vista, CA. “You get surprises when you put guys into a low-bed who don’t regularly drive it. The more experienced they are, the fewer surprises there will be. They have an intuitive knowledge of weights and heights, how the truck pulls and how the tractor trailer reacts.”
Gomes emphasizes, though, that even an experienced driver can run into problems if he is driving an inappropriate rig. The truck and trailer must be right for each other.
Gomes has two low-bed trailers, an eighteen-wheeler from Kalyn Siebert of Gatesville, TX, a subsidiary of Heil Trailer International; and a 16-wheeler from Harley Murray Inc., in Stockton, CA, which does business as Murray Trailers and Murray Trucking. The firm initially built pads for natural-gas wells, but now digs trenches and installs storm-sewer and water pipes for housing developments. When Gomes began hauling a 75,000-pound excavator that exceeds the Siebert’s legal weight limit, he purchased the larger trailer.