Length laws with 5 car trucks?

Discussion in 'Car Hauler and Auto Carrier Trucking Forum' started by crocky, Sep 4, 2022.

  1. crocky

    crocky Road Train Member

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    I run a hot shot set up now, but I've always liked the 5-pack semi truck setups. I found one with a sleeper that I'm interested in. My question is the DOT length laws for car haulers. Does anyone know if the car hauler overhang covers the 5 pack car hauler trucks? I know certain states are not a problem such as FL where I'm located people use them here all the time. However, I've heard other states don't give these trucks the overhang exemption.

    I believe most states' rule on straight trucks is 40ft length limit. This truck in question is 39ft but with the typical overhang for a car hauler, it will be over that length. My understanding is the DOT overhang rule is only for combination vehicles and not straight trucks.

    Can anyone tell me if these trucks qualify for the overhang rule or will I run into trouble outside of Florida?

    For the record, this is the style truck I'm talking about.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2022
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  3. 062

    062 Road Train Member

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  4. brian991219

    brian991219 Road Train Member

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    Unfortunately there is no Federal minimum that states must allow for overhang on straight trucks, even purpose built trucks like the one in the picture.. Your rules will vary from state to state with most not allowing any overhang for divisible loads such as cars. About half of the lower 48 states have a 40 foot overall length limit for straight trucks (including load) so that 5 pack will be limited to no more than 3 or 4 cars to stay within the overall dimensions of the truck.

    The only workaround I have seen is adding a one car trailer behind the truck, making it a combination vehicle and subject to the traditional automobile transporter length limits permitted by Federal law. I can't say this will work in every state or situation but I have observed it as effective in Pennsylvania with a local operator doing it for many years. Also worth noting that it will likely take that class B CDL vehicle and make it a class A combination.

    To do that the trailer would need to be no longer than 18-20 foot so that the total overall combination length is no more than 65 foot from rearmost part of trailer to the furthest point of the front of the truck when unloaded. This would then allow you to have 3 foot of overhang off the front of the truck and 4 off the rear of the trailer. Important note, some states will not allow any overhang off the rear of the power unit (truck) or front of trailer in traditional automobile transporter configuration as it is not specifically covered in the FHWA rules, so it will still be a crap shoot based on the state(s) you operate in and the officer's opinion of how the rules should be applied.
     
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  5. roundhouse

    roundhouse Road Train Member

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    Seems like the five car trailer would be a lot easier , and You can use any normal
    Tractor to pull it .
     
  6. crocky

    crocky Road Train Member

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    Yeah, I'm not interested in hauling a trailer behind it. If I haul a trailer I'll just stick to an actual combination truck. I just like the idea of these trucks because It's a single truck, don't have to worry about trailer tags, or trailer repairs, or insurance on it ect..ect.. It's a single piece of equipment, I can park it easily at home ect..

    I found one that is pre-eld, a D60 and has a sleeper. It's like winning the trifecta with those type of trucks. Pretty much my perfect truck but I think the overhang issue will kill me in a lot of states. Granted, I guess I could use it as a defacto 4 car hauler pretty much anywhere.


    btw do you happen to know a list of states straight truck length laws? Perhaps if I knew the states I might be able to see if it will work for me. I tried to search but it's like pulling teeth from a bobcat to try to find without looking up every single state.
     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2022
  7. crocky

    crocky Road Train Member

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    5 car trailers are sketchy as hell. No way I'd touch those, they are accidents waiting to happen just like wedge trailers.
     
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  8. brian991219

    brian991219 Road Train Member

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    In the front pages of the Rand McNally Motor Carrier's Atlas they have a great bunch of resources, including a guide that shows maximum length by state. I took a snap shot of my 2022 atlas page, hopefully you can read it. That said, they only identify two states that the overall length includes overhang and I know there are more that limit or prohibit overhang for divisible loads such as cars, so you still will need to look up each state you plan to operate within.
    2022 RM size and weight chart.jpg
     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2022
    Reason for edit: Forgot to upload and attach image
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  9. brian991219

    brian991219 Road Train Member

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    Some unsolicited advice regarding the 5 pack units from someone that has operated them before, take it for what it is worth. Height and weight quickly become issues when hauling anything more than basic sedans or compact cars. Double check the steer axle rating on the unit you plan to buy as it is easy to exceed rated capacity when trying to put a heavy SUV over the cab and use the negative tilt to meet height. Also get a scale ticket and see how the empty weight is balanced across the axles, you only have 34,000 pounds on the tandems in most states, up to 20k on steer (depending on it's rating) although most will be either 13,800 or 14,600 steer axles. The manufacturers try to build the 5 packs right at 55,000 GVWR to avoid heavy highway use tax and KYU registration and they can have a tare weight in the high teens to low 20's, leaving 30k +/- for cargo, which sounds like a lot but it can be tricky to balance weight properly.

    Height is even more of a problem when you are in the 13'6" states and trying to stack SUV and trucks on the unit. I am not knocking your idea, we loved our 5 packs for metro NYC work, even though we were overlength all the time, they saved us on tolls, taxes and potential damage trying to get a 75' tractor trailer into tight areas doing daily residential pickup and delivery services. Not sure if I would have run the 5 pack in our over the road division though, just too many variables with the work we did but your work may be different.

    Ours was a Freightliner FL112 extended cab set up as a day-sleeper (always hated that description) with a C-12 Cat and 10 speed. Miller Titan 5 rack on it, great truck for what we did with it. I have also operated quite a few of the Cottrell units on Peterbilt 337 chassis brand new to deliver to customers and train them on how to use. Great trucks for the right market and load configurations.
     
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  10. crocky

    crocky Road Train Member

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    What is a Day-Sleeper? (lol a day cab?) Thanks for the in-depth reply a lot of info for me to look into..

    The truck I'm looking at is a 98 Volvo with a sleeper cab. (very hard to find the 5 packs with an actual sleeper as you probably know. It also has a Detriot 60/10-speed which is what I was looking for. If I go this route it's pretty much my perfect truck of that style. no elogs, actually has a sleeper and has the D60.

    I'll have to look over that picture you posted to check the states to see if it's even viable for me, then look at the other info you mentioned.

    Thanks a lot for the help, big thumbs up!
     
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  11. brian991219

    brian991219 Road Train Member

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    You are welcome.

    A day-sleeper is a marketing term dealers used to describe a just barely DOT legal sleeper in as small of a space as possible. Think of the extended cab Freightliner M2 with the sleeper option instead of the back seat, just barely 25" wide to meet the minimum regulations. Not something you want to sleep in often, good for a quick nap. Just loke sleeping in the back seat of a pickup truck.

    Our cab was identical to the screenshot below. At 6' tall and 250 pounds I had all I could do to lay down in the bunk.
    Screenshot_20220904-212117_Chrome.jpg
     
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