by Martin Phippard


In my opinion some of best looking B-Train combinations one can see anywhere are those hauling in Michigan State. Today these 11-axle outfits can legally scale at 164,500-lbs gross weight (74.78-tonnes) and because many are driven by owner-operators, the standard of finish is truly astonishing with polished Alcoa wheels and matching trailers the order of the day.

Various Michigan Break-Doubles

Michigan’s steel-hauling rigs are configured differently according to the size of coils they haul. For example, on the lead trailer of a typical 8-axle B-Train trailer set it is possible to see four, five or even six-axles under the fifth wheel tail with two, three and sometimes four-axles under the rear trailer. Axle groupings and spacings are described by the steel haulers in their own unique way. A “tandem-nine-quad-nine” describes a set-up in which there are two axles at the rear of the rear trailer, a single axle nine feet ahead, four axles under the tail section of the lead trailer and another single nine feet ahead. These descriptions always describe a sequence running from the rearmost axle forwards.

Tandem-Nine-Quad-Nine Photos

During the 1970s most steel haulers used flat decks or platform trailers and coils were tarp’d while in transit. Current coil carriers employ either hoop trailers or sliding-siders (curtainsiders) both of which allow faster turn-arounds. Although the current trailers are undeniably more efficient and driver-friendly than the platforms, it is debateable as to which actually looked better. A 1970s 11-axle B-Train headed up by a long hood conventional Brockway 762 and carrying several coils neatly sheeted in shiny black tarpaulins is a memory to cherish!

Doyle’s Autocar KW Steel Coils
Mack Steel Coils Ford Curtainsider

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