What is a Step Deck Truck

Posted On 19th September 2019

What is a Step Deck TruckWhile the pure simplicity of flatbeds is a sight to behold, the step deck truck was invented to add versatility to the conventional flat trailer.

The main function of a drop deck is to allow for taller cargo loads to be shipped. Using a step down from one level to a lower level, the maximum cargo height is increased as the haul sits closer to the road.

When deciding which kind of truck you need, the height of your load is the determining factor.

There are multiple variations of step deck trucks to allow for loads of all different shapes and sizes. Below we will go over step-deck dimensions, the various types of step decks and how each of them compares to one another.

A step deck truck is a type of truck which uses a two-tiered approach to hauling cargo. This includes an upper deck, and a lower deck.

Some step deck trucks have a double drop trailer, which has a front upper deck and a back upper deck, with the lower deck in the middle. A step deck truck is also referred to as a drop-deck flatbed truck.

Step Deck Trailer Dimensions

Here are the dimensions for standard trucks.

Step Deck Trailer Height

  • Top Deck: 5’
  • Bottom Deck: 36” to 42”

Step Deck Trailer Length

  • Top Deck: 11’
  • Bottom Deck: 37’ to 41’

Step Deck Trailer Width

  • Top Deck: 8’6”
  • Bottom Deck: 8’6”

Step Deck vs Flatbed

In the assessment of step deck vs flatbed, there is one glaring difference: the step down to a lower deck on the step deck truck.

The purpose of a step-deck is to haul taller equipment that would not otherwise fit on a flatbed. This is contrasted on a step-deck because there are two different levels.

The top deck is closest to the cab of the truck and is 60 inches in height and 11 feet in length.

The lower deck drops down all the way to the wheels, allowing for the more vertical room. The bottom deck is 36 inches up to 42 inches off the road. It can also be between 37’ and 41’ in length.

A flatbed, in contrast, is flat (you don’t say?) and stays flat. Both have a width of 8’6” and maximum cargo weight of 48,000 pounds.

Step Deck vs Lowboy

A lowboy truck looks at a step deck truck’s vertical capacity and scoffs in comparison. On a lowboy, the bottom deck is barely off the road. The tallest point of the lowboy trailer is just above the wheels, with the lower deck resting inches above the ground.

Lowboys are perfect for hauling oversized equipment, as they allow for the maximum amount of vertical room. A lowboy is also referred to as a double drop. Any cargo that comes in above 8 feet faces transportation restrictions, and a lowboy can provide a maximum height of 14’.

The maximum amount of cargo a lowboy can haul in weight is 40k pounds for your normal double-axled trailer. A lowboy can handle an additional 80k pounds with extra axles.

Step Deck vs Drop Deck

A step deck and a drop deck are different names for the same thing. A drop deck, or a step deck, whichever name you want to use, looks like a flatbed trailer that includes a “step” up at the cab end of the trailer. Step decks and drop decks trailers are both wide open and living free.

How High Can You Load a Step Deck Trailer

On a standard step deck trailer, you can load up to a max of 10’ high calculating from the lower deck. This is up over the 8’6” maximum height on a standard flatbed.

Using a double-drop trailer, or what some call a lowboy, you can increase that max height up to 11’6”. On a double drop with a detachable deck, you can squeeze out another six inches and reach a max of 12’.

How to Load a Step Deck Trailer

One of the pros of step decks and flatbeds is how easy it is to load them up. Cargo can be dropped in from overhead, the sides are easy to access, and there should be a ramp coming off the back of the trailer. This makes it easy to get cargo from one point to another, but you must know where to load your cargo for balance on the trailer to keep your truck in good working condition.

On a typical transport you would balance your cargo by having it in the rear, but on a step deck this is actually reversed. In this case, place your freight up closer to the front of the trailer. It’s crucially important to remember this for extending the life of your tire treads.

Extending the life of your tires is paramount in this business. Your tires are the lifeline of your business, so please always be extra aware of what you are running and where to put it. Do not be afraid to ask questions, either of your supervisor, your colleagues, or other sources of information such as this article.

Shipping out equipment such as the items being described in this article is no small task. You need 100 percent professionalism every step of the way to ensure a smooth, safe trip.

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