What is a Conestoga Trailer?

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William Thomas / January 2021

In shipping, efficiency is the name of the game. A few extra seconds or minutes at each stop can add up to a considerable saving in time when you make hundreds or even thousands of deliveries a year.

Thankfully, the trucking industry has continued to evolve and develop new technologies and designs to improve shipping times and costs. Every type of cargo may have its own specific needs and transport requirements, but occasionally, something new comes along that transforms how business gets done.

A prime example of this is the development of Conestoga trailers. Dry cargo can be loaded and unloaded from these trailers much faster than traditional trailer designs. As the old saying goes, “Time is money,” and so many companies have come to love Conestoga trailers.

However, these wonders are very useful beyond general cargo. Because of their advantages, Conestoga trailers are also in demand in the heavy equipment transport field.

What is a Conestoga Trailer?

“It is easy to see how the benefits of Conestoga trailers would be especially appealing to heavy transport companies. “

Conestoga trailers take their name from the covered wagons used by Early American settlers as they moved outward from the original colonies. Pulled by draft animals, these early transports could haul up to six tons and were the backbone of the earliest transport industry in the U.S.

Today’s iterations are also covered wagons but of a very modern design. In simplest terms, today’s Conestoga wagons are a specialized type of trailer with a rolling frame tarp system.

This allows the curtain to be retracted for easy side loading but then stretched back into place to cover the load.

A few of the chief advantages that curtain-side trailers offer include:

  • • Decreased risk of damage from road debris
  • • Protection from the elements
  • • Efficient side loading and unloading
  • • Obscurity for high-security loads
  • • Eliminates the need for hauling, stretching, securing, and then removing tarps

It is easy to see how the benefits of Conestoga trailers would be especially appealing to heavy transport companies. The time and cost savings involved in handling and maintaining tarps are considerable. This is to say nothing of the liability a company incurs from drivers and riggers handling heavy tarps.

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Specs and Dimensions of a Conestoga Trailer Trailer

The one characteristic all Conestoga trailers have in common is the retractable curtain. That is what sets them apart from open or box trailers. Their lowered liability, security, and ease of loading and unloading all stem from this system.

Beyond that, several different configurations are available to meet specific needs. The most commonly seen types of curtain-side trailers are:

  • • Conestoga flatbed trailers
  • • Double drop Conestoga trailer
  • • Step-deck Conestoga trailer

Flatbed Conestoga trailers will normally be:

  • • 48 or 52 foot long
  • • Be A maximum of 100 inches (8’4″) wide
  • • Have a maximum height of 96 inches (8′)
  • • Carry a maximum of 44,000 lbs.

Double drop Conestoga trailer specifications are:

  • • Front deck length 9 feet
  • • Front deck maximum height of 8 feet (96″)
  • • Lower deck length 26-30 feet
  • • Lower deck maximum height 11 foot 7 inches (139″)
  • • Rear deck length 9 feet (108″)
  • • A rear deck maximum height of 9 feet 6 inches (145″)
  • • Load capacity of 35,000 lbs.

Step deck or single-drop Conestoga trailers are:

  • • Overall length of 48 or 53 foot
  • • Upper deck maximum height of 8 feet (96″)
  • • Upper deck length 10 feet (120″)
  • • Lower deck maximum height of 9 foot 8 inches (110″)
  • • Lower deck length of 38 or 43 feet
  • • Overall width 8 foot 4 inches (100″)
  • • Load capacity of 41,000 lbs.


Types of Equipment Transported on a Conestoga Trailer

Conestoga trailers excel at transporting any type of tall heavy equipment that needs protection and/or security beyond what a standard flatbed or lowboy can provide. Just a few of the types of equipment Conestoga trailers are ideal for would include:

  • • CNC machinery
  • • Robotics
  • • Helicopters
  • • Boats
  • • Military cargo
  • • Custom cars and trucks
  • • Large artwork
  • • Mainframe computers
  • • Airplanes
  • • Much more

As a general rule, Conestoga trailers are slightly more expensive than standard trailers, but the advantages they offer far outweigh the added expense. If you have sensitive cargo that requires protection but would be difficult or impossible to transport in a box trailer, they are the best option available.

William Thomas

William Thomas

Heavy Transport Specialist

Being able to lead a team of such talented logistics agents has been a wonderful experience over the past ten years. If you would like to know anything more about the heavy equipment transport services we offer, don't hesitate to give us a call!