Driver Knowledge Tests

What is a skeletal or semiskel trailer?

Skeletal trailers, also called semiskel trailers, are lightweight semitrailers usually designed for transporting containers. They can be specified in a large number of size configurations, such as:

  • 20-foot container
  • 30-foot container
  • 40-foot container
  • 45-foot container
  • ISO intermodal container

They will usually have between four and twelve container twist locks so that a driver can load a range of different configurations (e.g. 2x 20-foot or 1x 40-foot).

Container locks

The semitrailers can be specified with two, three and four axles using single or dual wheels and either disc or drum brakes. A self-track rear axle will be fitted on a quad trailer (four axles) to reduce tyre wear.

Tri-axle semiskel from Semi Skel Hire

B-train skeletal trailers are available, too, such as this one.

Skeletal pull trailers are also available with axle sets at the front and rear and a dolly for steering.

For specialist applications, they can have a sliding bogie to help with weight distribution, can have hydraulic suspension with ride height adjustment and can even be in tipper configuration or be extendible.

This extendible trailer has flip-up ISO twist locks so that the trailer can carry longer containers

Skeletal trailers can be used for timber haulage with the appropriate timber bunks (side restraints), off-road suspension and floor protection for hydraulics.

Chiller units can be added to the frame and skeletal trailers can be configured as side loaders.

The trailers are versatile as they can weigh as little as 4000kg using medium-tensile or lightweight high-tensile steel, meaning more load can be carried on fewer axles and tyres, subject to static rollover thresholds not being exceeded, and less fuel is wasted.

You can hire a skeletal trailer or purchase one if you are absolutely sure of the specification you need.

Darren is an expert on driving and transport, and is a member of the Institute of Advanced Motorists

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