Trailer fairing for intermodal trailers


Laydon Composites Ltd. (LCL), a leading manufacturer of trailer aerodynamic devices, has introduced what is says is the only side-skirt for intermodal applications that is California Air Resources Board (CARB) compliant.

The HYBRID248 trailer skirt is shorter than competitive devices to allow access to landing gear, and trailer axles and slider, and it provides additional ground clearance to avoid damage from curbing and grocery warehouse pit-docks.

“We interviewed large and small carriers that operate in California and asked for their opinion on the new CARB rules requiring fuel-savings devices for trailers,” says Andy Acott, sales manager for LCL. “The common concern and complaint was the fuel savings claims each skirt manufacturer publishes and the method in which the test was conducted.”

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) stipulates tests must be run at 65 mph, while top speed in California is 55 mph, he points out. “Because of speed limits and congestion, the California average is far lower than the rest of the country and totally skews return-on-investment calculations.”

From its discussions with California carriers, customers said they “want a product that is CARB compliant, low cost, lightweight, easy to install and maintain, least likely to get damaged and ‘tucked in, out of harm’s way for intermodal trailers, says Acott.

“Some products already on the market deliver some or even many of these requirements, but they either stick out behind the trailer or require expensive components bolted in front of, underneath and behind the slider.”


Design requirements

The HYBRID248 was designed to be shorter at 20 feet 6 inches, providing access to the underside near the landing legs and slider regardless of slider position and with a height of 32 inches for more ground clearance.

The skirt can be installed up to 8 inches inboard to clear the lift pads for Intermodal trailers.

According to Acott, side skirts should be installed inside the frame rails for lift pad clearance. This renders them non-CARB compliant because the skirts were not tested while mounted in that way.

The HYBRID248 is the only EPA SmartWay and CARB approved side skirt for intermodal operations, he notes.


Construction elements

Weighing just 179 pounds, the new trailer skirt is made of Crane Composites’ new woven thermo composite panel. The company is the world's leading provider of fiber-reinforced composite materials.

“Going in, we had an extremely long wish list of what the skirt panel must do,” says Acott. “Crane’s engineering experts managed to ‘tick all the boxes’ and we’re proud to offer a panel that is not only incredibly strong, but will bend and move with the flexible spring.

“It’s lightweight, UV resistant and has the lowest cost per square foot in the industry.”

The HYBRID248 patent-pending mono-clamp and flexible spring is woven fiberglass with the fiberglass strands at 0, 45 and 90 degrees.

This, Acott says, withstands a higher level of stress without failure compared to other composite struts on the market and the spring is pre-tensioned for added strength. LCL has cycled the flexible spring more than 20,000 cycles beyond the breaking point of competitive skirt supports.

Attachments are injection molded automotive grade polymers and fasteners are stainless steel. Installation takes two man-hours or less.

“We’ve designed an extremely quick way to install skirts with our new “mono-clamp” one-bolt flexible mounting strut,” says Acott.

The HYBRID248 is now in production and is available from LCL; parts dealers, including Paccar Parts and New Life Parts, and trailers dealers, including Great Dane, Stoughton and Vanguard.