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What Is a Trailer Rig?

By C. Mitchell
Updated Jan 27, 2024
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An apparatus that attaches to a truck in order to haul trailers is a trailer rig. They are most commonly attached to semi-trailer trucks. In most cases, trailer rigs are essentially flatbeds that shipping crates and large shipping boxes sit on top of for transportation. Some rigs are more specialized for certain equipment. The term “trailer rig” can also be used as a general description for trucks hauling cargo or pulling trailers — along the lines of “big rig” — though this use is most common in the United States.

Trailers are common and efficient ways of hauling and moving equipment. Smaller trailers often come with wheels attached and can easily be pulled behind cars and vans with a simple trailer hitch. Larger trailers are often less mobile, however. Many do not have wheels at all, which can make moving them from place to place more challenging. A trailer rig essentially provides wheels for a trailer, as well as a truck hook-up.

The simplest trailer rig is little more than an elongated flatbed on wheels. Rigs come in various sizes. The smallest rigs contain just two wheels and are designed to hitch up to a car or small truck. Trailer rigs of this variety are commonly used for hauling landscaping equipment, motorized tools, or other small machines.

Most trailer rigs are significantly larger, and the majority are used commercially for shipping and receiving. Some items can be efficiently shipped by air, but larger goods, particularly cars and major machinery, are more efficiently shipped by sea. Freight containers and large crates are the standards of sea shipping, but these containers can be awkward to maneuver once they arrive in ports.

Trucks with trailer rigs are often the solution. Trucking is a popular means of shipping and transport all over the world. A truck is usually made up of two main parts: the cab, where the engine is housed and the driver sits, and the trailer, which attaches to the cab with a hitch. Some trucks can pull only one trailer rig at a time, but others can pull several at once. Much of this depends on the weight and length of the trailer contents as well as the overall horsepower of the cab.

Other trailer rigs are more specialized. A trailer mounted drill rig, for instance, is a portable oil drilling rig that is mounted on a trailer that can be hooked up to a truck and easily transported. These types of trailer-mounted drilling rigs are one-piece trailers, which is to say that the drilling rig is a permanent part of the trailer. Unlike a traditional trailer rig, which can be used for a variety of different shipping or transportation assignments, a trailer mounted drilling rig can only be used for drilling.

This sort of trailer rig is extremely popular in oil-rich parts of the world, particularly when more permanent rigs break down or malfunction. The ability to quickly drive in a replacement saves a lot of time and money. Similar all-in-one trailer rigs are common in the construction and demolition industries.

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