A Curtain Side is basically a flatbed with an upper structure mounted to the flatbed as a tarping system.
There are two types of curtain side trailers, the Roll Top and the original Curtain Side. Both trailers are of the flatbed variety and both are covered with a tarp system or curtain which can easily be moved out of the way, thereby providing ready access to the trailer for loading cargo. The advantages and disadvantages are discussed below.
The Roll Top is the generic term but it is also referred to by the popular brandname Conestoga, as shown immediately below, utilizes a sliding tarp system. In principle, this system works very similar to an accordion. When pulled forward, the tarp exposes the flatbed providing access for side, rear and overhead loading. The primary disadvantage of the Roll Top in comparison to a Curtain, is that the curtain structure makes the trailer up to 107” wide on the outside and allows a maximum of 102” clearance for the trailers cargo. The Roll Top necessitates a strict adherence to the 102″ limitation of its cargo. If the product is at or near 102” wide and is misplaced or happens to shift slightly in transit, the system cannot be opened or closed. The Roll Top has a tarp rear “door”.
The Curtain Side is the generic name but is often referred to by the brandname, Tautliner. It is a flatbed trailer containing a front, a roof and rear doors, similar to a van, yet having side curtains that slide like a shower curtain. The Tautliners primary disadvantage when weighed against the Conestoga is in the limiting factor regarding the ability to load its cargo from overhead. The framework of the sliding curtains prohibit overhead loading of the cargo. However, the Tautliner trailer has much more flexibility in hauling products greater than 102 inches in that it allows room for error in loading its cargo.
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