Trailer Outriggers: What Are They & What Do They Do?

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Transportation of heavy and over-dimensional loads can be challenging when you do not have the right transportation equipment. When faced with an oversized load, we recommend outfitting your rig with trailer outriggers.  

Trailer outriggers are ideal for cargo control. They are most often used with lowboy trailers, utility trailers, and heavy haul semi-trailers. They act as an extension of the trailer bed and can withstand a significant amount of weight. Read on to learn about the different types, installations, and applications. 

Types of Trailer Outriggers

Trailer outriggers are a feature used to extend the width of a trailer, specifically for large equipment that has a wide separation between its wheels or tracks. Since they are used to carry heavy pieces of machinery, a trailer with an outrigger is usually 96″ or 102″ wide.  

There are three types of outriggers: 

  • Pull Out 
  • Swing Out 
  • Attached 

Let’s discuss each system type further. 

Pull Out

A pull out system is unique because it does not require an outrigger board. You’ll use ramps to move your equipment on top of the trailer outrigger. They offer some of the most substantial support out of the three. 

Pull out systems enable a more stable loading experience by eliminating shifting of the board. Another advantage is that they can extend further than other types of outriggers. This type of outrigger can cover a 13′ 6″ broad trailer base.   

Swing Out

Swing out outriggers act as their name implies. They propel outward from the trailer to support a board. You can also push them against the trailer when they aren’t in use. Swing outs can add around 10” of width to each side of the trailer. 

Attached

Attached outriggers hook onto the side of the trailer. With an attached extension system, the outrigger board has the potential to flip up. Precautions should be taken to avoid this. One tip to keep in mind is that you will traditionally find the spacing between outrigger supports every 12″ to 22″. Space your outriggers properly to avoid any mishaps. Also, make sure to position the weight of your cargo over the outriggers. Otherwise, the board or beams could shift. 

What Are Some Uses for Outriggers?

Fishing: Deep-sea trolling boats use outriggers to hold fishing lines away from the ship. In this scenario, outriggers refer to a pair of long poles fitted on both sides of the boat. 

Heavy Hauls:  Trailer outriggers are an extremely useful feature that can be added to semi-trailers with the purpose of increasing trailer width to support large and oversize equipment hauls. Outriggers can be great for transporting wide loads such as oversize dozers, mining equipment, rock trucks, cars, and more. Loading crews can make their heavy hauls easier with utility trailer outriggers, lowboy outriggers, or semi-trailer outriggers. 

Installing Outriggers Safely

When installing outriggers to a straight bed trailer, start by welding or hooking them to the existing frame. You’ll most likely place them in front of and behind the trailer tires, which changes the wheel wells but does not change the axle or side to side wheel spacing.   

Here are three important points to note: 

  1. Always ensure that the added width and extra weight will not negatively impact the main frame rails. It’s possible that the load-on ends may cause trailer outriggers to act as a wrench handle and try to bend and twist the main beams.  Installing the outriggers near cross members can help prevent this from happening. If your frame lacks cross members, you may need to add them to ensure the main beams near the outriggers are supported.   
  1. Consider what your outriggers are going to carry and the expected size of a load. If the main beams are supportive and unlikely to twist, then you can likely get away with simply welding the outriggers. However, if the main trailer beams are weaker, you’ll need to add additional cross members or even a brace to add support under the main beams.  
  1. Drivers can place a thick outrigger board or beam on top of swing-out or attached outriggers to support the surface area while pull outs are fixed to the side of a trailer. When using a board, try to place the tire or weight of your vehicle over the outrigger and not just on the board itself. 

Find Trailers with the Features You Need at Hale Trailer

When looking for semi-trailers for rent and semi-trailers for sale, we can help you find one that supports trailer outriggers. The experts at Hale Trailer can fit your fleet with removable or permanent cargo control features. We offer customization options for our heavy haul trailers to make the most of commercial transportation.  

Hale Trailer Brake & Wheel, Inc. is proud to be a one-stop solution for all your heavy haul trucking needs. We have an extensive inventory of heavy haul semi-trailers with products from industry-leading brands.  

Find everything you need for safe and successful heavy hauls at Hale Trailer!  

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