My First Trip With a Tail


I am an owner operator who pulls company trailers. The company has been doing a good job of skirting all of the new trailers. They are retro fitting many of the older trailers as well. As the company expands the fleet we can not seem to get enough new trailers. The shortage has been made up by leasing a few trailers. Some of these have no aerodynamic features. We have gotten a half dozen or so tails put on for testing. I got one of those this week.


Imagine my smile as I dropped a non aerodynamic lease trailer with a 46,500 pound load and grabbed an empty with skirts and tails. Now, I am all about spending company money on aerodynamic improvements. They don't cost me anything and save my fuel. It is important to remember though that Paper Transport has a lot more company tractors than owner operators and what saves me fuel, saves them fuel as well. Saving fuel is an important goal. Maximizing profitability is the ultimate goal. Fuel savings are a significant factor.


After hooking the trailer at our yard in Franksville WI, I headed to the Pilot down the street. I took my 30 minute break and pondered my good fortune. I was only heading to the yard in Green Bay. It is about 135 miles. The thought of heading to the house and staying hooked to the trailer crossed my mind. From Green Bay, my next load was a drop and hook in Neenah, WI about 30 miles south of the yard in Green Bay. Given the normal weekend trailer shortage, that would just be too greedy. Someone may need a trailer sooner than I did.


At the Pilot I filled one tank. My load from Neenah would be easily scalable with full tank. My load after that would be in the 46,000 – 47,000 pound range. Sitting on an extra 800 pounds of fuel did not make sense. I did zero out my fuel gauges and headed for Green Bay. Conditions were ideal. I would be heading through Milwaukee after the rush hour. The temperature was in the eighties and there was no wind to speak of. I decided to drive for max fuel mileage and not exceed 60 mph.


The results shocked me. 136.3 miles using 10.8 gallons of fuel. That averaged out to 12.62 MPG. Now, that is a VERY limited sample size. The conditions were ideal. Still, that number jumps out at you. Do you think I am going into the office and asking for more? As we say in Wisconsin – UBETCHA!

Comments (2)

Jeff Clark

Jeff Clark of Kewaunee, WI has been driving a truck for 24 years. He has been an owner operator for 11 years.

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This one is a manual. You have to clip it., There is also a system where you pull a chain. IMO that is the way to go. I have followed those auto deploy systems that remained closed at highway speeds. I believe in drivers, and they would open them.

July 25, 2015 6:22:19 AM

Does the tail deploy and retract automatically or is it manual by the driver?

July 24, 2015 21:06:08 PM