Conestoga Trailer:

Usage, Pricing, Services & Freight Quotes


Sam Boyd

May 7, 2024

Join the community!

Conestoga Trailer:

Usage, Pricing, Services & Freight Quotes


Sam Boyd
May 7, 2024




Join the community!

Conestoga trailers, also known as "rolling tarp trailers," or “side curtain trailers” got their name from the covered Conestoga wagons used by Pennsylvania settlers in the 1700’s. And yet, they’re still in popular use today thanks to their flat-bed-like flooring combined with the rolling tarp covering that gives them their unique design. In this article, we will delve into the world of Conestoga trailers, exploring their features, applications, advantages, specifications, and more.

We’ll also inform you of:

  • How Conestoga freight pricing works

  • Give you tips on hiring a Conestoga trailer freight broker

  • And tell you where to get a quick and easy Conestoga trailer freight quote.

What is a Conestoga Trailer?

Conestoga trailers are a specialized type of flatbed trailer equipped with a rolling tarp system. Unlike traditional flatbeds, Conestoga trailers’ rolling tarp systems provide cover to the cargo area, offering protection from the elements while allowing for easy access and loading. This system is mounted on rails, allowing it to slide back and forth, providing full access to the trailer for loading and unloading.

Types of Conestoga Trailers

Conestoga trailers come in various configurations to accommodate different types of cargo. We’ve already covered the most common configuration, which combines the features of a flatbed trailer with the rolling tarp system unique to Conestogas. The other popular type of Conestoga trailer is the step deck, or drop-deck Conestoga trailers, which simply offer greater vertical clearance for taller or oversized cargo.

Step-Deck (or Drop-Deck Conestoga)

Similar to the standard Conestoga, but with a lower deck in the front section, a step-deck Conestoga trailer offers adds 1’8” of vertical clearance for taller cargo such as heavy machinery. Drop deck Conestogas are available in both 48’ and 53’ versions.

Specifications of Conestoga Trailers

Cargo Carried: 

Conestoga trailers are versatile and can transport a wide variety of goods, including machinery, building materials, and oversized items. Any item that needs some protection from the elements without being entirely enclosed is viable for transport in a Conestoga trailer.

Trailer Length Options: 

These trailers come in various lengths, with the most common sizes used in logistics ranging from 48 to 53 feet.

Dimensions: 

The maximum dimensions typically adhere to standard semi-trailer specifications, ensuring compatibility with existing transportation infrastructure. The width is typically standardized at 8’4”, the height at 8’, except for drop decks which extend to 10’, and standard lengths varying between 48’-53.

Axles: 

Conestoga trailers are equipped with 2 to 4 axles, depending on load capacity and local regulations.

Trailer Weight: 

The weight of a Conestoga trailer varies based on design and materials, but it generally falls within the range of 15,000 to 30,000 lbs.

Maximum Load: 

Maximum load capacities depend on the trailer's design, axles, and local regulations but can range up to 43-48,000 lbs.

Unique Features of Conestoga Trailers

Conestoga trailers are equipped with distinctive features tailored to the needs of various cargo types, ensuring safe loading, unloading, and semi-covered transport. The primary feature that makes them unique is the rolling tarp system used to provide covering, which means these types of trailers can be easily loaded from the sides and back.

Rolling Tarp System

The rolling tarp system covers and uncovers the cargo area quickly, protecting it from the elements and easy access for loading and unloading.

E-Track Systems 

Like dry van trailers, Conestoga trailers may include E-Track systems for secure cargo attachment using straps, hooks, or other tie-down methods.

Versatile Load Bars 

Load bars can be positioned within the trailer to prevent cargo from shifting during transit, ensuring stability and safety.

Climate Control (Optional) 

Specialized Conestoga trailers can be equipped with climate control systems for temperature-sensitive cargo.

Security Measures

Conestoga trailers often come with locking systems to deter theft and unauthorized access to cargo.

Applications of Conestoga Trailers

Conestoga trailers find applications across various industries, serving a broad range of shipping needs, including:

Construction and Building Materials: These trailers are well-suited for transporting construction equipment, steel beams, and other oversized materials.

Manufacturing and Machinery: Conestoga trailers can safely transport heavy machinery, manufacturing equipment, and industrial components.

Oversized and Delicate Cargo: The versatility of Conestoga trailers makes them an excellent choice for transporting oversized or delicate cargo that requires protection from the elements.

General Freight: They are also used for general freight transport, offering a secure and efficient alternative to traditional flatbeds.

Types of Cargo Hauled

Conestoga trailers can haul virtually any type of cargo that doesn’t require being completely enclosed for transport. Popular uses include:

  • Machinery and Heavy Equipment: Items like construction equipment, manufacturing machinery, or agricultural equipment that require protection from weather.
  • Sensitive Materials: Goods that are susceptible to damage from exposure to the elements, such as certain metals, composites, or construction materials.
  • Aerospace Components: Large, sensitive parts for aerospace applications, including sections of aircraft or spacecraft.
  • Automotive Parts: Large automotive components such as body panels, engines, or frames that need to be shielded from the weather.
  • Palletized Goods: Standard pallets containing goods that need to be protected but are too large or impractical for standard enclosed trailers.
  • Finished Products: Various types of manufactured goods that require protection during transport, like furniture, appliances, or large electronics.
  • Building Materials: Items like windows, doors, or pre-fabricated building components that need to stay dry and intact.
  • Artwork and Sculptures: Large, valuable art pieces or sculptures that require careful handling and protection from the elements.
  • Trade Show Exhibits: Large, often delicate displays and materials used for trade shows and exhibitions.

Advantages of Conestoga Trailers

Conestoga trailers offer several advantages for the transportation of cargo:

  • Weather Protection: The rolling tarp system provides excellent protection against rain, snow, and other weather conditions, keeping cargo dry and intact.
  • Ease of Access: The rolling tarp design allows for quick and easy access to the cargo area, simplifying the loading and unloading process.
  • Versatility: Conestoga trailers can handle a wide range of cargo types, making them suitable for diverse industries and shipping needs.
  • Security: Lockable rolling tarps and additional security features enhance cargo security during transit.
  • Efficiency: The efficiency of the rolling tarp system reduces the time required for loading and unloading, improving overall transportation efficiency.

Conestoga Trailer Freight Pricing

Numerous factors influence the cost of contracting a Conestoga trailer for your logistics needs, including: 

  • Distance of Transport: The length of the haul is a primary factor. Longer distances generally result in higher costs due to fuel, time, and wear on the vehicle.
  • Cargo Weight and Size: Heavier and larger loads require more fuel and might necessitate special handling or routing, which can increase costs.
  • Type of Cargo: Specialized cargo that is fragile, hazardous, or requires special handling or temperature control can increase the price.
  • Fuel Costs: Fluctuations in fuel prices directly affect transportation costs. Higher fuel prices will lead to higher freight charges.
  • Origin and Destination Points: Access to the pick-up and drop-off locations can impact cost. Remote or difficult-to-access locations may incur additional charges.
  • Market Demand: High demand for freight services can drive up prices, especially in peak seasons or in certain industries.
  • Availability of Return Loads: If a return load is not readily available, the carrier may charge more to compensate for the empty return trip.
  • Tolls and Road Fees: Routes with tolls or specific road fees can add to the cost of transportation.
  • Driver Availability and Labor Costs: Shortages in qualified drivers or higher labor costs in certain regions can influence the overall cost.
  • Insurance and Liability Coverage: The cost of insurance, especially for high-value or risky cargo, can impact the overall freight charges.
  • Regulatory Fees and Taxes: Any applicable government fees or taxes related to transportation can affect the total cost.
  • Urgency and Speed of Delivery: Expedited shipments or those requiring strict delivery schedules may incur higher costs.

Permit and Compliance Requirements

Compliance and permit requirements for Conestoga trailers are generally in line with those for standard semi-trailers. However, carriers should be aware of any specific regulations related to oversized or specialized cargo, especially when transporting hazardous materials.

Selecting a Conestoga Freight Broker

When choosing a Conestoga freight carrier, consider the following factors to ensure a smooth and reliable transportation process:

  • Reputation and Experience: Research the carrier's reputation and seek reviews from previous clients, particularly those with similar cargo transportation needs.
  • Equipment and Technology: Ensure the carrier's fleet includes well-maintained Conestoga trailers equipped with the latest cargo safety and tracking technology.
  • Compliance and Certification: Confirm that the carrier adheres to industry regulations and standards, especially when handling hazardous materials or specialized cargo.
  • Security Measures: Assess the carrier's security protocols to safeguard cargo during transit, including locking systems and tracking capabilities.
  • Insurance Coverage: Verify the extent of insurance coverage for your cargo and understand the claims process in case of incidents during transportation.
  • Operational Support: Evaluate the carrier's customer support and communication capabilities, ensuring timely updates on shipment status.
  • Route Planning and Efficiency: Inquire about the carrier's route planning strategies to optimize transit times and minimize delays.
  • Environmental Considerations: If environmental sustainability is important to your business, inquire about the carrier's eco-friendly practices and efforts to reduce emissions.
  • Cost and Billing Transparency: Understand the carrier's pricing structure and inquire about any additional charges for specialized services. Ensure transparency in billing.

Conestoga Shipping & Freight Quote

Need a Conestoga trailer for your next freight shipment? The team at Guided Freight would be happy to assist. As a leading freight broker, we offer the largest selection of trailers available in the industry, and we’ve made getting a freight quote quick and easy.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the purpose of a Conestoga trailer?

When you need the convenience of a flatbed combined with the protective cover of a rolling tarp system, the Conestoga is your ideal trailer choice. Its roll-away cover allows for easy loading from the top, sides, and rear while offering protection from the elements during transport.

What is the difference between a Conestoga and a Flatbed?

Most Conestoga trailers are simply flatbed trailers with the added protection of a roll-away cover. So they’re the same except for this added protection and the additional weight (approximately 4,000 lbs) that the cover adds to the trailer. So while a flatbed can typically carry up to 48,000 lbs a Conestoga trailer is limited to 44,000 lbs.

Conestoga trailers, also known as "rolling tarp trailers," or “side curtain trailers” got their name from the covered Conestoga wagons used by Pennsylvania settlers in the 1700’s. And yet, they’re still in popular use today thanks to their flat-bed-like flooring combined with the rolling tarp covering that gives them their unique design. In this article, we will delve into the world of Conestoga trailers, exploring their features, applications, advantages, specifications, and more.

We’ll also inform you of:

  • How Conestoga freight pricing works

  • Give you tips on hiring a Conestoga trailer freight broker

  • And tell you where to get a quick and easy Conestoga trailer freight quote.

What is a Conestoga Trailer?

Conestoga trailers are a specialized type of flatbed trailer equipped with a rolling tarp system. Unlike traditional flatbeds, Conestoga trailers’ rolling tarp systems provide cover to the cargo area, offering protection from the elements while allowing for easy access and loading. This system is mounted on rails, allowing it to slide back and forth, providing full access to the trailer for loading and unloading.

Types of Conestoga Trailers

Conestoga trailers come in various configurations to accommodate different types of cargo. We’ve already covered the most common configuration, which combines the features of a flatbed trailer with the rolling tarp system unique to Conestogas. The other popular type of Conestoga trailer is the step deck, or drop-deck Conestoga trailers, which simply offer greater vertical clearance for taller or oversized cargo.

Step-Deck (or Drop-Deck Conestoga)

Similar to the standard Conestoga, but with a lower deck in the front section, a step-deck Conestoga trailer offers adds 1’8” of vertical clearance for taller cargo such as heavy machinery. Drop deck Conestogas are available in both 48’ and 53’ versions.

Specifications of Conestoga Trailers

Cargo Carried: 

Conestoga trailers are versatile and can transport a wide variety of goods, including machinery, building materials, and oversized items. Any item that needs some protection from the elements without being entirely enclosed is viable for transport in a Conestoga trailer.

Trailer Length Options: 

These trailers come in various lengths, with the most common sizes used in logistics ranging from 48 to 53 feet.

Dimensions: 

The maximum dimensions typically adhere to standard semi-trailer specifications, ensuring compatibility with existing transportation infrastructure. The width is typically standardized at 8’4”, the height at 8’, except for drop decks which extend to 10’, and standard lengths varying between 48’-53.

Axles: 

Conestoga trailers are equipped with 2 to 4 axles, depending on load capacity and local regulations.

Trailer Weight: 

The weight of a Conestoga trailer varies based on design and materials, but it generally falls within the range of 15,000 to 30,000 lbs.

Maximum Load: 

Maximum load capacities depend on the trailer's design, axles, and local regulations but can range up to 43-48,000 lbs.

Unique Features of Conestoga Trailers

Conestoga trailers are equipped with distinctive features tailored to the needs of various cargo types, ensuring safe loading, unloading, and semi-covered transport. The primary feature that makes them unique is the rolling tarp system used to provide covering, which means these types of trailers can be easily loaded from the sides and back.

Rolling Tarp System

The rolling tarp system covers and uncovers the cargo area quickly, protecting it from the elements and easy access for loading and unloading.

E-Track Systems 

Like dry van trailers, Conestoga trailers may include E-Track systems for secure cargo attachment using straps, hooks, or other tie-down methods.

Versatile Load Bars 

Load bars can be positioned within the trailer to prevent cargo from shifting during transit, ensuring stability and safety.

Climate Control (Optional) 

Specialized Conestoga trailers can be equipped with climate control systems for temperature-sensitive cargo.

Security Measures

Conestoga trailers often come with locking systems to deter theft and unauthorized access to cargo.

Applications of Conestoga Trailers

Conestoga trailers find applications across various industries, serving a broad range of shipping needs, including:

Construction and Building Materials: These trailers are well-suited for transporting construction equipment, steel beams, and other oversized materials.

Manufacturing and Machinery: Conestoga trailers can safely transport heavy machinery, manufacturing equipment, and industrial components.

Oversized and Delicate Cargo: The versatility of Conestoga trailers makes them an excellent choice for transporting oversized or delicate cargo that requires protection from the elements.

General Freight: They are also used for general freight transport, offering a secure and efficient alternative to traditional flatbeds.

Types of Cargo Hauled

Conestoga trailers can haul virtually any type of cargo that doesn’t require being completely enclosed for transport. Popular uses include:

  • Machinery and Heavy Equipment: Items like construction equipment, manufacturing machinery, or agricultural equipment that require protection from weather.
  • Sensitive Materials: Goods that are susceptible to damage from exposure to the elements, such as certain metals, composites, or construction materials.
  • Aerospace Components: Large, sensitive parts for aerospace applications, including sections of aircraft or spacecraft.
  • Automotive Parts: Large automotive components such as body panels, engines, or frames that need to be shielded from the weather.
  • Palletized Goods: Standard pallets containing goods that need to be protected but are too large or impractical for standard enclosed trailers.
  • Finished Products: Various types of manufactured goods that require protection during transport, like furniture, appliances, or large electronics.
  • Building Materials: Items like windows, doors, or pre-fabricated building components that need to stay dry and intact.
  • Artwork and Sculptures: Large, valuable art pieces or sculptures that require careful handling and protection from the elements.
  • Trade Show Exhibits: Large, often delicate displays and materials used for trade shows and exhibitions.

Advantages of Conestoga Trailers

Conestoga trailers offer several advantages for the transportation of cargo:

  • Weather Protection: The rolling tarp system provides excellent protection against rain, snow, and other weather conditions, keeping cargo dry and intact.
  • Ease of Access: The rolling tarp design allows for quick and easy access to the cargo area, simplifying the loading and unloading process.
  • Versatility: Conestoga trailers can handle a wide range of cargo types, making them suitable for diverse industries and shipping needs.
  • Security: Lockable rolling tarps and additional security features enhance cargo security during transit.
  • Efficiency: The efficiency of the rolling tarp system reduces the time required for loading and unloading, improving overall transportation efficiency.

Conestoga Trailer Freight Pricing

Numerous factors influence the cost of contracting a Conestoga trailer for your logistics needs, including: 

  • Distance of Transport: The length of the haul is a primary factor. Longer distances generally result in higher costs due to fuel, time, and wear on the vehicle.
  • Cargo Weight and Size: Heavier and larger loads require more fuel and might necessitate special handling or routing, which can increase costs.
  • Type of Cargo: Specialized cargo that is fragile, hazardous, or requires special handling or temperature control can increase the price.
  • Fuel Costs: Fluctuations in fuel prices directly affect transportation costs. Higher fuel prices will lead to higher freight charges.
  • Origin and Destination Points: Access to the pick-up and drop-off locations can impact cost. Remote or difficult-to-access locations may incur additional charges.
  • Market Demand: High demand for freight services can drive up prices, especially in peak seasons or in certain industries.
  • Availability of Return Loads: If a return load is not readily available, the carrier may charge more to compensate for the empty return trip.
  • Tolls and Road Fees: Routes with tolls or specific road fees can add to the cost of transportation.
  • Driver Availability and Labor Costs: Shortages in qualified drivers or higher labor costs in certain regions can influence the overall cost.
  • Insurance and Liability Coverage: The cost of insurance, especially for high-value or risky cargo, can impact the overall freight charges.
  • Regulatory Fees and Taxes: Any applicable government fees or taxes related to transportation can affect the total cost.
  • Urgency and Speed of Delivery: Expedited shipments or those requiring strict delivery schedules may incur higher costs.

Permit and Compliance Requirements

Compliance and permit requirements for Conestoga trailers are generally in line with those for standard semi-trailers. However, carriers should be aware of any specific regulations related to oversized or specialized cargo, especially when transporting hazardous materials.

Selecting a Conestoga Freight Broker

When choosing a Conestoga freight carrier, consider the following factors to ensure a smooth and reliable transportation process:

  • Reputation and Experience: Research the carrier's reputation and seek reviews from previous clients, particularly those with similar cargo transportation needs.
  • Equipment and Technology: Ensure the carrier's fleet includes well-maintained Conestoga trailers equipped with the latest cargo safety and tracking technology.
  • Compliance and Certification: Confirm that the carrier adheres to industry regulations and standards, especially when handling hazardous materials or specialized cargo.
  • Security Measures: Assess the carrier's security protocols to safeguard cargo during transit, including locking systems and tracking capabilities.
  • Insurance Coverage: Verify the extent of insurance coverage for your cargo and understand the claims process in case of incidents during transportation.
  • Operational Support: Evaluate the carrier's customer support and communication capabilities, ensuring timely updates on shipment status.
  • Route Planning and Efficiency: Inquire about the carrier's route planning strategies to optimize transit times and minimize delays.
  • Environmental Considerations: If environmental sustainability is important to your business, inquire about the carrier's eco-friendly practices and efforts to reduce emissions.
  • Cost and Billing Transparency: Understand the carrier's pricing structure and inquire about any additional charges for specialized services. Ensure transparency in billing.

Conestoga Shipping & Freight Quote

Need a Conestoga trailer for your next freight shipment? The team at Guided Freight would be happy to assist. As a leading freight broker, we offer the largest selection of trailers available in the industry, and we’ve made getting a freight quote quick and easy.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the purpose of a Conestoga trailer?

When you need the convenience of a flatbed combined with the protective cover of a rolling tarp system, the Conestoga is your ideal trailer choice. Its roll-away cover allows for easy loading from the top, sides, and rear while offering protection from the elements during transport.

What is the difference between a Conestoga and a Flatbed?

Most Conestoga trailers are simply flatbed trailers with the added protection of a roll-away cover. So they’re the same except for this added protection and the additional weight (approximately 4,000 lbs) that the cover adds to the trailer. So while a flatbed can typically carry up to 48,000 lbs a Conestoga trailer is limited to 44,000 lbs.

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