That Big Truck Blog

An American Car Hauler's Blog

“…he always did things a little differently as a kid”

10 Cars on a Cottrell High-Side...Loaded A Little Abnormally

"Ten Cars...My Way"

A little unconventional way to 10 car a Cottrell Trailers C-10LT high-side…but it works rather well. The # 4 position can be stored below the rails (the red Jeep Compass backed on) and I have had an SUV/crossover type vehicle as large as the GMC Acadia in this position. Benefits are multiple…the weight of the engine/front end are kept to the rear and most supported part of the table and there is much less “swing” weight out on the front as the ramp is raised to it’s utmost point while loading. A lot less stress on that number 4 table this way while loading & going down the road. Of course, keys are in the bottom…belly car must be backed on with flippers on the shotgun stored inward. Also the shotgun car must be driven on with the wheels to the leading edge of the ramp. These 2 final vehicles must be of short enough wheelbase/length combinations to fit within the space from the front of the shotgun table to the rear of the telescoping # 10 ramp…obviously.

Oh yeah…don’t try this without a little wheelbase in your horse.

Be safe.

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October 31, 2011 Posted by | Auto Transport Trailers, Car Haul, Carl's Car Carriers Inc, General Auto Transport | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

COTTRELL TRAILERS MODEL C-10LT A AUTO TRANSPORT REVIEW PART 4

***The following is an ongoing, independent, unbiased review and commentary by CB Stephens of Carl’s Car Carriers Inc and is based on regular, everyday usage of the equipment in the course of automobile transportation activities for which this trailer was intended. CB Stephens is a 33-plus year veteran in the car haul field as an independent owner/operator and small fleet developer. Carl’s Car Carriers Inc. is a Tennessee-based automobile transportation service chartered in 1991. Cottrell Trailers can be visited by clicking this link: CottrellTrailers.com

Yep…here we are again. The “turdus migratorius”, (that’s Mr. Robin Redbreast to most of us) is bouncing around on the front lawn chasing earthworms, the neighbor’s daffodils are as golden as ever and a lone whippoorwill that I can hear but never see sings his springtime tune. The Bradford pear trees are once again fat with white blooms and everything is coming full circle once again. It’s springtime in Kentucky…2011.

An exceptionally harsh winter season has taken its heavy toll once again on our equipment and it is time to update the ongoing review of Cottrell’s C-10LT wagon. As mentioned in earlier parts of this review, Cottrell’s design is as good as it gets. Honestly, I would have been driven to update this blog sooner if the design was not so well done. We tend to be more open and vocal about negative items and sometimes we take for granted the really good job some of these engineers and welders perform. But…had the below depicted area broken sooner…I would have been all over it. 🙂 This good design doesn’t mean there are no flaws…and some of these weaknesses have been addressed beforehand here in this “blambling”. For the most part, however, one must give kudos to the Cottrell folks for their design and workmanship. Personally, I have a lot of good things to say about the particular model trailer I have been pulling around for some 300,000 miles now. But there are issues that arise and in this update, I will point out a very common weakness that I feel could be easily fixed with a little attention from the Cottrell people.

We all are aware of the need to be conscious of empty/unloaded weights. It’s not that we, as operators, do not understand this. I just mention this to cover the thoughts of the Cottrell engineers claiming that we don’t understand their end of the business. We do. We all do. This small problem could be very easily fixed from the factory without adding too much weight. There are areas, such as this one I am about to depict, that are small in size and area but they could present a costly problem if an operator is not paying attention constantly to his equipment. I “knew” this was going to happen and I must add, I was pleasantly surprised that it held off as long as it did. Did I mention…300,000 miles?

I’m calling it the number 10 position…you may quickly refer to it as the back bottom or the last deck or ???? The rearmost support for this deck (or table) is hinged and welded to a 2″ x 2″ tube with a plate across the top of the tube tying the tube, hinge and support arms together. That tube may not be a full 2″ x 2″…I didn’t measure it…just calling it at a quick glance. This deck is designed to lift up & down as well as telescope several feet in either direction. With this movement one could “overlap” a pair of vehicles to reduce the amount of rear overhang, etc. Good design…bad support underneath. Now 300,000 miles may sound like a lot of miles but $80,000.00 sounds like a lot of money also. I believe this is a position that could be enhanced greatly to resist corrosion if the tubing material was coated internally prior to assembly. Also, increase the wall of the tubing. This would undoubtedly increase the life of this weak point in Cottrell Trailers design that is utilized throughout several model trailers…not only on my C-10LT. Yes, this would add a small amount to the unloaded weight but this would be a much safer and greatly desired alteration, in my humble opinion. On to the images…

Carl's Car Carriers -ThatBigTruck Blog Cottrell Trailers C-10 Review

Cottrell Trailers C-10 Auto Transport Review - #10 Position Hinge & Support Area

Here’s the area I am addressing in this Part 4 of the Cottrell C-10LT review. As mentioned earlier, this particular design is shared by several different models of Cottrell’s automobile transport trailers so this applies in other situations as well. Over time, this design will give away and it could actually drop the ramp onto a lower tubing which could bring the ramp and it’s cargo dangerously close to the highway. If the ramp was extended rearward very far, this could present a big problem to an inattentive driver and the folks following him.

Here’s a close-up shot or two:

Carl's Car Carriers Cottrell Trailers C-10 Model Review

Close-Up of affected area - Hinge & Support for rear of # 10 Position

Another angle…

Cottrell Trailers Model C-10 Automobile Transport Trailer

A shot from the side of the affected tubing/support

Here’s the fix…

A close-up of the repaired area

Replacement tubing wall is substantial for longer life in a high-stress area

As you can see, the tubing is larger but also heavier walled which is the main focus here on this repair. The original tubing did not actually distort or bend…the top actually pulled loose due to the constant downward force of the weight of the cargo on that ramp and with internal corrosion helping to weaken the tube, the bottom (which is not clearly seen in my photos) of the tubing was pushed down and out. Now, this occurred on the driver’s side of the trailer. The opposing side did not pull out…yet. However, the top plate was distorted and bent downward which reveals that this one was going to go shortly. Cutting the old tubing out showed a lot of rust & corrosion inside the tubes.

The ramp loaded…

# 10 Position Loaded After Repairs

The forces on these 2 attachment points are considered fairly great. Even with all suspension components up to par and adjusted properly, these trailers are famous for the “see-saw” effect as they travel down the road. There is a lot that comes into play on these carriers and it is pretty amazing that this design is as good as it is.

In closing out this Part 4 of the Cottrell Trailer C-10LT review, I would like to say once again…and this is completely independent from Cottrell Trailers or any other manufacturer…it’s pretty amazing how well the equipment does what it was designed to do. Oh yeah, I could come up with a laundry list of suggestions for making the trailers even better but I can offer nothing to the engineers at Cottrell outside of increasing the tubing wall in some areas and coating the internal portions of the tubing prior to build. They have got their CAD stuff together. Once again I find myself needing to complain about the steel issue…the rust & corrosion is out of control. It could be better. And I, for one, would sacrifice a little extra unloaded weight for a trailer more solid and lasting. But then…that doesn’t move as many new trailers so quickly, does it? I’d also like to point out this before finishing this Part 4 review…there are obvious precautions a driver can take that will increase the health and life of his auto transport equipment. Most of us know this and have received valuable advice from the old professionals down through the years. Pin off your ramps…even when rattlin’ empty. Exercise care when placing heavy vehicles on aluminum decks and try to position the tires to evenly distribute the weight. Be cautious about “bottoming” the hydraulic cylinders out under load. In this review, I should add that it is much harder on the #10 ramp addressed here when you load a heavy vehicle onto the deck and leave it extended beyond it’s designed capability during transport. Yes, I know sometimes you need that extra inch between # 9 and #10 or maybe you’ve got a big one on #5 and you can’t afford the height increase if you overlap below…inevitably you will find yourself as I have…shoes toe-to-heel 4 times checking that rear overhang from the light box to the rear bumper of the vehicle and hoping Johnny Law doesn’t mess with you for 5 feet instead of the Fed’s allowed 4. Of course, I never do that. I always strive to be legal in all instances. No kidding. Really. For real. Just sayin’…if you hang that larger vehicle off the back-end, there is a lot of rocking forces in play here as you go bouncing across I-70. And a lifetime of observing all these various precautions will result in your equipment lasting longer and being worth more at resale time.

I should apologize for being out of the “blambling” for so long. I have been checking in and I need to say to all those that have e-mailed me…I appreciate your comments and the encouragement. This was just a little corner of my world plastered on the web and it has brought a lot of new acquaintances my way. I appreciate each and every one. 🙂 I do what I can when I can and it seems I’ve just been busy fighting with Old Man Winter and meeting customers deadlines.

I’ve got a new project in mind for the  car haulers of the world that have a little experience and still enjoy their chosen career path. It’s called http://www.bigrig.co and I’m going to be including some of you guys & gals I’ve met and talked with around the country. Get your images and stories ready. Don’t ya just love your job, Driver ?? 🙂

Thanks for checking in and Truck Safe !!

March 21, 2011 Posted by | 1, Auto Transport Trailer Review, Auto Transport Trailers, Car Haul, Carl's Car Carriers Inc, General Auto Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

COTTRELL TRAILERS MODEL C-10LT A AUTO TRANSPORT REVIEW PART 3

COTTRELL TRAILERS MODEL C-10LT A AUTO TRANSPORT REVIEW PART 3

COTTRELL TRAILERS MODEL C-10LT REVIEW CONTINUATION

***The following is an ongoing, independent, unbiased review and commentary by CB Stephens of Carl’s Car Carriers Inc and is based on regular, everyday usage of the equipment in the course of automobile transportation activities for which this trailer was intended. CB Stephens is a 33-plus year veteran in the car haul field as an independent owner/operator and small fleet developer. Carl’s Car Carriers Inc. is a Tennessee-based automobile transportation service chartered in 1991. Cottrell Trailers can be visited by clicking this link: CottrellTrailers.com

With the earth’s axial tilt approaching it’s farthest away from the sun, Old Man Winter has begun his annual visitation a little early for some of us. And with the southern states getting highly unusual “first” snows, a skid-jerkin’, chain-poppin’ carhauler doesn’t have a lot of time to ready his horse and himself for the harsh weather conditions ahead…matters not what part of the country you operate in.

I would like to address a Cottrell Service Bulletin on this third installment of my personal review of the C-10LT high-side auto transport trailer as it applies to this model. It is officially designated SB # 006 by Cottrell Trailers and applies to this reviewed model C-10LTA and C-10LTB trailers. The beginning models of these trailers apparently required more bottom gusseting near the front of the trailer to add support to the front upright posts of position # 3. When this was discovered, Cottrell Trailers made available to owners a kit that included 2 new bottom gussets pre-cut and a pair of tubes to telescope into the top of the front uprights to add more support. My trailer was no exception in this warranty issue covered by this SB # 006 service bulletin. Please see this important notice for specific Cottrell requirements for kit installation and weld procedures. It is imperative that weld procedure be followed and adhered to according to Cottrell Trailer specs. Improper gusset weld can be troublesome per this link: SB006 Weld Bulletin.

Small cracks developed on the top of the front posts at the bottom edge of the horizontal beam on my trailer…an ’07 model. At first notice, I was not at a location that I would want extensive repair to be performed and opted for a weld repair to close up the crack until the repair could be properly handled.

Cottrell Trailer

In completing this repair/warranty issue, hydraulic lines will have to be disconnected at the top of the posts…both ends should be disconnected and the lines strapped to the top beam out of the way. I retracted the cylinders to remove as much hydraulic fluid as possible and set the posts on the pins prior to disconnecting the lines. On my trailer, there was an electrical connection for the top horizontal rail “chicken lights” so that was placed out of the way with the hydraulic lines. Pull the retaining pin out of the top saddle and allow the cylinder to rotate and hang from the opposing end/pin. (see image below) Good time to verify fit of the o-ring in the fitting on the cylinder end. If I’m not mistaken it is a #6 o-ring in case you need to look for one. *Hint…Home Depot or the “Do-It-Yourself” display at your parts store.

After the lines have been removed, you may want to place a jack in the position depicted below to achieve a closing of the gap in the crack area…that is if you have waited long enough to develop a crack. If not, you may still want to place some support in the area shown in the image to keep things as they should be. Not sure if it’s required by Cottrell but the placement of the jack in the area shown immediately closed the small gap at the top of the posts. Jacking in the 5th wheel area even with a cum-a-long stretched to the top of the post could not close the gap. Only a small amount of pressure on the railroad jack placed under the bottom beam closed the gap immediately on both sides.

Insertion of the telescoping tubes is pretty straightforward and all I could offer here in the procedure would be to make sure you block the possibility of the tube falling down into the bottom of the uprights. Don’t ask me how I know this. There was a pin placed in a side hole of the upright for this purpose but when the c-clamp let go and the tube fell, it kicked the blocking pin right out and settled down near the bottom of the tube…caught by the inner hydraulic plumbing I think. Not a big deal but we were able to tack weld some flat stock through a side pin hole and retract it back up into position. Cottrell specifies 1/4″ of the telescoping tubes be left out the top and welds placed there. In addition, there are plug welds that must be made on the side and the rear of the front upright posts after drilling. Grind smooth.

These are not intended to be complete kit installation instructions…there are many more warnings that must be acknowledged, i.e. isolating ECM modules and other electronics prior to welding by removing battery cabling, etc. This is my personal experience with this model trailer and it is my intention to include every repair and maintenance issue that is encountered as I work this trailer through it’s useful life. This repair was performed at approximately 235,000 miles of use. I have become accustomed to making good use of this new design which allows the “pulling on” of vehicles on this # 3 position as opposed to the CS-10 and 12 models. I also utilize this position many times for a larger unit and yes, large SUV’s can be pulled on and the doors will swing wide open to exit the vehicle.

Be Cool On Yer Stool, Driver…and Truck Safe.

December 24, 2009 Posted by | Auto Transport Trailers | , , , , | Leave a comment

COTTRELL TRAILERS MODEL C-10LT A AUTO TRANSPORT REVIEW PART 2


COTTRELL TRAILERS MODEL C-10LT A AUTO TRANSPORT REVIEW PART 2

COTTRELL TRAILERS MODEL C-10LT REVIEW CONTINUATION

***The following is an ongoing, independent, unbiased review and commentary by CB Stephens of Carl’s Car Carriers Inc and is based on regular, everyday usage of the equipment in the course of automobile transportation activities for which this trailer was intended. CB Stephens is a 33-plus year veteran in the car haul field as an independent owner/operator and small fleet developer. Carl’s Car Carriers Inc. is a Tennessee-based automobile transportation service chartered in 1991. Cottrell Trailers can be visited by clicking this link: CottrellTrailers.com

“Strap-only” trailers are being marketed arduously now by Cottrell Trailers as they convey manufacturer’s decisions requiring “soft-tie only” attachments. Keep in mind, I am reviewing a chain trailer here. Soft-tie options for chain trailers are readily available and being used daily across the country with minimal, if any, problems. A recent discussion with a veteran car hauler that regularly uses this method of “over-the-tire” ratchet straps on chain-supplied Cottrell CS-12 2005 model year equipment has reported seeing some cracking in the aluminum tables extending from some of the holes used for 3-point securing of the straps. It should be noted that he regularly transports large SUV’s that weigh 5300 pounds and more. I have yet to see any evidence of this in any of my experiences with Cottrell models but I am not doing as much “heavy” unit moves as the above mentioned operator nor am I using extensive strap moves. There are also those rumors of jurisdictions moving toward questioning the practice of using straps via aluminum decking attachment points. I cannot verify this and that is why I call them rumors. If you have personal knowledge to educate the rest of us, jump in. Your comments are welcome.

However, I believe we will see and hear more negative information about this tie-down option as Cottrell seeks to convince operators to buy new equipment or “convert” current trailers over to strap-only. While ratcheting “over-the-tire” straps are acceptable fare by most, if not all, manufacturers to date, it appears there is movement toward strap-only equipment at the urging of trailer manufacturers. It is my opinion that the push by Cottrell has much to do with the current state of the economy and the hard hit auto transport business. Cottrell Trailers remains standing while others have fallen because of innovation and industry-leading design and I do not intend to take away from that when I opine about marketing practices used. Some would just say it is just good business to do what is necessary to keep the employees working and I suppose it is. I can envision the brass in Gainesville having these weekly pow-wows in which each associate has the task of presenting ideas to jump start the once booming business in these hard economic times and while I agree that is the way I would run my business if I were “Mr. Cottrell Trailers”, I have some reservations about some advertised and solicited programs currently being offered for this market. One example, before I continue on to the review itself (and this has to do with this review later on), is a recent phone call/sales solicitation from a Cottrell rep to a family member who operates several full-size stinger car haulers. The Cottrell rep included a proposal to “convert” a chain trailer to a strap-only trailer. (Yes…Cottrell does refurbs, modifications, repairs, etc also). However, the righteous response to the Cottrell rep was this…“Just what year trailer is it that you want to convert for me? It would have to be a 2007 model or newer because anything older than that would be rusted and rotten to the point it would be wasteful ignorance to put such cost into a trailer!” I had to laugh, as much as it hurts, because I know the pain.

The last new Cottrell trailer I bought was a 2000 model…a CS-12. I ran mostly southern California via the southern routes which put me in little snow. (The harsh chemicals used by highway departments in wintertime really do a number on vehicles today but I seldom saw any of that. In an effort to understand the harshness of the chemicals being used today for highway de-icing, a study of the most popular applications all proclaim the low corrosive nature on metals (autos, bridges, etc) from the likes of calcium magnesium acetate (CMA), calcium chloride, CG-90 Surface Saver, CMS-B (also known as MoTech) and others. If these are not the chemical culprits responsible for the premature rusting of rolling stock, then substandard steel is being used). However, in 3 years, the trailer frame rails were eat through from the inside out with rust. You could poke a hole with your pinkie in the main frame rails on this $59,999.00 trailer (that price was in 2000…2007 prices were in the $80,000.00 range!) after just 3 years. Now, if you go to Cottrell’s website, they will state a 2 year “structural warranty”…leaving them off the hook for the substandard steel choices their procurement department has made. Yeah, yeah…I know these trailers have to be made lighter so we can haul more but I believe Cottrell has made some serious mistakes in their choice of suppliers OR material preparation prior to building these trailers. What good is a lighter weight trailer if there are no frame rails after 3 years? OK…I hear you, Mr. Cottrell Service & Repair…replace the frame rails??? How much is that going to cost me??? $10K. $20K More?? Either way, it seems ridiculous…no…IT IS RIDICULOUS for any business to pay this much for a piece of equipment and it basically rots inside out before a 5 year depreciation can be taken on it. What’s the fix? Hey, Cottrell! Listen up! No, I am not an engineer like your educated designers but I have been around this block for a long time. I have inhaled the “zinc coating” smoke & vapors from the insides of the Delavan “Work Horse” trailer frame rails when we would cut the beams to do a stretch job. Once you smell that, you don’t forget it. And just like the olfactory senses embed this memory, the ocular organs leave a lasting impression as well. Old…and I mean old… Delavan steel frame beams could be halved and inspected and the insides of these rails would be as clean as the outer painted surfaces. It appeared to be a coating of some type that these rails were dipped in. It was quite a chore with a grinder to remove this coating prior to welding. This stuff we called “zinc coating” may or may not have been zinc however it was a proven obvious deterrent to the rust problems we see today. (To be fair, later model Delavan trailers also went the way of rust and premature fatigue but there was an obvious change of ownership or management in the Buffalo, NY organization causing this problem). Why can’t you thoroughly pre-coat the entire beam of this thin gauge steel to make it last a little longer? Surely you are not doing this for your own company security as we have to prematurely replace equipment you have poorly prepared? Look…Cottrell has THE design down pat. They have discovered the way to hold seemingly paper-thin steel beams, posts and aluminum ramps together to transport outrageous loads safely. C’mon Cottrell…make ’em last a little longer! We know it can be done and probably by a simple coating of the materials. Now that I have gotten that off my chest…

As I said, Cottrell Trailers design is as far ahead of the game as the build prep bunch is behind. I stand amazed at the trailer durability concerning the welds and bracing. After 225,000 miles, I just had to do my FIRST “crack” repair and it honestly consisted of a hairline crack horizontally across the front upper posts just below the main upper beam. Both posts at the top…about half way across…requiring a weld to repair. I’ll be watching closely to see if it requires more in the coming days or weeks and I am guessing it probably will eventually need some gusseting or additional welds to properly stop this. I recently did some extensive suspension checks and saw no problems, cracks or weak areas. The design is a definite winner. I am often asked by other car haulers about this post-forward design and “Do you like it?” I always reply with a big “Yes!”. The post forward allows easy door access top and bottom and I can pull that unit out on # 3 without fear of overloading the table of a CS-12 had I tried that. One drawback in this position that I have found is the “tilt” deck in the bottom front (# 7 on a 10 car load) does not go as high as my old CS-12 models which limits the height/size of car when attempting to do 8 units in the trailer (11 car configuration…3 on truck, 8 in trailer). The difference is minimal between the two model trailers but it is just enough to create a problem I didn’t have with the CS-12 trailers. I guess it would be easy enough to fix this but why should I have to??? $80,000.00 should get me what it was designed to do. Admittedly, you don’t see a lot of guys (or gals) today doing this “2 end-to-end in the belly” anymore but I’ll do it every chance I get. It’s revenue and it’s a lot of difference at the end of the year. I’ve been surprised at some comments from old hands in the biz telling me they had no idea you could do this on these trailers.

Carl's Car Carriers

December 24, 2009 Posted by | Auto Transport Trailers | , , , , | Leave a comment