A flatbed truck is a type of truck which can be either expressed or rigid. As the name implies, its bodywork is just a totally flat, level 'bed' with no sides or roof. This allows for quick and easy loading of goods, and hence they are used to transport heavy loads that are not fragile or pregnable to rain, and also for unusual loads that needed more space than is accessible with a closed body.
Road Trucks: A flatbed has a strong bed, typically of wooden planks. There is no roof and no fixed sides. To keep the load there are often low sides which may be hinged down for loading, as a 'dropside' truck. A 'stake truck' has no sides but has steel standing pillars, which may be not fixed, again used to retain the load. The bed of a flatbed truck has intertwisted hooks around its edge and techniques such as a trucker's problem are used to press them.
Tow Trucks: Some vehicle improvement tow trucks have flat beds and are capable of reeling a recovered vehicle totally on board. They can then drive the vehicle away for repair without needing to cable it. This allows a faster journey, does not require a driver in the vehicle being towed, and allows a dented vehicle to be recovered when it cannot be towed. As these flat beds generally slope slowly to the rear, dissimilar the level bed of a cargo flatbed, they are known as 'beavertails'. Some tow truck beds are moveable and may be lowered behind the truck for easy loading, then both bed and load winched back aboard as one.
Railway Flatbeds: Railways also assign flatbed trucks in engineering trains and freight trains. In Britain and the Commonwealth, the term bogie flat is often applied to a bogie flatbed truck. Even less common, flatbed railway trucks on drastic frames and axles are sometimes used, with both 4-wheel and 6-wheel versions being present. According to British English, the term 'truck' generally associated with railway vehicles, with the word 'lorry' more commonly used for road vehicles.
A decline of Flatbeds: In the 1980s Flatbeds became rare as many of road freight changed to also containers or panel loads carried on bigger and more capable trucks, optimised for quicker loading by forklift trucks. Flatbeds are still in use but are now used for more specialised commodities, such as constructional steelwork or lighter irregular loads, such as machinery. Low loaders, for construction machinery and heavy plant vehicles, are not presuming as flatbeds. Neither are abnormal load carriers for heavy haulage.
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