Dry van vs Reefer vs Flatbed vs Tanker
When you pull a dry van, it is the least amount of headaches. You get it loaded, pull up, close the doors, assuming you're legal and go. You don't have to 'babysit' the load. Heat or cold won't hurt the product.
A reefer trailer is not the same. It is capable of cooling the product like a refridgerator. Any perishable product goes into a reefer. The problem is you have another engine that can break down and you need to fuel the tank on the trailer with diesel fuel. It is just one more potential problem. The up side is you can also haul dry freight in a reefer. The down side, you almost always have to get a wash out before you can load food products. That's time consuming.
Remember, you are getting paid by the mile. You are not making money sitting at a shipper/consignee, or doing general duties as in hanging around the shop, or getting fuel. Thats why I prefer long runs, as opposed to shortys. You may spend a whole day getting unloaded, and re/loaded, and you haven't made a dime.
Back to pulling a reefer. Guess what? You need to babysit the load. That means you damn sure don't want the product to spoil. So you keep a close eye on it. If the unit engine fails, you've got to get to a shop, like right now. What if you're just getting ready to hit the sack and it shuts off? Or worse yet, you wake up in the middle of the night and
it has shut off. It's at that time you wish you were pulling a dry van. Did I mention YOU are responsible for the load, save mechanical probelms. Don't panic, Most shops have 24 hour call out. And the insulation will keep her cool for awhile, just like your fridge in the kitchen. You just need to jump on it NOW.
Maybe you're thinking about pulling a flatbed. It may or may not be your cup of tea. A lot of deliveries are to a job site. As in construction material. Tarping and securng the load is on your time. You may get paid a minimal amount to tarp. But you damn sure don't have to deal with grocery warehouses. I'll blog about that some other time. If you notice, most flatbeds have a spread axle. That is the distance between the trailer tandems is 10 ft allowing you to load 40,000 lbs on the rear of the trailer vs 34,000 on on a non-spread axle. A couple exceptions re: grocery warehouses and flatbeds. Hauling onion and watermelon loads during peak seasons.
For you adventuresome folks, you can pull a tanker. But really investigate it completely. It is dangerous because of the liquid moving around in the tanks/baffles. Most tankers have baffles in the tanks to compartmentize the liquid to keep the load safe. But the danger is in the volitility of the product as in gasolene. Much easier to roll over and damn harder to stop. You can haul non-hazardous fluid also such as milk, syrup some chemicals etc. Jimmy