The 411 on flat rack containers.
How much does a flat rack weigh, and is the flat rack part of the gross vehicle weight (GVW)?
While weights can vary, it is safe to assume that a 40’ flat rack weighs about 12,000 – 13,000 pounds and a 20’ flat rack weighs 6,000 – 6,600 pounds. In Texas, a load is legal weight if the GVW is 80,000 pounds or less. When calculating GVW, all components of the load must be taken into account — truck, plus trailer (or chassis), plus flatrack, plus cargo.
Are overweight permits available for heavy loads tied to a flat rack?
In Texas, a single, indivisible piece of cargo lashed to a flat rack may be permitted together. For example, an 80,000-pound machine plus a 12,000-pound flat rack would add up to 92,000 pounds. We may legally obtain a permit for this load, taking into account the weight of the truck, trailer, cargo and flat rack.
Can I obtain an overweight permit in Texas for multiple pieces on a flat rack?
No. There is a misconception in some parts of the market that you can load up a flat rack and then obtain an overweight permit for the flat rack itself. For example, two 40,000-pound machines plus a 12,000-pound flat rack equal the same 92,000 pounds as in the previous example. However, in this case, the two machines are divisible. Because they combine to make an overweight load, they cannot be hauled together. You have two primary options: first, you can load two flat racks. Or, you can haul the cargo on flatbeds (or other suitable trailers) and then stuff (or strip) the flat rack at the pier in accordance with steamship line and other applicable rules.
How do the rules apply for length, width or height?
The concept is similar. You cannot create an out-of-gauge load from divisible cargo. So, several wide pieces can travel from the front to end of the flat rack, but you cannot place cargo side-by-side to create a wide load. The same logic applies for height and length. Several tall pieces can travel from front to rear, but you cannot stack divisible cargo to create a tall load. You can also place several pieces end-to-end on the flat rack, but you cannot create a load that is out-of-gauge in length.
IMPORTANT: A flat rack adds up to 2’ of height to the load. When calculating the height of a load, you need to add the cargo, plus the flat rack, plus the trailer. We use double-drop trailers to keep the load as low as possible. Contact us to make sure you obtain the correct dimensions and permit. An error in the dimensions could lead to an incorrect permit and delays in the delivery of cargo.
Do other states follow the same rules as Texas?
Not necessarily. Each state has its own rules. Some states do not allow permits for an overweight load that consists of an indivisible piece of cargo plus the flat rack. Review our first example for details. Outside of Texas, this load may need to stuffed or stripped at the pier.