Why are the Wheelbases of Alaskan Trucks so long?

Someone asked a question on Facebook about why the wheelbases of big rigs in Alaska are so long.  Jack says they are so long in order to fit extra long loads.

Here is a photo of the long wheelbase being utilized:

Down in the states, the wheelbase would be much shorter on most trucks.  In other words, the wheels would be much closer to the body of the truck and this sized pipe would result in more rear overhang, thus needing more permits and a more complicated set up.  So to avoid that, the wheelbase has been lengthened, since these kinds of loads are commonplace in Alaska.

Since Jack has a long wheel base he can haul another trailer behind this one, as seen here:

This is the second trailer – it has a load of sheet pile (sheets of metal that are driven into the ground and used for road construction or for bridge construction).

(In the first photo you can see part of the second trailer but it’s hard to make out because there is another trailer of pipe behind it.  In the second photo I erased the pipe behind so you can see the load on the second trailer better.)

Here are a few more photos of the Salcha-Valdez pipe haul.

The last piece of pipe being loaded!

Jack is so happy to be on his LAST VALDEZ RUN so he can get back on the Dalton!!

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8 comments on “Why are the Wheelbases of Alaskan Trucks so long?

  1. Janet says:

    Doesn’t having a longer wheelbase also allow for the weight to be distributed more evenly? Especially when going over ice and such?

    BTW, I’m from Jack’s hometown so give him a holler from the Hillsville crowd! 🙂

    • judyinalaska says:

      It is basically true that the weight is distributed over more area, but I guess there is a lot more to it according to Jack. Hopefully he will get some time to explain it, although with how much he is working we probably shouldn’t hold our breath lol…

  2. Uncle Bill says:

    I was in Canada the 1st of June ,seems all Tractor and Trailers had up to 9 axle, had nevere seen that before..

  3. Mike Fickenwirth says:

    Thx for that explanation … !

  4. Chris Oliver says:

    Thats a better explaination, can the fifth wheel be adjusted depending on what the load is. With the fifth wheel being as far back as possible, does enough weight go onto the rear tyres to give him the traction he needs to climb the hills.

    • judyinalaska says:

      Jack says yes it has a sliding fifth wheel, the sliders are longer. And there is enough traction – it’s more the experience of the drivers that matters on the hills. Thanks for checking out the blog! 🙂

  5. Martin Brosseau says:

    I may have another explanation, if I may. The fifth wheel is ajustable in order to add/remove weight on the steering axel, not just an ajustment for the load. The reason is that some trucks are only allowed a certain weight on the steering axel, so by moving the fiftwheel further back, you remove some weight on the steering axel, the opposite if you bring it further close to the cab. It is best if you can be the closest to the max weight limit on the front axel so you can steer better.

  6. Trevor Berg says:

    could you please ask Jack what the wheelbase is on this truck? Thank you in advance, and your blog is very interesting.

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