Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Walking Floors

Every once in a while I'll reference walking floor trailers - most recently how silage haulers use them. There are quite a few ag uses for these handy self unloaders - I'm sure there are many more than I'll mention here. The first users were the chopped alfalfa haulers. Farmers that grow alfalfa often sell it to businesses that grind it, sell it to feedlots and haul it there. So, farmers will bale the stuff, leave the bales in a corner of an irrigation circle, and when it's cured - the hay outfit will arrive with a tub grinder, a loader, and the necessary trucks. They'll be pulling 53' trailers that are open on top with a roll over tarp, two rear doors, and a walking floor to unload. I can remember seeing the first walking floor at a 3i Show back when I was a teenager. Old tech used chains - four or five running lengthwise with toothed bars attached. As the chains moved to the rear, it would drag the load off. However, if the chains wore, which they did and do, they'll break. The only way to unload the trailer was to scoop it out.

But, these walking floors are nothing but slick. Here's a video showing how they work:


If a cylinder gives up the ghost, it's outside the load, so replacing it is easy. Hydraulic hoses are also in the open. The rails sometimes need to be replaced - the floor in this video is well used, but still plugging away. Also called live floors - they are used for all sorts of feed materials - fleets of them haul the distillery leavings from the grain alcohol plants, and even dirt and aggregate material can be hauled with a more heavy duty version. Pallets laden with whatever products to be hauled can be put on the back of the trailer by a forklift without using a dock - just reverse the floor, put the pallets on the back, and as they move forward, put another couple on the end. Unloading - take the back two off, fire up the floor, bring the whole thing to the rear to take the next two off, rinse, lather and repeat.

I was really struck by how simple this was as a teenager - once a gearhead, always a gearhead.


Anonymous said...

Is there any height difference between the different slats, or is it just the friction differential when 1 or 2 slats are moving together?

drjim said...

Looks to me like it's the "Friction Differential" that would make it work.
Good old "Yankee Imgenuity" at work!

Jeffro said...

When I was googling up videos for this post, I discovered Keith Mfg Co makes most of this stuff (I had no idea who made the floors - just that they were out there and worked). The clip I did post shows the more common variety. They make a couple other versions - a "V-Floor" for really heavy duty stuff, and the Pallet Walker system. It does pick up the slats - but I doubt it's as robust as the other versions.

Most I've seen are just like the video posted here - at the 3i Show, they demonstrated it by putting a box on the tailgate, run it to the nose, then bring it back to the tailgate, so the original version can move pallets easily just on the friction differential.