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SUSPENSION SYSTEMS Before we discuss suspension systems we will take a quick look at the components that make up a suspension

and the common terms used to describe them. SUSPENSION NOMENCLATURE 1. Suspension: a means whereby the axle or axles of a unit are attached to the vehicle frame. Designed in such a manner that road shocks from the axles are dampened through springs (leaf, air, torsion, or other), thus reducing the forces entering the frame. 2. Underslung suspension: a suspension where the spring is under the axle. 3. Overslung suspension: a suspension where the spring is over the axle. 4. Single-axle suspension: a suspension consisting of one axle. 5. Tandem axle, steel spring suspension: a suspension consisting of two axles with an equalizing means for transferring weight between axles. 6. Tri-axle, steel spring suspension: a suspension consisting of three axles with an equalizing means for transferring weight between axles. 7. Multiaxle, steel spring suspension: a suspension consisting of more than three axles with equalizing means for transferring weight between the axles. 7A. Spread tandem suspension: a two-axle assembly in which the axles are spaced to allow maximum axle loads under existing regulationsthe distance generally being more than 55 in. 8. Front hanger: a bracket for mounting the front of the truck or trailer suspensions to the truck or trailer frame. Made to accommodate the front end of the spring either with a spring eye or just a platform. Normally, there are four basic types: flange-mount, straddle-mount, under-mount, and sidemount. 9. Equalizer bracket: a bracket for mounting the equalizer beam of a multiple-axle spring suspension to the truck or trailer frame, which allows for the beam's pivotal movement. Formerly called a center hanger. Normally there are four basic types: flange-mount, straddle-mount, under-mount, and side-mount. 10. Rear hanger: a bracket for mounting the rear of the truck or trailer suspension to the truck or trailer frame. Made to accommodate the end of the spring on spring suspensions. Normally there are four types: flange-mount, straddle-mount, under-mount, and side-mount. 11. Equalizer: a suspension device used to transfer and maintain equal load distribution between two or more axles of a suspension. Formerly called rocker beam. 12. Rigid torque arm: a member used to retain axle alignment, and in some cases, control axle torque. Normally one adjustable and one rigid torque arm are used per axle so the axle may be aligned. 13. Adjustable torque arm: a member used to retain axle alignment, and in some cases, control axle torque. Normally one adjustable and one rigid torque arm are used per axle so the axle may be aligned. This rod has means by which it may be extended or retracted for adjustment purposes. 14. Springs: device that is used to reduce road shocks and transfer loads through suspension components to the frame of the trailer. Reyco Transpro has multileaf, monoleaf springs, tapers, and air springs. 15. Spring-deflection: depression of a trailer suspension when spring is placed under load. 16. Spring rate: the load required to deflect a spring a given distance (usually 1 in.). 17. Axle seat: a suspension component used to support and locate a spring on an axle. Formerly called spring chair. 18. Spring spacer: a riser block often used on top of spring seat to obtain increased mounting height.

19. Adapter: welds under the spring seat to increase mounting height or fit the seat to an axle. 20. Top U-bolt plate: the plate that is located on top of a spring and is held in place when U-bolts are tightened to clamp the spring and axle together. 21. Bottom U-bolt plate: the plate that is located on the bottom side of a spring or axle and is held in place when U-bolts are tightened to clamp the spring and axle together. 22. U-bolt: a member used to clamp the top U-bolt plate, spring, axle, and bottom U-bolt plate together. Inverted U-bolts cross springs when in place. Conventional U-bolts (nuts up) wrap around the axle. 23. Pipe or angle brace: a brace that extends between opposite hangers on a spring- or air-type suspension. 24. Stabilizer: a device used to provide no-hop during braking by positioning the torque arm below the axle center line to resist brake wind-up. 25. Air spring suspension: a single or multi-axle suspension relying on air bags for spring and weight distribution of axles. 26. Beam suspension: a tandem suspension relying on a pivotally mounted beam, with axles attached at the ends for load equalization. The beam is mounted to the center spring. 27. Beam solid-mount suspension: a tandem suspension relying on a pivotal mounted beam, with axles attached at ends for load equalization. The beam is mounted to the solid center pedestal. 28. Tractor-trailer lift suspension: a single-axle air ride suspension with lift capabilities commonly used with steerable axles for pusher and tag applications. 29. Trailer slider: a movable suspension frame that is capable of changing trailer wheel-base by "sliding" and locking into different positions. 30. Cast: poured, molded steel. 31. Fabricated: stamped steel, welded together. 32. Torque leaf: the leaf in a leaf spring that serves the same function as a torque arm. Eccentric bushings are then used for adjustment. 33. Trunnion: a shaft that runs across the vehicle on which the suspension rotates.

Suspension systems A properly functioning suspension system will accomplish the following; 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. Support vehicle and its load with a safety factor Maintain correct spacing of axles and alignment of axles with the frame. Maintain contact of tires with the road surface. Cushion both vehicle and load from road shock. Maintain uniform ride characteristic with vehicle empty, partially loaded or fully loaded. Transmit drive and brake torque to the vehicle frame Conform to various government legislation. Divide load equally to all wheels of the suspension Allow wheels to articulate freely while maintaining the above characteristics

Without a suspension system road shock and vibrations from rotating components would: -Bounce the wheels so much that they would lose contact with the road referred to as wheel hop. -Braking and steering would be ineffective. -Chassis parts and load would be damaged. Without a suspension twisting forces from road irregularities, shifting loads, and brake torque could: -Overload an axle, hub, wheels and tires, -Cause tires to loose contact with the road surface and cause damage to frame and body. -Cause vehicle instability and rollover. Ideally a suspension system will: -dampen all road shock -Articulate and allow the wheels to follow the contour of the road to maintain tire contact, maintain correct axle alignment regardless of road conditions, vehicle speed, and direction of travel or load. Suspension System spring Materials 1. Steel leaf springs 2. Air springs 3. Rubber springs 4. Synthetics i.e. glass fiber spring LEAF SPRING SUSPENSION SYSTEMS Leaf spring suspension systems are widely used on both single-axle and tandem axle straight trucks and truck/tractors trailers for on-highway use and city delivery services that require vehicle endurance and light weight. Spring suspensions can be used on both the front- and rear-axle assemblies; since the rear axle tends to be more fully loaded than does the front axle, however, the number of spring leaves in the pack at the rear is greater than the number used at the front. Various designs of leaf springs are used. There are several different types of leaf springs as follows: -Constant Rate -Progressive Rate or Vari-rate -Auxiliary -Parabolic Spring rate, sometimes referred to as deflection rate, is used to measure spring strength. It is the amount of weight that is required to compress the spring 1 inch. For example: If it takes 100 lbs. to compress a spring 1inch, it would take to 200 lbs. to compress the spring 2 inches. Constant Rate The constant rate spring has a constant rate of deflection, i.e. if a spring deflects 1 inch under 500lbs of load it will deflect 2 inches under 1,000lbs of load. When mounted on an axle the main spring leaves are formed into an eye at each end. A bushing is pressed into the eye and a shackle pin is inserted through the bushing to support the front of the spring the rear of the spring is usually mounted into a shackle that will allow the length of the spring to change as it oscillates.

Progressive (Variable Rate) Leaf springs that vary the deflection rate by varying the effective spring length. This is accomplished by using a cam type bracket. As the spring deflects the point of contact on the cam bracket moves towards the center of the spring. Bottom leaves are also free at the ends. As the spring assembly deflects these leaves come in contact providing increased stiffness.

Auxiliary Spring Also called overload springs. They are mounted on top of regular spring assemblies.

Tapered leaf springs. Have leafs that are thicker in the center than at the ends. The varying profile of the spring gives it a variable rate action. -They are lighter than comparable load carrying multi-leaf designs -They are less prone to breakage. A zinc coating helps resist corrosion -No internal friction from other leafs when they are a single leaf . -Better brake torque and weight transfer (40% improved) The front absorbs 67% of brake torque and the rear 100% -A typical multi-leaf has only 25% of the front available to resist wind-up

Parabolic springs may have fixed ends suspended by rubber bushings or be of variable rate. They get their name from the shape of the actual leaves. A wrapper leaf at one end on fixed end types allows some change in length. -An insufficiently sprung vehicle (or overloaded) will bounce and bottom out. Too much spring will cause wheel hop. -As a spring reaches its rated capacity, its deflection increases. As deflection or movement increases, its stability decreases. GVW capacity is limited by the spring selection. (Usually the weakest component) Spring ratings should match or slightly exceed the rated load capacity a vehicle will be expected to carry, i.e. an axle expected to carry 11,000lbs should have springs rated for 12,000lbs. -Steel spring leafs are made from alloy steel and available in standard nominal thicknesses -They are shot peened to obtain better strength and resiliency. -Heating and re-forging are required to properly re-arch leaf. -Leaf spring life span depends on weight, speeds, and condition of road surfaces and environmental conditions. Typically 250,000 miles of operation. -Multi-leaf springs are often found in 8 10 leafs in a pack -Liners are usually required on the axle seats and top u-bolt saddle to prevent damage from friction to the spring pack. -Center-bolts are installed with the head at the bottom, which also serves to locate the spring on the axle seat. -The seam of a metal bushing in an eye of a spring main-leaf should be located within + or - 30 degrees from the top of the eye or perpendicular.

U-Bolts U-bolts are a key element in retaining leaf type suspensions to the axle assembly. U-Bolts Require re-torquing after the first day or 500 miles of operation. (Torque on a 7/8 bolt typically 300-325 ft/lb. 15/16 400 - 425 ft/lb. -Never re-use U-bolts since the tensile effects on metal and threads lower a u-bolts ability to sustain clamping force. -U-bolts are usually a hardened grade of metal, typically grade eight. -Threads are usually rolled not machined. -If a spring breaks between a U-Bolt it indicates a loose U-bolt.

Fiber Composite Leaf Springs -Are made of fiberglass, which is laminated and bonded together with resins under pressure. -They have a 60% weight saving advantage. -They run quieter since they absorb more vibration than steel -They resist sag even with age and extreme repetitive duty cycles. (Five times more durable than steel in fatigue tests.) -They have a faster rebound rate for a smoother ride. Fiber composite springs are used on the Hutchens H-7700 series trailer suspension and are also available in retrofit kits.

Leaf spring Suspension Checks 1. Shifted axles and or broken center bolts 2. Broken leaf springs 3. Loose worn or broken shackle 4. Worn spring ends and slipper brackets 5. Loose u-bolts 6. Missing or loose rebound spring clips 7. Worn or loose torque arms 8. Deteriorated rubber bushings Suspension bushings are made of: Butyl or nitrile rubber (soft and not oil compatible) Polyurethane Nylon Metal Note; Rubber bushings should never be installed with oil based lubricants (grease or hand cleaner) Water-soluble soap or special lubricant that evaporates after a short time. Shock Absorbers: The primary purpose of the shock absorber is to control spring and suspension movement. This is accomplished by turning the kinetic energy of suspension movement into thermal energy, or heat energy, to be dissipated through the hydraulic fluid. Shock absorbers are basically oil pumps. A piston is attached to the end of the piston rod and works against hydraulic fluid in the pressure tube. As the suspension travels up and down, the hydraulic fluid is forced through tiny holes, called orifices, inside the piston. However, these orifices let only a small amount of fluid through the piston.

This slows down the piston, which in turn slows down spring and suspension movement. The amount of resistance a shock absorber develops depends on the speed of the suspension and the number and size of the orifices in the piston. All modern shock absorbers are velocity sensitive hydraulic damping devices - meaning the faster the suspension moves, the more resistance the shock absorber provides. Because of this feature, shock absorbers adjust to road conditions. This way shocks reduce suspension spring oscillation, resist road impact, resist vehicle sway reduce suspension spring and linkage wear and slow weight transfer between axles when braking. Shocks are connected between the frame and axle and are classified according to GVW and operating principle. Shock absorbers work on the principle of fluid displacement on both the compression and extension cycle. A typical shock absorber will have more resistance during its extension cycle than its compression cycle. The compression cycle controls the motion of a vehicle's unsprung weight, while extension controls the heavier sprung weight. Compression cycle During the compression stroke or downward movement, some fluid flows through the piston from chamber B to chamber A and some through the compression valve into the reserve tube. To control the flow, there are three valving stages each in the piston and in the compression valve. At the piston, oil flows through the oil ports, and at slow piston speeds, the first stage bleeds come into play and restrict the amount of oil flow. This allows a controlled flow of fluid from chamber B to chamber A. At faster piston speeds, the increase in fluid pressure below the piston in chamber B causes the discs to open up away from the valve seat. At high speeds, the limit of the second stage discs phases into the third stage orifice restrictions. Compression control, then, is the force that results from a higher pressure present in chamber B, which acts on the bottom of the piston and the piston rod area. Extension cycle As the piston and rod move upward toward the top of the pressure tube, the volume of chamber A is reduced and thus is at a higher pressure than chamber B. Because of this higher pressure, fluid flows down through the piston's 3stage extension valve into chamber B. However, the piston rod volume has been withdrawn from chamber B greatly increasing its volume. Thus the volume of fluid from chamber A is insufficient to fill chamber B. The pressure in the reserve tube is now greater than that in chamber B, forcing the compression intake valve to unseat. Fluid then flows from the reserve tube into chamber B, keeping the pressure tube full. Extension control is a force present as a result of the higher pressure in chamber A, acting on the topside of the piston area. The prime function of gas charging is to minimize aeration of the hydraulic fluid. The pressure of the nitrogen gas compresses air bubbles in the hydraulic fluid. This prevents the oil and air from mixing and creating foam. Foam affects performance because it can be compressed - fluid can not. With aeration reduced, the shock is able to react faster and more predictably, allowing for quicker response time and helping keep the tire firmly planted on the road surface.

Air Spring Suspensions -Accurately named air spring and not "Air Ride" which is the Firestone trademark used by the company, which pioneered and developed the air spring suspension. -Air is the spring medium energy is absorbed and released by compressing and decompressing air molecules -Substantially smoother ride is obtained since there is no Interleaf friction, which helps minimize road shock from being transferred to the trailer frame. -An infinitely variable rate spring offering low spring rates to light loads and higher spring rates to heavier loads while maintaining ride height with a leveling valve Advantages. -Versatile suspension to haul any type of load over the highway -More uniform ride characteristics loaded, partially loaded or empty -Less wheel hop on highway extending tire life and meeting suspension ideals better. -Less cargo damage and extended life to other chassis parts (broken springs, cracked hangers, beam re-bushing, cross member repair etc.) Longer equipment life cycle. Perfect load equalization between axles allowing a suspension to run closer to maximum legal load limits -Substantially smoother shock and vibration free riding. Unlike steel spring suspension there is no Interleaf friction, which helps minimize road shock from being transferred to the trailer frame. Therefore less cargo damage, driver fatigue, frame damage. -Extended chassis service life. -Springs last two to four times longer than a steel spring suspension -Internal bumpers in the springs allow vehicle to be driven in event of a spring failure. Disadvantages -Poor off road traction with little rebound or extension control except for the shock absorber. -High suspension oscillation requiring use of heavy duty shock absorbers and thicker axle walls -More complex suspension with additional valving, plumbing and various other components. -Poor lateral stability requiring additional controls to minimize body roll i.e. traction and stabilizing bars, large heavy bushings etc. -Dock walk which occurs when a suspension is repeatedly loaded and unloaded and literally creeps or walks away from a loading dock. (Dock walk is eliminated by dumping the suspension before backing into the dock or using a load blocker - Reyco RS 101 5) -Often heavier in comparison to a spring suspension -More costly to manufacture and service.

Types of air springs: 1. Reversible Sleeve or Rolling Lobe 2. Convoluted a) Single b) double c) triple convoluted Components Bead Plate: The plate on the top of the spring. Crimped onto the bellows at the factory. Bellows: Manufactured from natural rubber which can withstand temperature of -65 degrees F. Includes at least four plies or layers of material; An inner air tight liner and two or four plies of cord reinforced fabric and an outer layer. Bumper: A solid rubber or fiberglass fail safe device inside many but not all air springs. Prevents suspension damage in event of sudden air loss and allows vehicle to be driven for repairs. Piston: Found only on reversible sleeve or rolling lobe springs. Made of aluminum, fiberglass or hard rubber. Also forms lower mounting surface for tapped mounting holes.

Piston Bolt: Attaches the piston to the bellows Girdle Hoop: A ring between the convolutions of a convoluted spring. Adds lateral stability to the spring. Stud: Used to attach spring to the suspension. Usually part of the bead plate Combo Stud: Serves the dual purpose of mounting the spring to the suspension system and providing an entrance of air. Brake Protection Valve: Will allow air to flow into the reservoir only above a preset value (60 70 psi) Pressure protection valve: Limits the pressure of air out of the reservoir to prevent over-inflation of springs

Leveling or Height Control Valve: The "brains" of the system, which automatically responds to the relative position of the vehicle frame and axle to maintain a constant distance. -Air springs are inflated to between 15 and 100 psi. Pressures will vary depending on spring height, load and levelness of the surface. -1/4 inch variation in ride height from side to side is the maximum recommended tolerance-Air is pushed into the springs when the ride height is lessened by adding a load. The arm on the valve will move upwards allowing air to pass through the valve -Air is dumped from the springs when ride height increases above a preset value. The arm will move down opening an exhaust port within the valve. -A one way check valve is located in the valve to prevent air from returning back through to the reservoir through the valve -The valve has a neutral or dead zone of approximately 3/8" to prevent unnecessary action when negotiating rough terrain. -To further prevent unnecessary valve action when axles are momentarily deflected a time delay is built into the intake and exhaust valves. Silicone fluid is forced through a small orifice slowing down valve action typically up to 3-15 seconds -Single height control valves can maintain equalization between four springs on tandem axles. -Double or right and left side valves operating independently of one another are used especially when "off center" loads are encountered. This maintains side to side levelness. -Valves should be checked for correct operation of the delay by moving the control arms upward and downward 2" and checked for escaping or intake of air. -Bleed valve delay mechanism to remove air by deflecting the arm for I minute in each direction. Rubber spring suspensions Hendrickson and a number of other suppliers have been manufacturing rubber spring suspensions for quite some time. These systems are usually used in heavy duty situations and will stand up to much more punishment than leaf and or air springs. The Hendrickson Walking Beam suspension at right is one of the worlds most famous rubber spring systems. The equalizer beams use the lever principle to reduce road shock to the frame. As the axle goes over a bump if it is deflected 6 inches the deflection at the frame would only be 3 inches. Hendricksons latest design is dynalastic it has rubber springs mounted on an angle to give more directional stability.

Hendricksons HaulMaax at left

Chalmers Trailer Suspension Rubber Spring System Chalmers suspension allows a high degree of both parallel and diagonal articulation, while maintaining equal wheel load to 3%. A very low maintenance system. Suspension alignment performed by lower torque rods. Rubber springs are variable rate, giving a soft empty ride and a stiff stable ride while loaded. Rubber springs are 100% rubber and are lighter than steel springs. One rubber spring per side. Do not use petroleum base lubricants on rubber components. Metal restrictor cans over springs help prevent deformation under load. The rubber spring is very easy to change. Rubber springs work fore and aft as well as side to side. Walking beams rock without friction due to not having pins, bushings or lubrication areas. Walking beams cut bumps into half and the rubber spring does the final cushioning. The beams and the rubber springs only support and cushion the load and also providing oscillation. - Locating and guiding the axles is done by the toque rods. Axles are located longitudinally, transversely, and torsionally by four rubber bushed torque rods.

The four torque rods below the axle takes most of the longitudinal forces while holding the axles parallel to each other. The twin upper rods absorb torque at all times. The angled mounting locates the axles sideways. This maintains accurate axle alignment at all times. Its high pivot points minimize side sway. Torque rods pivot on 16 rubber bushings (spigot-joints) Removable caps retain bushings and preload them. Bushings can be changed easily and quickly. These bushings don't support any load, they are used for axle guidance only.

Bridge Gross Weight Formula Three questions are addressed by this pamphlet with regard to the Bridge Formula: What is it? Why is it necessary? How is it used? What is it?

W = the maximum weight in pounds that can be carried on a group of two or more axles to the nearest 500 pounds. L = the distance in feet between the outer axles of any two or more consecutive axles. N = the number of axles being considered. This formula limits the weight on groups of axles in order to reduce the risk of damage to highway bridges. Allowable weight depends on the number of axles a vehicle has and the distance between those axles. However, the single- or tandem-axle weight limits supersede the Bridge Formula limits for all axles not more than 96" apart. Why is the Formula Necessary? Bridges on the Interstate System highways are used by a wide variety of traffic. They are designed to support expected loadings. However, as trucks grew heavier in the 1950s and 1960s, something had to be done to protect bridges. The solution was to tie allowable weights to the number and spacing of axles. Axle spacing is as important as axle weight in bridge design. A bridge is analogous to thin ice on a pond. Walking on the ice concentrates a person's weight on the small area covered by the individual's feet, and the ice may break. Lying down, however, spreads the same weight over a much larger area, and the ice is less likely to break. Consider trucks crossing a bridge:

In Figure 1(A), the stress on bridge members as the longer truck rolls across is much less than that caused by the short vehicle in Figure 1(B), even though both trucks have the same total weight and individual axle weights. The weight of the longer vehicle is spread out, while the shorter vehicle has all of the weight concentrated on a small area. The Federal-Aid Highway Amendments of 1974 increased the weights allowed on the Interstate System to 20,000 lbs. on a single axle, 34,000 lbs. on a tandem axle, and 80,000 lbs. gross weight (23 U.S.C. 127). But Congress balanced this concession to productivity by enacting the Bridge Formula. The result is that motor vehicles may be loaded to the maximum weight only if each group of axles on the vehicle and their spacing also satisfy the requirements of the Formula. This prevents the vehicle from overstressing bridges in the same way that a person lying down on thin ice would minimize the risk of breaking through. Until 1982, Federal law set only upper limits (or ceilings) on Interstate System weight limits. A few States retained significantly lower weight limits which eventually became barriers to long-distance truck traffic. In 1982, Federal law was amended to make

Interstate System weight limits, including the bridge formula limits, both the maximum and the minimum weights (i.e., floors and ceilings) that States must allow on the Interstate System. How is the Formula Used? Some definitions are needed to use the Bridge Formula correctly. Gross WeightThe weight of a vehicle or vehicle combination and any load thereon. The Federal gross weight limit on the Interstate System is 80,000 lbs. Single-Axle WeightThe total weight on one or more axles whose centers are not more than 40" apart. The Federal single-axle weight limit on the Interstate System is 20,000 lbs. Tandem-Axle WeightThe total weight on two or more consecutive axles more than 40" but not more than 96 inches apart. The Federal tandem-axle weight limit on the Interstate System is 34,000 lbs. Interstate System weight limits in some States may be higher than these figures due to "grandfather" rights. When the Interstate System axle and gross weight limits were adopted in 1956, States were allowed to keep or "grandfather" those which were higher. In 1975, States were also allowed to keep "grandfathered" bridge formula limits which were higher than those established for the Interstate System. Bridge Formula calculations yield a series of values usually referred to as Bridge Table B. However, the single-axle weight limit replaces the Bridge Formula weight limit on axles not more than 40" apart, and the tandem-axle weight limit replaces the Bridge Formula weight limit for axles over 40 but not more than 96 inches apart. At 97" apart, two axles can carry 38,000 lbs. and three axles 42,000 lbs., as shown in Figure 2.

Federal law provides that any two or more consecutive axles may not exceed the weight computed by the Formula even though single axles, tandem axles, and gross weight are within legal limits. In other words, the axle group that includes the entire trucksometimes call the "outer bridge" groupmust comply with the Bridge Formula. But interior combinations of axles, such as the "tractor bridge" (axles 1, 2, and 3) and "trailer bridge" (axles 2, 3, 4, and 5), must also be in compliance with weights computed by the Formula (Figure 3).

The most common vehicle checked for compliance with weight limit requirements is shown in Figure 3. While the Bridge Formula applies to each combination of two or more axles, experience shows that axle combinations 1 through 3, 1 through 5, and 2 through 5 are critical and must be checked. If these combinations are found to be satisfactory, all of the others on this type of vehicle will normally be satisfactory. The vehicle with weights and axle dimensions as shown in Figure 4 will be used to illustrate a Bridge Formula check.

Before checking a vehicle for compliance with the Bridge Formula, its single-axle, tandem-axle, and gross weight should be checked. Here the single axle (number 1) does not exceed 20,000 lbs., tandems 2-3 and 4-5 do not exceed 34,000 lbs. each, and the gross weight does not exceed 80,000 lbs. These preliminary requirements are thus satisfied. The first Bridge Formula combination is checked as follows:

Check of 1 thru 3 (Figure 5) Actual weight = 12,000 + 17,000 + 17,000 = 46,000 lbs. N = 3 axles L = 20 ft

W maximum = 51,000 lbs., which is more than the actual weight of 46,000 lbs., so the Bridge Formula requirement is satisfied. ExampleBridge Table B This same number (51,000 lbs.) could have been obtained from Bridge Table B as shown by reading down the left side to L = 20 and across to the right where N = 3.

Now check axles 1 thru 5 (Figure 6) Actual weight = 12,000 + 17,000 + 17,000 + 17,000 + 17,000 = 80,000 lbs. W maximum, from Table B for "L" of 51 feet and "N" of 5 = 80,000 lbs. Therefore, this axle spacing is satisfactory.

Now check axles 2 thru 5 (Figure 7) Actual weight = 17,000 + 17,000 + 17,000 + 17,000 = 68,000 lbs. W maximum, from Table B for "L" of 35 feet and "N" of 4 = 65,500 lbs. This is a violation because the actual weight exceeds the weight allowed by the Bridge Formula. To correct the situation, some load must be removed from the vehicle or the axle spacing (35 feet) must be increased.

Federal Bridge Laws

Permissible Gross Loads For Vehicles In Regular Operation1

Based on weight formula

Distance in feet (L) between the extremes of any group of 2 or more consecutive axles Maximum load in pounds carried on any group of 2 or more consecutive axles2

[Bridge Table B]

N= 4 5 6 7 8 & less more than 8 9 10 11 12 13 14

2 3 4 5 6 7 AXLES AXLES AXLES AXLES AXLES AXLES 34,000 34,000 34,000 34,000 34,000 38,000 39,000 40,000 34,000 42,000 42,500 43,500 44,000 45,000 45,500 46,500 50,000 50,500 51,500



15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58

47,000 48,000 48,500 49,500 50,000 51,000 51,500 52,500 53,000 54,000 54,500 55,500 56,000 57,000 57,500 58,500 59,000 60,000

52,000 52,500 53,500 54,000 54,500 55,500 56,000 56,500 57,500 58,000 58,500 59,500 60,000 60,500 61,500 62,000 62,500 63,500 64,000 64,500 65,500 66,000 66,500 67,500 68,000 68,500 69,500 70,000 70,500 71,500 72,000 72,500 73,500 74,000 74,500 75,500 76,000 76,500 77,500 78,000 78,500 79,500 80,000 58,000 58,500 59,000 60,000 60,500 61,000 61,500 62,500 63,000 63,500 64,000 65,000 65,500 66,000 66,500 67,500 68,000 68,500 69,000 70,000 70,500 71,000 71,500 72,500 73,000 73,500 74,000 75,000 75,500 76,000 76,500 77,500 78,000 78,500 79,000 80,000 80,500 81,000 81,500 82,500 83,000 83,500 84,000 66,000 66,500 67,000 68,000 68,500 69,000 69,500 70,000 71,000 71,500 72,000 72,500 73,000 74,000 74,500 75,000 75,500 76,000 77,000 77,500 78,000 78,500 79,000 80,000 80,500 81,000 81,500 82,000 83,000 83,500 84,000 84,500 85,000 86,000 86,500 87,000 87,500 88,000 89,000 74,000 74,500 75,000 75,500 76,500 77,000 77,500 78,000 78,500 79,000 80,000 80,500 81,000 81,500 82,000 82,500 83,500 84,000 84,500 85,000 85,500 86,000 87,000 87,500 88,000 88,500 89,000 89,500 90,500 91,000 91,500 92,000 92,500 93,000 94,000 82,000 82,500 83,000 83,500 84,500 85,000 85,500 86,000 86,500 87,000 87,500 88,500 89,000 89,500 90,000 90,500 91,000 91,500 92,500 93,000 93,500 94,000 94,500 95,000 95,500 96,500 97,000 97,500 98,000 98,500 99,000 90,000 90,500 91,000 91,500 92,000 93,000 93,500 94,000 94,500 95,000 95,500 96,000 96,500 97,500 98,000 98,500 99,000 99,500 100,000 100,500 101,000 102,000 102,500 103,000 103,500 104,000 104,500

59 60

85,000 85,500

89,500 90,000

94,500 95,000



100,500 105,500

The permissible loads are computed to the nearest 500 pounds as required by statute.

The following loaded vehicles must not operate over H15-44 bridges: 3-S2 (5-axle) with wheelbase less than 38 feet; 2-S1-2 (5-axle) with wheelbase less than 45 feet; 3-3 (6-axle) with wheelbase less than 45 feet; and 7-, 8- and 9-axle vehicles regardless of wheelbase. Tandem Axle Weight (See pages 4 & 5) Within Interstate Gross Weight Limit Exception

Federal Bridge Laws (page 4 of 5) State Contacts Overweight/ Oversize Permits (334) 834-1092 (907) 345-7636 (602) 255-7346 (501) 569-2381 (916) 654-4828 (303) 757-9539 (860) 594-2880 (302) 739-4374 (202) 727-7050 (904) 488-4961 (404) 656-5435 (808) 587-2185 (208) 334-8420 (217) 785-1477 (317) 486-5500 (515) 237-3264 (913) 266-2040 (502) 564-7150 (504) 343-2345 (207) 287-8632 (410) 787-4088 (508) 624-0819 (517) 373-2120 (612) 405-6000 (601) 359-1148 (573) 751-2871 (406) 444-6130 (402) 479-4775 Interstate 80,000 lbs. unless otherwise stated Exempt from interstate weight regulation LCV State State Highway Maximum >B 84,000 on 6 axles Up to 145,000 on 11 axles 80,000 80,000 80,000 85,000 80,000 80,000 on 5 axles 80,000 80,000 80,000 88,000 105,500 on 6 axles 73,280 non-NN highway 80,000 80,000 85,500 80,000 88,000 Tri or Quad axle 90,000 80,000 80,000 164,000 on 11 axles 80,000 on 6 axles 80,000 (57,650 on highway class) 73,280 (2,000 tolerance) 80,000 95,000 on 7 axles

Alabama Alaska Arizona Arkansas California Colorado Connecticut Delaware Dist. of Columbia Florida Georgia Hawaii Idaha Illinois Indiana Iowa Kansas Kentucky Louisiana Maine Maryland Massachusetts Michigan Minnesota Mississippi Missouri Montana Nebraska


B B B >B >B <B >B >B >B >B >B <B B B B B >B >B >B >B >B <B B <B B B



Nevada New Hampshire New Jersey New Mexico New York North Carolina North Dakota Ohio Oklahoma Oregon Pennsylvania

Rhode Island South Carolina South Dakota Tennessee Texas Utah Vermont Virginia Washington West Virginia Wisconsin Wyoming

(702) 687-5410 (603) 271-2691 (908) 247-0900 (505) 827-0383 (518) 457-1155 (919) 574-6683 (701) 328-2621 (614) 777-0224 (405) 425-2390 (503) 945-7903 (717) 787-5367 (401) 277-2986 (overweight), (401) 277-3175 (oversize) (803) 737-1279 (605) 773-4578 (615) 741-3821 (800) 299-1700 (801) 965-4508 (802) 828-2070 (804) 786-2787 (206) 753-6554 (304) 348-0384 (608) 266-7320 (307) 777-4376



B >B B >B >B >B >B B B B >B

Uncapped 80,000 80,000 86,400 80,000 80,000 105,500 on 7 axles 80,000 90,000 80,000 80,000



>B >B B B B B B B B <B B >B

80,000 80,000 Uncapped 80,000 80,000 80,000 80,000 80,000 80,000 65,000 (73,500 some highways) 80,000 117,000 on 8 axles

LCV = Longer Combination Vehicle

Federal Bridge Laws (page 5 of 5) Exception to Formula and Table B Federal law (23 U.S.C. 127) includes one exception to the Bridge Formula and Table Btwo consecutive sets of tandem axles may carry 34,000 lbs. each if the overall distance between the first and last axles of these tandems is 36 feet or more. For example, a five-axle tractor-semitrailer combination may carry 34,000 lbs. both on the tractor tandem (axles 2 and 3) and the trailer tandem (axles 4 and 5), provided axles 2 and 5 are spaced at least 36 feet apart. Without this exception, the Bridge Formula would allow an actual weight of only 66,000 and 67,500 lbs. on tandems spaced 36 to 38 feet apart. Bridge Formula Application to Single Unit Trucks The procedure described above can be used to check any axle combinations, but several closely spaced axles usually produce the most critical situation.

The truck in Figure 8 satisfies the single axle weight limit (12,000 lbs. is less than 20,000 lbs.), the tandem axle limit (30,000 lbs. is less than 34,000 lbs.) and gross weight limit (57,000 lbs. is less than 80,000 lbs.). With these restrictions satisfied, a check will be made for Bridge Formula requirements, axles 1 through 4. Actual weight = 12,000 + 15,000 + 15,000 + 15,000 = 57,000 lbs. W maximum for "N" of 4 and "L" of 23 feet = 57,500 (From Table B). Since axles 1 thru 4 are satisfactory, check axles 2 thru 4: W (actual) = 15,000 + 15,000 + 15,000 = 45,000 lbs. W maximum for "N" of 3 and "L" of 9 feet = 42,500 lbs. (From Table B). This is a violation. The load would have to be reduced, axles added, or spacing increased, to comply with the Bridge Formula.