Tonkin Replicas' Legency of Triple Trailers: Connecting to Future Lines


A couple months back, there was an interesting conversation on Tonkin Replicas’ (TR) Facebook about the use or lack of Triple Trailers on the road now days.  This conversation caused me to start thinking about whether Tonkin Replicas had built any Triple Trailer replicas.  Before I did any research into TR’s triple trailer legacy, I decided I needed to research the history of these mighty trailers.  One the first things, I found out is triple trailers can stretch up to 105 feet in length. 

Moreover, only thirteen states, most of them located in the west, allow triple trailers on the road. If you travel to Indiana, Kansas and Ohio you can operate a triple trailer on toll roads only. 

Many argue there is good value in use of these triple trailers; the Nevada Farm Bureau cites the vital use of triple trailers in the hauling of alfalfa hay (Volume 64, Number 1 January 2012 NVFB.org).  And at conferences, speakers say that one of the few ways to increase efficiency is to allow more triple trailers around the country.

Why is this interesting to TONKIN REPLICAS’?  Well we have produced triple trailers in the past. And knowing what we have built in the past shows a legacy of where we are going today. We are known for building the most tested and rugged trucks that we can.

 An excellent example of a triple we produced is the Carolina Freight Company.  In the tumultuous 1940’s Carolina Freight Company fought a hard battle for freight routes that included terminals in Baltimore – PA, Chester, PA, Hartsville SC, Jersey City, New Cumberland, New York, Pawtucket – RI, Providence –RI. This irregular route brought the Carolina Freight Corporation from the Eastern part to the Southern part of the US.   Carolina used triples on the Ohio & Indiana turnpikes. During the early 90's, until they were bought out by ABF.

It pays to remember that before Carolina Freight Company and other similar companies’ hauled freight commodities that we take for granted such as Orange Juice. There was a time before trucks hauling commodities, when Oranges and OJ was truly a rare and precious treat.   

Companies like Carolina and Peninsula Trucking Lines, Inc. help build the now vast US consumer market.  Peninsula Trucking Lines, Inc. began in 1951 when Gus Vander Pol, John Vander Pol, Henry Vander Pol, and Richard (R.W.) Smith formed a corporation and purchased the operating authority of Tooker Motor Freight and started operating under temporary authority as Peninsula Truck Lines with service between Seattle and Port Angeles, Washington.  With the focus on serving the points west of Puget Sound, a terminal in Bremerton was opened in 1964.

In the eighties, Peninsula began its expansion beyond Western Washington.  With deregulation service was started between Aberdeen and Portland, Oregon and later between Seattle and Portland.  In 1988, intrastate Washington authority was purchased enabling expansion into eastern Washington.  Service centers in Yakima and Spokane were opened that year and in 1992 a Kennewick facility was opened.

Triple trailers produced by Tonkin included the Carolina triple trailer, the Peninsula Truck Lines, Rocky Mountain Double (which is a double 48’ and a 28’ pup).

So while we haven’t produced any triples in a while, Tonkin Replicas has produced triples from historic trucking lines that are important to recall for their real contributions to both USA’s abundance of fruit and vegetables and the growth of our current Trucking Industry.

Let us not forget the delivery of packages and other consumer goods by firms such as United Parcel Service (UPS) and Federal Express (FedEx). According to Fleet Management’s (March 2010) David A. Kolman UPS vehicles range from “cars and light trucks to tractor trailers hauling single, double and triple trailers. “  (Cover Story). UPS and Fed Ex use 28 – foot triples operated by STAA (Surface Transportation Act of 1982) that allows large trucks to operate on Interstate and certain primary routes ( sacdot.truckroutes-STAA.aspx).  However Sacramento Country transportation writes that STAA trucks lead to property damage for curbs, planters and sidewalks.  Use then of STAA trucks is limited in Sacramento Country to country road that are evaluated as safe to travel on.

 TR has built ten (10) different UPS replicas ranging from a 1:87 VNL 300 2 – axle day cab to a 1:64 UPS Freight to 1:53 Sprinter Van and one UPS with triple trailer. For the UPS triple trailer we use created yellow caution “long load labels” as are required for the working triples can sometimes see on the road.

TR hasn’t built a Fed Ex with a triple trailer, but we do build six (6) different scale versions of the Fed Ex fleet.  We build the FedEx Express in 1:53, four (4) different versions of FedEx ground.