science > physics > pickup truck and heavy cargo

Posted on 2006-06-20
Last Modified: 2008-03-17
I will be transporting a 2 x 2 x 4 foot item in my pickup truck. The dimensions are approximate. It is an old heavy printing press and the weight has been estimated at 700 pounds. The plan made by the owner is to lay it on its side in the truck after removing a handle on the down side. This item is top heavy. My idea, since it has to be unloaded, it to place a board across the bed of the truck (there are slots on both sides for this right above the wheel wells). Then under this board put concrete blocks. Then lay the printing press down, lean it actually, onto this supported board.
I would put it as close to the front of the bed as possible, right behind the cab, so as to try to get the majority of the weight as close to the center of the 4 wheels of the truck. I'll have to do some travelling on the interstate highway.

Physics wise, will this cargo affect the stability of the truck at high speeds?
I do not want a fish tailing vehicle.
I lifted one end on the printing press off the ground and I am age 55 and weigh 160 pounds. It is heavy but I don't think it weighs the estimated 700 pounds. I hope to be able to travel at least 55-60 mph and want to know if this cargo and the way it will be carried will affect stability of the truck in any way.
Question by:nickg5
LVL 12

Expert Comment

ID: 16943541
What's the make/model/year of your truck?  There's a huge difference in how things will perform between a little 4-cylinder Toyota truck or a big Ford F350.
LVL 25

Author Comment

ID: 16943682
2001 Chevy S-10
I normally get 22-23 mpg.
I am lowering that to 17.5 for this trip.

Assisted Solution

GnarOlak earned 120 total points
ID: 16944464
Unless you can actually turn it upside down I would recomend transporting it in its normal orientation.  You've said that it is top heavy and laying it on its side would shift the center of gravity to one side of the bed.  Unless, of course, you are able to lay it forward in the bed.  But even then, 700 pounds is only about as much weight as three large men.  I'd have no trouble driving down the road with three of my budies in the back of the truck even if they were all on one side or the other.

Overall, id don't think 700 pounds is enough weight to worry about.  I've moved large loads in my 2002 S-10 and never noticed any performance problems.

More than stability of the vehicle you should worry about the stability of the load in the bed.  However you decide to position it secure it very well.  I usually double the amount of rope I think I'll need when transporting large objects.  Because they shift as a single mass I feel, rightly or wrongly, that they will exert more force on my tie-downs.

Once I loaded two folding sofa beds, one on top of the other, into the bed.  Those things are darned heavy.  I kept the tailgate up so they tended to shift forward.  Lots of rope to keep them secure for about 100 miles on an interstate.  No problems at all.
LVL 25

Author Comment

ID: 16944836
I was going to put it as close the the front of the bed as possible. It can not slide, too heavy and right between the wheel wells which are 38 inches apart and the item is 28 inches wide
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Assisted Solution

GnarOlak earned 120 total points
ID: 16944969
Forward is good.  I usually put some sort of cusion between the load and the front of the bed to avoid dents and scratches.  Cardboard or foam rubber work pertty well.  Styrofoam sin't as good since it can crumble.  Make sure you have a line from one corner of the front of the bed around the load and secured to the other front corner to prevent it from sliding back.  That I would double up at least.  You'll want this to be as at the shortest path around the load so it won't slip and go slack.    Then secure it in a X pattern over the top from corner to corner and it should ride just fine.

Assisted Solution

infex earned 55 total points
ID: 16949336
You should fix it well. The biggest problem in stability of a truck is if the load sudden moves in respect of the truck. At the moment the movement starts and even more when the internal movement stops (when the object hits eg. the wall), this gives a push which can cause instability.

That is on of the reasons why eg. bulk liquids are transported in sections and each section is or full or empty. If you would have only one compartment for eg 20000 liters and you would fill it half, this would make the cargo highly unstable.

Hope this helps

Assisted Solution

gbentley earned 50 total points
ID: 16949570
Assume you're going to have to make an emergency stop, and strap it down accordingly. The padding at the front is crucial. You don't want it to end up in the cab with you!

LVL 11

Accepted Solution

neopolitan earned 75 total points
ID: 16949938
2001 Chevy   S-10 has a gross vehicle weight rating of 5150 pounds and a curb weight of 3616 pounds; this means, it can easily take 1500 pounds. Also, the rollover resistance rating(which measures the centre of gravity and top-heaviness of the vehicle) is 4star, suggesting that it has a good stability.

The printing press is top heavy and could cause problem if you are leaving it at the back of the truck. I would suggest as GnarOlak and infex have mentioned to keep the machine as much to the middle of the vehicle as possible and more importantly fix it well. Travelling in the highway at maximum speeds should not cause problem then.


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