The flatbed tow truck, also known as rollback or tilt-back tow truck, tow truck, or “rollback” for short, has many functions which make towing operations successful. It has a resilient winch and hook, a hydraulic system that can adjust the deck, and a control station that can manage the operation efficiently. Following are details of the features of a flatbed tow truck.
Deck Platform of the Flatbed Tow Truck
The platform or the deck of the flatbed tow truck is the most iconic feature of the tow truck. The name is from its appearance or the look of a “flat-bed”. It is made of either aluminum or steel and is used to hold various vehicles or equipment in both mobile and immobile states. On the platform, there are hollow shape areas. The towing chains or towing ratchets can be secured in these hollow-shaped areas to tie down the vehicles in place and secure them while driving.
Most flatbeds tow trucks have body lengths ranging between nineteen to twenty-two feet. They provide enough space for most vehicles, leaving room for putting towing equipment. Therefore, always choose the flatbed with the right body length. This can help to add value to the towing business operations.
The winch is located on the platform at the frontmost section of the flatbed deck. It has a small construction to make sure there is enough room to allow vehicles or towing equipment on board. When the winch system is on, a series of 2 levers can release or wind the winch to pull the loads onto the platform.
Type of Cab
Being prepared is one of the factors in considering a flatbed tow truck body. Although it is essential to be capable of towing any vehicle or equipment onto the platform, it is also important to consider whether the truck can accommodate passengers. When towing somebody’s vehicle or equipment, an extended cab can provide some space for the person. This little extra space can accommodate the customer or owner of the vehicle.
Steel flatbed trucks have durable and strong bodies that can last for years in towing operations with regular maintenance. Although steel-made flatbeds are resilient, they are heavy and will rust without appropriate maintenance and coatings.
Aluminum flatbed truck bodies are made up of 95 to 97 percent pure aluminum, the remaining is made up of titanium, chromium zinc, copper, or a combination of these metals. The final composition of these metals results in stronger, more durable, and lasting metals than pure aluminum. Although aluminum alloys are resistant to rust and corrosion, they are prone to sustain fractures from the stress of loading.
While there are many operation benefits of flatbed tow trucks, it is also important to recognize that flatbed body installation needs a medium or heavy duty chassis. Most tow trucks will be used to transport, load, or secure vehicles weighing thousands of pounds and above. I will be clear that light duty chassis truck bodies are not up to the task. Choosing the right chassis type can maximize the value of the flatbed truck body. At the same time, this will minimize the cost and time for maintenance. In addition, heavy and medium duty trucks have a lower probability of overloading, which can potentially void the warranty of the vehicle.
The flatbed also provides utility for drivers in the form of storage bins and built-in toolboxes. Storage bins are usually located along the base of a headache rack or side of the winch. They can offer enough room for storing nylon straps and ratchet-strap assemblies. Toolboxes are usually installed in the side-mount and under-body of the truck. They have a lot of space for storage and come with aluminum or solid steel construction. The toolboxes are supported by a secured 3-contact locking system and OEM-grade weather sealants.
The control station of a flatbed tow truck can move the flatbed platform in different functions. They include lowering or raising it to a designated angle, moving the deck toward or away from the cab, winding or releasing the winch to the towed vehicles. There is a dedicated function button or lever within the control station that allows all these features and functions to be performed.
Most tow trucks and manufacturers that built the chassis can use diesel or gasoline. As diesel and gasoline are widely available options in fuel sources, the tow trucks are built engines that can use diesel or gasoline. There is also a focus on the fuel efficiency for diesel and fuel, as well as any additional tank space for alternative fuel options.