Curtainsiders are versatile, sideload solutions used extensively around the globe. In the US, curtainsides remain niche but are true game changers for fleets that adopt them. They maximize driver retention, recruitment, productivity and safety. No BS. We know a bit about softsiders because Allvan’s own Bob Brown imported Tautliner designs/parts from the UK in the 70s. Allvan built the first curtainsider in N America, and we are still hard-at-it 50 years later. Q: Does 50+ years make us curtainsider experts? A: Would be a resounding yes.
Why curtainsiders-why today? Flatbeds are dangerous. A flat driver endures heat, cold, rain, snow, and wind while climbing on and off the deck multiple times/day to tarp and untarp. Tarps are heavy; wet or frozen tarps are worse. Wind and tarps? Hello work comp claims and injuries. Curtainsides allow drivers to ALWAYS keep their feet on the ground and only throw straps – not tarps. Eliminating the tarps = loads that can be delivered more quickly, more efficiently and more safely.
Allvan lives our tagline: “Innovate. Disrupt. Repeat.” We have evolved our curtainsider design over the decades. Plus, we regularly attend the world’s largest work transport exhibition (GER) to meet new EU friends and discover (new to us) proven transport tech for you. New ‘magic’ rollers – check. Superior ratchets and retention posts – check-check. Pssst: keep in touch because we are bringing over more exciting solutions. Imagine curtainsiders with load bearing sidewall capabilities! Soon friends, very soon.
Below is a quick curtainside tutorial. Read on…or if you prefer talking over reading, please call us to chat instead.
Curtainsider 101 (aka #tarpingsucks)
- What a curtainsider is not: Odd to start with a ‘not’, but people often confuse conestoga / rollback / slider kits / sliding systems with what we build. Let’s sort those apples from our oranges. A sliderkit is made of a crisscrossed exoskeleton-esque set of small tubes. The entire tube-framed upper structure is covered with vinyl (so sides and roof are both stretched vinyl.) This kit slides sits on large wheels in tracks mounted to the outside of a trailer frame. Visualize an accordion. Retracting this polka-palooza of bent tubes and vinyl exposes the entire load (sides and top) which can be potentially problematic in inclement weather. This is why sliderkit operators sometimes need to also tarp to keep loads protected. #tarpingsucks Plus, lower roller tracks, wheels and all of those tubes and vinyl sometimes get wrecked up by load shifts or forklift newbies. Even modest damage can cause an entire system to be inoperable until repaired. If you need load access from the top, these are a good solution. BTW, we are not anti-rollback. It is simply a different piece of equipment vs what we build. Now you know why and how.
- What a curtainsider is – overview: A curtainsider (tautliner or curtain system) is more dry van-durable and you can load and unload from sides and rear. The front wall, rear-end and roof are all fixed. Yes, curtainsiders have roofs. Vinyl side curtains are attached to the top rails with rollers, and an operator can slide either side curtain fore and aft to easily load from the sides. The side curtains are secured from front and rear by retention poles managed by rachets and at bottom by buckled straps. Roofs are supported by a few roof support posts or pillars. A curtainsider comes in two flavors: curtainsider trailer (an upfit enhancement to an existing flatbed trailer) and curtainsider body (complete unit -including base/floor- then mounted to a truck chassis.)
- ALLVAN – fronts and rears: An Allvan curtainsider has evolved from a painted to galvanized steel front wall and rear-end. For a cside application, steel is the only real solution. Galvanization makes better…the best. Both the front and rear can be custom spec built to your needs. Ex: front connect/retention points plus rear can spec’d with swing doors, a rollup door, a fixed wall or even simply a vinyl flap. You spec; we build.
- ALLVAN – roofs: The front and rear are connected by a fixed aluminum roof. The roof keeps your load(s) covered at all times, even when the side curtains are open. Drivers (they usually all shout “Amen!” here) no longer have to tarp anything when using a curtainsider. #tarpingsucks Fixed roof means no crane loading though, so that is the tradeoff vs rollback. However, the roof and all the integrated support/connect points is also why the expected life of a curtainsider unit is stellar. Our roofs help Allvan upfits last for decades. BTW, our top rail supports the roof which is subsequently supported by roof supports/poles/posts/pillars. Side curtains are opened or closed by sliding them along tracks that are part of the top rail extrusion as well.
- ALLVAN – connect points (our real magic): A curtainsider is subjected to maximum stresses: up-down, back-front, side-side + there is camber, side winds, road speed and just mother nature in general. Without proper connect tech, a curtainsider will not survive the forces and fail over time. Allvan curtainsiders do not fail because our handbuilt front and rear ends are attached to its body or trailer base with our patented IP (since expired but still 50-yr of tested/proven know-how.) We have seen some other units that demonstrate some US builders do not take construction as seriously as we do. Cside builder dabblers dabble…experts do not. Please-please know that not all curtainsiders are built the same. Enough said.
- ALLVAN – curtains and replacement curtains: If you know, you know: there is high-quality European vinyl fabric specifically developed to be used for curtainsides and there is junk, ie lesser vinyls. Allvan only uses the best curtain material available. A curtainsider vinyl is thick (26 or 28oz) and designed for weather (imbedded UV protectants), harsh driving and loading environments (dynamic weaves-high ‘thread counts’) and is able to be welded. Building curtains requires proven designs, skilled craftsmen and the correct equipment. We own a 60ft travel table Forstrom RF (radio frequency) vinyl welder to craft the raw European cside vinyl into useable side curtains. RF welding allows our crew to reinforce the side vinyl with webbing and hems and straps and buckles such. Of course we build Allvan side curtains, but we can also build any brand replacement curtains as well for Utility, Centerline, Sliding Systems, Roland, Morgan, Supreme and any of the other cside competitors who have come and gone over the years. Can we print on curtains too? Yes.
- ALLVAN – fleet graphics: If you do not use your curtainsider trailer or body for advertising/branding, that is a huge missed opportunity. A set of curtains will be on the roads and in front of your customers every single day. With graphics, you can have a fleet of rolling billboards, if you will. (Pssss: ask us how to “rent out” the sides of your units to your supplychain partners to help you subsidize the cost of side curtains. Some companies literally make their side curtains a profit center.) Over the last 4-5 years, Allvan has insourced and developed a full-service talented fleet graphics team. We can design. We can print and install cut vinyl. We can print and install 3M wraps. As of December, we can now offer large-format, commercial-grade printing to print ANY graphics on ANY color vinyl. We are the only US curtainsider manufacturer (albeit there are not many of us) with this bigass, sophisticated printer and capability in-house. Instead of sharing anymore about this ingredient of the Allvan secret sauce, please call us to discuss your fleet graphics needs. We’ll tell you more.
- ALLVAN – ROI: We have always overbuilt Allvan curtain bodies* and trailers to last for decades. A cside that makes multiple deliveries/day, 5-7 days/wk, 52 wks/year, for 15-20 years. Result: best equipment CAPX ROI (Return on Investment) in the business. *Our bodies can be swung to multiple chassis over its lifetime.
- Curtainsider trailers: We can build and upfit any existing flatbed trailer with our curtainsider systems. New or used. This includes flatbed trailers from Great Dane, Wabash, Fontaine, Utility, Clark, Fruehauf, Manac, Hyundai, Dorsey, etc.
- Curtainsider bodies: We can build a curtainsider body (includes base-floor) and install these on any medium or heavy-duty, single- or double-axle truck chasses. New or used. This includes trucks from Kenworth, Peterbilt, International / Navistar, Freightliner, Mack, Hino, Ford, etc.
Allvan only uses the best designs and components/ parts. We build our best, so you own the best.
All Weather Resistant
Fire retardant curtains are overkill, but European vinyl is over-designed and loomed specifically for curtainsider use/abuse. More specs are better in this instance.
You can operate your curtainsider in extreme weather, but if you are operating ANY truck or trailer in -30C weather, please stop.
European curtainsider vinyl is not cheap. Unlike chinesecrap (w all due respect to purveyors of junk vinyl), you get what you pay for. Allvan curtains will last to use/abuse.
EU vs China
‘Magic’ Rollers Video
This goofball shows how Allvan rollers make ours the best units currently available in the US. This is a 26ft body, but rest assured a full set of 53ft side curtains can also be opened with one hand and very little effort.
A special ‘thank you’ to our friends at Great Dane and Bluelinx. Since the actual curtainside tutorial video is too large to imbed on our site, you can also link directly to it here: AllVan Training.