Felling Trailers’ Custom FT-40-2 Triple Reel


Felling FT-40-2 Triple Reel Trailer
The Felling FT-40-2 Triple Reel Trailer before it was shipped and put into service.

A Felling Trailers customer needed to replace an older, antiquated trailer. The replacement trailer would be used to transport, payout, and install underground conductor without damaging the material.

It’s important to note that when workers install an underground conductor, they must take precautions to ensure the integrity of the material being paid out. The application in which the trailer would be used would require the ability to transport three reels—each equipped with a tensioning brake system that could be operated by one person from a centralized location. The trailer would also need to have a fifth-wheel style hitch with air brakes. 

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Vermeer Southeast Sales and Service, an authorized Felling Trailers, Inc. dealer, worked with Felling Trailers’ Utility and Telecom product manager, Mark Rapp, to build a custom FT-40-2 Triple Reel trailer to meet the customer’s specifications.

Through this collaboration, Felling Trailers’ team designed and built the FT-40-2 Triple Reel trailer, a custom unit equipped with a one-piece reel rack assembly. The assembly consisted of three 86-inch diameter x 52-inch wide x 7,000 lbs reel bars equipped with hydraulic tensioning brakes.

Reels equipped with hydraulic tensioning brakes allow the conductor to be paid out in a controlled manner. It also eliminates over spin of the reels if the pull is stopped abruptly. One operator can control hydraulic tensioning brakes, unlike mechanical tensioning brakes from a single location. Felling Trailers’ hydraulic tensioning brakes are equipped with hydraulic accumulators. These assure smooth operation of the tensioning brakes by absorbing pressure changes that develop due to rotor intolerance and heat buildup.

Further, a single, double-acting hand pump can provide hydraulic pressure to all the calipers at the same time. Each brake circuit can be isolated and controlled individually if the need arises. Felling Trailers accomplished this by incorporating a control bank on the rear roadside of the trailer. From this control bank, a single operator can manage the hydraulic tensioning brakes of all three reels and access the double-acting hand pump. 


To ensure the integrity of the material, the trailer was equipped with two booms: an adjustable overhead boom, with 126-inch raised height from deck floor and a retractable rear boom that would extend 36 inches beyond the rear of the trailer when deployed. The overhead boom has two positions: a lower position to keep the overall height legal during transport and the raised position for paying out material when on the jobsite.

The underground conductor is routed through stringing blocks hanging from the boom. This assures the cable can be paid out without coming into contact with anything that may damage the insulation. From the overhead boom, the conductor then travels to the rear boom. The rear-telescoping boom extends out of the back of the trailer. It is also equipped with stringing blocks. This system allows the conductor to travel unobstructed from the reels to the final point of entry into an underground duct, vault, or trench. 

To meet the hitch specification, Rapp worked with Felling Trailers’ weld team to design and build a custom H-frame gooseneck hitch with kingpin. The custom setup delivered a 50-inch fifth wheel height, a 16-inch set back, and a 62-inch swing clearance from the kingpin back to the gooseneck, which provided the customer with ample height and clearance for their application. Felling Trailers’ experience in trailer manufacturing allows flexibility to meet customer’s precise specifications and requirements.


Felling Trailers is a family-owned and operated Full Line Trailer Manufacturer located in Central Minnesota. Started in 1974, Felling Trailers, Inc. has grown from a small shop to a factory and office complex that today covers over 325,000 sq ft. Felling’s differentiation is its customized trailer division. Its engineers use the latest industry-leading design techniques, and its experienced metal craftspeople use cutting-edge technology to turn its customers’ conceptual trailer needs into a tangible product. Felling has provided innovative trailer solutions to the transportation industry for over 45 years. Felling Trailers’ current capabilities allow the company to provide a high-quality product that is distributed across North America and internationally. Find out more, visit

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