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What Is A Curtain-Sider Lorry?

What Is A Curtain-Sider Lorry?

If you are looking to hire a load transportation vehicle but are uncertain about which one would best suit your needs, you are likely to face difficulties when researching their types. You probably already stumbled upon the term curtain-sider lorry. You’d be surprised to learn that you have encountered many in real life, too! But what is a curtain-sider lorry exactly? How does it differ from a box-side lorry, for example, or a flat bed truck? Keep reading to find out.

A Truck With Many Names: What Is A Curtain-Sider Lorry?

A curtain-sider lorry is a truck type with flexible side walls that can be pulled/rolled up or to the side so that you can access the cargo area. These walls are a weather-protection structure mounted on the bed of a trailer that also keeps the load in place. The structure consists of canvas curtains fixed at the top of it to detachable roof rails. These curtains can be manoeuvred horizontally using a curtain pole at the front and rear, or they can be vertically rolled up like a roller door, providing easy access for (un)loading.

A curtain-sider lorry is also called a curtain-side truck, curtainsider and tautliner truck, the latter being the commercial vehicle that the Baolloy company patented in 1969 Britain, introducing the design of the curtainside trailers as we know it today. The design has improved since: the load capacity and endurance of curtains increased and the deflection decreased.

When loaded, vertical load restraint straps are attached to a rope rail beneath the vehicle bed, connecting it to curtains along both sides. Winches at either end of the curtains tension them, leading to them being called tautliners.

The Purpose And Usage Of Curtain-Side Trucks

The Trailer With The Curtain Side Slided To The Side

A curtainsider trailer is most frequently used in the retail and haulage industry since it can carry vast amounts of load, as well as vast load, while canvas curtains offer high loading flexibility, load restraint and excellent weather protection.

It is perfect for transporting cargo that can be loaded using a forklift, palletised goods, for instance, or flexible bulk bags. Moreover, a mezzanine floor can be installed to make it double versatile. The curtains protect any weather-sensitive freight – such as raw materials or moisture-sensitive machinery, food and beverage or hospitality-industry items from – wind, rain, sun, etc.

A curtainside truck has a maximum authorised mass (total weight) over 3.5t, being thus categorised as HGV (heavy goods vehicle). A curtainside truck weighs from 7.5 (C1 entitlement) to 32 tonnes for rigid ones (C entitlement) and 44 tonnes for articulated ones (a tractor unit that can be detached from a trailer; C+E entitlement).

Either way, an HGV licence and Driver CPC (for commercial driving, which is most often the case) are required, but the type of C-category licence depends on the size of the vehicle.

Tautliner Vs Box Truck

When selecting a lorry that offers protection for the cargo it’s carrying, there are two options – a tautliner and a box lorry. Here is everything you need to know about them to make your choice.

Box Truck

  • Box-shaped cargo space with solid metal sides;
  • Rigid opening doors for loading and unloading;
  • Limited access to the load when tightly loaded, complicating delivery of multiple loads to different addresses;
  • Box-shaped single-frame based trailer;
  • Solid walls make it a better choice for transporting high-value goods;
  • Advantage in protecting freight against wind and other weather conditions.


  • Cargo space consisting of a flatbed-like bottom with a weather protection construction with curtains attached to roof rails; when they are closed, it takes a box shape;
  • Often rigid rear opening doors, but loading and unloading possible all along the sides due to the retractable curtain operated by curtain pole; with some models – even from the sliding roof;
  • Easy access to goods in trailer, even when delivering multiple loads to different addresses;
  • Flatbed-based trailer with curtain sides;
  • Gives the option to install a mezzanine floor for extra space and protection of goods that can’t be stacked;
  • Offers completely reliable protection against the elements such as strong winds.

What Is A Euroliner?

Euroliner is a type of curtain-sided trailer with a sliding roof as well as curtains, and solid rear doors. This allows even easier access to different kinds of loads, allowing the freight to be loaded from above using a crane or any other type of lifting equipment. As flexible as tautliner trailers are, their usually aluminium roof is fixed.

Euroliner trailer was initially aimed at unaccompanied ferry routes between the UK and Europe, thus deserving its name.

Who Should Hire A Curtainsider?

The Sealing Mechanism For Curtain Sides Of The Truck

Anyone looking to transport a vast amount of freight to multiple destinations, freight that needs to be lifted with a forklift, awkwardly-shaped or weather-sensitive load, load that needs to be refrigerated, or loads that don’t require packaging, should hire a curtainsider.

Moreover, professional hauliers or retailers (or any other business) can use trailer curtains to advertise their business by adding the brand logo on them.

Check out our curtain-sider lorry hire fleet if you are convinced that a tautliner trailer suits your load transportation needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

A curtain-sider lorry is used for transportation of cumbersome freight, often to multiple destinations, when easy loading and unloading and protection from weather conditions are required. It’s most commonly used for business, retail and haulage, hospitality and food industry, moving service and construction businesses, but rarely succumbs to personal use.

There is no difference between a curtainsider and a tautliner. They are both the terms for load transportation HGVs with curtains along both sides for protection against weather conditions, such as the wind. Tautliner is the name of the first patented curtainside truck, built in England by Boalloy in 1969. The name is to this day generically used for this type of vehicle.

The most common curtain-side truck, a 7.5-tonne one, is 6-8 metres long, 2.55 m wide and 3-3.7 m tall. Payload capacity is between 2.5 and 3.5 tonnes. Curtain-side lorries weigh over 3.5 tonnes, most commonly between 7.5 and 26, although they can be even heavier.


To answer the question of what is a curtain-sider lorry, it’s safe to say that this heavy load-carrying vehicle with curtains instead of rigid walls has rightfully earned its place in the transportation market, offering the easy load access that a box-side trailer cannot, and protecting the load from the elements in the way a flatbed trailer, dropside and tipper cannot. Ultimately, it got the best of both worlds.

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