Should I choose an end dump or semi trailer… what kind of trailer?

Tandem end dump or semis in my crew?

For a couple of decades tandem and single axle end dump trucks were the primary way to move machines and haul grain during harvest. Semis were used, but rare compared to modern harvest crews. What happened? I have a soft spot for end dump grain trucks, more like a romantic love affair. The answer is combines grew. The capacity to move the large amounts of grain modern machines can cut called for larger trucks. Plain and simple. Not to mention end dump trucks are not cheap. A whole semi can cost less than an end dump truck and haul more grain. That being said there are still harvesters using end dump trucks along with semis.

Mike and Kathie Keimig use four Pete 377 end dump trucks along with semis. Wrights Harvesting and Trucking have a nice fleet of T800 end dump trucks, and Mark Heil Harvesting uses a couple IH end dump trucks. Osowski Harvesting has a slick T600 Kenworth end dump and Zeorian Harvesting keeps Frank around, a Freigtliner end dump. According to Mike Keimig ,they have customers who store their own grain. An end dump is needed to dump into an auger at the bin. For other cutters, perhaps the truck is paid for and a second semi is not necessary.

For the model harvester a good looking end dump can be hard to find. The most common way to create an end dump grain truck, and most cost effective method, is to buy one off EBay or make one combining parts. For a long time the common practice was to take an Ertl 1/64 scale gooseneck end dump trailer, cut off the gooseneck and wheels, then mount the assembly to a truck of choice. Depending on how the parts were bought, we can have an end dump for less than $30. Plus it would dump thanks to a hydraulic cylinder.

To have a grain bed that looks a bit nicer than the Ertl combination, Moore’s Farm Toys offers a couple variations of laser cut styrene (plastic) beds in lengths from 18′ to 27′ in kit form or assembled and painted. Complete trucks can be custom ordered as well. Each bed comes with a rock bed style endgate that moves. It swings out at the top of the bed. A working scissor hoist is another great feature.

Rockin H offers two variations of grain beds in styrene and three models that are 3D printed. The beds come in kit form and complete trucks customized to the owners desire. Thanks to 3D printing the beds are fitted with a working scissor hoist and hydraulic cylinder with endgate that can pivot up for silage or be fixed for grain. A 3D printed roll tarp frame or silage racks can be added as desired. Each bed is designed after current and past brand names including the Mid America Combo box, Aersoswint, and Knapheid.

In the Rockin H fleet, there are presently three different crews running end dump trucks. A crew of three 1480 IH combines with IH Transtar End dumps. A crew of five 7720 John Deere combines (to be rebadged 8820) with four Mark R end dumps and a 1960s GMC Brigadier. Finally, a fleet of four TR98s with two IH S series, an IH Transtar and Ford LTL9000. All are outfitted with various brands produced in house including Bradford (BR), Kann (KN), and Mid America Combo (MA) style box. The goal was to create crews typically scene in the 70s and 80s. Plus I like tandem end dumps.

Grain trailers for the crew

To haul the grain to town the harvesters are using all brands of grain trailers. Unfortunately, not all brands of grain trailers exist in scale models. Newray offers a grain trailer in 1/32 scale, and there are two brands in 1/64 scale. A generic trailer is offered by Ertl, and a 42′ Wilson offered by DCP. For a bit more money the DCP Wilson is the way to go. They are the nicest and offer the most detail. There are a few custom builders that will make a Neville or Cornhusker from time to time, but there is no consistent vendor to supply other brands other than Ertl and DCP.

For those replicating a crew, one piece of information that is interesting is harvesters often use 40′ trailers or shorter. This is due to length laws in various states they pass through. To have a truck, combine trailer, dolly and grain trailer hitched together will not be legal in every state. Thus the 40′. Yes, there are harvesters who break length laws and hook up various combinations of vehicles and trailers to go up and down the road. However, the harvesters I have spoke to work hard to be legal to ensure the safety of the crew and motorists they encounter. It is a matter of reputation for the fellows. They prefer not to be remembered as “that crew” wherever they are cutting.

Two vendors exist that offer dollies to pull two grain trailers in tandem or to pull a grain trailer behind a combine trailer. Moore’s farm toys offers a single or tandem axle dolly in kit or finished form and is the preferred dolly of Rockin H. The Moore’s dolly has a hook to connect the dolly to the grain trailer and is a bit longer to allow the grain trailer to adequately clear the combine on a trailer. Die Cast Promotions offers a dolly that would typically be seen in a set of doubles and triples used by commercial trucking companies. The DCP dolly has great detail, but is shorter and has a hitch designed for a pintle hitch set up not found on model combine trailers.

For harvest crews using grain trailers in the Rockin H fleets, 42′ Wilson trailers in white with black tarps with Moore’s dollys haul the iron and grain up and down the road. I could make the effort to shorten my trailers and be “legal” on my model farm. But, that is a lot of work to take 3/8″ off the back or front of a trailer. For builders who wish to learn how to make various sizes of DCP grain trailers, I shot a video tutorial showing each step of the process at How to make a 28 1/2″ pup, How to make a 21′ pup


  1. Zequek Estrada on March 24, 2016 at 2:33 am

    I didn’t think that having the right type of truck would have an impact on harvesting. It makes sense once I think about it more. Would you happen to know what most popular method now a days to haul grain?

    • Eric Haselhorst on August 16, 2016 at 2:33 am

      Hey there. In the states tractor trailers rule the road on the harvest run. One important reason is capacity, second – multiple uses, three – they can as economical as an end dump or tipper bed.

      Thanks for the question, Eric