A terminal tractor is a semi-tractor intended to move semi-trailers within a cargo yard, warehouse facility, or intermodal facility, much like a switcher locomotive is used to position railcars.
Distinctions between a terminal tractor and a regular road truck are several and noticeable:
- A single-person cab offset to the side of the engine.
- A full-height, sliding rear door for easy access to trailer connections.
- A very short wheelbase, usually with a solidly mounted rear axle.
- A low-power diesel or alternative fuel engine, usually with an automatic transmission.
- A fifth-wheel coupling with an integrated lifting mechanism allows the semi-trailer’s legs to remain in the lowered position during movement. 15 inches (380 mm) and 70,000 lb (32,000 kg) of hydraulic lift is typical.
- 12-gauge steel side wall cab construction with 1⁄2-inch (13 mm) steel floors for protection in abusive and dangerous work environments.
- 360-degree view facilitating five to six moves an hour.