tiller doors

There are three different types of tiller doors that are offered by manufacturers.

  • Sliding
  • Hinged 
  • Accordion

Some manufacturers provide different tiller door choices and some manufacturers endorse their standard tiller door unless you otherwise specify. These doors come with a range of different windows styles depending on what manufacturer you choose, including bubble windows. (Click to enlarge)



These doors are generally hinged at the rear rather than the front, and are commonly referred to as suicide doors. Rear-hinged doors make entering and exiting the tiller cab easy, allowing the tiller operator to enter by turning to sit and exit by stepping forward and out. These doors typically require the tiller steps to be offset on the trailer in front of the tiller door. Climbing up these types of stairs can feel strange at first but you soon become accustomed to the ergonomics. (Click to enlarge)

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Some tiller operators like to drive with both rear-hinged doors opened to provide immediate airflow into the tiller cab. Driving the apparatus with the tiller doors butterflied opened increases the trailer’s profile and creates opportunities for the doors to become snagged or ripped off. I know of specific examples where the tiller doors were left open while driving and this has occurred. 




Some manufacturers provide tiller doors that are hinged at the front of the opening like traditional car doors. (Click to enlarge)



accordion tiller doors

These tiller doors are unique; you don’t see many of them with today’s modern tractor drawn aerials. The accordion doors fold together like the old telephone booth doors. When left in the open position the doors slide to the back of the tiller cab to create an opening for the tiller operator to enter or exit. Just like the sliding tiller doors, the accordion tiller doors provide the same ability to gain an unobstructed view when leaning outside the tiller cab. In the open position these doors stay within the profile of the trailer and do not extend out past the sides of the trailer.  (Click to enlarge)

In the movie “Ladder 49” the film uses an old Seagrave tractor drawn aerial that includes an accordion style tiller door.(Click to enlarge) 

single entry tiller door

Some departments design apparatus to only have one tiller door. This is done to allow ladders to be affixed to the exterior of the trailer and extra compartments to be added to the back of the trailer on the officer's side. The obvious benefit is more compartment space and a larger complement of ground ladders. The downside of course is less access in and out of the tiller cab. Usually when a tractor drawn aerial has one tiller door it is located on the driver's side unless otherwise specified. Both the driver and the tiller operator enter from the same side of the apparatus. (Click to enlarge)

Here is a very unique tiller door that slides open as one half of the tiller cab. In 1969, the Seattle Fire Department had two of these Kenworth-Maxim 100’ tractor drawn aerials.  You can read more about this tractor drawn aerial at the “Last Resort Fire Department”. (Click to enlarge)