Maintenance Strategies: Lead To Trailer Longevity

To keep trailers on the job, try these maintenance strategies:

* Spec a trailer appropriate for the application. Although a medium-duty trailer with a 1/4-inch live floor is adequate for hauling MSW, it's insufficient for packing operations. A heavy-duty trailer, such as a "pusher" with 3/8-inch floor, can withstand overhead and rear packing.

* Practice preventative maintenance. Regular inspections will notify users of a maintenance problem before it develops into downtime. "Before daily hook up, the driver inspects the trailer for visible damage and excessive wear," said Dan Adrian, president of A.W.T. Transfer Service Inc. in Miami County, Ohio. "The trailer doesn't move until the visual in-spection is done." The aluminum pushers complete four, 100-mile round trips a day, 5 1/2 days a week, Adrian said.

A.W.T. Transfer practices daily, weekly and monthly maintenance programs. Every week, a maintenance crew checks lights, tests the brake adjustment and greases the door hinges, suspension and fifth wheel plate. Each month, maintenance crews check for evidence of weld cracks, inspect the brake shoes and examine wipers. The monthly inspection takes ap-proximately 2 1/2 hours.

* Keep tailgate seals tight. A strong, tightly fit tailgate reportedly will prevent material loss while on the highway. It's also important to inspect the door for uniform and tight closure. When the fit begins to loosen, readjust the door linkage. Pay close attention to the tailgate latch assembly, safety winder, chains and rubber water seal. Replace worn seals and repair or replace the refuse trailer's damaged safety winders.

To prolong the component's service life, A.W.T. cleans the rubber seal after unloading. After each use, the driver sweeps the seal with a broom. The seals are in-spected weekly.

"Material dripping from the trailer onto the road is unacceptable. We have to maintain a good public image," Adrian said.

* Look for floor wear. The floor should be thickest at the rear, where the greatest wear occurs. I-deal thickness depends on the type of material being hauled and how many trips the unit makes each day. The more abusive the load and the more frequent the trips, the thicker the floor needs to be. As a general rule, a pusher trailer rear floor should be at least 1/2 inch thick.

* Inspect the pusher mechanism. The horizontal discharge blade is mounted on a structural sled of high strength extruded aluminum alloys and glides on ultra high molecular weight (UHMW) blocks along an extruded track. The blade is edged with UHMW wiper blades to eliminate jams and to provide a tight seal. The discharge blade runs on guides, which the company inspects every three months and replaces approximately every two years. The re-placement procedure takes about three hours in A.W.T.'s shop.

* Protect against corrosion. Rust damages the structural integrity of a trailer. Sandblasting can protect steel trailers and annual acid baths will protect aluminum trailers. A.W.T. reportedly pays an av-erage of $60 per bath for aluminum trailers and $900 to bathe its steel trailers.