Falling to Pieces

Corrosion is back! Well, it never really went away, but it’s becoming a hot topic once again for the Technology & Maintenance Council (TMC), so hot that the group has authorized an entirely new type of committee to address the problem.

The Corrosion Control Action Committee, as it is called, met for the first time at TMC’s Fall Meeting recently in Nashville, TN, and Fleet Maintenance had an opportunity to talk with Jerry Thrift, the Co-Chair of the Committee before the meeting, to find out what fleets can expect to see happen.

Thrift, senior manager of new product development for Ryder Trucks, has been involved with the corrosion issue for several years, having served as Chair of a Corrosion Task Force for the Future Truck Committee.


A few years back, Thrift was evaluating new products to help combat corrosion on Ryder’s vehicles, so he was aware of the different products being pitched as solutions. He brought his company’s problems up at a TMC meeting, and found that others were experiencing premature failures of brake, electrical and chassis components due to corrosion. Soon after, the Task Force was formed and Thrift became the Chair.

“The output of Future Truck, regardless of the Task Force structure, is position papers,” Thrift explains. “That’s where we tell the OEMs and suppliers, ‘Here’s what we want as users.’ We don’t say how to get there—we leave that up to them.

“So, my Task Force came up with a position paper that says, if it’s a tractor, here’s how long it should run, and I shouldn’t have to be replacing parts on it due to corrosion,” he explains. “If it’s a trailer, this is how many years it should go before I have to replace any parts on it due to corrosion. So, we told them there what we want.”

According to Thrift, OEMs and component suppliers won’t make products that address the needs of end users unless the end users tell the manufacturers what they want.

“If you know where the goalposts are, you certainly have a better idea of where you need to get to than if you don’t know where the goalposts are,” he says.


The position paper composed by Thrift’s Task Force made it clear to manufactures where those goalposts were, but has the ball moved in the meantime?

“I kept the Task Force open for two years, almost a year and half after we got the paper out, simply to keep the corrosion issue in front of everybody, and to give them updates on it,” Thrift says. “Once the paper was done, each Study Group was asked to take it and look at it through their specific Study Group’s responsibilities. For instance, S.7 is trailers; they were supposed to look at it and say, ‘We as S.7 are going to work on how to get to where the industry wants to be.’ Or S.2, Tires and Wheels—of course you’ve got corrosion on wheels, so they would work on, how do we get where the position paper says we want to be?”

In other words, the position paper spelled out what fleets want, and the Task Forces were then supposed to decide how to get what the fleets want. “And of course their end product is a Recommended Practice (RP),” Thrift says. “It’s a combination of users and OEMs and suppliers working together to jointly come up with that solution.

“To be candid with you, that’s what was supposed to happen,” he says, “but nobody would take the bull by the horns and make it happen.”


Meanwhile, states amd municipalities were spreading corrosive new anti-icing agents on their roads and highways, and trucks were rusting.

The new Action Committee aims to reinvigorate the efforts of the TMC membership by addressing the issue in a whole new way. In the new model, a representative from every TMC Study Group will join the Action Committee, so that each Study Group will have a vested interest in the activities of the Committee. It is hoped that this will give the effort the drive and direction it was previously lacking.

“The purpose of this group is to develop solutions to the many corrosion issues that are facing the trucking industry,” says the introductory letter sent out recently by Chairman Roy Gambrell. “As an industry, we all realize we have a problem and it is affecting every component on a commercial vehicle.

“We realize that many states find these new de-icing chemicals very effective for maintaining winter roads, so industry must start working on finding effective and economical means of mitigating its effect on equipment and its maintenance.”

Keeping in mind that a recent TMC survey showed that 85 percent of fleets would be willing to pay more for effective corrosion control, what does the Action Committee hope to accomplish at its inagural meeting?

“We hope to have representatives from the chemical manufacturers to explain the make up of the many deicing chemicals in use today for the purpose of updating industry corrosive testing,” says Gambrell.

The Action Committee will take a round-table approach to the problem, bringing in liaisons from each TMC Study Group to be active players in developing corrosion solutions.

“Some vendors don’t adhere to the TMC recommended practices,” Gambrell says. “OEMs and fleets need to be educated on available technologies and advancements against corrosion.”

With a few conference calls under its belt before the Nashville meeting, the Action Committee was already tallying up a long list of issues and concerns on which to focus its attention:

  • Should truck OEMs be represented on the Committee?
  • How much is corrosion costing this industry?
  • What costs are fleets willing to pay for effective corrosion control?
  • How can we get information on the chemical makeup of de-icing agents from the manufacturers?
  • How do the goals of the Committee dovetail with existing Recommended Practices?
  • What is the status of the Corrosion Prevention Act (HB1770), and how can TMC members help to get it pushed through?

The answers might not come quickly, but there are a lot of people rolling up their sleeves and getting ready to work on these issues.

In our next issue, we’ll recap the first meeting of the Corrosion Control Action Committee, and talk to some vendors that are offering corrosion protection products that you can use today!