There are a lot of considerations when it comes to spec'ing the right towing equipment for new trucks. According to Steve Broge, product application sales manager for Monroe, WI-based, Monroe Truck Equipment, finding the right type of truck and towing components means buying the truck that is needed, not just wanted.
"You have to make sure the GVWR is what it needs to be to pull the trailer or excessive weight, because a lot of damage will be done just by purchasing the wrong truck," he says. "The damage will not be limited to the trailer either."
Broge says that when purchasing a truck, maintenance managers need to first consider the trailer they will need. "Finding the appropriate truck to match the trailer is imperative to the life of the truck. Also take into consideration the hitch and ball accessories to purchase as well. Just because a ball is spec'ed at 30,000 GVW doesn't mean your truck is."
Broge says most fleets work closely with trailer manufacturers for trailers that match their individual needs. Broge becomes uneasy when fleets purchase new trucks without matching the trucks to their trailers.
"You see these guys trading in one body type for a new one, and they don't notice the new truck is higher than the old truck. Now, the truck has changed, but the trailer hasn't."
Steve Harthorn's concern is that people don't know what companies have to offer as far as products.
"Not being aware of the capacities or articulation levels can get fleets into trouble," says Harthorm, product manager for coupling products and kingpin group, The Holland Group Inc.—Holland USA. He says the ability of the suspension to move under the load directly affects how that load will be carried.
MORE THAN COMPONENTS
"If a fleet is doing a lot of towing, using a better grade of engine oil will be important. Using a synthetic transmission oil will also help with the excessive heat when towing," Broge says. "Clutch grease will plug up the filter, which will increase the running temperature. All of these factors determine how your transmission will run."
Adjusting the intervals at which lubricants are changed is just as important as the quality. Changing the oil more often on towing vehicles will provide better protection for the components. Sample schedules and suggestions can be found in manufacturer literature.
Brake controllers are also something to be considered in purchasing. Maintenance managers should work directly with the trailer manufacturers to spec' the appropriate brake controllers for the trailer.
"When the appropriate brake controller is spec'ed, stop-ability is better, you will have more control and there will be less maintenance to the truck," Broge says.
Harthorn says manufacturer's websites are great sources for help on component selection and maintenance suggestions. "Here at Holland, we offer everything from before you buy to how to fix it. It's a great resource."
Once a maintenance manager decides on a trailer, depending upon the weights of the loads, a hitch and ball may not be enough, says Harthorn.
"Here's a guy in the bulldozing service and he has a truck but tows a dozer from jobsite to jobsite, and he may require a 20,000 pound capacity, but when you get into that much weight, the conventional ball hitch doesn't work anymore. That's when you go to the pintle hook and the drawbar because of how the weight is distributed," he says.
Pintle hooks, couplers and mating drawbars are for commercial and industrial towing applications where capacities usually exceed 10,000 pounds gross trailer weight. These components are designed to be used primarily for towing and where backing up of vehicles is limited.
There are two types of ball hitches. A weight-carrying hitch consists of a ball and coupler with no means to distribute the hitch weight. It is used primarily for lightweight trailers. Heavier trailers, however, require a weight-distributing hitch, which uses spring bars to transfer some of the hitch weight forward onto the tow vehicle's front axle and rearward onto the trailer's axle(s).
Keeping informed when spec'ing to cut construction fleet costs.