The way to achieve the longest life and performance from the wheels on work trucks is through proper spec’ing and care.
Officials at Maxion Wheels, the world’s largest manufacturer of lightweight steel wheels (www.maxionwheels.com), say that fleet equipment specifiers could make wheels a “non-issue” if they’d follow a few simple guidelines and ask their equipment maintenance departments to follow the six spec’ing tips and seven maintenance steps to long wheel life.
The most common selection by commercial vehicle fleets is hub-piloted wheels, which provide better torque and torque retention, less maintenance time, and in most cases, longer life, says said Denny Weisend, director, North American commercial wheel sales for Maxion Wheels.
Today, the 10-hole hub piloted wheel system is the industry standard for every wheel manufacturer, he notes. These wheels offer straight-through stud-bolt holds (no ball seat or spherical countersink) and are positioned on the hub by wheel pilot pads providing more true mounting to the axle end, which provides a better end-user experience.
Maxion Wheels work closely with fleets of all sizes and their respective OEMs to provide the right wheel for the job, he says, and to help fleets determine such factors as standard duty or severe duty wheels, 2-hand hole or 5-hand hole design or a unique color to promote a specific fleet image.
Weisend says key factors to consider in spec’ing wheels should include:
- Tire size and maximum air inflation.
- Loads to be carried (wheel-carrying capacity).
- Vehicle duty cycle.
- Axle pound rating.
- Field service support from the wheel supplier.
To achieve longer wheel life, a fleet should care and maintain your wheels in the following ways, recommends Weisend:
1. Keep the wheels washed and clean, removing any-all caustic road chemicals, often used in winter-ice conditions.
2. Maintain a flat, properly painted wheel surface because road salt can find the most miniscule opening to cause problems.
3. Attaching hardware must be free of debris to allow torque wrenches to torque to correct specifications. To ensure proper clamp load, fasteners or lock nuts must be clean, free-turning and torqued to the recommended torque level.
4. Use a calibrated torque wrench when torqueing wheel nuts and follow torque wrench manufacturers’ recommendations for keeping the wrenches calibrated.
5. Properly maintain air wrenches, including the proper length of the air hose. Drain the air guns regularly as they can collect moisture and use air dryers to keep moisture out of the air supply chain.
6. Maintain clean mating surfaces by removing all dirt, debris, burrs or anything that may impact the flatness of the mating surfaces.
7. Exercise caution to assure no lubricants exist on the mating surfaces or any vertical plane of the wheel. Lubricating the wheel pilot pads should be limited to the horizontal plane of the wheel pilot pads.
To keep wheels clean and provide long-life and performance, most fleets have wheels refurbished.
These refurbishers should be properly trained to determine if a wheel should be placed back into service, Weisend says. It’s recommended that fleets closely review the vendor’s refurbishing procedures, emphasizing proper inspection, cleaning and re-painting of the wheels.
Two important details in refurbishment: controlling paint mil thickness in the mounting area of the disc face and ensuring paint is fully cured, he points out
Corrosion remains a concern for fleets operating in harsh service environments, particularly on roads treated for snow or ice, adds Weisend. One option to combat this severe service situation is to specify wheels with premium paint finishes, such as a powder-coated wheel.
Properly-spec’d and maintained wheels will provide many years of satisfactory performance, he concludes. “Just pay attention to the basics.”