Throughout the 1990s, truck and tractor trade cycles grew shorter. Over the same period, component warranties grew longer. When new emission regulations went into effect in 1993, all but a few engines came equipped with electronic fuel controls. The redesign that went into meeting those regulations produced diesel engines with exceptional longevity.
As a result of component improvements, many fleets gained the opportunity to treat power equipment much like a commodity. They could buy trucks and tractors, run them for an average of three or four years with little need for repairs, and sell them with mileage remaining on the warranties. In many instances, fleet maintenance began to concentrate on inspections and lubrication service. Repair, beyond light jobs such as replacing belts and hoses, was left to vendors as a part of the warranty coverage.
This change in maintenance philosophy changed the nature of fleet mechanics, but it has not changed the fact that specialized tools and equipment are still needed to run an efficient shop. What follows is a collection of specialized shop equipment introduced in the past several months.
Tire handling and inflation equipment:
Although the number of repairs may have decreased, most fleets still handle a large number of tires.
Haltec Corp produces an automatic tire inflator that improves inflation accuracy while simplifying the inflation and deflation procedure. A technician simply enters the desired inflation pressure on the system control panel and attaches an air hose to the tire. The inflator fills the tire, then beeps to alert the mechanic, and shuts off when the correct pressure is reached. It can be used to deflate over-pressure tires in the same manner. An internal computer constantly checks gauge accuracy. The system can be used for pressures from 5 to 140 psi and is accurate to within 0.3 psi. For more information, contact Haltec, 2556 State Rt 9, PO Box 1180, Salem OH 44460.
The Futura Pro GP 145 tire inflator from Vangard Inc Tire Equipment Group allows mechanics to set desired tire pressure, connect a hose, and walk away a safe distance while tires are inflated. The unit has a digital display, two warning alarms, locking air chucks, and 30 ft of hose. The Futura Pro GP 145 can be used with all tire sizes and at inflation pressures from 3 to 145 psi. Upon reaching the desired pressure, the unit sounds its beeper and flashes a lamp as it shuts off. Contact Vangard, 980 W Union Rd, PO Box 885, West Union SC 29696.
The PakPress tool from Safe Shop Tools Inc allows technicians to remove and install wheel studs without removing outboard studs. The handheld hydraulic tool reduces the time for removing and replacing studs on a typical 10-stud wheel from two hours to less than 30 minutes. Adapters are available to remove and install double-ended studs for ArvinMeritor air disc brakes. Removing wheel studs without removing the hub eliminates the extra time needed to remove and replace wheel seals. A set of five fitting tools allows mechanics to remove and install studs or extract broken studs. Details are available from Safe Shop, PO Box 4206, Missoula MT 59806.
Electronic diagnosis equipment:
As more electronic equipment is built into vehicle components, more diagnosis must be done with computer assistance.
The Allison Transmission Diagnostic Tool from Allison Transmission division of General Motors is a PC-based software application for WTEC II and WTEC III control systems. The program allows technicians to access data from Allison transmission controls and follow step-by-step procedures for troubleshooting. The tool uses a Windows-style graphical user interface and allows the technician to select views of transmission operating parameters. In addition to troubleshooting transmission, the tool can be used to reprogram the control system. It has a demonstration mode that allows technician practice and training without being connected to a transmission. For more information, contact SPX Corp (Kent-Moore Service Solutions), 28635 Mound Rd, Warren MI 48092.
Robinair manufactures the new Cool-Tech ID Plus to identify refrigerants and display the purity of the material. The unit can identify refrigerants and display the actual percentage of refrigerant in a sample in less than one minute. Cool-Tech ID gives technicians an indication whether a refrigerant is safe to recover or recharge. It uses Neutronics infrared technology to identify R-12 and R-134a and to indicate the percentage of air in a system. Refrigerant is deemed acceptable only if it is 98% pure or better. A red light on the unit indicates contaminated refrigerant, while a green lamp means recovery can continue. An alarm sounds if flammable substances such as propane or butane are found. The unit is self-cleaning between uses. Contact Robinair, SPX Corp, 1224 Robinair Way, PO Box 193, Montpelier OH 43543.
The SPX Dieseltune DX240 smoke opacity meter measures engine exhaust smoke opacity. It analyzes black, blue, or white smoke in exhaust gases using a SmokeStick exhaust probe. The meter need not be attached to the exhaust stack. All electronics are located outside the exhaust plume. An average of 500 trucks can be tested before a lens cleaning is required. It is accurate at both the high and low ends of smoke opacity range. For information contact SPX Corp, 28635 Mound Rd, Warren MI 48092.
The Integrated Truck Diagnostic System comes installed on a water- and shock-resistant laptop computer. SPX Service Solutions loads the diagnostic software onto the computer and registers the systems with original equipment manufacturers so that no software conflicts occur. The system has a uniform graphical interface and uses a minimum number of computer cables. The system instructs the technician as to which cables to use for each task. It is covered by a three-year parts and labor warranty and the SPX customer call center for technical support. Contact SPX Corp, 28635 Mound Rd, Warren MI 48092.
Steps and safety equipment:
Shop may not perform extensive vehicle repairs, but inspections still require technicians to climb on trucks to reach many components. Several new products allow reaching into the engine compartment or refrigeration unit safely.
The Stepper II portable step hangs over a standard truck tire to give technicians access to engine components and to equipment mounted on the vehicle firewall. The adjustable work platform is manufactured by Safe Shop Tools. It is coated with neon yellow paint for high visibility. Urethane strips keep metal parts from scratching chrome or polished aluminum wheels. The work surface is OSHA-approved nonslip material. For storage, the Stepper II can be folded to a 5" by 14.5" by 30" package. No tools or bolts are required for use. For more information, contact Safe Shop, PO Box 4206, Missoula MT 59806.
The Pro-Step portable stair makes getting in and out of trailers safer. The portable platform also provides safer access to refrigeration units. It can be used in shops or carried in a belly box under a trailer. When the stair is erected, handrails lock in position for secure handholds. It is available from Pro-Step LLC, 177 N Wenzel St, Louisville KY 40206.
A new drive shaft adapter from Kiene Diesel Accessories allows technicians to remove and replace heavy truck drive shafts safely by supporting the entire shaft rather than just one end. The adapter fits a Kiene Diesel Clutch Caddy and has two cradle arms that adjust to support drive shafts of varying lengths and diameters. The adapter tilts to match the drive shaft mounting angle. It has a built-in stand so that the Clutch Caddy can be used for other jobs while the drive shaft is removed from the truck. For details contact Kiene Diesel Accessories, 325 S Fairbank St, Addison IL 60101.
The Door Lift from Kiene Diesel Accessories allows one mechanic to remove and replace trailer doors weighing up to 200 lb safely and easily. The door lift uses a clamping system that fits all standard lift trucks. Lifting hooks adjust to fit different width doors. Upper and lower retainers hold doors while hardware is installed. Contact Kiene Diesel Accessories, 325 S Fairbank St, Addison IL 60101.
Providing a clean, comfortable work environment helps ensure that technicians remain safe and productive.
Endura Flooring produces Endura OGR oil- and grease-resistant rubber flooring for lubrication bays and other service bay applications. It has high slip retardance to help prevent falls. The material is available in dark gray, black, red, or safety yellow. It does not crack or chip under high traffic use and is impervious to topical moisture and most automotive fluids. The flooring withstands heavy loads, including fork lifts, jacks, or heavy carts. For more information, contact Endura division of Biltrite Corp, 51 Sawyer RD, Waltham MA 02454.
Tec/Doors are box-welded structural steel tube paint booth doors with heavy duty hinges from Tecor Inc. The doors have no spot welds or pop rivets to break or loosen. Door options include solid or filter, single or double skins. They can be insulated or weatherproof with windows or lights. Doors openings can be double-swing, bi- or tri-fold with flush or center-of-booth mountings. For information, contact Tecor, 848 w 79th St, Bloomington MN 55420.
Some managers believe that low volumes of waste oil argue against using it for heating. The new Model 145 waste oil heater from Shenandoah Manufacturing Company allows low volume shops to burn oil, transmission fluid, or standard heating oil at a capacity of 144,200 Btu/hr. Although it is the smallest heater from Shenandoah, it has all the features of the company's larger models such as a patented burner with slide-gun assembly for easy maintenance. Swing-out mounting enhances accessibility. The model 145 carries a 10-year warranty. For details, contact Shenandoah, 1070 Virginia Ave, Harrisonburg VA 22802.
Worker safety in congested shops is enhanced by EMED Co Inc's new Warning Safety Mirror by providing a 360° view of large areas from different angles. Suspended from the ceiling, the 36" diameter mirror offers a wide-angle view of up to 500 sq ft of work space. The top of the mirror is surrounded by an eight-inch high yellow and black warning panel with “Caution” spelled out in large letters. The warning panel helps prevent the mirror from blending into the ceiling background. For durability, the mirror is made of shatter-resistant, reflective acrylic. It comes with a mounting chain. For information and a free catalog, contact EMED, PO Box 369-FG, Buffalo NY 14240.
BG Products new BG PF12 and PF15 Power Flush units help speed oil changes and keep engines clean. The units inject a cleaning solution into the oil system of a running engine. Used for 15 to 30 minutes, the power flush units clean sludge and deposits from the engine and filter it from the cleaning solution. With cleaning complete, the waste oil and cleaning solution is drained and the engine purged with air. Fresh motor oil with BG MOA, a deposit control conditioner, and a new filter are then installed. The units are built with powder coated steel. The PF15 holds five gallons of cleaning solution, while the PF12 holds one gallon. A training videotape and reference manual are included with purchases. Contact BG Products, 740 S Wichita St, Wichita KS 67213.
The N700 spring rewind hose reel from Hannay Reels uses a non-sparking ratchet assembly for safer operation. Newly designed seals for the spring motor provide protection in dirty environments. The position of the hose riser has been changed from previous models to improve hose alignment during retraction. It can handle 3/8" or 1/2" inside diameter hose and operates at pressures up to 3,000 psi and at temperatures from -20°F to 225°F. For more information, contact Hannay 553 State Rt 143, Westerlo NY 12193.
The Hannay N600 series hose reel is for applications that require dual hoses such as air and engine coolant. The narrow frame reel can accommodate two hoses of different diameters. A pull on the hose unlocks the reel for rewind by a spring motor.
The new Evolution metal cutting saw from Jancy Engineering Company makes cutting steel as easy as cutting plywood. With adjustable cutting width and depth, the saw can cut angle steel, square tubing, pipe, and plate steel up to 1/4" thick. A special cover collects sparks and chips. For more information, contact, Jancy, 2735 Hickory Grove Rd, Davenport IA 52804.
Kimberly-Clark Professional provides an industrial hand cleaner with grit. The medium-duty cleaner contains natural citrus cleaning agent and polymer bead grit for tackling light oils and grease. It is available in 3.5- and 8-liter containers. Contact Kimberly-Clark Corp, 1400 Holcomb Bridge Rd, Roswell GA 30076.