CSA Proof Your Rig

Todd Dills | March 01, 2012


Brake violations accounted for three of the top 12 most commonly cited infractions, in both all-violations and out-of-service lists. Automatic slack adjusters, standard equipment on new vehicles since 1994, take care of continuously adjusting brakes for operators, but an auto slack isn’t maintenance-free. Checking push-rod travel will tell you when an auto slack has failed.

Proper pushrod travel length is specified in the regulations as 80 percent of “the rated stroke listed in SAE J1817 … or 80 percent of the rated stroke marked on the brake chamber” by the manufacturer. As an example, FMCSA notes that pushrod travel for Type 16 and 20 long-stroke clamp-type brake actuators must be less than 2 inches, or 80 percent of the rated stroke, 2.5 inches for Type 30 chambers.

Beyond checking for push-rod travel, the biggest factor of brake maintenance – and particularly maintenance of auto slacks themselves – is regular greasing. Zehrer hits every grease fitting under the truck and trailer once a week, he says, and inspects all undercarriage components as well.

“Even if you get your truck greased at the SpeedCo for $23, at least somebody’s under the truck checking everything out,” says Taylor.

For general preventive maintenance for component longevity, say both Taylor and Zehrer, nothing beats doing greasing work yourself and inspecting the parts of the braking system and suspension, including all hoses – all on a regular basis.

Brake hose-related violations are particularly common, accounting for the sixth most common violation overall and the third most common out-of- service infraction. They carry a four-point CSA weighting. To avoid the most common of the violations, make certain brake hoses are properly secured against potential mechanical damage.

Catching a brake hose securement problem comes back to knowing what to look for during pretrip inspections, says McClusky. “One of the requirements is that you inspect all hoses and brake lines for rubbing, chafing and cracking – try to catch these things prior to them breaking. Breaking an air line is a top safety item.” For inspectors, it will be a high priority check.

Tie hoses out of harm’s way, McClusky adds, making sure there’s “nothing hanging down or rubbing against something that might cause damage.” Zehrer utilizes zip-ties to properly secure all hose lines.

“Cracking is common in winter,” says McClusky. Carry spare lengths of hoses and appropriate end fittings, particularly if you’re utilizing ferrule-type non-reusable fittings that are crimped over the hose end.

The appropriate fix to an inadequate hose, including any with a leak, however small, is replacement, McClusky says. “You can’t really carry a spare hose for everything, but focus on those that are subject to ice and snow or subject to road debris under the chassis” – for instance, the lines that go to the brake chambers, he adds. “Carry a length of each of those sizes.” If the fittings are a reusable type, you can just remove the fittings, install the hose and move on.

John Baxter contributed to this report.



Necessary equipment

• Spare lights, crimpers and 12-, 14- and 16-gauge wiring

  • Gordon A

    What most drivers do not know is that it is required for you to have a spare light and or bulb for every kind of bulb your truck has from head lights , tail lights to dash bulbs.
    It is not a bad idea to have spare fuses, relays and a turn signal flasher in the bag of “keep on truckin” spare parts. No-one expects you to carry a spare starter or air compressor but the things that puts you out of service or gets you ticket is lights and brakes. Most drivers and OO’s do not carry a spare slack adjuster. It is not a bad idea if your even a little mechanical minded..

    Seldom do drivers check the suspension bolts and the spring hanger bolts. Looking good is not good enough. Put hands on to check them for looseness.
    Some drivers will use a wrench to do this.
    If your truck has had suspension work recently then there is a good possibility you may have a loose bolt. No different than checking the torque on a wheel lug nuts after you have had a tire repaired.
    Remember, Your the back bone of this country.
    Keep on truckin drivers ,

  • http://overdriveonline.com/channel19 Todd Dills

    Thanks for the feedback, Gordon — spare slack is a great suggestion, as are the others. Thanks as always for reading.

  • Gordon A

    I want to pass along a lubrication tip to the OO’s that are as tired as I was of crawling under their truck to lube it.

    I am in the processes of installing on my truck a closed greasing system.

    This is what I am doing to help reduce or eliminate the possibility of moving parts failure and to reduce the chance of my truck not passing a equipment inspection.

    I have installed an aluminum block with a Zirk fitting for each grease fitting for the rear suspension excluding the 5th wheel.
    A like block is used for the front suspension and moving parts. Just mount it where it is easy for you to get to.

    I have installed the aluminum feeder block on the brace ahead of the sliding 5th wheel plate for convenience. I can now stand in one spot and grease the undercarriage easily. No grease globs to earn me a ticker for excess grease and or oil now.
    Clean, neat and convenient. No more sliding under the truck in a nasty urine drenched parking lot.

    Then it is a simple matter of getting the grease gun out and never having to get under the truck to grease it again.
    I am going to do my trailer that way too and it is going to be easier than the tractor.
    This system assures me I will never again have some fitting with a glob of grease making me wonder if the fitting took it or was it a sloppy uncaring tech.

    Far too many times I have had to clean the fittings after a TS grease job. They seem to just not care about neatness anymore.
    No tickets for it either.
    It has cost me less than $75 dollars for the tractor.

    I hope this idea helps someone else keep their truck neatly lubed and in passing condition.

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