CSA Proof Your Rig
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.