Big Rig Basics: Better flow

Installing aerodynamic add-ons may require a few sets of hands and some time, but the work will be worth it

Any kind of device that improves the aerodynamics of a rig will save fuel. We visited Calex, a Pittston, Pa., fleet that runs a number of reefers and dry freight vans to witness the installation of a Carrier Transicold Freight Wing Aeroflex fairing system by technicians Al Hite and Tom Kennedy Jr.

The system consists of two fairings, 270-inches long, that mount under the trailer, one on each side.

1.  The first step is pre-assembly of hinges that will allow the lower edges of the fairings to be held in place by diagonal braces. These need to be mounted on the fairings, and the support rod attaching bolts and clamps must be assembled.

Determine where to mount the fairings. Slide the trailer tandems all the way to the front. Mark a point three inches forward of the front edges of the tires on the trailer’s side rail. The rear corner of the fairing will then be mounted on the nearest cross-member forward of this point. It will then run forward and angle in slightly so it will be just inside (about two inches) the landing gear legs or any related parts. Use a chalk line, or a string 270 inches long and a marker, to run a line from the rearward mounting point to the front mounting point two inches from the landing gear. Mark the cross-members to show where the fairing will run.

2. Use the markings made in Step 1 to locate the fairing sections along the bottom of the trailer. Clamp them in place with vice grips.

3. Install the fasteners attaching the sections together at the top.

4. Install the fasteners attaching the sections together along their sides (one technician on either side). These have rubber-coated washers and are unthreaded for part of the shaft so the bolt and nut can be tightened but the sections can still move in relation to one another. Tighten gently until they bottom out.

5. Drill every other or every second cross-member for the bolts that will fasten the fairing at the top. Drill far enough from the vertical section so there will be room to tighten the nut on top.

6. Some trailers have shallower steel cross-members at the front. Use a fiberglass block as deep as the difference between the cross-member heights (about one-and-a-fourth inch) to mount to these.

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7. Install bolts, nuts and washers through each hole to attach the top of the fairing to each drilled cross-member.

8. Assemble nuts and bolts to lower ends of diagonal braces and attach each to the mounting hinge along the bottom of the fairing.

9. the washers, through-bolt and nut, and clamp halves. Then clamp the upper ends to cross-members in line with the lower mount. Make sure the clamp is positioned on the rail so the fairing is vertical, then tighten gently.

10. Check alignment of all the lower rods, adjust clamp positions on cross-members as necessary, then fully tighten the clamps to the cross-members.

Thanks to Ray Redmon, Calex’ fleet maintenance manager; Jason Forman, senior product development manager at Carrier Transicold; and Jason Leri, territory manager at Penn Commercial Vehicle Solutions, the fleet’s reefer system dealer, for hosting us.