Coupling In Cold Weather

Topic 29259 | Page 1

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Rob T.'s Comment
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When it gets colder and snow/ice starts to accumulate on your 5th wheel you need to double, and triple check that you're properly coupled. Push the handle in and visibly verify its properly secured by climbing under the trailer then give it the tug test. The grease doesn't work as well as the temps drop or ice may have prevented it from completely closing even if you hear it latch.

This morning I was outside after hooking and heard what sounded like a loader running a pallet into a door next to me. Come to find out a driver a couple doors down from me had his trailer drop due to not properly connecting. He was able to pull out of the door, hook a left and make it about 100 feet before it slammed to the ground. He insists he did everything correctly (as outlined above) with the exception of the tug test due to ice buildup by dock door just causing trailer to drag across the surface. Fortunately it happened in the yard and nobody was injured. The only visible damage (before our shop inspects it) is minor damage to the front right corner that it landed on and the farings of his cab. This could have been far worse. If this is his first time worse case scenario now is the driver gets suspended 1 week unless our mechanics find his equipment was faulty and surveillance cameras show he followed proper procedure. He'll also not be taking a load out today due to needing to take a drug and alcohol test, as well as meet with management. I'm looking at a 3 hour delay on my load and needless to say I've already gotten out multiple times to check my connection.

Delco Dave's Comment
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Would throwing a small 5X7 tarp over the 5th wheel ahead of projected bad weather to keep the rain and snow off it help prevent that from happening?

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

PackRat's Comment
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Would throwing a small 5X7 tarp over the 5th wheel ahead of projected bad weather to keep the rain and snow off it help prevent that from happening?

Nope, because the spray from underneath, and the moisture creeping in from other sources will still get to it.

I spray every moving component down liberally with PB Blaster every two weeks at a minimum during the Winter season (October through April).

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Rob T.'s Comment
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Would throwing a small 5X7 tarp over the 5th wheel ahead of projected bad weather to keep the rain and snow off it help prevent that from happening?

Would throwing a small 5X7 tarp over the 5th wheel ahead of projected bad weather to keep the rain and snow off it help prevent that from happening?

I've seen people use cardboard before but for the most part just ensuring it's latched correctly will solve all your problems. The force you typically hit the kingpin with is enough to loosen most ice you'd have. Also, most drivers will always have a trailer attached so its a non issue for most drivers. When I get back to the DC I drop my trailer (like GTOWN) and park bobtail until the next driver takes that truck.

Company policy is to lower landing gear until about an inch off the ground and drop airbags then pull out. When you hook up it'll raise a little off the ground ensuring the apron is flat on the 5th wheel. Sometimes another driver doesn't do that, or based on terrain or different tractor heights its off a little thats why GOAL is so important. If I had to guess I'm thinking there was a small gap that yes it latched and looked secured but in reality it wasn't and likely bounced out. That's just a guess. I'm sure I'll hear more about it as we have many drivers that love to gossip and talk crap as soon as the other guy leaves the room.

Bobtail:

"Bobtailing" means you are driving a tractor without a trailer attached.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

OOS:

When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.

Delco Dave's Comment
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You mentioned G-Town and dropping trailer every night, thats exactly why I asked! After my foot’s all healed and I’m cleared for work I still plan on applying to Swift and hopefully get hired and land a spot on that Walmart account. My 5th wheel would be out in the elements every night, just curious if tarp would help at all. Of course I would give it thorough inspection. I always double and triple checked my landscape trailers to make sure they were coupled properly

Rick S.'s Comment
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You mentioned G-Town and dropping trailer every night, thats exactly why I asked! After my foot’s all healed and I’m cleared for work I still plan on applying to Swift and hopefully get hired and land a spot on that Walmart account. My 5th wheel would be out in the elements every night, just curious if tarp would help at all. Of course I would give it thorough inspection. I always double and triple checked my landscape trailers to make sure they were coupled properly

I think Rob (and G-town) drive Day Cabs and are "slip seating" - meaning someone else may drive their truck and/or they may not get the same truck every day.

So they kind of don't have control over what the next guy is going to do (or what the last guy did).

In sub-freezing temps the grease will congeal in the jaws and locking mechanism - especially if it's sitting out exposed and in the elements.

Robs OP is to illustrate JUST HOW IMPORTANT IT IS TO NOT SLACK ON COUPLING PROCEDURES - and even more so, when weather may contribute to making mechanical devices function in "less than optimum fashion".

If you FOLLOW PROCEDURE WHEN COUPLING - even if it sucks getting under the apron with a flashlight and verifying the jaws are locked, making sure the lever is all the way in and locked, and NOT SKIPPING THE TUG TEST - you minimize the odds of dropping your box. It only takes an extra 60 seconds to DO IT THE RIGHT WAY THE FIRST TIME.

Rick

Day Cab:

A tractor which does not have a sleeper berth attached to it. Normally used for local routes where drivers go home every night.

GrayBeardinPA's Comment
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Fwiw....Gtown drives a Cascadia now, that’s assigned to him.

Delco Dave's Comment
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Fwiw....Gtown drives a Cascadia now, that’s assigned to him.

Indeed! All the swift trucks drop their empty’s or back haul’s at the end of their shift then park in a designated area by the dispatch office/driver lounge for the 10 hr break at the distribution center

Rick, I agree, Rob was just pointing out how important it is to take the time and check everything and I absolutely would. I was just curious if something as simple as covering the 5th wheel in bad weather could help minimize the mechanism from freezing. As I stated above, I always double checked my connections on landscape and dump trailers. The thought of dropping a trailer has always scared the bejesus out of me.

Rob D.'s Comment
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Turtle gave me some advice this morning that I will pass along. Interestingly, his advice was timely because what he described, I had just encountered. It involves getting "stuck" under the trailer because of ice.

I'm at the Prime Salt Lake terminal and the parking lot is pretty much ice. That really hard packed snow. When backing under a trailer, once my fifth wheel touched the trailer I started to spin. I engaged the fifth wheel interlock, but four wheels spinning on ice is not much better than two wheels spinning on ice. So I had to get momentum to get under the trailer. Turtle's words of advice were don't try to ease under a trailer in icy conditions because you can get under the trailer just enough to lift it but not enough to couple and then you start spinning. Now you're "stuck." You can't pull forward or back.

I also had a similar issue unhooking from the trailer. I thought that my fifth wheel release had retracted when I saw the trailer coming along with me. Nope, I was just pulling the trailer on the ice. I had to "goose" the pedal to get enough momentum to slide out from under it. And in this circumstance no better time to check to make sure that you landing gear is down and lines are disconnected.

Terminal:

A facility where trucking companies operate out of, or their "home base" if you will. A lot of major companies have multiple terminals around the country which usually consist of the main office building, a drop lot for trailers, and sometimes a repair shop and wash facilities.

OOS:

When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.

Bobcat_Bob's Comment
member avatar

I had the exact same problem with a trailer not wanting to let go, so I called my dad and he suggested cranking the legs as far down as you can to take as much weight off the 5th wheel as possible. Then lower your suspension and try pulling out gently at first, if that doesn't work be more aggressive with it.

Just make sure to lower the trailer once your out for the next guy.

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