ABS, Product Issues Highlight Great Dane Service Meeting

A REPORT on antilock brake systems and updates on product issues were among the topics that Great Dane Trailers addressed during a national meeting for service managers May 2-4 at the Marriott Hotel in Savannah.

Service managers of Great Dane dealers and factory branches throughout the United States and Canada heard presentations from a variety of speakers during the three-day session.

ABS is one factor that is expected to have a major effect on trailer shops. ABS will be required on all new trailers manufactured after March 1, 1998. Bruce Biss with Rockwell WABCO Vehicle Control Systems explained how ABS works and how to troubleshoot malfunctions using the built-in blink-code diagnostic system. Among his service suggestions:

*Do not pour alcohol in the air lines as an antifreeze.

*Do not splice sensor wires. Twisted-pair wiring is a safeguard against electrical noise. Splicing the twisted pair can affect this protection.

*Do not use a battery charger to provide temporary power to the system. ABS requires clean direct current that battery chargers do not provide.

*Standard repair times for various ABS jobs will be available from Rockwell this summer.

Improving Shop Safety Eddie Rappe, Great Dane's branch service operations manager, provided Great Dane service personnel with recommendations designed to make shops safer places to work.

"The two highest risks in today's trailer shops are fires and suspended loads that do not have secondary supports," Rappe said.

Welding insulated trailers is a particular hazard because of the flammability of the foam insulation. He suggested equipping the shop with a mobile fire extinguisher-a tank on a wheeled cart-to help fight fast-spreading blazes. Rappe also stressed that safety requires spending time as well as money.

"Assign someone at your shop the role of safety inspector," he said.

Additional Services Rappe reported on other services that the company is providing its branches and dealers. Among them:

*Discounts on purchases of tools.

*A mechanic evaluation chart.

"List your mechanics from top to bottom, along with their pay scales," Rappe advised. "How do they compare? You will find that some of your mechanics deserve a raise. Others may need to be let go. It is important to evaluate your mechanics regularly. Don't wait until your best mechanic has gone job hunting to analyze his wages."

Free Freight Carl Quante, Great Dane's manager of PDC operations, brought shop personnel up to date on changes in the Great Dane parts operation. Much of the work recently has been to merge the best of the parts programs of Great Dane and Pines Trailers into a single system.

The two companies became one January 2 when CC Industries, the parent company of Pines Trailers, acquired Great Dane Trailers and formed Great Dane Limited Partnership.

The new company will continue to operate the Great Dane parts distribution centers in Savannah, Georgia; Sparks, Nevada; and Terre Haute, Indiana. Dealers and branches receive free freight when placing normal orders through the parts distribution centers.

"Inventories at the PDCs are at an all-time high," Quante reported. "Supplies for most items are good, although we are seeing some extended lead times for aluminum wheels."

Great Dane is building up its supply of insulated panels for ThermaCube vans. The company expects to send approximately 5,000 panels through its parts system as the population of ThermaCube vans on the road increases and the need for replacement panels increases.

Quante also said that the company is scheduled to publish a new booklet on Great Dane and Pines extrusions. The initial booklet will contain information on Great Dane extrusions, with Pines data to follow.

Trailer Trends Jimmy Yglesias, director of product design, and Charlie Fetz, manager of design and development, reported on some of the trends they see in trailer specifications.

Air-ride suspensions have seen explosive growth in popularity. Part of that growth is a result of weight-saving designs. Manufacturers of these suspensions now have air rides that weigh within 50 to 100 pounds of a spring suspension.

Dock walk devices. Yglesias reported on efforts that Neway, Binkley, and Reyco are making to reduce the tendency of trailers to move away from the dock as air leaves the suspension.

Landing gear. With more fleets using the air suspension on the tractor to raise and lower the height of the fifthwheel, speed of operation is becoming more important in landing gears. The ability of the landing gear to lift the trailer is becoming secondary.

ABS wiring. Yglesias went over some additional points regarding how antilock brake systems are powered. Great Dane uses the conventional seven-way connector as standard. The blue pin provides constant power whenever the tractor ignition is on. Backup ABS power comes from the red pin. In addition, the wiring harness is being routed above the crossmembers, rather than through holes in the middle of the sills.

Product Updates Charlie Fetz, Great Dane's design and development manager, offered an update on some of the product changes coming in Great Dane trailers.

Among his announcements were that new heavy-duty floors are being offered on Great Dane platforms and that a new rear door gasket on the Super Seal refrigerated van will allow doors to open easier.

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