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Maintenance: Shake, rattle and roll

BRESLEAU, Ont. - When the Australian government went to manufacturers and said, 'This is what we want to improve truck safety and mechanical fitness, now build it,' the world witnessed the conception ...


BRESLEAU, Ont. – When the Australian government went to manufacturers and said, ‘This is what we want to improve truck safety and mechanical fitness, now build it,’ the world witnessed the conception and eventual birth of VIS-Check.

Now available through Vehicle Inspection Systems, Inc. of Louisville, Ky., one of these multifaceted truck maintenance mechanisms is up and running in the heartland of Ontario’s trucking community.

“Delta Spring and Chassis is constantly striving to move with technology, find new ways that increase value added services to customers and achieve market differentiation in a very competitive environment,” says sales representative Herb Preikschas.

“VIS-Check is an innovative computerized roller brake analyzer, which also features (hydraulic thrust plates) that simulate road conditions.”

How often has a technician been forced to strap himself to a rig’s deck plate to bounce around the repair shop’s yard to try and get some idea about how individual components will behave in the milieu of working conditions?

One axle at a time, the road condition simulator will highlight any potential problems with brake, suspension, steering or chassis componentry.

While the brochure-style description of the system sounds great, for most truck owners new technology can’t cut it – until they see it work for themselves.

Watching a demonstration of VIS-Check in quiet skepticism – the way most people seem to watch it for the first time – Larry Ortlieb’s eyes light up as a 30-year-old Paystar 5000 is subjected to a gentle, yet telling, pulsating thrust from the road conditions simulator.

“Look at that, there’s a loose spring pin,” exclaimed the owner of Linwood-based Ortlieb Crane. “Catching that now it’s a $200 repair, if it had a chance to wiggle away in service you could be looking at $1,000.”

He’s now obviously impressed.

“If that machine catches something as small as a loose spring pin, there should be no embarrassment in it for the truck owner,” he stresses. Short of jacking the truck up and carefully – to say nothing of luckily – watching in the right place at precisely the right time, the best technician would miss the problem until it was worse (and more costly).

“We’ve had the unit in the shop since mid-December,” says Preikschas. “I’ve already lost count of the number of broken springs and chambers we’ve found.”

Delta Spring and Chassis knows it will take a little time for some customers to warm to the idea of VIS-Check, but it still has plans to push ahead promoting the new service.

“Some fleets may not want to see what we find,” says the company representative. “But they’ve got to remember, if you don’t catch these little things – like wheel kingpin play both front-to-back and side-to-side – they can lead to costly repairs and downtime later on.”

For owner/operators, the idea of intentionally subjecting a truck to vibration may sound a little strange, but the road simulator can actually keep a truck from shaking itself to pieces later in life.

As well, the system’s dynamometer-like brake rollers, which can even adapt to handle 6×4 drives, provide the truck owner with a detailed analytical chart for each axle tested to explain brake performance. After trying out brake timing, performance, as well as parking brake capability and force, Delta’s new maintenance gewgaw will even measure rolling resistance so your rigs can reduce wheel drag and bolster fuel economy.

“We give them everything in black and white,” concludes Preikschas, “or in this case, in blue, pink, green and orange.”

In fact the system is so foolproof, one of four others in Canada is owned by Manitoba Public Insurance. Preikschas says he understands a thorough VIS inspection is mandatory if you’re trying to insure a truck in Manitoba.

For more information, give Delta Spring and Chassis a call at 519-648-2119; or drop by and see VIS-Check for yourself at 232 Woolwich St. in Bresleau, just east of Kitchener-Waterloo.


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