Facing the replacement cost of two tires, not to mention a lost job as a result of the blowout, Kromm was determined to find a solution to an age-old problem that's faced countless Canadian truckers.W...
MONEY SAVER: Dale Kromm displays his Savers. An extended bracket is also available for Stemco hubs with wheel meters. Simply attach the bracket to any Stemco hub and keep an eye on them to prevent dragging.Photo by James Menzies
Facing the replacement cost of two tires, not to mention a lost job as a result of the blowout, Kromm was determined to find a solution to an age-old problem that’s faced countless Canadian truckers.
With Canada’s harsh winters and the abundance of snow, slush and road salt on the nation’s highways, plenty of owner/operators have had to shell out hundreds of dollars after their tires were ruined due to skidding caused by frozen brakes, faulty air valves or a host of other mechanical reasons.
Now, with the invention of Kromm’s Savers, he insists truckers have a new tool they can use to ensure their wheels keep spinning, saving them costly repair bills and downtime.
The device consists of a metal bracket that attaches to any Stemco wheel hub.
A flexible plastic paddle sticks out from the bracket, allowing the driver to regularly monitor the wheel movement in his mirrors.
Thanks to the reflective tape on the paddle, it shows up well – night and day.
“After I ruined two tires in one day, we got to thinking there’s got to be a better way,” says Dale, who along with wife Colleen, developed the patent-pending Savers. “We haven’t ruined a tire since.”
The plastic paddle is adjustable so you can customize how far it sticks out from the hub. It’s also extremely durable, says Kromm, so it can take the abuse of life on the road.
“You can drag your trailer up against a curb or a post and this will give enough that you’re not going to break it,” says Kromm.
“I’ve left one of these (paddles) outside my shop when it was 35 degrees below, took it inside, put it in my vice and tried to break it and I could not break it.”
In fact, they’re designed to endure temperatures of up to -70 degrees Celsius.
At a cost of $10 per piece, the investment can be recouped if it prevents just one tire from being ruined, points out Kromm.
“It makes it a lot easier to avoid ruining tires,” he says.
“There’s no guarantee that you won’t ruin tires, but if you’re smart enough to look in the mirrors, it’s a great visual aid. Before I pull ahead 20 feet from where my trailer sits, I know my wheels are all turning.”
Stuck tires are usually a problem when the ground is covered with snow and ice, and wheels frequently jam up just after a trailer’s been unloaded.
Kromm says a driver won’t necessarily always detect a stuck tire just from the feel alone.
“If you’re on snow, an empty trailer pulls really easy and actually even on dry pavement an empty trailer will pull easy,” says Kromm.
“You should feel it (if a wheel sticks) but if it’s a little icy and conditions are right, they’ll go a long way.”
The proof can often be seen as the long black skid marks that a stuck wheel often leaves in its wake after leaving a yard, and with today’s trucks harnessing more power than ever under the hood, it’s getting even more difficult to detect stuck wheels.
And then, there are those company drivers who simply don’t concern themselves about the cost of ruining a set of duals, since the cost of replacing them won’t come out of their wallet.
Colleen says she and Dale once saw a truck dragging a set of tires in a parking lot and when they pointed it out to him, he simply wasn’t worried about the damage it was causing.
“We stopped him and gave him a pamphlet and he said ‘I’ll make the rest of my deliveries and look after it later,'” recalls Colleen.
She suggests fleets install Savers on their trucks and trailers and provide drivers with incentives for using them properly.
“Some of these guys say ‘How am I supposed to get my drivers to look at them?'” says Colleen.
“I guess they could give their drivers incentives not to ruin their tires.”
Dale agrees. “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink,” he says.
“If you use them, they’re beneficial. If you don’t, they’re not.”
So far, the product has generated plenty of positive feedback from customers. But the Kromm’s are having difficulty getting truckers to see the value and open their wallets.
“Everybody says it’s a great idea but the economy in trucking isn’t really great right now,” says Kromm. For more information about Savers or to order a set, call 403 747-2126.
An extended bracket model is available, which is designed to fit over hub meters.
Ultimately the Kromm’s hope to have their product in stores across the country, but for now they are taking orders over the phone and trying to create awareness of their tire-dragging solution.