For Ontario aggregate haulers facing new size-and-weight regulations as of this month, Larry’s Custom Trailer Manufacturing offers the Phoenix Conversion System. It’s a self-steering axle that’s compatible with "practically all makes of semi-dump trailers," allowing you to convert a non-SPIF trailer without having to modify the chassis or relocate crossmembers and re-paint the frame. You avoid the cost of a new SPIF-ready semi-trailer but get the same payload advantages — and the same five-year warranty on suspension and axles — while spending 75 percent less money, says David Hilliard of Custom Trailer, based in Colborne, Ont.

SPIF refers to ‘Safe, Productive, Infrastructure-Friendly,’ the collective name for a set of truck and trailer standards aimed at protecting Ontario roadways and enhancing safety, launched in 2000. Phase 4 of the new size-and-weight regime takes hold this month.
Specifically, the Phoenix conversion will see you gain 1500 kg payload over non-SPIF semi-trailers newer than 1996, and 4500 kg over non-SPIF trailers older than that. Your axle gross weight will be the equal of new, SPIF-compliant trailers — with no ‘pit reductions’ or other weight restrictions.

Ontario Highway Traffic Act Regulation 413/05 stipulates that semi-trailers are eligible for ‘extended permitting’ provided they were manufactured less than 15 years ago. Once a semi-dump reaches 15 years from its manufacture date, a total weight reduction of 4500 kg per lift axle will be levied. That represents a huge blow in competitive terms.

The Phoenix system sports dual tires on the self-steering axle that maintains the maximum allowable weight of 9550 kg per axle (on a tri-axle). This also eliminates the loss of 1650 kg incurred by the use of wide-base single tires.

Hilliard says his new self-steering axle also strengthens the old chassis so that the extreme forces exerted on it during steering won’t compromise the existing trailer frame. It comes equipped with a modern Ridewell air-ride suspension designed for the rigors of heavy-haul applications.

The Phoenix system is said to be compatible with upcoming changes that will allow quad-axle semi-trailers (in either three/one or tandem/tandem configurations) that were not previously available to be converted to SPIF compliance. It’s also said to be compatible with the rules of other jurisdictions where converting to air-ride tandem and tridem configurations from older spring and rubber-bushing style suspensions is desired without relocating chassis crossmembers.

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