Corrosion can seem almost impossible to eliminate without first spending your -company into insolvency. There are, however, ways to mitigate the effects of corrosion — or in some cases forestall its onset until you have disposed of the asset. The solution starts with the equipment spec’, but most of the effort will go into maintenance.
Trent Siemens, director of maintenance for Winnipeg-based Paul’s Hauling, offers a few tried and proven strategies that he has adopted to keep equipment from rotting away.
“Most of the trailers I have retired were due to excessive corrosion,” he says.
1. Spec’ for durability
Spec’ materials that resist corrosion, such as aluminum, stainless steel or galvanized steel. While these materials can be more expensive and sometimes heavier, they will outlast steel. But try to avoid mating two components made of dissimilar metals, such as cast iron and aluminum. Galvanic corrosion will occur at the contact points. When -possible, use some kind of a non-conductive barrier between the two metals.
“We will use a liquid form of an anti-corrosive compound called Dolphin 6099 where possible,” says Siemens. “It’s a thick paint-like product that is brushed on and hardens to create a barrier between the dissimilar metals. Another product [Original Equipment Manufacturers] use is Mylar tape. This works well for a quick application when you don’t have the luxury of waiting for adequate drying time.”
2. Consider a mid-life rehab
For equipment with a long life expectancy, it may be cost-effective to strip the undercarriage from the chassis, and sandblast and repaint the frame, sub-frame, suspension, differentials, cross-members, etc. Siemens notes that the process — including wheel refinishing — will not stop corrosion but essentially puts it on pause.
“That delay will buy you a few years before you have to consider doing it again,” he says. If you choose to go that route, make sure whoever is doing your sandblasting is doing a very thorough job on your equipment. Cutting corners at this step only masks the corrosion as your material continues to erode under the fresh paint.”
Use a primer and paint with good corrosion inhibitors, and apply it evenly and thick enough. Siemens uses an epoxy primer with a polyurethane paint.
3. Maintain electrical systems
There are entire maintenance manuals devoted to this subject, but its importance cannot be overstressed. Electronic systems rely on specific voltages, and corrosion in wires or connectors can reduce voltage, which can cause the system to throw a fault code or even disable a component.
Create a wiring repair policy so that all technicians repair the wires in the exact same way. “You’d be surprised just how many different ways there are to repair a wire, but only a couple actually work well in our environment,” says Siemens. “Train your technicians so they intimately understand Ohm’s Law, battery load testing, parasitic drains, voltage drops, and current draws. Train them on proper diagnostic and repair procedures, and when you think they have enough received enough training, give them more.”
Establish a policy and procedure for repairing or replacing connectors. Use the Original Equipment connector where practical, and use it properly. Some require -dielectric grease to seal the connection, some do not. Make sure your techs know the difference. And finally, take every single probe-style circuit tester in your shop and grind the tip to a dull point. “Make sure your techs all clearly understand that they are never, ever, ever to pierce wiring insulation when diagnosing circuit issues,” Siemens stresses.
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