Properly jacked up
Changing a wheel on a fully loaded trailer is not easy at the best of times. However, an innovative solution is now available.
Changing a wheel on a heavy-duty trailer along the roadside can often be a daunting and dangerous task. The immobile truck and trailer is often stranded on a busy road and causes major traffic congestion, plus unaffordable downtime for the operator.
In many cases, it is a tyre on the trailer that goes flat and not one on the truck tractor. This is due to the common practice of operators fitting inferior tyres on the trailer and good tyres on the truck tractor.
An innovative, quick, safe and maintenance-free trailer axle lifting system, that is also very simple to use, has recently come on the market from Trestle Jacks. It appears to be the answer to getting the truck and trailer back on the road without much delay.
To find out more about this system, I contacted Jaco Coetzee and Herman Pieterse at Trestle Jacks and arranged for a demonstration. On arrival at the company’s testing site in Brits, Coetzee told me the story of how this simple trailer axle lifting system had evolved.
Pieterse started his career as a heavy-duty truck driver. Way back in 1999, while driving a fully loaded truck tractor and semi-trailer along a lonely road through a forest plantation, late in the day, one of the trailer tyres went flat.
He stopped the vehicle and proceeded to jack up the trailer axle with the hydraulic jack that belonged to the truck tractor, but the jack was faulty and was unable to lift the fully loaded axle.
Being stranded, without any means of calling for help, Pieterse had to find a way to lift the axle without the use of a hydraulic jack. He scouted around and found a log in the plantation, which he wedged at an angle behind the axle and then moved the vehicle slightly until the axle lifted. Now he could change the wheel, and the concept of the Trestle Jack was born.
In 2002, the company filed for a product patent, and in 2010 made a decision to build the first prototype. Between 2010 and 2013, the product was tested thoroughly and systematically to ensure its safety and quality, and was then approved by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).
In many heavy-duty fleets, hydraulic jacks are problematic for the owner/operator. Jacks are often stolen, sold by the driver, not maintained and fail when needed.
On a fully loaded trailer, where the trailer axle is higher than the lift point of the truck axle, the hydraulic jack stroke is often too short to lift the trailer high enough to remove the wheel. Drivers then often place bricks or rocks under the jack to get sufficient lift. This is a highly dangerous practice, and one that often leaves bricks and rocks in the road, creating a hazard for other road users.
The operation of the TrestleJack is simple; you place it under the axle that has to be lifted, at a slight angle, and then move the truck backwards or forwards until the axle lifts.
The Trestle Jack is well suited for use on the road and in the workshop. It is so simple and maintenance free that the purchase of this device should be on the shopping list of all operators running heavy-duty trailers.
One of this country’s most respected commercial vehicle industry authorities, VIC OLIVER has been in this industry for 49 years. Before joining the FOCUS team, he spent 15 years with Nissan Diesel (now UD Trucks), 11 years with Busaf and seven years with International.