Monday, October 14, 2013

Keeping It Lubed

A couple of years ago I bought a system that automatically greases most of the points on the truck which require regular grease service. Semi trucks have numerous components which wear out over time so they are maintained with the repeated application of adding grease.  Each one of these components have one or more grease zerks:


These zerks are the only access point to apply grease to things like slack adjusters:


Slack adjusters are a part of the brake system.  They keep the brakes adjusted every time you press the brake pedal.  They work with the S-Cam inside of the drum brake system.  


When you push on the brake pedal, it increases the air pressure from the air system.  This causes the air brake chamber on the brake system to push on the slack adjuster and the S-Cam, which then turns and forces the brake pads inside the brake drum to spread apart so the pads come into contact with the drums.  This causes friction and slows the brake drum down, slowing the truck down.
Here is a really great old video about S-Cams and drum brakes:


There are many lube points on the truck, but the brake system is the one with the most points needing regular lubrication, so I'm highlighting it here.  In the video above there is mention of broken components in the brake system.  The usual cause of the breakage is lack of maintenance.  

This is where grease comes in.  The average interval for greasing the zerks is twice a month or every 15,000 miles.  To do this, you need a grease gun, a pair of coveralls, and preferably dry ground under the truck.  There is a better way though and it has many attributes that make it an invaluable asset to a truck.

I am referring to a grease pump in combination with divider valves and tubing. 

This system has grease lines that run along the truck's frame to each component that has a zerk and shoots a small amount of grease to the needed area while you are operating the vehicle.  There are many benefits to this; one is longer component life.  Because the grease is being applied regularly, it addresses the concern of a dry grease point and component, and it's also correcting the problem of over-greasing.  

This reduces the cost of maintenance over the lifetime of the truck.  I researched a few different pumps and systems, and decided to purchase this one:
This is the Lincoln Quiklub.  It has variable settings for how often and how much grease it releases. It can handle many different types of grease so if you're in an area that doesn't use one type or another, you can pick and choose.  In addition to being able to fill this pump from a source of grease such as a 55-gallon drum, there's fitting that screws onto the pump which allows you to fill it yourself with a tube of grease.  

This grease system is closed to prevent contamination.  These pumps don't handle dirt particles well and you have to be careful to not allow anything unwanted into the pump.  The best way to avoid this is to fill the grease yourself with a new clean tube.  There are several approaches to this.  One is to fill the reservoir with summer grease for the summer, and winter grease for the winter.  Since the pump depletes the reservoir, you can custom fill with whichever grease you like.  My pump empties itself every 6 months or so - plus or minus a month - depending on how much I drive.  Knowing this, I can make sure I have thin grease in the pump for winter and thicker stuff in there for summer. 

The pump will push the grease at 4000 psi. so it has enough force to get the grease from the pump through the lines to just about anywhere it wants.  

I had this system installed 2 years ago, but I made a slight mistake.  I bought the system and had a trusted mechanic where I live install it.  They had never installed one of these before so they used the instructions that Lincoln provided.  Unfortunately, the system was installed missing a few fittings that were essential to the proper operation of the system, so while it worked it didn't perform exactly as expected. 

Since that time, a Lincoln location became available closer to the house.  They do work on semi trucks and have provided me with excellent service and knowledge regarding the proper installation and usage of this greasing system.  They successfully diagnosed and repaired the mistakes made by the first installer. Their facility is located in Phoenix and has done numerous installs on semi trucks in addition to working on construction equipment:

Lubrication Equipment and Supply Co.
3526 E Broadway Rd
Phoenix AZ, 85040
Duane Richardson
Phone: (602) 437-1245
Fax: (602) 437-8862
Email: lubequip@aol.com
www.lubequip.com

Scott Robinson did the direct grease monkey work on my truck and did a great job.  I only wish Lincoln had had a system in place to alert users of their products to new locations when they became available.  I would have visited their shop sooner! 





Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Improvisation

Here is a unique way of tying down a load with what has to be one of the cheapest methods I have seen.  The flat hook strap is hooked onto a standard trailer winch which is designed for a flatbed winch track.  


This is keeping the pipe wrapped tightly for the small cost of about 25 bucks and it's reusable.