How to Safeguard the Tailgate
BY Sandy Lender
For the 2017 paving season, we dive into an essential area of project management for asphalt professionals: safe and timely delivery of hot-mix or warm-mix asphalt (HMA/WMA) to the paving site. During this eight-part series, you have seen some back-to-basics best practices to share with veteran and new haul truck drivers, in addition to new tips, ideas, and case studies with logistics and technology that can enhance your bottom line. Producers have streamlined processes at the plant; contractors have nailed down best practices in the work zone. Now it’s time to harness the potential you’ve been missing when it comes to mix delivery and haul truck fleet management.
This final installment looks at one idea to keep mix from escaping the back end during hauling or during handwork. Independent driver Steve Murray of Steve Murray Trucking in Hooksett, New Hampshire, shared the good idea he uses to keep the tailgate secure.
Once a truck body has a load of up to 23 tons pressing against its sides, older components such as a weak airline could fail under the pressure. If an air tailgate gives way from the pressure of all that weight, additional locking mechanisms that hold the tailgate closed can save the day.
Murray has installed a twist screw lock on each side of his tailgate to ensure the tailgate remains closed until he is ready for it to open. “If the tailgate pops open from pressure, the tailgate won’t actually come open because these locks will prevent it,” Murray said.
When the truck is stopped in the work zone, the dump man—or other ground personnel—reaches up and unscrews each of the screw locks that will allow the tailgate to open. Murray then backs his truck into position and presses a button in the cab that releases the tailgate to open fully to charge the hopper.
For drivers who have a system like this installed on their trucks, remember to watch the crew. Sometimes, ground personnel are scarce. Make sure someone has unscrewed the locks before you release the tailgate, or you’ll have a problem that stops production.
Also note that other mechanisms for safeguarding the back end exist, but you’ll want to choose your favorite system wisely. The screw locks that Murray uses don’t get “trapped” the way a chain and eye hook can get caught. Discuss your options with your truck body OEM or aftermarket supplier so you get the mechanism that best suits the crews you deal with most often.
As you can see in the picture, the back of the truck also has a chute with an auxiliary handle in the lower center of the tailgate. This allows workers to get a shovel full of mix or allows them to load up a wheelbarrow without opening the tailgate and having a rush of material fall out. The screw locks ensure the tailgate won’t accidentally come open if the air-operated tailgate cylinders or solenoids should fail when workers are behind the truck.