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Towing Software

brian991219

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brian991219 last won the day on August 7

brian991219 had the most liked content!

About brian991219

  • Rank
    Participating Member

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  • Location
    Hawley, PA

Professional Infomation

  • Company
    Fleet Compliance Solutions, LLC
  • WreckMaster Level
    4/5
  • TRAA NDCP Certification
    Level 2 Medium/Heavy Duty

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  1. brian991219

    Train hits wrecker left on tracks (IN)

    Excellent advice. Always follow local protocol and notify the emergency dispatch center at 911, as well as the crossing owner at the number provided on the nearby signage. The first call should be to the track owner, then 911. Generally by FRA regulations they have a duty to immediately begin attempts to notify all dispatched trains. Keep in mind that nothing is absolute, and some classes of railroads are permitted to use an answering machine -so these calls may not result in immediate action! I have had the pleasure of working directly with a Class I and a local short line railroad in the past. Being from a railroading town near where the modern US railroads traces it's origins to, Honesdale, we have a lot of railroad interaction. Shorting the track is never advisable as it can cause extensive damage up or down the line and will disrupt the positive train controls that are in place. The best possible action is to call the phone number that is posted at the crossing, this connects you directly with the owner of the crossing and they can quickly notify the appropriate dispatch to halt traffic. Further, a series of red flares placed at least a mile up and down track will signal a problem ahead, as does a blue flag. It is a FRA requirement to place a blue stop flag on both sides of a workzone when the tracks are closed and humans are working in the right of way. Blue is the most restrictive signal color in use by American railroads, as it indicates a positive must stop because workers are on the track beyond the signal. I do not advise attempting to beat the train, even when you are fairly positive you know their schedule. Always contact the railroad and wait for their go ahead before beginning any work on or near the railroad right of way. Further, I strongly suggest placing watchmen up and down track by at least one mile with red flares and blue flags so that they can warn any stray trains as well as your crew. Not all trains in the US are required to have instant communication with dispatch, nor am I willing to rely solely on a train control signal that is delivered by a decades old electrical system. Further complicating train control is the fact that many railroads use a mix of train control signals so there is no guarantee that the train engineer will properly understand the emergency signal. Unlike automobile traffic signals, train signage and signals are not uniform throughout the country, not even uniform throughout any one rail line. Last thought, when working on or near rail tracks keep in mind not only how heavy the trains are, but also how wide they are. Be sure to never get any closer than 25 foot from the centerline of the rail. Any work closer than 25' requires railroad notification, and in some instances will require a railroad flagger to be present.
  2. I don't disagree with you at all Randy, although sometimes we must engage in the futile because the intention is correct. Sadly, it will most likely take heaps of regulation and enforcement against towers before they start to understand proper use of lighting -or any other safety protocol for that matter, I wish that were not the case and that the industry would step up and police themselves since government regulation from legislators that have never worked in the industry never ends well. As long as guys like us (those that are proactive rather than reactive) keep on fighting to spread the message we will make progress, even when it doesn't feel like we are. I also agree that no overhead lights were more effective because other motorists could distinguish the turn and stop lights more easily. How I long for the simple days of old, days when my dad could use just one gum drop beacon on his truck and feel safe.
  3. This is a pet peeve of mine, and a factor that I believe contributes to roadway injury and death. As already stated above, the use of emergency lighting is regulated by state law regardless of what any motor club or other private entity wishes. As Ron said, the laws are outdated -often written to require use of warning lights because of the lack of tow lights. With modern technology there is no excuse to not use tow lights (remote tail/stop/turn lights) on every tow where the wheels are on the ground. Now, as to why this issue bothers me so much. We have a lack of uniform lighting standards in North America. Most lights such as tail, turn, headlight and hazard lights are Federally regulated with that standard being recognized in all of North America. With emergency lighting (beacons and strobes) there is no such standard which causes confusion as motorists travel across the country or internationally. Example, in my home state of Pennsylvania blue lights are courtesy lights for use by volunteer fire fighters and have no force to make someone yield right of way. Go to other states and blue is the color for law enforcement and you better yield right of way and pull over! A uniform lighting standard, similar to the design standards that must be adhered to when buying an ambulance with Federal grant money would help immensely with recognition of tow trucks as emergency vehicles. Now, for this to be effective we as an industry must train and police ourselves to use the lighting properly, which leads me to another pet peeve of mine, the concept of more is better! Not always, especially at night. There is a movement across the US for law enforcement and fire/ems vehicles to only display warning beacons in the direction traffic is approaching from, to limit use of spot lights and overall reduce lumen output to avoid blinding oncoming traffic or distracting traffic not in danger. It would be best to include proper use of all lighting devices in this uniform standard, not just emergency warning lights. We have inconsistent laws across the US as to when it is appropriate to use hazard flashers. Example, Florida prohibits their use unless you are stationary where New York requires their use if you are travelling slower than the posted minimum speed. Some states require them when travelling more than 15 MPH below the posted speed limit. Again, this causes confusion for travelers. Uniformity will help us all.
  4. brian991219

    Can anyone ID this pivot pin and wrecker bed/lift?

    Looks like an old Vulcan 810. Check with your local Miller Industries dealer for parts and availability.
  5. brian991219

    Transmission damage

    As goodmichael said above, the answer varies based upon the exact make and model of transmission. For the most part modern manual transmissions are lubricated when the input shaft is being driven by the engine, it will pickup and sling lubrication. When the transmission is being driven from the output shaft little, usually no, lubricant is flowing. For short distances there may be enough residual lubrication on the components to prevent, or mask damage. Longer distances will result in heat buildup. This may not lead to an immediate failure but will reduce the life expectancy of the transmission significantly. This is perhaps the biggest reason to not chance even a short cross town hop -you do not know how many times that trans has been abused prior to your tow. Leaving the truck running with a manual transmission will provide some lubrication but not the same as when being driven. First, the truck is elevated so the oil will naturally go to the lower end of the case and not stay in contact with the sling pump. Second, the trans is in neutral so the oil is not being carried across the gears and shafts, it is just being splashed around. The meshing action of the gears transmits oil across all the affected parts. As for lifting the front drive off the ground, for the most part it will stay stationary, although it can turn when you hit a bump or dip in the road. This is why when towing iShift or mDrive automated transmissions it is important to pull the driveshaft or all 4 axles, not just the ones on the ground. With those transmissions even the slightest movement after the engine has shut off will cause catastrophic failure. Another consideration when front towing, some newer differentials are angle sensitive. Freightliner has a technical bulletin out about lifting over a certain angle (I don't recall exact figure), as it will not allow the gears to be lubricated properly. These require removal of all axle shafts. Bottom line, failure to disengage as much of the driveline as possible before towing will lead to heat buildup and early failure of components. It may not happen while the vehicle is in your custody, but it will contribute to a later failure. Would you want someone doing something to your property that would shorten it's life? I surely would not. Speaking from personal experience, I was lazy twice in my career and both times it bit me hard. One was a disabled dump truck, older Autocar with a RoadRanger 18 speed. Died in motion, only towing it 5 miles. Did not pull shaft, transmission locked up and the shaft twisted off like a pretzel. Took out the fuel tanks, air lines, hydraulic tank, PTO (dump truck) and more. Ended up paying almost $10,000 to fix the truck, lost a good customer and hurt my reputation. The other was an $8,000 rebuild on a transmission in an ambulance, again 8 mile tow, bad weather. Didn't pull the shaft and ended up rebuilding the transmission. Here is a video on how the Eaton precision lube system works. This is the most modern manual transmission lube system, not all transmissions are lubed this way. Even still, you can see that tilting it up will take lube away from the pump pickup and reduce the effectiveness. https://youtu.be/jP6-EZjN9DU Here is a generic transmission lubrication video by Shell Oil. This is how most transmissions are lubricated, even still today. https://youtu.be/B8zEpFbM7LY
  6. I am saddened to hear this as well. I hope they capture and punish these people to the fullest extent of the law. I also hope this was not a turf war given the recent changes to the police rotation program in some parts of the city. I really hope it was a robbery attempt gone wrong or assault for a pissed vehicle owner and not a fellow tower acting out over the program changes. Philly is a tough city, one of the only places I truly feared going in my tow trucks. I would rather run Brooklyn or any of the Jersey City/Hoboken communities over Philly any day. Philly is the only place I have been robbed in a tow truck, had a bunch of thugs take my chains, tools and fuel can while I was unloading a church van. What really scared me was my wife was along for the ride, 20 years old and in a bad part of town.
  7. brian991219

    Towing company owner makes safety his mission (MI)

    As I write this I am attending the Mid West Regional Tow Show in Mason, Ohio. The vibe I get from the attendees is that safety is something out of their control. Sad. Bill Giorgis of Mike's Wrecker in Saginaw, Mi. presented a well attended seminar yesterday on OSHA and the towing industry, a subject I will be speaking about during the American Towman Expo in Baltimore, MD on Sunday, Nov. 18th. Although well attended, probably the best attended of all the seminars so far this weekend, the audience had a less than enthusiastic feel. No one likes regulations, however voluntary compliance -no, voluntarily exceeding the minimum standards and innovating new standards is what will help make us safer. Admittedly, no amount of PPE or advanced warning will stop all injuries and deaths, but the routine use of it, embracing the culture of safety always, not safety first but ALWAYS, will improve our mental state so that our safest actions become second nature. Ultimately, we can not place a price tag on safety. We are not the airline industry that declares a human life when lost in a plane crash is worth $XXX. We are better than that. So will not like my next statement, so be it as it is how I feel. A focus on safety, accountability and professionalism will cost the industry, as well as individual towers, money but it is necessary. If we raise the bar to entry, the level at which we allow companies to operate within our industry, it will cost money. That is good as it will price out the one chain Charlies and wanna be wrecker drivers. It is time to step up, invoice appropriately for our services and stand up for those rates. Where else but the transportation industry do you go that the customer decides what they will pay regardless of the invoiced amount? Try that at the grocery store this week, so how it goes for you. I was in a legal seminar on invoice collections early yesterday and I have to give props to Schaffer's Towing for hiring a lawyer to challenge these invoices that were not paid in full. They lost money in the process, the lawyer doesn't work for free and taking something to court is costly -but they stood up multiple time for what was right and in the process created case law or precedents that other towers can use to collect what is due them without the hassle and expense. More of us need to have the brass to stand up for our rights, including the right to work safely!
  8. brian991219

    Towing company owner makes safety his mission (MI)

    Randy, you and FlagFixer have a very valid option on the table, one that I myself have been promoting. These motorist assist programs are all part of effective managed traffic programs currently operated by almost every state DOT agency in the US. I see no difference in permitting, even mandating a blocker truck for towing operations when compared to the requirements to use a shadow vehicle (block truck) for roadway maintenance. Is removing wrecked or disabled vehicles not required maintenance of the road system? Another point about the free service patrol operations, in many areas these are operated under the direction of the state DOT agency by independent contractors. Many of these contract operators are also area towers, so I want the industry to see this as a viable solution and not just another power grab by a governmental agency. What is stopping towers in areas not serviced by service patrols from petitioning their DOT to develop a program. Further, it can become a profit center for the business -not that this is the goal of this discussion, but we are capitalists and right or wrong business drives demand. I have long been an advocate for professional development training, not just one and done classes or classes designed so everyone passes. As Randy pointed out earlier, our training standards industry wide are not up to the same standards as the other first responders that we long to be. In this case we are way behind the eight ball. As an industry we must call for proper professional development ourselves BEFORE it is forced upon us by the likes of OSHA and FMCSA. Randy makes mention of ASE, for those that don't know, ASE certification is the gold standard for automotive and truck repair technicians, similar to i-CAR in the collision industry. While we do have outstanding training options available to us they fall short of meeting the gold standard of certification. They also leave out many important topics. It seems that towing training today focuses on below the hook techniques such as rigging and calculating loads -all important but not all inclusive. Answer these next questions honestly. How much of your day is spent performing recoveries vs. traditional load and go tow jobs? Do you see the disproportionate amount of focus on recovery training compared to how to efficiently and effectively load and go? How about scene safety? All of this is more important to operator safety than the potential to overload rigging on a recovery. Yes, that will kill you also but the statistics simply don't make that as likely as a struck-by or other injury as a result of improper loading procedures or poor scene safety discipline. It is sad when a truck stop chain, actually all 4 of the major truck stop chains do a better job of on scene safety discipline with $12-$14 per hour technicians that only respond to a few calls a week than we as "professional" towers do. Pay attention the next time you see a Road Squad or Pilot road service vehicle on a job, they have advance warning, cones, proper truck placement as well as proper PPE. If they can get the same guy that cleans the shower at the truck stop to comply with proper procedures why can't we get a career towing operator to do the same? Goodmichael, I have always liked to read your opinions and we are usually of the same mind set. I agree with your call for insurance, call providers, equipment manufacturers and other industry leaders to step up and do something. Each has a chance to make a difference in their own arena. It is well known that I represent the Jerr-Dan brand of equipment as a salesman, but putting that aside, they are the first manufacturer to step up and make dual side free wheel standard on their carrier decks. It is a simple mechanical solution to an age old problem, one that all carrier makers should have implemented by now. They also have an inexpensive wireless remote option that can control 1 to all 5 functions on a carrier, allowing the tower to remotely lower his deck into position before even leaving the safety of his cab. How is that for doing their part? The days of manual L-arm wheel lifts are over, self loaders are so much faster and can be safer since most of them are remotely controlled from inside the cab thereby limiting exposure time. Dynamic makes a self-loader medium duty wheel lift (16 ton). Why is this not an option on more medium or even heavy duty trucks? Also, as a former heavy tower I ask -why do we still use axle forks as the preferred method of front hookups on heavy tows? I had NRC wheel grids on my trucks in early 2000's, prefer them over forks any day. Quicker, easier and I am not under the truck in the pinch zone for nearly as long as I am with forks. It was mentioned by Todd Menzel during the Tennessee Tow Show about redesigning our standard hookup process. Why don't we take the lead from the refuse industry and use automation more in our industry? How about compelling OEM makers of heavy trucks to install air, brake and electrical connections on the front of their trucks like the military does? Even better, designing a industry standard pin attachment? Many coach bus makers already do, making the hookup process much easier and therefore safer? How about using dual side drive truck chassis to build our wreckers on, again like the waste industry. We could easily exit from the non-traffic side and reduce exposure. In conclusion, this has opened a great discussion on a topic of vital importance to the industry. I have long called for increasing the bar to entry in this industry and holding ourselves more accountable for professional standards and continuing education. I have to take continuing education classes to practice as a safety and compliance consultant, hell even my hairdresser has to take C.E. credits to keep her beauticians license. We as an industry have done a hell of a job of memorializing our fallen, with due respect, however if we put the same effort into changing our industry we would not have the same need to memorialize the fallen because there would not be so many! It is time for professional towers to demand their place on the vehicle design committees of OEMs, highway management committees with DOT, even on regulatory bodies governing the trucking industry. We need to contribute to the regulations and ideas that are being developed to be sure our point of view is taken into consideration. When highway safety initiatives are designed the tower is often an afterthought, or the designer believes we have access to the same resources as the other governmental response agencies do. Bottom line, either we as an industry take charge of our future or the government will do it for us. I assure you their solutions will not benefit us at all, in fact the effort has already begun to replace private towers with public agency responders in many areas. Be forewarned that it is up to all of us as a collective to effect change.
  9. brian991219

    2018 Midwest Tow Show Mason Ohio Roll Call

    I will be there! Doing a seminar on general DOT compliance issues facing the towing industry in an open question and answer format. Friday 2:45-4 PM in the Symposium. If anyone has a specific question they would like to have answered please message me and I will do my best to include it in the presentation.
  10. brian991219

    Fraud

    Wow. I can't add to this particular scam but can comment on the generic looking websites. Ron, there are several companies that sell web packages to towers that are not tech savvy, they are basically the same website -images and all with their phone number and address pasted in. Kinda cheesy if you ask me, it is easy to build your own professional looking and unique website with services like GoDaddy.
  11. brian991219

    Texas Tow Expo Rollcall - Aug. 16-18, 2018

    Sure am. landing in Dallas tomorrow afternoon and will be there thru the TX Legislative Conference on Sunday afternoon. Presenting a seminar on the latest with the TRAA petition to exempt towers from the ELD mandate, spoiler we lost. This presentation will also be a basic course designed to help you decide if you need ELDs or not. Thursday at 4 PM in Appaloosa 3 Also doing a mini-clinic on Friday at 2 PM on the show floor on best practices to implement ELDs if your fleet needs them.
  12. brian991219

    Buying my first heavy

    BW, funny we were just talking about the 600R earlier in this thread and this popped up. Crawford up in Mass has a used one for $119,000 on a nice M2 Freightliner. They are not the Jerr-Dan dealer I work with, but are good people. Check it out. http://crawfordtruck.com/classifieds/showproducts-used-907.html
  13. brian991219

    Re: Tow Operator Struck - San Diego County

    Damn. Sorry to hear this, it boils my blood when the operator appears to be doing things properly and still gets struck. They are in my thoughts.
  14. brian991219

    Buying my first heavy

    That is a great option, especially if the Freightliner is spec'd right. I would like an extra cab and air brake as this extends the wheelbase, adds steer weight so it tows better and gives you on-board air for when you get a truck to tow with air brakes. It would pay to go 33k GVWR chassis, heavier rear and better components that will last longer, plenty of braking power, although if you want your non-cdl guys to be able to winch and tow smaller vehicles then 25,999 and hydraulic brakes is the way to go. A well spec'd Freightliner can replace a F-550 in the fleet and still tow cars, so you can have the intermediate sized truck to support your heavy without taking on too much extra expense. You will find those 12 tons can grab many of the smaller RVs, even the ones that look big. Many are Ford chassis with gas engines and not all that heavy on the front, just need to figure out how to fork them without grabbing a frame extension. I towed more Rvs in Albuquerque with our 16 tons than our heavies, also many shuttle buses and smaller school buses. This is a market we are not representing well at Jerr-Dan any more. We still offer the Cougar, but our true medium duty line is weak. Good luckk with the Miller, they are good units as well.
  15. brian991219

    Buying my first heavy

    You are much better prepared than most, best wishes with whichever route you take. Only you know your market and your ability to absorb risk. A 35 ton is a good truck, little big for the F-550 type chassis as it is hard to grab those axles and the wheel grids for the heavy trucks don't always clear the pumpkin on the 4x4 versions. There are some nice units on the market ready to roll today, the 2019 chassis are out so you should get a good deal on a 2018 chassis. Don't be afraid to go with the autoshift either, drove one the other day in a Jerr-Dan 35 ton with a Pete chassis. Took it from the plant in PA all the way to the customer in CA, 18 speed Eaton auto with a Cummins motor and it ran well, shifted smooth. One last thought on new vs. used for heavy. You will have to pay a 12% Federal Excise Tax on all new heavy trucks, if you buy one that is at least 6 months old and previously titled the FET is waived. That 12% makes a huge difference in cost! Look at it as the extra money to put all the recovery equipment and tools you want on the truck in exchange for a pre-owned unit. Heavy trucks hold value much better than light duty trucks, so it may still serve you well to buy a used heavy for your first rig.
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