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Re: Who Get's Tasked to Inspect Dollies ? ?


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I'm stuck in-between a career tow operator and his company owner, both being A-aggressive personalities and having an argument about. "Who has responsibility to check dolly bearings?

 

File this under, "Are you kidding me," I personally think the tower should be hte "hands-on person", as they are the one's using the equipment frequently. It's as simple as giving the visual inspection and the, Rocking Test" (hands on the tires of loaded dollies rocking them back and forth). Because dolly bearings are wear items, it's easy to determine if dolly bearing are bad or need to be services. Besides, how many drivers take time to actually check dolly bearings?

 

The driver says, "I ain't no damned mechanic", yet the owner says it's part of the inspection. While both of them are technically correct, I tend to side with the owner asking the driver to step-up and be more proactive. That's the kind of driver I want on my team. The driver's pulling the, "That's bullshit card", but, I feel there's time for him to do so, especially when equipment's being supplied to him. I believe towers are responsible to do more than just look for cracks in tires and check tire pressure. If it means preventing a really nasty and potentially deadly accident, it makes good sense to check the dollies more than during the annual highway patrol inspection. What's your take?        R.

Edited by rreschran
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Randall C. Resch

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OK, this one hits close to home as I have had years of experience in the area of maintaining Dollies. Part of that is a regular inspection of the bearings, now most drivers either rely on a company mechanic to check the bearings when preforming a PM (Preventative Maintenance) Service.

 

When this is done and the dolly bearings are repacked properly this lowers the odds of bearing issues. The problem is few ever take the time to take the dollies apart and repack the bearing, I do not have access to a shop nor authorization to repack the dollies so we kept going through them. When the dollies were moved from the top of the bed to under body dolly bunks the issues increased. Finally the dollies have been moved back up on top with swing out mounts. And after years of trying our shop finally installed Lubed Dust Caps. Having these allows the driver to grease the dolly bearings as they grease the truck regularly. While the dolly bearing do not require grease as often as other working parts they should be inspected regularly.

 

Note: be careful not to over grease these lubed bearing protectors as it could cause a larger issue. So, in some cases it should be taken care of during the PM.

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You can't really depend on every driver to have the mechanical knowledge to properly maintain them, but I agree it should be their responsibility to be able to at least check them for obvious wear.  It really is as simple as trying to rock the wheel (and know enough to not mistake slop in the folding mechanism for bearing wear.)  Or, as I like to often do, check the temperature of the hubs and tires after each use.  Any of them noticeably hotter than another is a red flag for something that needs immediate attention.

 

Richard

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Having stepped into a behive's argument, to be specific ... is it the driver's responsibility or that of the shops? When it comes to first-line identification of a potential mechanical problem and because the driver's job description typically doesn't include mechanical repair, what seems reasonable? I have it written in my PPM that tow operators are required to participate in meanial repair and maintenance tasks as they are required to wash tow trucks. Asking an operator to inspect for bearings is not an unreasonable task where I don't personally buy the comment, "It's not my job." If a tow operator has skills to load an expensive car or work a complicated recovery, shouldn't they be able to inspect a dolly bearing? This is a simple battle of whits and personalities of who's right or wrong?  Thanks, your answers are helpful in settling this debate.    R.

Randall C. Resch

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So, it often depends on the size of the towing company as to the requirement of the driver to preform mechanical maintenance and repairs to the equipment beyond the normal driver skill level. Such tasks in companies with 3 or more units needs to be preformed by an actual mechanic in an actual shop devoted to the maintenance of the equipment. Some companies have shops that preform maintenance on other vehicles as well. I know of a few that only work on their accounts equipment and do their towing & transport. Several companies have a couple of mechanics of which one can jump into a truck when needed. It depends on the size of the company.

 

A Tow Truck Operator inspects the equipment daily and fills out a daily a daily inspection sheet and turns it in. That Driver notifies management when there is a problem such as a bearing needing repair. The driver greases the equipment between PM's aka Service Intervals.

 

It is a Drivers responsibility to keep their equipment clean and in good working order. You've heard the expression Rode Hard and Put Away Wet?

 

"The expression "rode hard and put away wet" refers to a person who looks worn out or unwell. "Ridden hard and put up wet" is another variation on the same phrase. ... The phrase itself is derived from horseback riding. When a horse is forced to run quickly, it works up a sweat."

 

Why is it bad to put a horse away wet?
": : I can't tell you who said it first but I can explain it: : : RODE HARD AND PUT UP WET -- Riding a horse "hard" to exhaustion and putting him up "wet," rather than brushing him off and cooling him down. That is very bad for the horse's health."
 
OK, for those who may not understand the correlation between a Horse and a piece of Equipment here is a plain definition.
 
"What does rode hard and put away wet?
(idiomatic) Mistreated; not properly cared for."
 

Personally, I can preform basic mechanical tasks, nothing that requires tools I do not have access to. I have not repacked a bearing in years and since we have been adding the Lube Dust Caps often referred to by the brand name Bearing Buddy greasing them has been a regular part of the daily inspection. If a company were to expect me to be a mechanic when the hired a tow truck operator I would have to find another company as they would not be happy with my limited skills and the time it takes to preform them. Not that I don't want to, I just simply don't have that skill set and never worked to develop it.

 

Now, lets talk a about that daily inspection sheet and the purpose behind it. These sheets need to be reviewed within a day or two and never more than a week. Major issues are brought to the attention of management often in this industry that is an owner. Although, many companies have a manager or a lead. Each company will be different depending on size. "There is not a One Size Fits All in the Towing Industry" 

 

Let's look back as the non working A/C unit discussion. It seemed the driver had taken the proper steps to get it repaired. In each of these instances once an issue has been noted on the daily inspection sheet a service date need to be assigned within a reasonable amount of time. Even if the next date available for service is a week away. An pray the dispatcher doesn't send that truck out on a major account where the owner of that company has been waiting on the side of the road for an extended amount of time in 100 degree temps. Something like that reflects poorly on the company and has cost tow companies major accounts over the years. I know many don't get it because their seems to e a gap in both driver relations and customer relations. It boils down to a combination of good management and marketing! Same with the bad dolly bearing that was reported, whose shoulder does this fall on in your company?

 

Does your company have an extra set of dollies or one side of the dolly set. Most do not but it can be a good idea, however it is an added expense most companies cannot justify as a stock item.

 

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"Ultimately the person in the seat is responsible for the truck and equipment. Ask any DOT officer."

 

I agree 100% as it is the drivers responsibility to conduct the pre trip inspection and take responsibility for seeing those issues are corrected. It is then managements responsibility to see that is it done. However, DOT is not concerned with management when issuing citations or taking a unit out of service. Therefore when a driver determines a vehicle has an issue that would be a violation that unit should be taken out of service by the driver until service can be completed an the issue resolved. Such things as dolly bearings and non working A/C would not be covered though should be an equally important part to the proper maintenance of company equipment for an extended life. 

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I believe that this falls under the "captain of this ship" responsibility, meaning the driver of the truck is responsible for inspecting & reporting unsafe equipment to their manager. However, the driver is NOT responsible to repair the dollys. If a driver cannot tell there is a problem with the dollys on the truck they operate, I am sure that they dont belong in one of our trucks.

Sent from my SM-N970U using TowForce mobile app

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It is The operators responsibility to ensure ALL provided equipment is in good working order on the apparatus at the start of every shift. I understand not all operators have mechanical aptitude, but as far as inspecting a dolly it isnt rocket science. As a driver, your required to inspect way more complex items on the rig then a dolly hub. A quick wiggle of the wheel while holding the swing arm and a spin of the wheel will tell you right away if something needs a good looking at. Someotherplace's Mention of feeling the hubs after use is another great way that someone who wants to play the "I am not a mechanic" thing can do as well.  Not for nothing a responsible operator who actually takes pride in his or her job would ASK someone how to properly inspect a dolly hub if for whatever reason they are unable to figure it out on their own. 

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PROFESSIONAL TOWING & RECOVERY IS NOT JUST A JOB.. IT IS A LIFESTYLE

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I look at this no different than any other part of the pre-trip inspection on the tow truck chassis itself. If the driver is qualified to inspect the tires, wheel seals, brake components and everything else required to be inspected by the US DOT as part of making sure "they are satisfied with the condition of the vehicle(s)" then they are qualified to inspect the dolly wheel assembly -including the bearings.

 

I say they have a duty to inspect, and to be satisfied with the safe operational condition of, the dolly assembly as part of the pre-trip of the vehicle. The dolly system when deployed becomes part of the towed vehicle -which also must be inspected and safe to tow on the public roadway. Yes, checking for play in the wheel bearings on the truck is a function of the shop however checking for visual indications of pending failure is on the driver. Looking for oil/grease leaks, odd tire wear, metal shavings and other visual clues is part of a good pre-trip. My argument would include the fact the dolly wheel assembly is readily accessible and when stored on the truck it is not under any load so a simple shake of the wheel will indicate adequate tightness.

 

The shop must also confirm the condition of the dolly assembly during routine service and make repairs as required but the driver does not get a free pass since the dolly assembly isn't part of the truck. It would be no different than them filing to note a frayed winch line -if they are qualified to deploy the tool they are qualified to do a pre-use inspection. If they do not know how to inspect a tool then they need to be trained how to, which they should be anyway!

 

My final thought, if a construction equipment operator can be expected as part of their job duties to lube/grease a machine daily then why can't a truck driver be expected to do the same basic maintenance? I am not asking anyone to crawl around under their truck for an hour daily but to hit the easy to access high wear items like wheel lift pivot pin with grease or look at the dolly wheel assembly each day (or at least every few days) is not too much.

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"If they do not know how to inspect a tool then they need to be trained how to, which they should be anyway!"

 

You do realize the this is the towing industry we're discussing and that training isn't always a high priority. So, what makes anyone think that doing a Pre Trip or being trained to properly inspect the equipment and correct problems before they become major issues is a high priority.

 

It would be good to hear who here requires a daily inspection and who is expected to fill out a daily inspection.

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On 10/7/2020 at 8:02 PM, rreschran said:

What's your take?        R.

 

A drivers responsibility to do a pre-trip inspection, including dollies or any other piece of equipment on that unit should go without saying.  As to who makes the repair, if necessary is another matter in my mind.  Is this an hourly employee, paid on a %, does the driver have down time to do repair work? All of that would need to be factored in when deciding who does repairs and should be decided at the time employment begins.

 

Personally, I would not want a person on my team that I even had to have this discussion with. 

But, here in the real world, there is a national driver shortage and in the towing industry drivers are not just getting in a truck and driving from point A to point B so that adds to the skill level.   All of the larger tow operators around here are looking for drivers.

 

A good friend will bail you out of jail, but a great friend will ...

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Welcome Home Brian ... I always know when you're on the road by the gaps between your time on the forums.

 

These are great answers guys and it's easy to see a similar way of thinking. I appreciate your words of wisdom and will share them this next week when I see them. I agree it's reasonable to split the responsibility of caring for company equipment going back to a, "we're a team", mentality. For argnment sake, I too agree it starts with the driver with certain responsibility with management to see repairs through in a timely manner.

 

I pulled this out of my archive military locker regarding inspections of TRADET MOBILITY Vehicles (HMMWV, RG-33, LT-ATV, Quads, etc.) where our unit personnel employed the acronym, "I D I O T". It's a humerous way of getting the point across while serving a point ... like KISS serves.

 

I  = Inspect

D = Document

I =  Initiate

O = Organize

T = Take the time to get the freakin' thing fixed                                           R.

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Randall C. Resch

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The truck and its associated equipment are how a driver (and of course, a tow company) earns their living; if they aren't willing to take the time to assess the condition of the equipment and report it up the chain so it can get handled, then they shouldn't be trusted with the equipment.  That goes for all of the equipment, whether bolted to the truck or not.  Truck, wrecker unit, dollies, straps, chains, tow lights.. all of it.  What's the saying, my friend has mentioned it a few times when discussing less-than-quality employees.  "Are you an asset, or just an ass in the seat"

 

Richard

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My situation is a little different. I'm the only operator with dollies and I go over them every time I put them away after use them. I also go over them when I grease the equipment, which is every week or two depending on how much I use the truck. I'm usually not the one that services them though, I usually leave them at the shop in between calls to get serviced. When one of our mechanics or myself service the bearings they are gone completely over, checking for cracks, loose parts, and the alignment of the tires. 

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Big difference between a tow truck driver and a tow truck operator. Driver will say it’s out of his pay grade even if he is a mechanic why do extra work for the pennies I make pay me more and I will do more. Operator may not have the knowledge of the mechanical work and he is willing to do extra but if you don’t know what you’re doing what good is it. If you’re water heater goes bad you don’t call an electrician. You call a plumber. Owner/management need to stay on top of everything. Who gets hurt when the dolly wheel falls off with the LaFerrari on it. 

Anthony P

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