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Stack Covers


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This topic Originally Created on Tow411 by Nulls Towing in December of 2006:


Just wondering what other people are using for stack covers.


We have been using the 2.5 gallon chain pails from the local hardware store but they stopped getting chain in the little pails.


Ed Said:

We don't use them, it has been determined that they are not necessary but the engine manufactures.
Maybe try GOJO containers? They are around 6"


Towaholic said:

i had a local sewing lady make up some out of vinyl about 10in. around with a bungee sewed in ive used them once they work fine i just use long pole to set on top and then bungee it down. but we almost never use them.



danielswt said:

i don't use them,but i know that our CAT dealer has them in stock premade. they are a vinyl material.



Chuck said:

Empty washer bottles, if you forget them no big deal. Noltes Service,Oshkosh,WI
Johns Towing, Neenah and Appleton, WI


towing4u said:

we dont use them...but we used to and they were old window fluid jugs...


hookin29 said:

The only time I cover a stack is when I wash my truck. Just so water don't get down in the pipe!!! I have towedalot of trucks by the rear and never covered a stack. Nothing will happen to the turbo or anything else inside there. !!!!
Craig said:
We use old washer jugs with a tarp strap on them, but don't use them unless the tow is over 10 miles. We've been towing big trucks since 1967, and we never covered stacks until about 6 yrs ago.

Now for the reason we continue to cover them. Towed a log truck a few yrs back into the Mack dealer for a rear end problem. We were back in about a week later with a different truck in tow. The log truck and owner were in the dealership also. In talking with the owner we asked what he was back in for... He said the turbo, but that he had noticed on the invoice it stated that we covered the stack. Saved us $ 1,200 plus dollars just by taking 30 seconds to cover the stack before towing.. I know all the truck makers say it's an urban legend so to speak, and that the wind blows across the stacks setting on the lot also. But, why take the chance these days with everyone looking to sue or make someone else pay for their mistakes? Personally I think all the turbo failures are coming from impatient drivers not letting their engines idle for atleast 3 minutes before shutdown. Then they come looking at us when something goes wrong.
Ed said:
I understand your reasoning there Craig but whether right or wrong did you ever say what the ----! You could probably spend a couple hours prepairing a vehicle for every single what if????
You very well may of saved yourself a disgruntled customer there...but it would of been hard to prove to me I wasted there turbo.
Craig said:

I know Ed, but it's a good argument for towing by the hour. Get paid for protecting your assets..


Hookin29 said:

Regardless of blowing a turbo If a turbo is going to blow it is not because of us towing the vehicle by the rear. Most trucks have mufflers that can only be mounted 1 way. They are directional.



ProTower said:

We have them in all our trucks. They are made by local tent and tarp shop, and they use a vinyl type material. Here we have to use them all the time or the shops will start complaining. For the few seconds it takes to put them on I don't mind.

Thanks Rick


joefromjd said:

I use the gallon jug with top cut out leave handle & crimp s hook from tarp strap to handle, made a long rod with hook on end,hold onto tarp strap put hook of rod in handle push up to top of stack pull down over stack & anchor tarp strapto anything like the stack guard, takes 2 seconds & piece of mind.


QueenswayTire said:

I use old tire tubes, just cut off a chunk of tube, fold the end over and duct tape it, then make a hole and attach a bungy so that they don't fly off, works great and takes up very little room.


MTA415 said:

Towtimes had an article on this a couple of years ago where they queried all of the engine manufactuers and all of them responded that there is no damage done to the engine from towing the unit backwards. Lemme look thru my old mags and see if I can find it.I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand.



BigBerthasTowing said:

Folger plastic pound coffee containers with an old broom stick sheetrock screwed to the container. Easy to reach up and pop on and take off. Only for long distance tows from rear though. There are mixed reviews from manufacturers on reverse venture but try go safe first. No trouble and if it comforts the owner, we'll attach for short runs too. Please, only use the decaffeinated green containers as the caffeinated containers may give the turbin hypertension.Be safe and always watch for oncoming traffic!



SlimSanta said:

I think where this idea originally came from was farm tractors. With the tractors short pipes you can have a problem.

Al Dakota Service & Repair, Brookings, SD



ibflat2 said:

older copy of email I have from Donnie Cruse concerning this subject ..

Covering those stacks!

Many operators take the time to cover stacks prior to towing. On the other hand thousands of trucks are towed everyday without this procedure. Last year a student asked me a question. I felt his point was a valid one. He asked “what is the difference of a truck being towed backwards at 60MPH and the wind blowing at 60MPH in a dealership yards”? Put in those terms it is a good question, deserving an responsible answer. Who better to answer such a question than the manufacturers.
In an attempt to confirm or deny this procedure I contacted Volvo, Mack, Cummins, CAT, International and Detroit engine manufacturers and invited their response. Volvo was the first to reply their answers follow:


VOLVO - Your recent e-mail concerning the effects of high speed towing on engine turbochargers has been forwarded to me for review and response.
We can only speak to Volvo engines but we believe the analysis would be the same for engines manufactured by others and which have a similar exhaust system.
In order for the turbocharger impeller to rotate, there has to be a significant flow of exhaust gases (in this scenario, air) through it. Under normal operating conditions, when the exhaust gases leave the engine there is no back pressure, relatively speaking. It is the
flow of gases through the impeller that causes it to rotate. There has to be a source of exhaust gas (the cylinders) as well as a way or the gases to exhaust (out the stack).


In your hypothetical, the flow of air is reversed. The source of the air is from the outside atmosphere but it will not flow down through the stack because there is no place for it to exhaust. In essence, the air flow would "dead end" at the cylinders. There is no flow of
air through the system because it has no place to exhaust. In reality, since the stack is already filled with air, the outside air cannot get even get into the stack.
Let me know if you have any further questions.
Heino Scharf
Director, Product Assurance
Volvo Trucks North America


The next to respond was Mack Truck their answer follows:
I have received an official Mack response to your question from both Phillipe Santini, director, service and warranty operations, and Al Hertzog, supervisor, service training. They are both in agreement that:
1. If the stack includes a muffler, in most cases you do not have to cover the exhaust outlet. On a vertical stack, the venturi effect produced prevents any air from entering into the stack. On a curved stack, the muffler baffles should prevent air forced back to have any effect. But this has never been verified; a precaution would be to rotate the elbow 90 degrees, creating a venturi effect.
2. If the stack has no muffler, you do need to block the exhaust outlet. The shaft of the turbo could rotate, and without lubrication, the small bearings in the turbocharger will have their life span decreased due to "scarring", with a possible result of premature failure.
Both men indicated that the easiest method to prevent any engine component damage through open, vertical exhaust stacks is to simply cover them.


gain, I apologize for the delay, and hope this has been helpful. If, I
can do anything else for you, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Jim Higgins


The next to respond was Cummins Engine their answer follows:
Thanks for your E-mail message. We apologize for our delay in responding.

We can see that with certain type bends on exhaust stacks, that it might be
possible to get some air flow down the stacks while towing but cannot think
of any damage this would cause. If there was no muffler, the air might get
to the turbocharger but the wheels and shaft of the turbo are 'free
wheeling' and will rotate in either direction. Doubt that it would cause
any problems.

Thank you for your interest in Cummins power or products.
Customer Assistance Center
Cummins Engine Company, Inc.
Columbus, Indiana, USA
Email: powermaster@cummins.com


The next to respond was Caterpillar their answer follows:
We apologize for our delay in the response to your e-mail. As to your
question, only in a few cases will pulling a truck backwards cause the turbo
to spin, which would require free flow of air through an engine. This can be
caused by a hole in a piston or possibly a dropped valve. Typically the air
will not flow through the engine causing the turbo to spin. If you have an
engine where air will flow freely through the crankcase there is enough damage
to the engine the owner will probably not be worried to much about the turbo,
or the turbo will already be damaged. The backwards motion of the turbo
should not really be a concern, it would be the fact that the turbo is turning
without lubrication. It still might not be a bad practice to cover the
stacks. If you have any questions you can call us at 800-447-4986.

Brad @ CAT Truck Engine Call Center


The next to respond was Detroit Engine their answer follows:
From Detroit Engines.
It is not necessary to cap the stacks when towing backwards to prevent
airflow through the engine.
Lisa A. Williams x2-7061

Subject: RE: Towing/exhaust


The next to respond was International Engines their answer follows:
The reason a turbocharger works is gas flow. The reason air flows is because of pressure differentials. The gas will move from a high pressure to a low pressure. If the gas (air or exhaust) flows across the turbine or compressor wheels the turbine shaft will rotate, forward or backward depending on the direction of flow.
When the engine stops it will usually stop near top dead center because of compression resistance. Therefore it is not unlikely that the engine would stop with the intake and exhaust valves open on one of the cylinders. It is common to hear air whistling in the intake with the engine not running, if the truck is in a shop with an evacuation hose on the exhaust.
The first question is; could there be enough air flow through the engines exhaust and intake system to cause the turbo to spin? If the conditions were correct, high pressure at one end and low pressure at the other, it may be possible. However with the restriction of the air cleaner, muffler and associated plumbing in the intake and exhaust systems, it is unlikely that there would be sufficient flow to cause any significant turbine speed.
The more important question is; could this cause turbine shaft and bearing damage? The turbochargers used on International engines are designed in such a way as to have oil contained in the bearing housing after the engine is shut off. This oil protects the turbine shaft and bearings in the case of a hot shut down.
My conclusion is that it is possible to have turbine shaft rotation when towing a truck if the conditions introduced relatively high pressure differentials. But I believe that it would be rare. And if it did, the speed would be low because of inlet and exhaust restrictions. Also the reserve oil in the turbo housing would protect the shaft and bearings from permanent damage.
Finally it would be impossible to test every application and combination in every towing situation to determine if the potential for risk exists. So if the vehicle were being towed a great distance at high speed and since it would only take a moment to plug either the intake or exhaust...better to be safe than sorry.
James Pirie
Application engineer
Engine Technical Center
Navistar International Transportation Corp.
10400 West North Avenue
Melrose Park IL. 60160

Conclusion; Only if a system is `open’ could lubrication damage occur to the turbo. I believe the possibility is very remote that air could get through a normal system. I would suggest the following; If you are aware of damage to an engine component such as pistons, valves or exhaust. It would be prudent to cover the stack. This procedure requires additional time and attention thereby a charge for this service is in order based on your interruption of the manufacturer’s recommendations.

A good reputation is more valuable than money.
Publilius Syrus (~100 BC)


joefromjd said:

Why worry about it just cap it & forget it.


Nulls Towing said:

joefromjd That is our opinioin also... I did not start this as a question wether to cover or not, even though the information is interesting we will still cap them. The reason that I started this post was to find out others ideas for stack covers.

Jared Null


SuperTrucker926 said:

I use old antifreeze bottles, cut the top off, cut a hole or two for straps and away I go. I cover all I tow from the rear.9c3a7119.jpg
Lucky Largo WM 4/5



it was said earlier its not worth it, it takes a few seconds and with my luck they would say it was fine when the owner knew it was on its way out. me if it is a long haul i will take the extra minute and charge them for it.


SuperTrucker926 said:

It has not been proven to me that nothing will happen to the turbo on a truck being towed from the rear. I have read alot of posts and tons of documents concerning this matter, and so far all I have found is that no one person can give me an absolute 100%. It's not the best example, but I look at it like secondary attachments. The truck I'm towing is not likley to break through the tie down's and jump out of the forks, but I still need to secure it in the event. Better safe than sorry, and it only takes a minute or two. Just my opinionhttp://www.tow411.net/images/emoticondriving.gif

Stay safe out there, watch your back, and we'll C'ya in the ditch!
Lucky LargoWM 4/5


itowu06 said:

http://www.tow411.net/images/emoticon1224.gif I use small trash cans from dollar store and a bungee cord, use my hook retreiver poll to place over stacks and secure with bungee cords works great and only takes a couple of seconds to put on and take off, my customers think it's a great idea and that's worth putting them on..lolhttp://www.tow411.net/images/emoticonconfused.gif



Iron Forest Towing said:

can someone tell me where to buy a pair of bags to put over stack pipes  ..too short to reach that high !!!!  thanks


surrytower said:

A pair of 1 gallon round plastic Windshield washer fluid bottles with broom handles attached for reach and a bungee to tie the handle to the stack works quite well for few $s.


someotherplace said:

There was an extensive discussion about this in here, I dunno, maybe a year ago? Some forum searching using the right key words should show it fairly easily. Lots of talk and many different solutions as you might imagine many here have dealt with the situation.



Scott Burrows said:

In my humble opinion, this was the best answer to the question:

As to your question, only in a few cases will pulling a truck backwards cause the turbo to spin, which would require free flow of air through an engine. This can be caused by a hole in a piston or possibly a dropped valve. Typically the air will not flow through the engine causing the turbo to spin. If you have an engine where air will flow freely through the crankcase there is enough damage to the engine the owner will probably not be worried to much about the turbo, or the turbo will already be damaged.


Jerrys garage said:

I use Maxwell House or Folgers coffee cans. The maxwell house has a hand grip which nicley for tieing them down.


Nulls Towing said:

We started using tide detergent bottles, leave the spout as a place to put the rod. and cut the rest of the top out.

Jared Null


nrctower said:

I use nothing on road tractors I've been to seminar's by Cummings Cat Detroit and all say it will not heart the turbo now haling equipment is different some do require covering the exhaust I have been doing swap outs for ten years or so and never had any problems. Thanks for the post Tim


AWT902 said:

"I use nothing on road tractors I've been to seminar's by Cummings Cat Detroit and all say it will not heart the turbo now haling equipment is different some do require covering the exhaust I have been doing swap outs for ten years or so and never had any problems". Some where I have copy's of statements from the big three engine makers that air flow back through the exhaust at highway speed will not harm the turbo so we have not used covers for many years. That was well before the variable vane technology however.


brostow13 said:

Jerold, I had bags made from heavy canvas in the shape of a can at a sail
shop here in town .I screwed a hockey stick handle on each bag (availability)
and a rubber shock cord on the end of each stick.Easy to install never scratch anything and
with the shock cord attached wont ever fall off .total cost was like 20 bucks maybe .


P.S.Anything with a Cat engine towed into Cat repair facility in this area better have the stack covered .
Funny how it differs area to area.


QueenswayTire said:

it will not hurt the turbo, if it did, you would have to cover the stack every time you parked the truck in a wind storm.


Jerrys garage said:

ME thinks a 30 to 40 mph wind is just a little different than a 70 mph wind for 4 or 500 miles. Me Thinks.



Nulls Towing said:

Me thinks the same as Jerry...why would you not cover are you or are you not on the clock??? In my opinion this is the same debate as to whether to pull the drive line or not...

But that is enough about the debate, the man asked what kind of covers to use...He did not ask if he should cover them or not!

Jared Null


Jerrys garage said:

Maybe a 5 gallon bucket

(to stand on),

might also try a gallon paint can, the have the reinforced lip area which is good for the bungee hook

Got to drink a lot of coffee to come up with the coffee cans. We make 5 to 7 pots a day here.



CB Dancer said:

Ok this is an answer to the original question
I like to use the covers off of the tube chairs you buy at wal-mart (we all have one or two that are laying around that are broke )
they come in many sizes wont hurt chrome and are easy to put on
and stay put with one bungee strap

and on a side note i have customers that request the stacks be covered and if that is what they want that is what they get



napaniel said:

We haul heavy equipment all the time & ALWAYS plug the exhaust. We use nerf balls. They are cheap and come in several sizes. All you have to do is stuff them in the end of the pipe.
One of our customers had a new mining machine hauled from Mt. Vernon, Il to a mine in West Virginia last month. When they went to start the machine, the turbo was locked up. The exhaust was not covered & was facing forward on the truck. It can happen The CASE dealer here has had several new backhoes delivered with burnt up turbos due uncovered exhaust. They demand all machines have the exhaust covered before they leave the lot.


LCT1 said:

The Cat dealer requires anybody leaving their facility with a piece of their equipment to have the exhaust covered. And I woul think they know something about engines and I think most other brands of engines are similar enough they could have the same conditions. We had the local tent and awning place make covers but know they have to be bigger for the new exhaust ends. Then go to the local marine supply store and get an aluminum extendable hook its about 4 feet long and extends to about 8 feet and has a hook on the end. It works great for pplacing the covers and removing them among other things like on recovery jobs placing straps.


towdriver said:

I have had a turbo burn up the bearing while towing a truck backwards. It had mufflers that were punched out to fool MTO into thinking it had mufflers when it was really more like straight pipes. Now I don't take the chance. Had a local wet suit maker make some covers. They fit tight on stack and so far haven't needed a strap on them. Only down side is climbing up and down to install/remove.


Acestowing said:

Here is what we use. Made by the dump trailer tarp guys, put 2 bungees in the eyelets 80$ for a set will fit up to a 10" pipe.
Edit; To install them I use a 4ft to 8ft extendable painters rod from Home depot, reach from the ground.



Parttimer said:

We use what I assume are factory made stack covers. Unfortunately it does not always matter what the facts of the situation are as much as the costumer’s perception of the facts. Takes less time and frustration to install them then to attempt to convince/educate costumer as to why we didn't cover them.



Ironically, we seldom, on customer request only, cover stacks. (The original question and post) on trucks we tow from the rear. On the other hand, almost all equipment we haul backwards, we cover the stacks on those.... if, at the customer's request, the stacks need/want to be covered we use 3 lb. coffee cans and a bungee cord. This discussion about should they shouldn't they will go on as long as more than 1 opinion is shared on this board... And just like the chicken or the egg, will never be decided!!!



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