The Right Tool
A newly developed trailer system offers truckers a specialty tool with both road building and log transport capabilities
By Tony Kryzanowski
How often have you stripped a nut because you weren't using the proper tool? There has been a recent innovation in truck trailers that may finally offer the right tool for some annoying problems and environmental challenges that forestry trucking contractors often face. Road building and log transfers from mill to mill are both important aspects of the forest industry. Yet contractors approach challenges in these areas with pretty much the same tools they used 50 years ago. Imagine if your fleet could include a trailer system with a box that could safely dump aggregate or fill material to either side without having to turn around on a narrow logging road. And wouldn't it be great if that same system converted to a lighter weight steel log bunk that allowed you to haul more short logs on the highway than with a standard, heavy logging truck? Now, wouldn't that be the perfect addition to a truck fleet. Alberta inventor and trucker Marvin Neufeld's new bottom side dump trailer system is turning a lot of heads these days because of its maneuverability, flexibility and improved engineering, compared to standard side dump trailers. The system also has huge potential as a more environmentally friendly system versus using standard gravel trucks, as it reduces the need for compaction and sub grade road construction to accommodate rear or bottom dump trailers. With its ability to dump to the side, material can be dropped in place from an existing roadbed. An Alberta truck and trailer company, McCoy Bros, has already signed a licensing agreement with Neufeld to manufacture the patented system that took the inventor a couple of years of drawings and wooden models to develop. Essentially, a hydraulic lifter mounted on an A frame mechanism lifts one side of the box, which is mounted on rollers. As the box rolls to one side, the bottom opens, and discharges the load to the side.
The weight of the material being discharged remains over the trailer while being dumped. This major enhancement to both stability and safety minimizes the danger of tipping. The system is designed so that, with the simple repositioning of a few pins, the trailer can dump either to the left or to the right-another advantage over straight side dump trailers. Finally, owners can remove boxes from the trailer system and install log bunks to haul short logs over long hauls on the highway. The system is not heavy duty enough for offroad log hauling, or suitable for tree length logs. However, because Neufeld's log bunk is constructed using lighter weight metal, truckers can carry a larger payload on the highway compared to standard logging trucks. In the final analysis, that could represent a competitive edge. The mill saves money if it can ship more logs with fewer loads over long distances. The chassis will be manufactured at McCoy's Scona Truck and Trailer facility in Edmonton and the boxes by McCoy's Renn Manufacturing facility in Stettler, Alberta. Lorne Mix, owner of L and T Mix Sand and Gravel in Leduc, Alberta has a dozen trucks in his operations and five pulled Neufeld bottom side dump trailers over the past year. "They are really good for windrowing and shoulder widening," he says. "You just pull up and dump either right or left." He views them as an enhancement to his fleet, rather than as a replacement for his rear discharge or belly dump trailers. There are pros and cons to the system, he says. While it allows him to haul about five tonnes more material, he ends up pulling12 more tonnes because the unit is longer than a standard truck and trailer unit. The result is more rubber on the ground because of an extra axle and potentially extra fuel costs.
At present, he is using his Neufeld trailers for longer hauls because of the extra tonnage he can deliver. He says the tipping mechanism has operated without any glitches. He also installed lighter weight metal log bunk systems on some extra trailers and successfully transported short logs all last winter. In addition to being a gravel truck driver, Neufeld is also a heavy duty mechanic and welder. He says the idea for the bottom side dump trailer system evolved during his 10 years driving truck and the obstacles contractors encountered. They had a constant complaint about the cost of building extra roadways for dump trucks, particularly on road widening jobs. He noticed they often had to spend a lot of extra money building a solid patch of road for rear discharge trucks to travel on in order for them to be able to dump where required. "A lot of contractors out there told me that a side dump would sure solve a lot of problems," says Neufeld. However, when he investigated side dump trailer systems on the market, he discovered there were a few safety concerns, particularly with the trailer tipping over if part of the load stuck while being dumped.
Another concern was that with faster flowing material such as washed rock, a considerable amount of material was ending up under the trailer. "So the contractors said if you can overcome these two problems, then you've got something," says Neufeld. He started with drawings, then cardboard and wooden models, and finally an actual working trailer system that he designed and welded from the ground up. Once he had a satisfactory working system, he built one for his own use and four more for L and T Mix Sand and Gravel, keeping close tabs on the system's performance. Then he began attending trade shows. When larger orders began to arrive, he realized that he had outgrown the manufacturing capabilities of his small shop. So he patented his invention and entered into a partnership with McCoy Bros, giving them exclusive manufacturing and distribution rights to the bottom side dump trailer system in Western Canada, Ontario, and the Pacific Northwest. The cost for a Neufeld bottom side dump trailer system is slightly more than side dump trailers currently available on the market. However, Neufeld says that with the system's ability to dump on either side and convert to a short log haul system, it offers more for the dollar spent..
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