HD Ratings

Jul 13th, 2012 | By | Category: Jack Schrock's Blog

As a further comment to Wendy Black’s excellent article entitled “Playing By The Rules” in the June issue of Tow Times, the development of wrecker ratings has been a “journey.”

For example, before computers and hi-tech measuring equipment, Holmes engineers would place an un-mounted wrecker in the test pit and subject it to excessive load to the point of failure. Since that would be the weakest point, perhaps it would be redesigned and then tested again before assigning a rating. But, the rating they assigned would be a percentage of the test failure.

For example, if a heavy-duty wrecker withstood a test of say 100,000 lbs., it might deserve a 100,000-lb. or 50T rating. But, the best kept secret in T & R is how the engineers reduce that rating in order to provide a safety factor for the tower. So the 100,000-lb. rating could drop by as much as 50 percent for a rating of only 50,000 lbs., or say 25T. Does that number sound familiar?

Further, anytime a tower is called out on a HD recovery or even tow, the driver will often incorrectly guess at the weight of the loaded front axle. Now, there is a tremendous difference between the weight of the recovery load and the load on the wrecker and that depends on a number of other factors. But, let’s make this simple. Let’s say you’ve been dispatched to pickup and tow a HD equipment truck and the driver says the front axle weight is 10,000 lbs. How do you verify that weight? Do you have instrumentation on your wrecker to confirm that number? Most do not, so you pick it up because, based on your personal experience, you know you can legally scale a 10,000-lb. load on the underlift of your wrecker. (Besides, you don’t get paid anything for walking away with nothing.)

But, the nice man in the scalehouse says otherwise and you get a ticket for being 3,200 lbs. overweight on your rear tandems and that amounts to more than a mere “inconvenience.” There’s much more to this story but we’re out of space so stayed tuned for a possible follow up.