Honorable discharge

Trailers earning the respect of construction-materials transportation contractors

Trailers Article October 31, 2001
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To Transport, [is] to convey by carriage from place to place; . . ."


–Walker, John, A Critical Pronouncing Dictionary and Expositor of the English Language, New York, Collins and Hannay, 1827.


So was one common use of the word "transport" in the early 19th century. And this usage still applies today, more than 170 years later. The only difference is that the kind of conveyance used to transport has changed.


Of course, hot-mix asphalt (HMA) for paving was nonexistent then. Today, however, HMA indeed exists and there is a potpourri of "carriages" that are designed for transporting it from the HMA production plant to the paver.


As for truck-body configurations, there are the straight-body trucks and the tractors for pulling trailers, some with pups. As for trailers, probably the most prominent are the end-dump and bottom-dump kinds. Another type that is growing in popularity is the horizontal-discharge (H-D) trailer. This trailer continues to gain in popularity with paving contractors and materials-hauling companies particularly in parts of the Southwest, Midwest and Northeast.


Without a doubt, the end-dump trailer has, in many parts of the country, reined supreme as first choice and will continue to do so where a trailer with the maximum of multi-applications versatility is required. Besides using this kind of trailer for hauling HMA and aggregates, it is just as useful in hauling excavated ground, riprap and construction and demolition materials, even pieces of large size.


Asphalt’s carriage


Still, there are a growing number of construction-materials transportation contractors that are finding the H-D trailer system to be superior for transporting HMA. Three contractors who say so are Riccelli Enterprises Inc., Jana-Rock Construction Inc. and VanSlyke Trucking Inc. All three companies have their corporate headquarters in or near Syracuse, N.Y.


Ricelli Enterprises Inc.


Riccelli, East Syracuse, N.Y., is the biggest company in terms of the number of trucks in its fleet. It consists of 80 tractor/trailers and 80 tri-axle dump-trucks. Each semi-rig has a New York DOT perpetual overweight permit for carrying a payload of 34 tons, which brings the GVW to 107,000 lb.


There are 40 H-D trailers in the fleet specifically used for hauling the asphalt. The tractors are new Freightliners that are built with all heavy-duty components.


Sixty percent of the company’s revenue is from hauling HMA, and the balance is from hauling municipal solid wastes (MSW). Last year, the company transported 4 million tons of asphalt from HMA plants to the pavers at the jobsites.


Riccelli is a fast-growing company that was founded in 1991. Rich Riccelli, vice president of operations, said there are two reasons why the company enjoys a substantial local market share of the HMA hauling business. One is the high-quality service rendered to the customer. Many paving contractors need a trucking company that will deliver HMA around the clock.


Riccelli explained, "There are some paving projects where the paving of them is permitted only at night, so we will transport the paving anytime it is needed by the contractor. Fortunately, we have the personnel and trucks to give the contractor this kind of service. We also can transport large quantities of paving in a short time. For example, for one project we hauled 20,000 tons of asphalt in four days."


The other reason for Riccelli’s high market share is HMA producers and paving contractors prefer to deal with Riccelli because the company uses H-D trailers as opposed to end-dump trailers.


Riccelli owns 40 Red River H-D trailers. Some are designed for hauling MSW and others are designed for hauling HMA and aggregates. Riccelli has the Red River model OLB336 trailer, which is ideally suited for use in New York because it complies with all DOT regulations and yet maximizes the payload permitted. It has a 33-yd (34-ton payload) capacity. The trailer is 40 ft 10 in. long, 10 ft 3 in. high and has an overall width of 96 in.


One of the most significant attributes of this trailer is the over-the-fifth-wheel design. The fifth wheel is placed in a forward position over the tandem axles (closer to the tractor cab and directly above the front tandem axle). The trailer is designed so that it has ample swivel clearance from the cab despite its unusual forward position. What this unique over-the-fifth-wheel design does is increase the maximum payload and still comply with the DOT regulations.


Essentially, the gross weight of the trailer and materials being hauled are distributed more evenly along all axles, including the tractor’s tandem and steering axles.


The materials, HMA or aggregates are expelled at the rear of the trailer by a conveying belt that also serves as the trailer’s floor. This belt’s conveying action is controlled by the driver in the cab. For powering the belt it has a direct hydrostatic drive/ double-reduction planetary gearbox. Two roller chains spaced the width of belt and running the length of the belt have special lateral ties fastened between them for supporting the belt and its load. This design enables the belt to convey with a minimum of resistance.


Jana-Rock Construction


Jana-Rock Construction, Cazenovia, N.Y., is a paving contractor in Cazenovia that employs 100 people. The company has one paving crew that paves about 150,000 tons of asphalt each season. It also owns a paving planer for milling asphalt-paved roads that are to be rehabilitated with new paving.


For hauling the HMA paving, the company owns four Red River trailers, the same model as Riccelli’s.


Jana-Rock’s president, Rocky Lavire, said he uses the trailers for hauling HMA, aggregates and asphalt millings. Besides hauling for his own company, he contracts with asphalt paving producers and contractors. Most of the aggregates are 2-in. minus roadbase and the as-is millings are 3-in. minus with chunks sparsely distributed in the millings.


VanSlyke Trucking Co.


The VanSlyke Trucking Co., Nedrow, N.Y., adds at least one new Red River H-D trailer to its fleet each year. Besides owning five such trailers and five Kenworth tractors, the company has 14 tri-axle end-dump trucks in the fleet. These end-dump trucks are used mainly for hauling construction and demolition materials, aggregates, excavated ground and some HMA.


The H-D trailers are used for hauling asphalt, aggregates and sand. The company serves an average of 12 paving contractors during the paving season that runs, weather dependent, about seven months each year. The hauling distances are within a 60-mile radius of Syracuse.


Chris VanSlyke, president of the company, said his company has the H-D trailers in the fleet because his customers are requesting their asphalt be delivered in them.


"There are quite a few materials-hauling contractors in our area, and at least five of them also have some of these [H-D] trailers, so many of the paving contractors know the advantages of receiving HMA in these trailers as opposed to end-dump trailers or tri-axle end-dump trucks," said VanSlyke.


VanSlyke said there are some significant economic advantages in favor of H-D trailers compared with tri-axle end-dump trucks. He does not consider an end-dump trailer as feasible for hauling HMA because of the lack of clearance when dumping and the question of safety in using it to feed a paver on hilly roads.


As pointed out, the Red River trailer has a payload capacity of 34 tons. A tri-axle truck’s payload capacity is 24 tons. With all other things being equal, that means the trailer will deliver 40% more HMA per shift than the tri-axle truck. Figuring each truck could make six to 12 rounds per day, the increase in HMA hauled is 60 to 120 tons more using the H-D trailer. True, the trailers are used only seven months out of the year for transporting HMA, but they also can be used for hauling aggregates in the off-season.


"An important reason for using this kind of trailer is not only because of its payload capacity but the customers request it. It is their choice of trailer and that is good for my business," explained VanSlyke.


Certain areas


The H-D trailer is arguably the ideal trailer in some areas of the country for hauling primarily HMA and aggregates. As with any trailer design, the H-D trailer is not suitable for all


construction-materials hauling. It has its niche and does it well, according to these contractors. If there is not a daily need for hauling HMA during the paving season, it becomes questionable whether a trucker could justify the purchase cost of such a tractor/trailer. VanSlyke said it costs about $150,000 for a tractor/trailer and $125,000 for a new tri-axle end-dump truck. He said, assuming little HMA hauling business, an end-dump trailer or tri-axle would be preferable because they can haul just about any kind of loose material.


Trailer is preferred choice


Here are the reasons given by the three contractors as to why H-D trailers may be superior to end-dumps for transporting HMA.


For one, the asphalt material does not adhere to the inside walls and bottom of the trailer as they can in the typical end-dump truck. Vanslyke said he has even lined a special plastic inside the end-dump boxes to act as a release agent, but some asphalt material still adheres to it.


"This asphalt material must be scraped out each day, which represents added labor and a loss of asphalt. The problem is especially troublesome if the truck has to feed a paver as they both are advancing down a steep hill. The tilted box’s slope is too gentle for releasing all of the asphalt material from the sides and floor. It gets hung up [bridged]," said Vanslyke.


In contrast, the H-D trailer has the conveying belt that forces the asphalt to the rear of the trailer. The body sides sharply slope down toward the 30-in.-wide belt for minimizing possible bridging of asphalt material.


Further, since the body need not be tilted for emptying the load, there is a minimum of aggregate segregation experienced.


Head clearance is another major issue. Lavire points out that a good portion of the roads and streets paved have a plethora of overhead utility wires crossing over the areas being paved.


"The problem encountered even with a tri-axle end-dump truck is, the tilted boxes are so high that they do not clear under many of the wires. This means the box must be lowered and raised again once it is past the wire," said Lavire.


Vanslyke added that besides the capability of emptying them under utility wires, the H-D trailer is the best choice for paving in low-clearance tunnels and bridges for the same reason. Over the next few years, he will be transporting HMA to the Carrousel Mall in Syracuse, which is being expanded in size. When completed, it is supposed to be the largest mall in the country.


"The [H-D] trailers we have are the only way to feed the pavers that will be paving inside the new parking garages," he said.


An important feature available as an option on the Red River trailers is insulated body-sides for retaining the heat in the HMA longer. This heat-retention capability has two very important advantages for the paving contractor. It ensures that while the HMA is held in the trailer, it will maintain a more uniform temperature throughout the material and thus a more uniform temperature as it is fed to the paver. That is important for realizing a more uniform compacted density of the mat.


Another plus for this heat-retention quality occurs when a paver breaks down while paving. VanSlyke said the Red River insulated trailer prevents enough heat-loss in a load of HMA that the asphalt will still be useable as paving even after holding it five to six hours. By comparison, he said, the ordinary tri-axle end-dump truck can only hold the HMA for two to three hours before it is no longer useable.


Safety is a big issue with all three companies. Riccelli said many of the roads to be paved are less than straight or level, thus presenting the potential of a loaded end-dump truck possibly tipping over. Additionally, VanSlyke said he gets many contracts for delivering the HMA to shoulder-paving projects because of the H-D trailers. He said using end-dump trucks for this work can be a safety issue because of the transverse slopes associated with shoulder construction.


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