Buy quality replacement parts. Gambrell used to buy reconditioned brake shoe assemblies with new linings. The maintenance director found many were not properly re-coined and didn't have the right contour. Many were not properly painted. They were far less corrosion-resistant than original equipment.
Thoroughly inspect components and assemblies for rust on a regular basis. If there is any, take them down to bare metal, then prime and paint thoroughly. Be sure there are no bubbles or missed spots. Clean wheels, tanks, hangers, and anything else. Then give them a protective coat of wax. In the Snow Belt, buy stainless steel whenever possible.
Be very careful using fasteners. Attach steel parts with plated steel bolts and nuts (using the proper grade) and attach non-ferrous parts with stainless steel. The fasteners may cost a bit more, but they will prevent electrolytic corrosion of aluminum parts.
Left unchecked, steel wheels can rust through at the bolt holes. Aluminum wheels will develop a mottled and stained surface. Engine coolant pipes can rust through. Radiator cores can corrode and leak. Mixer drum mounts are susceptible. No part is immune.
TMC and the Society of Automotive Engineers have initiated discussions with various highway engineering groups to try to reduce using these aggressive chemicals, but that process may take years before it shows results. Meanwhile, you can protect your truck. With frequent inspection and prompt maintenance, your vehicle can resist winter's worst and survive this newest form of chemical warfare.
— Paul Abelson is senior technical editor for Road King and Land Line magazines, both serving the trucking industry. He is a former director of the Technology and Maintenance Council of the American Trucking Associations. E-mail him firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Technology and Maintenance Council (TMC) recently formed a Study Group for Vocational Trucks. Ready-mix trucks fit in this Study Group's domain, as do construction trucks, refuse packers, and other specialized vehicles. Those responsible for specifying, operating, and maintaining trucks of all types will benefit from TMC membership by being among the first to become aware of problems and their solutions. For information on TMC, telephone 703-838-1763.