Climbing a cement tanker's ladder to open and close the top feed hatch can be tricky even when the driver uses the proper three-point contact technique. Dust and road grime often coat the ladder's treads and handrail, creating a slippery hazard even when dry.

But thanks to a new system developed by Salco Products Inc., a Lemont, Ill., manufacturer of dry bulk trailer accessories, one of your driver's least favorite and most dangerous tasks can be made much safer. When using their Salco's manway cover, the driver now remains on terra firma to close and seal the hatch.

Instead of the traditional flip/flop lid movement, the automatic opening device moves the hatch cover in a horizontal plane pivoting almost 270 degrees. An air-actuated piston, powered by tapping the tractor's air supply, does the work.

To open, the driven pulls down on the control valve to pressurize the system. The pressure causes the lid to rise from its sealing gasket. Then the piston slowly extends, causing the lid's bracket to rotate on the fixed pivot. To close, the driver closes the air switch, causing the piston to retract, and the lid returns to its locked and sealed position.

Not only is it safer, but the unit allows the task to be performed faster. The opening and closing operations each takes about 45 seconds.

The automatic manway cover system was design for easy installation on both new and old trailers. It seals the cover onto the trailer's ring using a standard cover and gasket. The cover can be installed on most trailers without welding. The installer normally needs only to remove the trailers existing brackets and then use the remaining hatch connections for mounting.

The system is suitable for trailers of both aluminum and steel construction. The complete assemble normally weighs less than 90 pounds.

The control switch is contained in its own watertight enclosure and can be mounted on the trailer's side or in the truck cab. The mechanic merely connects in the air-line into the system from the truck's compressor and out to the locking mechanism.

For more information on the automatic manway cover, telephone Salco Products Inc. at 630-783-2570, or visit www.salcoproducts.com

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Drivers use this self-contained, easy-to-mount control board to open and close the hatch. The unit can be mounted either on the trailer or in the tractor's cab.

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Salco's automatic manway cover system allows the driver to remotely open and close a dry-bulk trailer's feed hatch.