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The Question I get Asked All the Time!!

 Customers will ask questions, but this one question I get asked all the time. As adults, we take care of our houses, cars, and adult toys, but most trailer owners forget about their trailers. That one question I get asked over and over, is, "When should I do the maintenance on my trailer?" My response goes something like this. Think about your car. You check the engine oil, tires, and windshield wipers. Right? You take your daily driver to the mechanic for a tune-up every so often, so you're not broken down on the side of the highway. Right? The same goes for your trailer.

It would help if you do a visual check of your trailer before and after you use it. Check the tires, coupler, safety chains, and lights. Think about safety! One point that I stress to my customers is this...every year grease and repack your bearings. Change the bearings if there are signs of damage! If you have a boat trailer, this piece of information is critical because water will get in there and freeze, which is divesting to hubs and bearings!

If you cannot perform this checks, please find a trailer repair facility and bring your trailer into a trailer mechanic to prevent a breakdown! Tow safe!

By: Matthew Polito

Bumper Pull Vs. GooseNeck

  Trailer owners have choices. Have you seen truck owners towing gooseneck trailers and wonder if you could haul like that? Have you ever thought about a gooseneck hitch for personal or professional use? Well, there are advantages and disadvantages to both. Being a trailer consultant, it is my job to inform my clients what those differences are!

 Let's start with the advantages of towing with a bumper pull system. First, the initial cost for the hitch. A hitch for a bumper pull system on many trucks is a standard feature on new vehicles. However, if your vehicle did not come with a bumper hitch one can be purchased and installed for under 500.00 dollars. A gooseneck system can cost about $1,200.00 installed.  

  Another advantage is the combined weight of a bumper pull trailer and vehicle is unlikely to exceed 10,001 lbs., which keeps the vehicle under the weight limit to declared a commercial vehicle and require a commercial license. You will want to check with your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles in case your state has lower limits. 

A bumper pull is excellent for first-time trailer owners because it is a common style of a hitch, and as a result, it is less intimidating. The turn radius on a bumper pull trailer has an average turn radius and will follow the turn radius of the tow vehicle.  

The disadvantages of a bumper pull system include less space to haul equipment, farm stock, or living quarters. Hauling heavy loads is a significant problem for a bumper tow system. The lack of stability and loss of control, including trailer swaying is also an issue to worry about when using a bumper pull system. Bumper pull trailers are involved in more trailer accidents according to several state accident records.  

 Stability is the significant advantage of a gooseneck trailer over a bumper pull. The reason is the tongue weight of the trailer is over the truck's rear axle instead of at the back of the frame like a bumper pull system. Having the tongue weight over the rear axle significantly reduces the sway of the trailer. A gooseneck trailer can accommodate more weight and be more substantial than a bumper pull trailer.  

A tighter turn radius is a significant factor why trailer aficionados love gooseneck trailers. Gooseneck trailers let a driver cut corners tighter than a bumper pull trailer and allows you to maneuver the trailer in tighter spaces. A co-worker of mine told me that backing up in a gooseneck trailer is a night and day difference over a bumper pull trailer.  

The disadvantages of a gooseneck hitch are the cost. As explained above, the value of the gooseneck and install can be costly. This point is a significant hurdle for the average trailer enthusiast.  Storage of a gooseneck can be a challenge because gooseneck trailers are larger than a bumper pull trailer. This can be a problem for the city dweller who might not have enough room to accommodate a larger trailer. The last disadvantage is not being able to use your truck bed because one will have a ball sticking up through the bed. However, B&W hitches make a hideaway ball system that can be taken out, so the bed can be used.  

The one thing I tell my clients is both have advantages, and both have disadvantages. The client has to find what kind of system fits their needs. 

 By: Matthew Polito

 Bike Racks

Breezing along the Towpath, taking a few turns on Cleveland's growing mountain bike trails, or setting the kids loose on their bikes in the campground... Sounds great, doesn't it? Let's get the boring part over with: you're going to need a bike rack.

You don't have to reach very far to find a reason why hitch mount bike racks are preferable to trunk-mount bike racks and cartop carriers - hitch mount bike racks are a lot easier to load and unload!

While a hitch mount bike carrier is a good choice for you and your back, it's also good for your vehicle, because bikes won't come in contact with your car. (Translation: no dings and chipped paint!)

More good news: improved designs have made bike racks more aerodynamic, and most allow for easy access to rear doors and hatchbacks - meaning no more need to remove the rack (or bikes!) from your vehicle to get to the other gear inside.

What You Need to Know About Hitch Mount Bike Racks and Your Car

A bike rack will fit on almost any hitch - but that's a deceptively simple and potentially dangerous statement. Regardless of the style of bike rack or size of hitch you have, put too much weight on it and you risk damaging the bike(s), hitch, and your vehicle.

The first most important thing to ask is, what kind of hitch can my car handle? Most smaller cars and sedans can take a class 1 or class 2 hitch, with some notable exceptions, like the Subaru Impreza and Toyota Prius. (If you have one of these vehicles, you're not out of luck - see below.)

  • Class 1 hitches are intended to handle up to 2,000 lb gross trailer weight and a maximum tongue weight of 200 lbs.
  • Class 2 hitches are rated to pull 3,500 lbs and handle a maximum tongue weight of 300 lbs.
  • Class 3 hitches are rated to pull 3,500 - 10,000 lbs - generally, you don't need a Class 3 hitch "just" for bikes, but if you have a Class 3 hitch, know that we have bike racks designed to fit them.

For vehicles that can handle either a Class 1 or Class 2 hitch, we recommend getting the Class 2. Why the heavier duty hitch? We hate to see our customers putting their vehicles, bikes, or fun family outings at risk.

How Many Bikes? Do the Math

A couple of heavy bikes are going to put you close to the maximum tongue weight of a Class 1 hitch - and hitting a speed bump or Cleveland-sized pothole may cause damage to the bikes on the rack and possibly to your car's body or frame. A Class 2 hitch is needed for carrying 3 or 4 bikes.  Think that sounds like overkill? It's your car - but we've never heard anyone complain about getting a mount that's too sturdy. (The Reese website offers descriptions of all five classes of hitches. See the HowStuffWorks site for more than you might want to know about Tongue Weight.)

Loading a Motorcycle in a Trailer 

Wow, it’s been a busy spring and summer. Hope you’re having fun! We’ve spent some good times at Quaker Steak & Lube locations hosting Bike Nights in the past couple of months, talking to NE Ohio dirt bike, motocross, streetbike, chopper owners and motorheads, and we’ve been giving out a lot of advice. (And a few prizes.)

Before Loading Your Motorcycle in a Trailer

Some of these tips fall under the “well-duh” category, but they’re still  worth mentioning!

  • ALWAYS load when the trailer is hooked up!
  • Check for weight balance BEFORE loading your bike (or anything)
  • If you’re loading in an enclosed trailer, check door height before loading your bike!
  • PUT YOUR KICKSTAND UP AFTER LOADING, unless you’d like a hole in the trailer floor. (No kidding. We see these kind of things in for trailer repair all the time. File under, Don’t Be That Guy!)
  • CHECK FOR GREASE on the trailer floor. Missing a slick spot = unhappy surprise landings and unscheduled repairs – to you, your bike and your trailer.
  • Check air pressure and lug nuts and make sure your coupler and ball match.

Securing Your Motorcycle in a Trailer

The first most important thing to have, if at all possible, is someone to help you! You can load a motorcycle into a trailer by yourself, but it’s much better – for you, your bike, and your trailer – if you do it with someone else.

Basically, we recommend a four-point tie-down system, and one that does not compress the suspension too much.  (A lot depends on your bike, your trailer, and how you’re tying it down – call us if you’d like a demonstration: 440.232.4311)

Improper loading can result in broken springs, broken brackets, snapped cables on doors, and worse. (Good news – we can fix just about anything on a motorcycle trailer. Bad news – it usually means you’ll miss some good riding.)

A couple of good videos can be found online, and of course, you can always contact us, the trailer and hitch (and motorcycle-loading) experts, at JTI 440.232.4311

Snow Plow Or Snow Pusher

The Perfect Plow – The KAGE® snow plow and pusher system combines the snow pusher capabilities to move large amounts of snow with the versatility of the snow plow for skid steers, wheel loaders, and tractors into one easy to use attachment. The KAGE Snow fire and Snowstorm snow plow box systems are a full revolution in the snow removal industry. This demonstrates the flexibility and versatility that the KAGE® snow plow and pusher system offers the operator. Now a single operator can do the trim work of the truck plow, and the pushing of the wheel loader. One machine and one operator that can do the work of 2 or 3 machines and operators!

Angle Plow – The Versatile Option

Angle plows have been in use for decades. The angle plow is by far the most versatile and easiest way to move snow from a street, driveway, or parking lot. The curved moldboard rolls snow in the direction of travel, and if the moldboard is angled off to one side, the snow will naturally flow laterally as well. This process is commonly known as windrowing. If you want to achieve the fastest clearing possible, and have the ability to move the snow both forward and laterally, you will want to choose the angle plow method. Other versatilities that the angle plow offers are:

Back Dragging

Back dragging is an essential part of any commercial snow plow application. There are usually always times where you have to back drag snow away from loading docks, garage doors, empty parking stalls, or entrances. Snow plows have the ability to back drag cleanly away from all of these. It helps if you have the ability to put some down pressure on the plow during the back dragging.

Safety Trip Edge

The safety trip edge is critical to any snow plow operation. This prevents damage to the equipment, obstacle, and road surface. If there is no trip edge or safety mechanism in place, the plow will strike obstacles and damage will occur.

Snow Pusher – The Snow Hog

The snow pusher is the less versatile option, but the high volume, brute force snow-mover. This attachment is usually used in conjunction with skid steers, wheel loaders, tractor loader backhoes, etc. Very seldom will you see a snow pusher clearing a street or drive lane. Most of the time, a snow pusher is utilized in conjunction with another piece of equipment that has a more versatile attachment. For instance, a snow pusher might be focused on pusher snow to the end of the parking lot, while a skid steer or truck back drag and trim out islands, entrance loops, and parking stalls with an angle plow or bucket. The snow pusher is good at hogging snow in one direction, but if it fills up before the end of your run, you will spill out on both sides of the box, causing dribbles that you will have to go back and clean up.

Don’t take our work for it, ask The Watershed what their customers have to say about our revolutionary skid steer snow plow attachments!

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NNight Time Snow Plowing Safety Tips

The main reason why we plow snow during the late evening and well into the early morning hours is because most everyone is at home relaxing. Vehicles are, for the most part, out of your way and street traffic is typically light. This translates to a safer snow plowing environment for both the general public and the operator.

Every snow removal contractor is well aware of the dangers of night time snow plowing, but making sure your snow plow operators get it we put together this checklist of safety tips that will keep them plowing throughout the night.

Snow Plowing Preparation 101

Snow Plowing Preparation TipsManaging a fleet of snow removal operators can be a daunting task, but if all your operators are educated on what to expect before they enter the job site, it can minimize fault. Get your crew in a meeting room, go over each and every snow removal site.

They need to know not only where the snow gets piled, but what the potential hazards are at each site. All your operators should be aware of where potential hazards can get buried like fire hydrants or telephone boxes.

Use Google maps to get computer screen shots of the job site so you can visually see the best way for it to be plowed and mark those potential hazards.

Dress for a Long Night of Plowing Snow

Wheel Loader Snow PlowWe know what it’s like to be running your skid steer plowing snow or operating a tractor plowing snow. After an hour of sitting in a heated cab, the operator will want to dress lighter cause it gets hot sitting there with a set of work bibs and a jacket on. That’s fine if you’d rather dress light, but pack your heavier clothing for an unfortunate event like a stalled machine or your having to get out of the cab for extended periods of time.

We forget how quickly a situation can go from bad to worse when we’re working out in the cold nights. There’s no sun to keep the cab naturally warmed and your body will rapidly lose heat if you’re not properly dressed in a bad event. In some cases, companies will choose to invest in their employees snow plowing attire because it’s a way more economical option than paying for their hypothermia treatments.

Shoveling crews are on their feet for a long time so a comfortable, warm pair of boots is a must. Make sure they can take on deep snow conditions, too. Close second to boots is gloves and hat. The body’s extremities are the first to experience frost bite and 90% of heat loss occurs at the top of your head so protect them well.

Take Regular Breaks During Long Nights Snow Plowing

Fatigue can set in really fast during night time hours. Sitting in that heated cab can be hypnotizing and cause an operator’s mind to wander. Taking regularly scheduled breaks is recommended for those long nights of plowing snow.

Have a plan in place should your operators need to take a break. Determine how many hours of operation would be the cut off before taking a break. Encourage your operators to step out of the cab and do some simple stretching exercises or a short walk to get the blood flowing again. Encourage them to bring snack and drinking water to also help keep the mind alert.

The Crew Better Be Well Rested

We never like to see snow plow operators falling asleep on the job so it’s imperative that they dedicate themselves to proper rest before pulling an all-nighter plowing snow. Establish boundaries for safe equipment operation and let it be loudly stated that all your operators need to be rested up before the approach of potentially big snow storm.

Don’t risk your company’s reputation by sending out an operator that is clearly not rested enough to take on the task of plowing snow throughout the night. One careless accident can severely damage more than just property.

Set the Ground Rules from Day One

Whenever you have a new hire, make sure you set the ground rules with them right away. Let them know that safety is priority one as a snow removal contractor. Take the time to point out the potential dangers or hazards that can happen during nighttime snow plowing. Setting the expectations from them will give you, the business owner, greater peace of mind.

Listen to Your Operators

Your operators are out there dealing with the day to day obstacles of plowing snow at night. If they have suggestions on how to make their job safer or more comfortable take the opportunity to listen to them. Now not every suggestion will be a reasonable one, but one thing’s for sure … if your operators are happy they will do what they can to make sure the job gets done right and done safely.