February 26, 2015

Central Office

Kansas City
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Kansas City District

Tandem Dump Truck Fleet Changing to Improve Durability

We’ve all come to expect MoDOT’s heavy equipment to sport the same shade of yellow, but that is changing. More and more beds on MoDOT’s tandem dump trucks will be a shiny metallic, not yellow. 

“We bought 18 dump trucks with stainless steel beds this year and we’re looking at another 15 next year, starting in July (the beginning of the next fiscal year),” said Joey Hinton, Kansas City District General Services Manager.

The new stainless steel beds will steadily replace the plate steel beds that the Kansas City District’s 204-truck fleet has been

using for decades. While the stainless steel beds cost about $1,800 more than the steel beds, they will last far longer because

rusted bed

salt and other road chemicals don’t corrode stainless beds. Those same chemicals will quickly rust out a standard 10-gauge steel bed. 

The first three stainless beds have been delivered to the Kansas City District, and represent a first for MoDOT statewide. While they cost more up front, the beds last longer and can be transferred from one truck to another as aging units cycle out and are replaced. 

MoDOT’s truck mechanics and maintenance workers have made the old plain steel beds last 10 to 12 years, but only by cutting out rusted steel and welding in patches. 

The rebuild costs run about $5,000 to $8,000 per truck, which far outstrip the additional cost of a stainless steel bed that will last far longer without a rebuild. 

“We usually rebuild the (corroded) steel beds two times,” Hinton said. “We replace the side rails, the floors, then sandblast and send them out for painting.” That’s why some trucks look shiny and new, and some people seem to think MoDOT has an entire fleet of new trucks when only a few are new and the rest are aging units with fresh paint. 

MoDOT mostly uses Navistar trucks with steel beds, and the trucks last up to 12 years or 150,000 to 200,000 miles. MoDOT rebuilds engines on these units, too, and that investment may come as early as 100,000 miles or sooner. 

Now the department is expanding its fleet to include other manufacturers: Western Star (Daimler) and Mack trucks, which have different engines than the Navistar units. It will give MoDOT a better comparison of efficiency and durability to help the department determine value when replacing tandem trucks.

Jarraff Stretches Aerial Brush Trimming to New Lengths

MoDOT maintenance crews are trying out a new piece of equipment this winter in Cass County that can trim tree branches and brush up to 80 feet in the air – and do it safely at unheard of speed.

The Jarraff is a self-propelled tractor with an extendable fiberglass boom that has a spinning 24-inch saw blade on the end that can twist 45 degrees. The operator sits in heated cabs that can rotate 360 degrees. The equipment itself is articulated on large, all-terrain tires that can maneuver across most of the roughest ground along a highway.

jaraffeIt’s just the thing when the tree branches are growing out over the roadway and creating a canopy that can rain down debris in stormy weather or grow low enough to damage trucks and other equipment with high loads traveling down shaded highways.

MoDOT Maintenance Superintendent Travis Jones describes the equipment and explains the advantages.

“We just started using it Feb. 6,” he said. “We’ve cut everything (hanging over or near Route 7) from Pleasant Hill to Harrisonville. We can’t keep up with the Jarraff with our brush chippers, we have to shove it off the road and come back when we’re done.”

“It lets you get all the way to the right of way line and the Jarraff doesn’t even leave the roadway,” Jones said.

Although they can accomplish so much from the roadway, the equipment can leave the hard surface, go down into the ditches and brush and get to areas that a bucket truck never could.

Not many workers look forward to going through all that, being raised 75 feet in the air in a bucket and starting up and swinging a heavy chainsaw, sometimes quite close to power lines.

The Jarraff’s fiberglass boom insulates the operators in case they mistakenly brush a power line. Ribs on the boom prevent the brush from sliding down the boom toward the operator. A lowboy trailer brings the Jarraff to the job site, but after that it can travel at nine mph and continually cut brush overhead and alongside the roadway. Although most branches high over the roadway are far smaller, the equipment can cut up to 18 inches of wood.

The Kansas City District is the second to use the equipment, after the Southwest District earlier this year. It shows its value in both speed and safety. Once crews finish up Route 7 to Blue Springs, it will go to the Marshall crews and back to work.


For more info

Melissa Black
Customer Relations Manager,
Missouri Department of Transportation
P: (816) 607-2027
F: (816) 365-0860

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