Value in a fifth wheel is directly related to application - find the right fifth wheel for your specific application, and you'll get the best performance and quickest return on investment. The big news in fifth wheels this year is that manufacturers are focusing on expanding your choices, offering new or redesigned products to satisfy needs for lower weight, less maintenance and better initial cost.
Two years ago, The Holland Group upped the ante on the maintenance front by adding a “NoLube” option to its “LowLube” choice. While LowLube did away with greasing the top plate, NoLube went one time-saving step further by completely eliminating the need to periodically grease pivot point, the locking mechanism and any other moving components on the company's premium fifth wheel, the FW35.
For a fleet that looks to lower costs and increase overall productivity through reduced maintenance, the optional NoLube technology offers a major opportunity. On top of lower maintenance cost, the new approach has also shown in fleet testing reduced wear on both the fifth wheel components and trailer king pins.
Now Holland is addressing the weight and cost variables with a brand new fifth wheel, the FW17. Just now going into production at Volvo, Mack, Peterbilt and Kenworth plants, the new fifth wheel is 44 lb. lighter than the FW35, according to the company. And its cast iron top plate is 20 lb. lighter than any other on the market today, Holland says.
And while the FW17 is described as the company's entry-level model, it offers low-maintenance features, requiring no lubrication for pivot points. Other features adopted from the rest of the Holland fifth wheel line include a low-force release for the lock and a simplified lock adjustment feature. It comes with a 5-yr./500,000-mi. performance guarantee that will cover any rebuild costs.
Fontaine International has answered the call for lower maintenance with the introduction of its C7000 Clean-Connect fifth wheel. Completely eliminating the need for grease on the top plate, the new C7000 lowers labor, material and downtime costs for the shop and simplifies life for drivers who often bear the responsibility for regreasing. Collected grease on the frame rails can also hide cracks or missing bolts, as well as pose a hazard to mechanics and contribute to environmental problems in wash bays and facility run-off water.
While the C7000 locking mechanism does need periodic lubrication, Fontaine's patented No-Slack II is the industry's only self-adjusting lock and has a positive engagement feature that prevents high hitches.
For those fleets that are weight conscious, Fontaine recently introduced a new fifth wheel, the 3000 Series, that offers a 10% weight reduction from the C7000. Just now entering initial stages of production, the 3000 will be standard on Volvo and Mack trucks by the end of the year.
Earlier this spring, Consolidated Metco introduced a re-engineered version of its Simplex line of fifth wheels and renamed it the Simplex SE. Better known as ConMet, the company now offers two versions, the lightweight Simplex SE and the premium Simplex SE II. Changes from earlier models included a more ergonomic handle design, finer slack adjustment increments, and a retooled top plate that maximizes surface contact for extended life.
A new slider design unveiled at the same time cut 42 lb. from the previous design. It also carries a new in-line air-operated cylinder and a machined lock interface for reduced slack.
Jost International addresses low-maintenance concerns through simplicity of design, building fifth wheels with just four moving parts. Lowering maintenance costs in everyday operation, the simplified design pays addition dividends when it comes time to rebuild. According to the company, its fifth wheels can be rebuilt on the truck in about 30 minutes. Rubber bracket bushings and composite collars also eliminate pivot maintenance while minimizing torsional stress between the tractor and trailer. A low lube option is also offered for top plates.
Fleets looking to cut weight can turn to a new Jost slider unit with an inboard mounting system. Depending on the model spec'd, the new slider design offers significant weight savings that range from 60 to 80 lb., according to the company. It also offers a variety of fixed mounts and sliders for most applications.
FOR MORE INFORMATION, CIRCLE NUMBER ON REPLY CARD:
Consolidated Metco 315
Fontaine International 316
The Holland Group 317
Jost International 317