Manager: Carlton Hooper
Title: Fleet Manager
Fleet: Walker County (GA)
Carlton Hooper is the kind of fleet manager who's forgotten more about maintenance than most people know. He relies on his broad experience and, of course, the in-depth knowledge it has brought him to inform the vehicle spec'ing decisions made for the Walker County municipal fleet, headquartered in Lafayette, GA.
When it came time to spec new dump trucks for the county, Hooper had to consider a variety of issues from factoring in payload requirements to figuring out how to best integrate the new dump trucks into a maintenance department already running full-out not just maintaining 400 pieces of equipment for Walker County but specialty vehicles owned by surrounding counties.
“I have five mechanics and one fabricator working one shift to take care of everything from lawn mowers to dump trucks for the county's road-paving needs,” Hooper explains.
“We were also looking to take on road-paving work for the state as a private contractor with our new dumps,” he adds. “Not only did they need to be spec'd properly to handle the required work, they had to be easy for our maintenance department to handle.”
Addressing these needs led Hooper to spec tandem rear axles instead of single rears on the new Kenworth T300 Walker County is ordering. The new medium-duty dumps boast 315-hp Cummins ISC diesels driven through five-speed Allison automatic transmissions.
“By spec'ing a tandem-axle T300 with dump capacity of 20 tons, we're able to get state money for projects,” Hooper points out. “We also save on labor costs because we don't have to hire as many drivers since four tandem-axle trucks can carry as much as eight smaller trucks,” he notes.
According to Hooper, Walker County's T300s can carry a payload of 20 tons of asphalt or 18.5 tons of rock or dirt. Hooper relates that the gearing he's spec'd for these dumps emphasizes pulling power over speed, which is limited to just 58 mph on the highway.
“In the past, a lot of our single two-speed axles were failing from being overloaded and our clutches failed from over-aggressive shifting,” Hooper reports. “Now, with the tandem rear axles, we don't have the overloading issues. And automatics make it easier on the drivers. Not only do they not need to shift, they get plenty of power. We've had no complaints from our drivers — they pull hills just great.”
What's more, from a service standpoint, Walker County's new T300 tandem spec dovetails nicely with the existing knowledge base of Hooper's maintenance team.
“They are already familiar with Cummins engines — that's what powers our other trucks — and the Allison automatics are standard on our fire trucks,” he explains.
Hooper figures Walker County will get at least 10 years out of these new trucks thanks to observing one of his maintenance maxims: never under-spec a vehicle.
“If anything, I'll over-spec it just a little — give it a little more engine power so it doesn't have to work as hard,” says Hooper. “I never spec a bare-minimum truck.
Maintenance Bay presents case studies detailing how fleets resolve maintenance-related issues.