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Archive for the ‘Tractors’ Category

Why Is A Truck Called A Tractor – Tractor Terminology Defined

Friday, July 17th, 2009

A tractor is something that is used on a farm so why do they call a truck a tractor? There is a lot of terminology surrounding trucking that many finding either confusing or which simply draw blank stares. Here are some of the terms used around trucks (and tractors) that you have heard but not understood.

Tractor – the tractor is also known as a road tractor, prime mover (UK, Australia and New Zealand), or traction unit gets its name from the job it does. The tractor is the power house that does the pulling. One or more trailers (or semi trailers) can be attached to the tractor. They can also be referred to as articulated trucks. This simply refers to the fact that the tractor moves and the trailer follows – the same principle applies to a car towing a boat trailer – the boat follows the car.

Rigid Truck – the rigid unit is, as the name suggests, rigid. In other words, the tractor and the trailer are one solid unit – there is no articulation between the tractor and the trailer.

6×4, 6×2, 4×2 – these numbers refer to the wheel configuration of the tractor. The first number indicates the number of wheels (divide by two for axles) whilst the second number refers to the number of wheels powered. The most common tractors are the 6×4. The have three axles two of which are powered. This is commonly seen with the tractor having two wheels (one axle) forward of the drivers cab (used for steering) and four wheels (two axles) behind the drivers cab. The articulation point is located above the rear wheels.

Triple, Turnpike double, Rocky Mountain double or Road Train – this is a reference to a tractor with more than one trailer attached. For example, the triple will have three trailers attached.

There are many more terms in used trucking, far too many to include in a post. However, commence a career as long distance tractor driver and you will very quickly pick up the language used amongst drivers. Naturally, getting the right truck driver training from the beginning is all you need for a successful career as a long distance tractor driver.

Record Snow, Highways Closed, Time For The Heavy Equipment

Friday, December 26th, 2008

With record snow falls being recorded across the nation, many of the interstates have been closed. Snow is up to three or four feet deep in many places; in some places it is even deeper. In times like these, once the snow stops falling, every spare piece of heavy equipment gets a call up – come clear the highways.

Whether it’s a snow plow, a grader or a front end loader, they all have their uses. The interstates are the nations life lines. Under normal circumstances, trucks would be traveling up and down the highways, often in their hundreds. With snow falling and roads blocked, these trucks become idle, often laden with perishables.

Heavy equipment operators will often work ten or twelve hours shifts clearing the highways of snow and trying to open them up as quickly as possible all the while hoping there is no more snow. On icy roads it takes a high level of skill and patience to move the blockage and get the traffic going again.

Many of these operators gained their qualification and skills through ATS Heavy Equipment Training Schools. You could be one of those operators in years to come once you have completed your training. There are only days left in our special Christmas promotion. Enroll today and you could be entitled to a discount off the training fees. See our website for the full details.

Winter Setting In But The Heavy Equipment Rolls On

Friday, December 19th, 2008

As winter starts to bite and the snow starts to fall, many will be thinking of a white Christmas. For many others, the thought of a white Christmas just means more work. Even in winter, there are a lot of heavy equipment operators out there keeping the streets clear of snow and ensuring that traffic flows as clearly as possible.

Yes, heavy equipment is used to keep the streets clear of snow. Sometimes it is a grader, sometimes a front end loader, more commonly it is a specific snow plow, designed to push the snow to kerb. These machines are tough beasts sometimes pushing three or more feet of snow off the roads.

To operate this equipment is no different to their standard day to day use. A grader generally pushes dirt, in winter on the roads, its snow. The principles and training required are no different. The same can be said for front end loaders.

If you fancy being out in the middle of winter keeping the roads open, why not undertake a training course to gain the qualifications to operate heavy equipment.

ATS Heavy Equipment Training Schools can not only provide the training, if your quick you can enroll and receive a great Christmas/New Year discount. The offer ends December 31 so get in now before it’s too late.

Transporting Your Heavy Equipment From Job To Job

Saturday, September 13th, 2008

Some heavy equipment machines use tracks rather than wheels. These machines cannot be driven on standard roads for several reasons. First, they are fairly slow moving, secondly, and more importantly, they could cause serious damage to the surface. A third reason is simple size. Some heavy equipment is just too wide to drive down a highway without causing major traffic interference.

To transport this heavy equipment, a flatbed or lowboy tractor trailer is used. The machine is driven up onto the flatbed and securely fastened. The tractor tows the flatbed to the next job site where the process is reversed.

Driving a tractor-trailer may be a requirement of your job description as a heavy equipment operator. Some employers want you to be able to take the equipment out to a job site, get the job done and then move onto the next job. To be able to deliver this job requirement, you need to undertake two tasks.

Your major task is to sit for an obtain a Class-A (Tractor Trailer) Commercial Driver Licensing (CDL). To achieve this, it is recommended you complete a tractor-trailer course that covers not only the operation of the tractor-trailer, but the safety requirements as well.

ATS Heavy Equipment Training Schools provide tractor-trailer training to provide the knowledge and skills required to achieve your commercial driving license.

Bulldozer Grouser Bar: Get a Grip!

Saturday, May 10th, 2008

Bulldozers have a wide variety of tracks.

Except for the small ones you see in the city with rubber pads on their treads, they all rely on the shape of their tracks to keep them moving, to give them manueverability, and/or to give them flotation.

Assuming that you’re not working in a soft bog, the most important of these is probably traction, or the ability to keep going even when the blade is piled high with material. You can imagine how much force it takes to move tons of rock – it’s a tremendous amount, and sometimes the tracks just spin.

A good operator doesn’t let this happen to much, but a certain amount of it is inevitable. However, every time a track moves and the machine doesn’t, it means the track is rubbing across the ground. In hard rock, this can actually create enough heat to crack the rocks, and create smoke.

This will reduce wear in the dozer track, and if it’s not taken care of, the raised part of the tread will wear down smooth.

That’s where grouser bar comes in. Grouser tends to come in a vartiety of shapes and composiitions, but they all serve the same purpose: to build the track back up to where it can bite into the Earth again. It’s a tedious job, done by welders. It can be done on the machine, or when the tracks are taken off and laid out flat. Portable welding trucks can go right to the job site and have them done for you before the weekend shut-down is over.

Most times, it requires gouging out the previous grousers, and shaping the metal for the msot effective weld. Gouging is done with carbon rods and a lot of high-pressure air – it literally carves grooves in the metal by making it heating it, then blowing it out with a shaped blast of air.

The grouser bar is then stood up in this groove, and welded in with a rod that is more tough than it is hard. 7018 is the usual rod of choice, as it resists forces from all sides. That’s something that the grouser will face as the machine twists and turns over all sorts of rock.

While learning to run heavy equipment generally doesn’t teach you how to weld as well, it will give you enough knowledge about what’s required to keep your machine running well, and with enough traction that you can get the job done.

Hard Surfacing: What Is It, and
Why do I Need It?

Friday, May 9th, 2008

You’ve heard them before…, “Bulldozers, Graders, Excavators, Backhoe. Words like these conjure up images of toughness and invincibility…, of endurance and cold hard steel. Without seeing it for yourself, you wouldn’t guess that massive machines would wear away from moving a bit of dirt around. After all, these are the tools that we use to move mountains, dam rivers, and level hundreds of acres at a time, right?

All true, but moving large amounts of material doesn’t mean that there isn’t a cost. Given enough time, even hardened steel wears away. The abrasiveness of that material, whether it’s soft loam, loose sand or hard rock, will determine the speed at which your blades, buckets, and rakers will erode, but erode they will. Sometimes at an alarming rate, and operation-killing costs.

The way this problem is solved: Before a blade, bucket, tooth, or other object is used for the first time, welders are brought in and they lay down beads of very hard welding rod. These rods are special alloys that contain metals like manganese, molybdenum, and chrome. Each manufacture makes them with a range of properties, including:

  • Hardness (loamy soil only needs resistance to wear. but rocks require resistance to breakage AND wear)
  • Strikability from any angle (some rods flow better when welding upside down)
  • Penetration (or depth into the base metal)
  • Machinability (some hard surfacing needs to be machined, or shaped, after being laid down)
  • Slag Peeling (a cost saving measure – the welding slag doesn’t have to be chipped afterward)
  • Pilability (some rods pile high, while others flow out flat against the base metal)

You may have seen hard surfacing before – it’s usually laid down in cross-hatch patterns. However, welding hundreds of yards of rod is tedious, so you sometimes see that more creative welders will make all sorts of patterns and designs, in order to keep their day from getting too boring. The point is to build up the hard surface on all areas that will contact the material, and to have it thick enough that it takes the main force of whatever is being pushed, dug, or cut.

How often this needs to be re-done depends on the material being rubbed across the hard surfacing, and the amount of time spent playing in the dirt. In bad conditions, it may need doing several times a season. One thing is certain though, if a contact surface isn’t hard surfaced, you’ll be buying a new blade, bucket, etc., before very much time has passed.

All of this can be learned at place like ATS Heavy Equipment Training Schools, before you ever set foot on a jobsite.

Tractor Safety: Be Wary of Your Equipment

Thursday, March 13th, 2008

We decided to follow up yesterday’s article with a few more tractor safety pointers. Yesterday, we focused on ROPS as a means of protecting rollovers and we looked at the importance of surveying the work place before operating a tractor. Today we are going to look at ways that a tractor operator can keep themselves safe from the mechanical workings of their vehicle.

Utah State University’s excellent “The Ten Commandments of Tractor Safety” includes some very useful suggestions in regard to preventing mechanically related accidents. First and foremost:

Dress Properly—Well fitted, belted clothing is a must. Flared pants, shirt tails, scarves and other loose clothing are too easily (and too often) caught in moving parts or controls. Invest in sturdy safety work shoes or boots with non-skid soles and steel toe caps. Protect yourself from the sun in summer and the cold in winter. Heavy work gloves are a plus, as are safety goggles or sun glasses with tempered lenses.

This is something that we have looked at on this blog numerous times in the past. It is great advice not just for tractor drivers but for all operators of heavy equipment. Loose fitting clothing can accidentally engage controls, cause you to slip or in the worst case scenario, become caught in the moving parts of your tractor.

Power Take-Off—An operating power takeoff (FITO) can be the most dangerous part of your tractor, which is why it comes equipped with protective shields. USE THEM AT ALL TIMES. An unguarded shaft, running at 1000 rpm’s, can wrap your clothes around it at the rate of 8 feet per second, and it can’t be stopped. It is many, many times more powerful than you are. It pays to treat it with the greatest respect.

The power take-off has featured in fatal accidents in the past and is sure to feature in more in the future. You need not fear the power take-off as long as it is properly protected. A tractor with an exposed power take-off is an accident waiting to happen.

By following proper tractor safety procedures, you can play a part in reducing the unacceptable level of tractor related fatalities and injuries that occur each year throughout the United States. If you are interested in tractor training or in learning how to operate any other type of heavy equipment, please contact us at any time.

Tractor Safety, It’s a Problem

Tuesday, March 11th, 2008

Did you know that the humble tractor is involved in over 800 fatal accidents on United States farms each year? The number of tractor related injuries is even more staggering, 9,000. For a relatively simple piece of heavy equipment to be involved in so many injuries and fatalities is unacceptable. Here at Associated Training Services we take the view that most accidents are avoidable and we firmly believe that if people follow tractor safety guidelines, the number of fatalities and injuries will decrease.

A Utah State University publication titled, “The Ten Commandments of Tractor Safety” is definitely worth reading if you own or operate a tractor. Some gems of wisdom that the document offers include:

ROPS—Most tractor accidents are overturns (mostly sideways). They are usually caused by high speed or inattention. The development and use of Roll-Over Protective Structures (ROPS) during recent years has saved many lives. They normally will limit the overturn to 90 degrees while at the same time provide a frame of safety for the operator. Seat belts are an integral part of ROPS and should always be used.

While clearance can be an issue in some orchard situations, ROPS is a tractor safety addition that is recommended whenever practical.

Check the Work Area—Know in advance where hidden ditches, large rocks or stumps are located. Be wary of tall grass—it can cover hazards. Be sure the area is clear of livestock and children.

We could not have said it better ourselves. Realistically, how long does it take to perform a quick bit of reconnaissance of the work area? Look for any potential hazards and remember, just because an area was safe a week ago does not mean that it will be safe for your tractor tomorrow. Always take the time to stop and check before you start work.

Here at Associated Training Services we take tractor and heavy equipment safety very seriously; if you have any questions about these or any other topics, please feel free to contact us.

Tractors, a Great Entry into Heavy Equipment

Tuesday, February 26th, 2008

If you are not sure whether you can drive heavy equipment or not; you can get started by learning to drive tractors. Heavy equipment and tractors have a lot in common and tractors provide a great way to boost the specific skills that you will need as a heavy equipment operator. These days, an increasing array of hydraulic attachments can be used to greatly improve the functionality of tractors, allowing them to perform some of the tasks that were previously the domain of purpose built equipment.

Tractors come in all shapes and sizes; in open and closed configurations. If you drive a lot of tractors, you are likely to notice that the handling and maneuverability can vary somewhat, but the controls are quite standard. More importantly for heavy equipment operators, they have quite a bit in common with larger heavy equipment. For this reason, training for tractors is often a first step on the path to a heavy equipment career.

If you are interested in getting your certification for tractors, why not pay us a visit at Associated Training Services. If you check out our website, you will find the locations of all of our different training centers. Whether you are interested in learning to drive tractors or other types of heavy equipment, are professional instructors are ready to teach you the skills that you need.

Tractors: Hardworking and Versatile Tools

Sunday, February 3rd, 2008

When it comes to heavy equipment, most people overlook tractors. There is a perception that tractors are primarily agricultural in use. While they have an enormous place in agriculture, you can also see tractors in use in construction and mining. Tractors, of various types, drive a great deal of heavy equipment. Learning to drive tractors can be an extremely good career move if you are looking to get into a heavy equipment job. The principals that you learn driving tractors applies to a great deal of different heavy equipment and gives you a great foundation of skills to build upon.

Learning to Drive Tractors

Most wheeled heavy equipment is based upon tractors of one type or another. If you can drive a tractor, you will be able to drive most wheeled equipment. The larger wheels of tractors give a different ride to that of a car, it takes a little getting used to, but is not very difficult. Note that operating the equipment and driving it are two very different skills. You will still need training in order to operate the heavy equipment, regardless of whether or not you have tractor certification.

Safety considerations with Tractors

There are a few things that you need to take care of when driving tractors of any type. It is quite common to hear of rollover accidents involving tractors. Take care on inclines and watch your speed at all times. You need to avoid wearing loose fitting clothing when operating a tractor, especially an open top tractor. Loose fitting clothing can become trapped in moving parts and has the potential to become fatal.

Training to Drive Tractors with Associated Training Services

Gaining a certification to drive tractors does not take a great deal of time. We offer a range of training programs here at Associated Training Services and if you are interested in learning to drive tractors, we are happy to help. Do take the time to look at some of our other programs as well. We have schools around the country that prepare people just like you for exciting careers in heavy equipment. If you would like to learn more about driving tractors or anything else, please do not hesitate to contact us at Associated Training Services.

* Associated Training Services fully endorses the national certification program offered by the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO), and will prepare candidates for the CCO certification examinations.

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