The linking of tractor and trailer doesn’t get a lot of attention, and maybe that’s no surprise. It’s a simple operation, after all, and the mechanical bits are themselves something less than complex. Fifth-wheel makers have refined the technology over the years and development is more or less continuous, but most truck buyers don’t think too much about it. They don’t really have to.
And I’d guess they think not at all about the other key part of this equation: the kingpin. What’s to improve?
Well, if you ask a small but successful company in Quebec, you’ll find out that there really is a better mousetrap.
Rotavan is that company and its product is the new RG-3 swiveling coupling system, which replaces a standard kingpin affair. As the name suggests, this is a third-generation product, with different configurations for specific applications.
And how does it work? Its key feature is a rotating swivel base or turntable, unique in the trucking world, which greatly reduces friction between parts, thereby improving control of the vehicle. It sports a patented, internally lubricated system that allows for smooth rotation.
By all accounts drivers love it for the way it improves handling and delivers both more flexibility and better control, not to mention a new precision.
Company chief Jacques Marquis, one of the nicest guys you’ll meet anywhere, says the swiveling system provides “unmatched maneuverabilty” and “unprecedented driving control”.
And that translates into improved safety, he adds, because friction between a conventional fifth-wheel-and-kingpin setup can cause a loss of control, skids, and accidents. The Rotavan RG-3 swivel-based system eliminates friction almost entirely and can prevent jackknifing.
It also eliminates lateral wear on steer tires, says Marquis, and extends the life of coupling and steering parts. Steer-tire expenses can be cut in half over a 6-year period, he says.
From the latest edtion of the Lockwood Report. To read more or to subscribe, click here.