About Us
Welding & Hardware
Hose & Hydraulics
Items in Stock
News & Events
Your Troubleshooting Questions Answered
Contact Us








Troubleshooting Article Archive:  November 2005      
Steer Clear of Shortcuts
Perhaps the most difficult tow truck troubleshooting challenge is dealing with equipment that's been tampered with.  When someone has made improper modifications and the equipment fails to work properly, the troubleshooter needs to not only figure out what's been modified, but how the equipment was supposed to look and how it was supposed to work before the modifications.

Whenever someone asks me to "just run a wire" to bypass a more-expensive repair or do some equally improper modification, I always think of one of my favorite web pages -- a page on automatic transmission diagnosis by a transmission rebuilder named Ken Bachellerie.  His web page is called "The Drive Train Page" and is located at www.technicalevolution.com.  Although the page pertains to car transmissions and has nothing to do with towing equipment, Bachellerie's repair credo can be applied to any troubleshooting effort:

"My philosophy is simple;  fix it right, fix it completely, and don't take any short cuts.  My employer thinks I am a fanatic and tells me that I spend far too much time and effort making each repair I perform into a 'work of art.'  I can live with this criticism.  So, if I seem a little bit 'short' on a reply when you simply want to find a 'cheap' way to get out of spending what is required to get your vehicle repaired properly, you will now know why.  If there is a less expensive way to do it right, fix it completely and not take any shortcuts, then this less expensive way would be the right way to fix it, and there would not be the more expensive way of doing it.  Period!"

I love this credo because the writer was not afraid to say in stark language that improper modifications and shortcuts should not be attempted in repairs.

On a flatbed tow truck, for example, the deck harness and hose track assembly, which travels under the deck when you move the deck back and forth, must be assembled in the original factory configuration with no detail left out -- if you want it to last.  The hose must be the right size.  The clamps must be the correct ones.  The steel pans, if they're supposed to be there, must be whole, straight, and well fastened.  There must not be any extraneous hardware where the hose and harness assembly travels back and forth in its track.

When doing troubleshooting, look for parts that are not supposed to be there.  You can usually tell the unauthorized additions by their sloppy, "higgledy-piggledy" appearance.  The improvised toolbox mount in the photo above, for example, created more problems than it solved.  Are there rivets where the factory originally used screws?  Are there tomato stakes from the garden holding up a part?  Is duct tape holding wires together?  I'm pretty sure the original equipment manufacturer didn't specify duct tape.  

Before trying to repair a failed assembly, first remove all the offending improper hardware and modifications.  Start with a blank slate.  Then install the proper parts, without any shortcuts, according to the factory design.