Simple steps to follow when hooking up a large truck and trailer.
Commercial stepper trailers are now legally equipped with max brakes. maxi brakes are a spring controlled brake that activates the trailer brake when the trailer has no air supply when unhitched.
Reading: How to connect tractor to trailer
Due to the mandatory use of maxibrakes on trailers, I personally don’t connect my air lines to the trailer before I tie it down.
Keep in mind both driving schools and point testers when you take your license test, insist on connecting your air lines first before fixing. I feel this is outdated and not common practice in the real world of trucking.
really, if you’re trying to latch onto a trailer and the trailer takes off, you don’t want to be latched onto it anyway. If this happens, the trailer has a brake problem and needs to be seen by a licensed mechanic.
the process – how do I do it
- I back up and stop the tractor before hooking up to the trailer. I physically get out of the truck and look. I check that my 5th wheel is aligned with the trailer pin, that the trailer is not too high for my 5th wheel, and that there are no obstructions in the way such as a trailer pin lock or a fender that I might touch while pinning. /li>
- I make sure I have the proper grease in the fifth wheel and that the jaws are open. the reason for this is that when attached to the trailer, it sits low enough that the fifth wheel slides under the leading edge of the trailer and then slightly lifts the trailer off the landing gear, to make sure there is some weight and pressure on the fifth wheel so it can engage the pin correctly.
If the trailer is too high, it may go over the pin.
If the trailer is too low, it can damage the tractor’s fenders or jam the drive wheels under the trailer.
- When everything looks good, I climb back into the truck and back up slowly until the fifth wheel engages the trailer kingpin and locks.
- The next step is to put the tractor in forward gear and give a slight jerk forward to make sure the fifth wheel is engaged and locked.
- then set the tractor brake. jump out of the truck with a flashlight. Get under the trailer and use the flashlight to look at the fifth wheel clamps to make sure they are both wrapped around the kingpin. Visually check the fifth wheel release handle to make sure it is in the closed position.
Now it’s time to connect the electrical and air lines and do the circle check.
If the trailer passes the circle check, raise the landing gear, get on the truck, pull the trailer forward 15 to 20 feet, and pull the trailer brake to make sure the trailer brakes come on quickly and firmly. if so, fill out your circle verification paperwork and you’ll be good to go.
check out these related articles……..
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- our top safety tips for truckers
- how to back up a tractor trailer
- 7 things in all new truck drivers should know about their first year in trucking