Trailer Talk

Snow on the Roof? Knock It Off with Compressed Air, Driver Says

November 26, 2013

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Snow is spreading across much of the country, and maybe everyone’s biggest worry is just getting there. But if you’re motoring down the highway and a trailer ahead of you starts shedding sheets of snow and ice, that’ll make your trip even more interesting.
You might get angry at the rig’s driver, but what’s he supposed to do? He can’t crawl up on top of the van and sweep or shovel off the snow, even if various ordinances and laws expect it. Products that actively brush off the tops of vans are on the market, but they contact the roof and can damage it, causing leaks.
That’s the view of Henry Thissen, a longtime truck driver (since age 16, and he’s now 57) from central Pennsylvania, who believes he’s got a better idea: Remove the snow and ice with compressed air, which simulates what causes it to blow off roofs at highway speeds. He’s designed a device, and formed Arctic Air Snow Removal Systems LLC to build and sell it.
Thissen has posted an explanatory video on YouTube that’ll take you just 40 seconds to watch:

That’s the rough idea, but Thissen has done more planning and has identified components he’ll use, including a large scroll-type compressor driven by a 49-horsepower diesel, with piping that would extend over a travel lane. Air at 100 psi would blast out of nozzles set at a 45-degree angle to kick snow in one direction, preferably to one side where it wouldn’t have to be removed.
Overhead piping could be shaped to knock snow off round and semi-round roofs, like on tank trucks and school buses, he says.
The apparatus will mount on a skid so it could be moved by a forklift around a property. He envisions it parked toward the edge of a property where trucks can drive under it after a snow storm. As weather finally warms up in the spring, a forklift could stow it out of the way.
“I’d like to put these things in every rest area, every rail yard, at truck terminals, school bus yards and truck stops,” Thissen says. “I’d get the government involved, and they could put them in rest areas, install card readers to accept payments to pay for them. People could start their own businesses and make money on it” by buying them and putting them in places where trucks and buses are.
For fleet use, an electric-eye motion detector would crank up the diesel and quickly spin up the compressor; the rig would creep through in Low gear, and the machine would shut down.
He’s gathering components and will have one assembled by mid January, and will mount it on a small trailer to take it around for demonstrations. One of them will “tentatively” cost $22,000 to $25,000, he figures.
“The biggest thing for me is safety,” he says, “safety for the public, and for my family. I’ve got grandkids now.”
He’s named the company for the cold air the machine will blow in winter, down to minus 40, by the way. He hasn’t thought of a name for the device, though. I suggested “Blow ‘N’ Go.” Thissen laughed. But he hopes he’ll be laughing all the way into retirement if the product catches on.


  1. 1. Bob Stanton [ December 02, 2013 @ 06:20AM ]

    The existing blade type trailer snow removal equipment is dealing with the piles of snow next to the equipment.

    Also who pays? Driver, carrier or customers?

  2. 2. John Stover [ January 18, 2014 @ 02:52PM ]

    What a great idea! It's about time someone helps out the drivers. We aren't supposed to climb up on the trailer. This sounds great, I think the company will be glad to purchase a piece of equipment such as this so they don't have to pay fines....and keep the road safe! Great idea & hope to see one at every truck stop too...

  3. 3. |Allan Agnew [ March 05, 2014 @ 08:08AM ]

    I have an ingenious idea that mirrors this but is equiped on the trailer itsef and is run off the air compressor used for the trailer systems anyways. It uses only when needed.
    I need investment capital as I have the design and costing in place but need proto type monies to promote and sell. system works and should produce 45-65% profit margin from th eindustry.


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Author Bio

Tom Berg

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Senior Contributing Editor

Journalist since 1965, truck writer and editor since 1978. CDL-qualified; conducts road tests on new heavy-, medium- and light-duty tractors and trucks. Specializes in vocational and hybrid vehicles.


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