Side-dump trailers can do most of the things that end-dumps do, but are safer because their long bodies don’t have to tip and usually quicker to unload, say people at Silver Streak Inc. in Washington state.
 - Photos: Tom Berg

Side-dump trailers can do most of the things that end-dumps do, but are safer because their long bodies don’t have to tip and usually quicker to unload, say people at Silver Streak Inc. in Washington state.

Photos: Tom Berg

Silver Streak Inc. is a dump trucking operation that embraces change for the better. The family owned outfit based near Tacoma, Washington, runs 59 power units, most of them Mack Granites.

The vehicles include 45 truck-and-trailer rigs, 12 tractor-trailers, and two recently added “super solo” straight trucks. In mid-July a troupe of truck writers visited the company courtesy of Mack Trucks, which spotlighted the fleet for its use of GuardDog Connect telematics. What I’ll cover here is a bit of Silver Streak’s use of the various trailer types.

Like other bulk haulers here, Silver Streak operates seven- and eight-axle combinations. Some are four-axle tractors pulling four-axle side-dump trailers, which drivers say can do most jobs that end-dumps do, but are safer because they don’t have to tip and unload faster.

Others are truck-and-trailer rigs with varying axle layouts. Each type can legally gross up to 105,500 pounds, much of that payload.  Most of its short “pup” trailers have three and four axles pulled by five- and four-axle trucks, respectively. At least one of the pup axles steers.

The latest truck-and-trailer combination uses a pup with two axles set a widely apart; the forward axle is beneath a turntable that swings in turns and locks for backing.

Reporters got to sample some of the rigs at a large gravel pit outside town amid intermittent rain showers, something to be expected in the Pacific Northwest, though not necessarily at this time of year, the locals said. Even non-CDL holders could drive them because most had Allison automatic transmissions.

Silver Streak has largely converted from manual gearboxes to automatics for their ease of driving, especially in stop-and-go traffic. They accelerate fast and reduce trip times, said Kevin McCann, the operations VP and shop supervisor. And, “We’re bring people in now who haven’t been in the segment” because they’re never driven manual transmissions of any kind.

Fleet’s latest pup configuration is this one, with two axles spread widely apart and big single wheels and tires. It’s connected to a multi-axle truck by a long tongue, stretching overall axle distance to meet Washington state’s bridge-formula regulations.
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Fleet’s latest pup configuration is this one, with two axles spread widely apart and big single wheels and tires. It’s connected to a multi-axle truck by a long tongue, stretching overall axle distance to meet Washington state’s bridge-formula regulations.

I pulled three differently configured pup trailers, and found that the new design tracks as well or better than the others. Throwing a switch on the dash locks the turntable, after pulling ahead far enough to straighten the rig, of course. Then the trailer backs just like a semi.

Though the new pup carries less payload than the others, an additional lift axle on the pulling truck gives the rig enough extra capacity to make up for it. McCann had this trailer built by Pioneer Truck Weld in Salem, Oregon.

New additions are a pair of “super solo” straight trucks, like this one getting a bath. They have seven axles, including the swing-down “booster,” and can gross 82,000 pounds while carrying a 26-ton payload, says the fleet’s operations manager. Most power units are Mack Granites.
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New additions are a pair of “super solo” straight trucks, like this one getting a bath. They have seven axles, including the swing-down “booster,” and can gross 82,000 pounds while carrying a 26-ton payload, says the fleet’s operations manager. Most power units are Mack Granites.

The latest vehicle now being tried is a “super solo,” a single truck with three pusher axles and a swing-down tag axle, like the “booster” axles used on concrete mixer trucks in many states. This can gross 82,000 pounds and carry a payload of 26 tons, somewhat less than the combo rigs, McCann said. But it has an advantage in speedy unloading because there’s no trailer to deal with during the unloading process. This works well on short-distance runs.

Most of this info comes from Kevin McCann, who’s VP, operations manager and shop supervisor. His sister, Tina Benson, is president. Their mother, Paula McCann, now retired, founded the company back in 1982, and explained why it’s called Silver Streak. It’s because of a movie.

Tina Benson (left) is president and her brother, Kevin McCann, is a VP, operations manager and shop supervisor for the family run company. Their mother, Paula McCann, founded Silver Streak in 1982 and gave it its name.
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Tina Benson (left) is president and her brother, Kevin McCann, is a VP, operations manager and shop supervisor for the family run company. Their mother, Paula McCann, founded Silver Streak in 1982 and gave it its name.

She said she was in the midst of starting the outfit – something natural to her because “my husband was in trucking” -- and began wondering about a name. “We came home one night and switched on the TV, and there was this movie, ‘Silver Streak,’“ she recalled. “’That’s it!’ I said.” and so it is.

The fleet’s business -- hauling dirt, sand, gravel, rock and other construction-related materials with those long multi-axle trucks -- has nothing to do with the fictional hijacked passenger train chronicled in the 1976 comedic drama with Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor. Ms. McCann just likes the name. Reason enough!

Author

Tom Berg
Tom Berg

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 trucks and trailers of all types.

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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 trucks and trailers of all types.

View Bio
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