Tru-Shu: peace of mind for fleet managers


SPONSORED CONTENT: As any truck and trailer mechanic will attest, nothing constitutes more of a necessity than safe, compliant brakes.

The saying goes that necessity is the mother of all invention. The issue of trailer brake shoes coming out of alignment and protruding outside the brake drum is one that has long caused headaches for mechanics and fleet managers. Heat build-up within the brakes causes the brake drum to expand into a cone shape, forcing the brake shoe out of alignment, resulting in uneven braking force. It’s one of the first things checked whenever a rig is pulled over, and if found will be deemed a major defect. It was a problem that Ken Pitt, managing director of Adelaide-based Aset Services, grappled with for years, before coming up with a simple but revolutionary solution.

Tru-Shu is a small locking device that bolts directly to the brake shoe, holding the shoe in alignment. A steel guide plate works directly on the S-cam, making it impossible for the shoe to walk out of the brake drum, as well as preventing the S-cam from working its way out and clashing on the back of the brake drum bolts. Tru-Shu is also reusable – a one-off solution for the life of the trailer - takes only five minutes to install and requires no alterations to the brake shoe. When the time comes to change the brakes you simply remove the Tru-Shu and refit it with a new bolt. Pitt says he has no background in inventing products, but he’s always enjoyed playing round with machinery and using his nous to figure out practical solutions to common problems.

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"Manufacturers and engineers don’t always get it quite right. Sometimes if there’s a problem you’ve got to fix it yourself, or you end up bolting things on for ever."

On the first prototype Pitt tried welding the device directly on to the shoe, but found it a labour-intensive process. The breakthrough came with the idea of using a bolt to attach the Tru-Shu, making the invention both easier to install and reusable. "It was a learning curve," says Pitt, "every little thing we did led to something else, so you go back and forth, honing the product until it’s perfect. It’s a simple product but you go over it a fair bit to get it right."

Running a transport business himself meant that Pitt knew exactly both what the problem was, and what was needed to solve it. He’d seen first hand the unnecessary cost and the time wasted caused by recalcitrant brake shoes.

"The disruption is enormous, because it’s a major defect and you have to get fixed immediately. That means your freight runs late and new parts are required in a hurry. The thing I’m most proud of is the peace of mind that Tru-Shu gives mechanics and fleet managers. It means you can stop throwing good money after bad, and actually afford to get some decent quality brake drums and shoes, because you know they’re going to last a lot longer. It takes the guesswork out of your maintenance."


Read more about Tru-Shu at the Brisbane Truck Show, here


South Australia’s Whiteline Transport has Tru-Shu fitted to around thirty of their trailers. Workshop manager Phil Cooks says that shoes working their way out of the brake drum was an all too common problem. "Our brake shoes were wearing out way too fast, because they were wearing at an angle. We’d always been looking for a solution." Cook says they tried some home remedies, like putting bolts through or shimming them up more, but Tru-Shu provided a much more practical fix.

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"I’ve never seen anything like it. When I first started working on brakes back in the day we used to drill a hole through the brake spider and thread them and put a bolt in to keep the anchor pin straight. But Tru-Shu bolts onto the shoe itself. I could see right away that it was going to work."

Cook says since installing their first Tru-Shu 18 months ago they haven’t looked back. "We can now have shoes hat are only half worn and save them and get an extra six months life out of them. So that’s around an extra 100,000 kilometres we now get out of a brake drum. In the past we would sometimes have brakes that had only done six months work and their shoes were already hanging out, so we were forever having to realign them."

Whiteline Transport now do their brakes every twelve months, instead of the previous three or six months timeframe, saving a full realignment a year on each trailer.

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For the unlikely inventor Ken Pitt, Tru-Shu still makes him smile. He remembers the buzz at the Brisbane Truck Show earlier this year, when he lost his voice introducing Tru-Shu to eager onlookers in lines three deep.

"I’m just proud that we’ve now got a solution to an age-old problem, and that we’ve created a product that’s manufactured in Australia for Australian customers. It’s giving confidence at a time when the industry needs it most."

 

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