Monday, October 13, 2014

Michelin XZA 295/60/R22.5 auto hauler steer tire failing?

NHTSA is looking into the Michelin XZA 295/60/R22.5  steer tire. This tire has been linked to several auto hauler crashes.  More information here:

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Auto transport trailers that aren't built by Cottrell

Time was, there were several established companies building high capacity auto transport equipment.  Whether you wanted an open car haul trailer or enclosed, you had your pick.  Then came the Great Recession, and all the subsequent gyrations and dislocations within the micro economy that this created.

When it was all over, Cottrell trailers in Gainesville, GA reigned supreme. 

JM Trailers in Fontana, gone.  Delavan, sold. Then sold again. Boydstun, gone.

But while Cottrell may have been the biggest car trailer manufacturer to emerge unscathed from the hollowing out of the economy during the recession, there were several that kept plugging away:  Sun Valley Trailers, Wally Mo Trailers and Miller Trailers.

And in the economic recovery that followed, more green shoots appeared.  Lugo Manufacturing began building a trailer, and indeed is set to deliver it shortly.  Boydstun Trailers opened up a shop in Clackamas, Oregon and is also set to deliver their first trailer shortly.  The other day, I received a call from Lee Ireland, the former Boydstun warranty manager-- he's back at Boydstun building trailers.  (He'd been traveling around for Sierra Transport for the last few years.)  And we also hear that Delavan is building a new shop in Georgia.

There can be no doubt that Cottrell is the biggest auto transport equipment maker in the United States.  In fact, they filled this niche so attractively, they were in turn gobbled up by an even larger company who became majority shareholder.

But consider those "green shoots in the economy" , and those smaller trailer builders that survived the Great Recession.  You never know where the next great idea is going to come from.  It might come from a big company owned by a massive private equity firm.  It might come from a small start-up or a start-over.  In the long run, one thing is for sure:  diversity is good for everybody. 


Wednesday, October 01, 2014

The virtuous circle of light truck sales and housing construction

I was just reading some different economic news articles, and I saw that GM posted a 19% sales gain last month, largely from light truck sales.  New home construction is continuing its slow rise, with August numbers up 18% for new home sales.  Could this be the final bit of the recovery?  If home construction can get its legs underneath it, then we can finally absorb some of the labor that has been underutilized for the past several years.  Every new home built will need dry wall, roofers, plumbers, concrete workers, excavation, electricians, painters, carpet and tile layers, cabinet installers, etc., etc., As these folks put more miles on their vehicles, they'll need to replace vehicles... and let's face it, with today's confiscatory tax regime, why wouldn't you get the nicest truck you can afford and expense it out on your taxes?  So hopefully the recovery in car and light truck sales (and by extension vehicle transport) will continue.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Old deals on wheel straps and auto tie-downs that are still good

July 15, 2014
This is really popular with our fleets that run strap trucks.  Lets you recycle your rubber tread grabs, swivel J hooks etc.  12 footer:  $5.64  14 footer: $7.04  Made with new patented Diamond Weave webbing... resists nicking and abrasion!  Please allow 3-4 day production time, as the shop is REALLY busy.  This strap is only for use with double J swivel hooks... the bolt loop is not big enough to be used as a lasso strap.  It's meant to be used with hardware from existing Cottrell straps.
June 23, 2014
Here is an interesting item we sold to a customer who was looking to create a new type of wheel strap tie-down secured to the rub rail on his trailer.  The yellow strap has a loop through which a 2 inch strap can pass through. You could also unbolt a ratchet handle and bolt that loop right to the end of your ratchet if you wanted to!

May 30, 2014
A lot of new stuff going on lately-- seems like every time I turn around, I'm creating a new part number in the system for a custom strap.  Every once in a while, we get a customer who starts using one of our existing straps in a new and interesting way.  Case in point, the new RV and Trailer Wheel Strap that we just shipped to the Elkhart, IN warehouse.  We discovered some folks hauling trailers were buying a custom version of one of our tow dolly straps and using it as a dual ratchet tie-down for their trailer-hauling business.  Bette Lakeyoungberg and her son Brian were the folks who brought our attention to this.  Anyway, to make a long story short (as my Uncle Charlie used to say), we went to the fabricator and took their intended use and came up with a new design that should work really well for trailer and RV transporters.  Read about the product here, or click on the images below for some pics Bette took of her prototype.
This is what I like best about this business-- the collaboration between us and the customers and the engineers and fabricators to come up with new tie-down solutions.  I think this is how it's supposed to work!
--Steve
P.S.  We've got some of these straps in stock in Elkhart now.  

   
 Click the pic to see larger image.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Ratchet wheel straps are available in Chicago now!

After struggling in the laboratory for months, the Chicago shop has created a successful batch of ratchet wheel straps that is available for immediate shipment or pickup.  Fast shipping to the plains states.


   
  
  
   

How fast will get your wheel straps from the new warehouse in Chicago?





Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Cottrell trailers: Sold!

Well, sort of.

Just got this off the newswire:

Markel Ventures has acquired a majority interest in Cottrell and affiliated entities.
Danny ZinkCottrell's President and CEO, stated, "We wanted to find a partner that understood the way we do business and that would support us as we continue down the path we started on over 35 years ago. Markel is clearly that partner."
Thomas S. Gayner, President of Markel Ventures, added, "For 35 years Cottrellhas found success by staying close to its customers and by responding rapidly to their needs. Our approach allows Cottrell to continue doing exactly that as a permanent member of the Markel Ventures group of companies."
Headquartered in Gainesville, GeorgiaCottrell is a provider in the design, manufacture and delivery of over-the-road automobile transport equipment.
Markel Ventures is a subsidiary of Markel Corp.Markel Ventures makes strategic and generally controlling investments in businesses that operate outside of the specialty insurance marketplace.
Markel Corp. is a diverse financial holding company serving a variety of niche markets.

Source:  http://insurancenewsnet.com/oarticle/2014/07/29/markel-ventures-buys-cottrell-a-536682.html#.U9gyKPldV8E

Monday, July 28, 2014

What do car hauler companies pay?

As the shortage of commercial truckers continues, it appears that wages within the car hauling niche are finally starting to creep upward.

 Source:  http://www.indeed.com/salary?q1=Car+Hauler&l1=&tm=1

Not exactly a statistically meaningful sample series, but if you want to see what United Road is paying, this is some interesting pay information:

 Source: http://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/car-hauler-salary-SRCH_KO0,10.htm

Here is a website that has some car haul jobs advertised:

 http://www.carhauljobs.com/

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Yes, it's true. Boydstun Trailers are coming back.

Behold: Boydstun Equipment Manufacturing - Coming Soon Portland, OR – Boydstun Equipment Manufacturing, formerly Boydstun Metal Works, is announcing its return to commercial auto transport equipment manufacturing effective August 1, 2014. Boydstun will begin taking equipment orders on June 16th and will deliver it first unit by August 30st. Initial production will include Boydstun’s 1901 soft tie cylinder Quick Load unit. Production of additional trailer models including the HS-7 car soft tie cylinder unit will begin February 2015. Boydstun will be opening a repair facility soon and will have a date posted on www.boydstun.com within the next 3 weeks. Over the past five years, there has been significant change within the industry. That, coupled with continued demand for Boydstun products, led to the decision to resume production to meet this demand. “I have greatly missed the relationships and challenges of meeting the design demands of our customers and the industry,” said company president Rob Boydstun. “We will continue offering our customers the high level of innovation and quality that they had come to expect.” About Boydstun For 20 years, Boydstun Metal Works was a leader in innovation and technology in the commercial car carrier industry. Opened in 1989, Boydstun was the largest manufacturer of commercial car carriers west of the Mississippi River. Now the company is looking forward to assuming a leadership role within the industry once again with a focus on design and quality. With its return, Boydstun is committed to providing the same innovation, technology and quality customer service it has been know for since its inception. Contact information: Rob Boydstun Phone: 503.849.7337 Email: rboydstun@boydstun.com http://boydstun.com/

Thursday, May 29, 2014

New RV and trailer tire tie-down strap comes from collaboration with customers.

We get some of our best products from customer suggestions. Case in point: the new RV and Trailer Wheel Tie-Down System. Our customers Bette Lakeyoungberg and her son Brian started using modified tow-dolly straps so that they could tie-down trailer tires with two ratchets. We saw what they were doing and worked with the engineers and fabricators to come up with a new design to make RV and trailer tie-down with dual ratchets more easy. Most of business is just giving people what they wanted in the first place! More info on the RV tire strap here.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Blue Diamond Weave ratchet wheel strap: the best quality woven, cut, and stitched in the US.

http://www.autohaulersupply.com/catalog/ratchet-wheel-straps-with-swivel-j-hooks/10-ft-diamond-weave-ratchet-wheel-strap-with-swivel-j-hooks-552579.php

This is my new favorite wheel strap.  You can't see it in this tiny picture, but this ratchet wheel strap is the product of a lot of innovation.  How can something as ordinary as a wheel strap be innovative you ask?  Plenty of ways.

  • The Diamond Weave webbing:  this material is woven in Chicago, IL, and received US Patent protection because of its superior abrasion resistance.  If you look at a detailed photo, or better yet, look at this product yourself in good lighting, you can see that the weaving technique is completely different.  This is not some "run-of-the-mill" webbing that you can buy anywhere.  The weave technique knots the fibers together, resulting in a thicker tighter weave that makes it more difficult to catch the yarns on edges.  In 50 hour abrasion tests, this product showed far less wear than a normal two inch strap.  Once you get one of these in your hand, you'll understand why they're a couple bucks more.
  • The ratchet handle:  this ratchet handle is the heaviest duty ratchet handle we have seen in almost ten years of sourcing ratchet handles.  It has heavier gauge metal on the sides, and the gear action is much more smooth.  You know how you sometimes have to "fight" with a new ratchet handle to get them to work properly.  You won't have to do that with this ratchet handle.  The fit and finish is as near perfect as you can get, and the component materials are top notch.
  • Other factors: the three rubber tread grabs are spaced evenly apart and held in place by black one inch webbing.  The stitching is performed in Texas on new, state-of-the-art sewing machines using the highest quality black thread material.  Shipping times from Texas are quick, in most cases three days are less, and cost is commensurately low because of this central location.  Last, but definitely not least, this product is woven in America and stitched up in America.  I'm not knocking stuff made in China-- I've seen good product coming out of that country, but this Blue Diamond Weave ratchet wheel strap is truly innovative.  You CAN'T buy a Chinese version of it, because it is under patent protection.
Folks, I love selling this product, because I know it's the absolute highest quality we have to offer.   I know that my customers are going to get lasting value out of it.   I know that when I write up an order for it, I'm adding hours on the clock for American workers.   I hope if you're in the market for some new ratchet wheel straps, you'll consider spending a couple bucks extra and seeing how much more your money can buy you right here in the good old USA.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Ratchet Binders with no ball-bearings.

I know this doesn't have much to do with car hauling, but for those of you out wandering the Internet in search of a forged ratchet binder without ball-bearings, I just got some that have a spring instead of a ball-bearing.  Behold the wonder:  A ratchet binder with spring.