Semi-trailer lost wheels
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lute discharges when they appeared before Halifax magistrates accused of using a dangerous semi-trailer following a wheel-loss incident.
PC Kevin Weatherby said both the nearside wheels of the semitrailer had become detached on the M62 on 3 June. All 10 wheelnuts had completely wound off. He felt that they had been insufficiently tightened and that the contamination on the mating surfaces of the wheels and the brake drum by paint and rust, had led to the detachment.
There had been very little damage to the threads and there was a slight elongation of the holes. The mating face of the brake drum showed little sign of abrasion from the wheel face. The mating faces of the brake drum and both wheels contained flakes of blue paint and rust. The mating surfaces should be kept free of paint and rust, otherwise the clamping force was reduced. When the flakes of paint and rust collapsed, the wheelnuts became loose and that would lead to rapid detachment.
The driver of the vehicle, Richard Martin, said he carried out weekly checks of the wheelnuts using a bar, and he had carried out a visual check on the morning of the accident.
David Chantry said the company had bought the refurbished trailer on 16 April with a year's annual certificate—it was tested on 14 April. It had a routine maintenance check on 16 April, which included checking the tightness of the wheelnuts with a torque wrench. The trailer was not due for another maintenance inspection until 9 July and it was the drivers' responsibility to carry out daily checks.
Consultant engineer Ivan Ratcliffe said the joint between the brake drum and the wheel surface was not watertight so there was bound to be some rust. In addition, the wheels had been in the open for a couple of days. The suppliers of the trailer had grit-blasted and repainted it. removing the wheels during the work That should have ensured that they were free of contamination. The firm's maintenance system was a reasonable one. All that was required of the drivers was to carry out a visual check. The recommendation was that wheelnuts should just be torqued up and not be slackened off during routine maintenance.
Arguing that the firm had not been negligent Gary Hodgson, defending, said that the company had not painted the surface of the wheel, and it could not be expected to strip down a new trailer to see whether the wheels had been put on properly.