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Why Kingpin Refurbishment Makes More Sense Than Replacement

Does doing a kingpin refurbishment make more sense than doing a replacement? Commercial fleets are focused on reducing the total cost of operation, so this is an important connection management issue.

Eventually, the kingpin refurbishment or replacement will become necessary on all working rigs. It’s estimated that, if inspected, about 30% of all kingpins currently in use on trailers in the U.S. and Canada would not meet current standards for acceptable tolerances. These kingpins should be repaired or replaced immediately.

But which method is best?

Kingpin Refurbishment

Ideally, kingpins should be refurbished before the wear rate reaches the operational threshold of .125”. Refurbishing the kingpin proactively not only saves on future maintenance to the fifth wheel but makes the rig safer to operate. Proactive repairs also save revenue in other ways.

Here’s why.

Kingpin Refurbishment Requires Less Logistical Support

Kingpin refurbishment requires less logistical support and the overall cost is inexpensive compared to replacement. By identifying the trailers that have wear rates at your target repair range you can then schedule kingpin refurbishment for a specific time that does not impact your daily operations.

The equipment stays in operation and overall downtime is reduced. The repair can be accomplished in just a couple of hours as opposed to two or more days. This allows the operator to get the rig back on the road with a minimum of downtime.

King Pin Repair Performed Onsite at a Commercial Fleets Yard
King Pin Repair Performed Onsite

Kingpin Refurbishment is a Non-Invasive Process

When you replace a kingpin, you must cut out the existing structural framework that ties the kingpin into the upper coupler assembly. Most shops will not remove the assembly from the trailer to repair it and choose to cut through the floor of the trailer to gain access to the structural supports.

This creates a tight environment with limited access to reinstall the new kingpin and ensure that the replaced structure is securely mounted. The height and squareness of the new pin need to be ensured for proper coupling.  If the structural supports are not adequately replaced the kingpin can break loose and pull through the bolster plate creating a catastrophic incident. 

 With kingpin refurbishment, the kingpin is essentially overbuilt by adding additional material to the worn sections of the pin and then machined back to operational specifications. The structural integrity of the original assembly is kept intact, and then there is a significant reduction in possible issues with the repair.  

Kingpin refurbishment is also the only process that makes proactive repairs cost-effective. Our data shows that reducing the variance through proactive repairs helps keep the wear rate under control. If a fleet manager wanted to repair assemblies proactively by replacing entire assemblies, the excessive costs would exceed the benefit.

Additionally, if a fleet manager decided to replace the kingpins proactively you could be adding additional liability and structural integrity issues by removing and replacing structural components to complete the repair.

Both repair and replacement scenarios add a significant amount of downtime to the trailer’s availability. Kingpin refurbishment is a focused repair approach that can be completed in a matter of hours.

Kingpin Refurbishment is Performed Onsite

Every kingpin on the road will eventually need to be replaced or repaired. That’s the nature of the tremendous forces playing on this pivot point that connects the tractor with the trailer.

Replacing this part normally costs somewhere between $1000-$3000 and puts the unit out of service for several days. Not including the fact, you may have to shuttle the trailer or wait till the shop can shuttle the trailer to the repair location and back.

By doing the kingpin refurbishment on-site the turnaround time is significantly faster and overall, a significant costs savings compared to replacement. The good news is that a qualified repair job will help keep your fleet operating safe within operational tolerances and can help identify other issues before they become fleet-wide issues.  

For these reasons, kingpin refurbishment makes much more sense than replacement or repair. It’s measurable, predictable, and proven. Learn more about why kingpin refurbishment is an ideal solution.

Kingpin Refurbishment Done with an Engineered Process

Kingpin Specialists has an engineered process that is performed by welders certified in the specific weld application needed for professional kingpin refurbishment. We are also working with industry leaders by leading a task force at the American Trucking Associations Technology & Maintenance Council to expand the understanding of our process.

This method is a proven, tested, engineered process, and we’ve been helping fleets like yours for over two and a half decades. We complete repairs on site. A typical kingpin refurbishment takes approximately 2 hours from start to finish. Once completed, the trailer can go back into service and overall downtime is minimal.

If you are responsible for fleet maintenance on commercial vehicles, why not take the first step and have Kingpin Specialists perform an inspection and report on the condition of your fleet?

Call us at 1-888-221-7774 or email us at repairs@kingpinspecialists.com.

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