Paul's Picks
From the floor of the Mid-America Trucking Show, Senior Technical Editor Paul Abelson highlights some buzzworthy new products out there.

By Paul Abelson, senior technical editor

Poly-Pro composite trailer door hinges from Powerbrace Corp. (, 262-694-3202) weigh 9 ounces each. Aluminum hinges weigh 1.3 pounds and steel hinges weigh anywhere from 3 to 4 pounds. The Poly-Pro molded polymer hinges fit the same bolt holes. Its best feature, however, is that the hinges never corrode or rust. With today’s aggressive snow control chemicals, it’s a lifetime hinge that never needs lubrication.

Brake Tech Tools (, 800-897-7500) introduced The Truck Inspector, a new tool to simplify inspections. Laser cut from 12 gauge 304 stainless steel, it fits easily on a key ring. The tool measures tire tread depth on steer tires (4/32 inch) and drive or trailer tires (2/32 inch), brake stroke for regular (2 inch) and long stroke (2 1/2 inch) chambers, minimum brake lining thickness and the maximum allowable size for windshield star damage.

Aerodynamic headlight covers get abraded and cloudy, diminishing night vision. Kits are available to temporarily refinish the covers. Many leave streaks.

Search Automotive Technologies (, 866-440-6990) created LightRite to restore headlight covers easily, properly and permanently. Prepare with 600 grit sandpaper, remove residual grit and spray with LightRite. It has a lifetime warranty.

Spectra Products (, 888-381-2355) created heat-sensing Hub Alert labels. Heat in hubs is a sure sign of bearing problems or loss of lubrication. Without lube, bearings fail. When hubs reach 250 degrees, the white label turns black, so you detect problems at a glance. Once the overheating is discovered, repair bearings or seals and apply a new Hub Alert.

In Chicago, I’ve seen many “sardine can” trailers with the roof peeled back by low bridges. The GiraffeG4 Truck Protection System (, 877-543-1087) measures height using ultrasonic technology. The exterior sensor attaches to a mirror mount, while an easy-to-program dashboard display shows the height of overhead obstacles. The GiraffeG4 continues to measure height until you clear the underpass.

After installation, measure the sensor’s height and enter it. When you pull slowly under a bridge, the display shows its height. The Giraffe can also be mounted on an escort car.

Changes to CSA hold the motor carrier accountable for safety and maintenance, including lighting. Light violations carry anywhere from two- to six-point severity weights.

Both Grote (, 800-628-0809) and Truck-Lite (, 800-562-5012) assembled kits with common replacement lamps, harness connectors and other items to help you make repairs quickly and easily and get back on the road safely. Grote’s CSA Roadside Repair Kit is part 00990. Truck-Lite’s Roadside Lighting Repair Kit is part 97392.

With fuel economy more important with every diesel price report, aerodynamics and tire air pressure are critical. RealWheels Corp. (, 1-800-982-1180) has wheel covers that improve aerodynamics by covering the deep, turbulent cavity in drive and trailer wheels. The Aero Clear model lets you see into the cavity to check lug nuts and air-pressure monitoring devices. It can mount the LED Tire Watch, a valve cap that monitors air pressure. When tires are properly inflated and the Tire Watch is programmed, it glows red if pressure falls 8 psi. The valve cap can be mounted on a valve stem, air pressure equalizer or on an extension hose, to be flush with the wheel cover’s surface.

There are times the call of nature cannot be ignored. Unfortunately, rest areas and parking lots become littered with plastic bottles. Now there’s a clean, sanitary alternative for males and females alike.

The SideKick from GW Machine Shop (, 870-237-4216) has permanent containers that drain at any pump-out facility. The urine cup is at the end of a 25-inch length of plastic tube covered with stainless steel flex tube.

The SideKick weighs about 5 pounds empty. It comes in 2.5-gallon and 6.5-gallon sizes. DOT regulations require it to be mounted in a sleeper cab, behind the curtain so it cannot be used while driving. Urine cups are molded in four colors of polypropylene. The tanks mount through the wall for under-bunk placement, or through the floor. Just 12 ounces of water “flushes” the SideKick.