Brake literacy
Working together with inspectors will reduce misidentified brake violations

By Woody Chambers, OOIDA General Vice President, Eddyville, Ky.

At a recent CVSA workshop some information was brought to my attention by law enforcement. I have served on the Vehicle Committee for 15 years. And although we certainly have our disagreements, there are areas in which we agree. The Vehicle Committee always allows, and even seeks, industry comment on issues.

This particular information was the result of enforcement approaching me with an idea to aid industry in brake stroke understanding and enforcement through education in regard to brake chamber specifications.

The problem is that inspectors regularly misidentify “long-stroke” brake chambers. Whether this is a result of training or attention, I don’t know. But it can and does result in stroke adjustment violations, out-of-service orders, and an increase in CSA scores. Carriers and drivers are aware that their vehicle(s) are equipped with long-stroke chambers. A simple cure would be to inform the inspecting officer, in a non-confrontational way, of that fact, greatly reducing stroke adjustment violations where a chamber is misidentified.

Generally speaking, a long-stroke chamber has an adjustment limit one-half inch longer than a standard clamp type chamber or 80 percent of the rated stroke.

There are three ways to identify a long-stroke chamber. They are: square ports at air connections or square shapes embossed into pressure caps at air fittings; trapezoidal stroke tags attached to the chamber; and/or identification as L or LS stamped on the chamber. The problem is that only two of these identifiers are required by SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) standards, and tags fall off or embossments are obliterated with age. Aftermarket chambers might not have any identifying markings. Remember, the stroke limit marked on the chamber is not the stroke adjustment limit. The adjustment limit, the measurement the inspector is looking for, is generally one-half inch less or 80 percent of the rated stroke.

To their credit, CVSA has petitioned SAE to identify all brake chambers with a raised letter code, and SAE has responded with Recommended Practice J2899 doing just that. However, CMV equipment manufacturers have yet to implement this practice and again aftermarket parts from wherever might not comply with the recommended practice issued by SAE. LL