Refinished trucks encourage good maintenance

The driver is a key element in most comprehensive vehicle maintenance programs.
Routine driver inspections, fluid-level checks, periodic cleanings and good driving
habits all help extend vehicle life.

In the ready-mix concrete industry, the role of the driver and the way he maintains his
vehicle under the severe operating conditions encountered there have a great effect
on the way his truck looks and operates. Abrasion, impact, cement dust, water, acids,
rough roads and unimproved job sites are common hazards that affect vehicle
mechanical conditions and the life of vehicle finishes.

“In the concrete industry the appearance and the mechanical condition of a vehicle
are in many ways related,” said Allen R. Miller, secretary, McHenry Sand & Gravel
Company, Inc., McHenry, ill. “Appearance has a direct effect on how well drivers care
for their vehicles.

“We found that as truck finishes deteriorate from the effects of cement dust and muratic
acid washes, he said, “so does driver enthusiasm for doing routine vehicle

In business for over 35 years, McHenry Sand & Gravel operates 10 separate concrete-
related companies with a combined fleet of more than 300 vehicles. The company
serves Northeastern Illinois (including the north and northwest suburbs of Chicago) and
Southern Wisconsin.

“Conventional acrylic truck finishes deteriorate rapidly in this environment,” Miller said.

“Once the alkali in the cement has started to etch into the truck’s paint,” he said, “the
only efficient way to remove the cement is with an acid wash. While the wash removes
most of the cement, it further etches the vehicle finish.

“This cycle continues,” said Miller. “and even with good care, a bright acrylic finish
turns dull and grey within a year.

To solve its vehicle finish problem, McHenry Sand & Gravel chose a tough, high-gloss
polyurethane coating system from Rust-Oleum Corporation. RUST-O-THANE®
polyurethane coatings are currently being used to refinish both bulk cement tankers
and ready-mix trucks. The coating is capable of withstanding impact and abrasion, as
well as the effects of cement and muratic acid washes without dulling and loss of
coating integrity.

Durability was a reason the company switched to a polyurethane finish. “The finishes
on our trucks which are painted with regular acrylic coatings last about two years,” said
Miller. “However, we average about five years between major overhauls. That means
that we had to paint at least once—and sometimes twice—between overhauls.

“But after nearly two years on the road,” he said, “the polyurethane coatings are working
out very well for us. There have been no problems with cleanup, loss of gloss or coating
failures. Because the trucks clean up easier and look better, the drivers seem to take
better care of them and take greater pride in their appearance. One aspect reinforces
the other.”

McHenry Sand & Gravel has an extensive maintenance and overhaul complex,
including complete facilities for vehicle refinishing, so all work is done in-house.
Refinishing takes an average of one week per vehicle.

After all mechanical and body work is completed, trucks are sandblasted and coated
with a RUST-OLEUM two-component epoxy primer and polyurethane topcoat system.

“The polyurethane coatings are easy to mix and use,” said Miller. “The material goes
on virtually as easily as an automotive acrylic enamel.”

Two component RUST-O-THANE® polyurethane coatings provide resistant “wet-look”
finish on trucks, buses and heavy-duty transportation, and construction equipment.