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Podcast Interviews

Heavy-Duty Couplings, Pintle Hitches, and Drawbar Eyes

Learn about the different types of connections manufactured by Premier Manufacturing.

Episode 106: In this episode we discuss couplings, pintle hitches, and drawbar eyes. Derek Quys is the Senior Director of Sales at High Bar Brands, and he discusses the connection components that Premier Manufacturing, one of High Bar Brands companies, has been providing the trucking industry for nearly 100-years.

Watch the Video

The Story of Premier Manufacturing

“We’ve been in business since 1924… so 97 years. We were the first company that developed the pintle hook in the logging industry, and then expanded to where we are today,” said Quys.

  • What really set them apart was the alloys they used. Very unique material. Performs exceptionally well in the severe service applications.
  • Their parts provide longevity and safety to the industry.
  • The founder was a pattern maker, who created molds in the steel industry. Decided to use the tools he was making himself.
  • Grew the business to serve the market.

Pintle Hook and Drawbar Eye Connections

“In Canada for instance, it’s very vocational. Why these connections are so essential for those applications is because of articulation,” said Quys. 

  • Need to be able to get in and out of certain road conditions, so you need that movement.
  • Able to carry additional trailers to be more efficient.

Life-Saving Pintle Hook Innovation

“We hit something pretty big about a year and a half ago,” explained Quys.

  • They were approached by a large company having frequent trailer disconnects because of drivers forgetting to close the latch on the pintle hook.
  • Created a mechanical device that automatically closes the latch when the driver releases the emergency brake, if a driver forgets to close it.
  • This prevents trailer disconnects, keeping highways safer, while also saving fleets money when it comes to damages from trailer disconnects.
  • This innovation creates a safer vehicle.

The Extended Life

“Corrosion is the monster that everyone is dealing with… What we did is evaluate the weakest link, and basically eliminated the corrosion issue from that pivot point,” said Quys.

  • Bore out pivot points and put oil impregnated bronze bushings in there.
  • Plated pins with stainless steel springe
  • Drilled and tapped to accept lubrication.

Complete Transcription of Episode:

Jamie Irvine:

Your listening to the Heavy-Duty Parts Report. I’m your host, Jamie Irvine. And this is the show where you get expert advice about the heavy-duty parts you buy and sell, and keep you informed about what’s happening in the industry. Connection management between a commercial truck and trailer. You know, when we think about that, we often think fifth wheel and kingpin, and yet there’s many vocations where that connection setup is not ideal. And there are alternatives I’d like to introduce you to Derek Quys, who is the senior director of sales at High Bar Brands. Now one of their companies is Premier Manufacturing, and that’s who we’re going to talk about today. And I’m really looking forward to discussing with him their different connection components and how it can have a positive impact on fleets. So Derek, welcome to the Heavy-Duty Parts Report. So happy to have you here.

Derek Quys:

Hey, thanks for the invite. Look forward to this discussion,

Jamie Irvine:

Derek and I go back many, many years. We’ve both worked in the heavy-duty parts industry and it’s really great to finally have you on the show. Very excited about that for those who maybe aren’t completely familiar with the history of Premier Manufacturing, how long has Premier been in business ?

Derek Quys:

Since 1924, so 97 years. We were the first company that developed the pintle hook in the logging industry out of Oregon, and that expanded to where we are today.

Jamie Irvine:

And that’s kind of one of the reasons why you and I eventually met is because in later years as the, just the tail end of, of old growth logging in the Pacific Northwest was coming to its end. I got into the industry and that’s how we met. So certainly that logging application, it was a completely different world back then. But the use of those products has endured as you say, 97 years.

Derek Quys:

Yeah, it has, that’s for sure.

Jamie Irvine:

One of the things that I enjoyed when I was selling parts and I was representing Premier brand to our customers, we were a distributor for your company, I really appreciated some of the, the ways that Premier went about manufacturing their parts. So what really has made Premier stand out? How does the company have that kind of longevity? I mean, obviously there are some specific things I’d like to understand more about

Derek Quys:

Well, that’s interesting because what really set us apart from everyone else was the alloys that we used a very unique material. It work hardens, it’s designed such that if it performs exceptionally well in severe service applications. A lot of people in the industry just, they have no clue. They would just basically steer towards our portfolio products because they know it works well. And yet it’s because of the materials we use and our latching mechanisms and what we do to provide not only longevity, but also safety in the marketplace is what’s pretty outstanding with our group.

Jamie Irvine:

It’s one thing to say, okay, we’re going to start a company. We’re going to start making heavy-duty parts, but in order to really be able to be a pioneer in those areas, what was required, what kinds of people came together to make that a reality?

Derek Quys:

So our founder was a pattern maker. So when they first started, Premier was actually a pattern and a tool and die maker. So if you wanted to make a widget, you would approach our founder and he would sit back and basically create molds, tools that are used in the steel industry or the casting industry. And it wasn’t until that time as logging started to take off that, he says, why am I making things to allow other people to make money? Why don’t I just do this myself? And it’s pretty interesting the mind that was behind this individual and what he created, and even some simple things that, how he created the pattern, he basically scribed on a piece of plywood dry, and we have etchings of those today. And then from there, he was able to make a three-dimensional component from a piece of plywood, which is unbelievable, and him and his, because he had a metallurgical background try different alloys, different things. And, you know, if you think about our gold standard today, which is premalloy and material that work hardens. And like I talked about earlier, the base material is very similar to what you see on a railway track. If you notice those tracks, they’re always shiny. So as friction builds up on it, it gets harder and harder and harder, so very aggressive material. And yet it’s very pliable it can yield and, and perform really well. So that’s kind of where it’s grown today and how they you know, as they’ve developed new geometry and new designs have really been successful,

Jamie Irvine:

It’s just amazing when you come, you know, someone with that, like you say that, that background in alloys and metal, and then that entrepreneurial vision to be able to say, there’s an opportunity here and then to see that need in forestry. But again, this was back in the 1920s, the mid-twenties, the early thirties. I mean, it’s not like it is today. So it’s just an enormous accomplishment to be able to, to succeed the way that the company has.

Derek Quys:

Yeah, you’re right. And you know, it’s interesting as I’ve grown with this company, models that were designed in the fifties and sixties are still used today and specified by major carriers. It’s funny to see that.

Jamie Irvine:

Unbelievable. Unbelievable. We’re just going to take a quick break. We’ll be right back. Don’t have a heavy-duty part number and need to look up a part? Diesel Parts is a cross-reference and parts lookup tool that makes it easier to identify heavy-duty parts than ever before. Go to parts.diesellaptops.com or download the app on Apple or Android to create your free account. So before the break, we were talking about the rich history of Premier Manufacturing of how they got their start 97 years, Derek, thanks so much for recounting some of those historical stories of how the company got its start. I’d like to talk now about what applications are really best suited to use the pintle hook and drawbar eye connection. We already talked about logging, but there’s more than just logging.

Derek Quys:

Yeah. In Canada, for instance, various vocational, the gravel industry, you see a lot of, those types of connections and why those are important versus perhaps say using a fifth wheel is you need some sort of articulation, right? And the vehicles are shorter. So you, you want to be able to have a vehicle that can go in and out of certain road conditions that are different and you need that articulation and you need these connection points to work well. So that’s the gravel industry. If you look at long combination vehicles today, fleets are really dealing with driver shortages, fuel costs are high. So now when you have one truck and multiple trailers, you can carry a lot more cargo, which is a lot more efficient to today for the fleet. They have one driver versus two drivers in a trailer. So you have long combination vehicles. They use pintle hooks and drawbar eyes in those applications. And then into the medium duty market where you have a utility companies, municipalities, or construction companies that will have work trailers that have a drawbar eye. And they need maybe a combination coupling where it’s got a ball or acts as a pintle hook as well. So there’s many different connection points out there that could use a pintle hook and a drawbar eye connection.

Jamie Irvine:

So again, we talk about the history of the company, 97 years and counting, what innovation has Premier brought to the pintle hook set up. I’d like to learn about that.

Derek Quys:

We hit something pretty big about a year and a half ago, we were approached by a major carrier in the United States, one of the largest carriers. And it was surprising. When they approached us, they were dealing with a disconnect, not because of the pintle hook failing, but because drivers would forget to close the latch on the pintle hook. And when they approached us with this, we’re thinking really, you got to hook up your glad hands, plug in your coiled electrical, you hook up your safety chains. How can you forget to close the latch? Something as simple as that, but because of the applications and perhaps the time they would they may forget to close the latch. And this carrier was telling me that they would they deal with one disconnect per day. Now they have tens of thousands of vehicles on the road. So although that seems like a lot, it’s still significant. And they were doing things such as putting up speed bumps in their yard, things to jar the truck and trailer connection apart so that they would drop the trailer in the yard. And they would deal with one major accident per month. Fortunately, they haven’t had what we call a nuclear litigation, which is basically in the tens of millions of dollars due to fatalities, but it was serious enough that they approach us and said, can you come up with a solution that takes driver error away? And that’s basically a mechanical device that would automatically close the latch if the driver forgot to close it and how this device works is we, we designed an air cylinder. That’s connected to the air take-up system in the back, the slack adjuster, which is an air chamber in the back that has a second port. And when the driver releases that emergency brake and now trips a little cylinder inside the latch mechanism and automatically closes the latch. So if the driver forgets to close the latch, as soon as they release their emergency brakes, it trips the system and closes it for them.

Jamie Irvine:

Awesome. So when I think about these kinds of innovation, and I think about a fleet’s constant pursuit of lowering total cost of operation, this isn’t really a cost per mile thing, but you’ve already talked about litigation. I mean, this does affect the total cost of operation.

Derek Quys:

Absolutely. You think even dropping a trailer in the yard, the damage that occurs to that vehicle, the load that’s already inside. So costs, we look at a cost per mile, like you discussed, this is a different type of cost that is very challenging for a fleet because you can’t really put a stamp on it, but you don’t know what’s in the vehicle that got damaged because the trailer dropped, the damage done to the trailer itself, let alone, if it happens on the highway. And most recently in Alberta, there was a case where a dolly disconnected from the vehicle and a fatality ensued. So if we can take away some of these pieces that basically could protect the populace and eliminate a black mark on the transportation industry, by having a more safer vehicle, that there’s a lot of cost savings there that perhaps we don’t see and can’t put a stamp on.

Jamie Irvine:

But overall, still affecting the total cost cause liability that damage to the vehicles, the injury to people in the public. I mean, all of those things contribute to negatively impacting a fleet and the industry as a whole, so fantastic to be involved in that kind of solution. You know, Derek, it is not part of our outline, but I was remembering something about selling your product. One of the things that I remember is that a lot of fleets with the pintle hook set up, they weren’t necessarily in a drop-in and hook kind of thing, like in a fleet that does a lot of, of trucks coming in and switching trailers, sometimes these units like in a gravel instance would be hooked up for a long period of time because of the environments that they’re working in. There was a lot of stuff on the road. And you know, I remember guys saying that it was a real pain when these things would seize up. You guys engineered some really interesting technology on one of your pintle hooks to actually be able to address that issue. Could we talk about that a little bit?

Derek Quys:

For sure. It’s called the Extended Life. So in our 2000 series couplings, which are very common in Canada as well, corrosion is the monster that everyone’s dealing with, whether it’s due to electrical failures, to other things, corrosion is the monster that we have out there. What we did is we evaluated our pivot point or the weakest link, which is basically the latch mechanism. And what we did is we decided we bore out the pivot points, we put oil impregnated, bronze bushings in there which hold about 30% of their weight in lubrication. We plated our pins, we use stainless steel springs, these are drilled and tapped to accept lubrication, something as simple as that has basically eliminated a corrosion issue from that connection point or that pivot point. So it’s been really groundbreaking. And as a matter of fact, it’s become our number one selling component in Canada, because a lot of these fleets, they could take their existing 2000 series model, put this Extended Life latch kit into it and they’re back to an OEM specifications and a much longer life latch mechanism for this market.

Jamie Irvine:

Right. So if you’re going to upgrade from the 370 to the 2000, you’re going to go right to the one with the extended, but if you’ve already got a 2000, you can actually upgrade it with this kit. So either way you can get there.

Derek Quys:

You bet, the 370 model would go to a 2300, for instance, 2300 EL is the extended life model. But yes, got it.

Jamie Irvine:

Yeah, it’s been a couple of years since I’ve sold it. So I don’t remember all the part numbers. All right. Well, we’re going to keep talking about some of the great, innovative things that your company is doing in a minute. We’ll take another break, we’ll be right back. When repairing a diesel engine, it is essential to only use high quality engine parts. AFA industries manufacturers OEM quality, complete in-frame kits, replacement engine parts, and seals, and for diesel engines at great aftermarket prices. To learn more, go to AFA industries.com, where you can request them to direct you to a local distributor, check out AFAindustries.com today. Before the break, we were talking about some of the great innovations that Premier Manufacturing has brought to the pintle hook and drawbar eye set up to the industry as a whole for connection management. And Derek I’d like to talk a little bit about front end assemblies, and I kind of was interested about how does your patented products improve the bushing performance and the longevity of those bushings?

Derek Quys:

Well, when we first developed the swivel drawbar eye for instance, as part of this front end assembly, back in the day, we would use like a coarse thread for instance, and castellated nut. And at that standpoint, we also had a solid steel housing, but you don’t get any preload and what preload is, is basically when you’re tightening the nut, you want to have some sort of stress on the threads so that you basically have a much tighter connection. So when you have a steel housing, you had metal to metal wear so accelerated wear, but you had jarring back and forth cause we needed to use a castellated nuts. And when you put the cotter pin in it, you can never get an infinite adjustment from there. So we had to go through some different renditions. And then, so we went from the steel housing to a bushed housing where we had bushings in place. Well the nice thing about any bushing, it absorbs a lot of shock and vibration, which transfers to other things. So yes, we’re in the off-road applications, these poor drivers are jarred as it is. So they may not notice it, but when you can take and absorb a lot of the shock and vibration that occurs, a lot of your other components, you’re extending the life of those components, whether you know it or not. So we went from that basically rubber bushings inside of a housing. And then we’ve transitioned to poly bushings, which basically are impervious to chemical attack, extreme temperature conditions. We have applications in south America where they’re dealing with 40 degrees Celsius temperatures, severe off roads, hauling 70 tons per trailer to other applications in Northern Alberta where it’s 40 below, right? And you want these bushings to still perform, maintain their elasticity and provide performance throughout the vehicle. We’ve done some new things as well for severe service applications where it contains everything within the load. So under force, tremendous force, it basically brings everything within the housing and, and it gives you a solid base, even though it’s not metal to metal. So there’s some unique things we’ve done with our front ends.

Jamie Irvine:

Infinite adjustability was something that got my attention right away. Can you just go into a little bit more detail about how important that is?

Derek Quys:

Yeah, think about the load we’re carrying, you know, tens of thousands of pounds of cargo, whether it’s gravel, liquid, you name it and you’re on the highway and you are stopping and starting, you are maneuvering, maybe your off-road. The forces that occur at speeds within a small little frame has a tremendous amount of spike load and changes loading conditions. So just imagine if you did not have infinite adjustment and you had incremental adjustment, you now have loose components. So you now are accelerating a lot of the stress on other components, as I mentioned earlier on the vehicles, but think about the coupling component itself. You think about the accelerated wear that occurs. So if you want to keep the life of your components and enjoy longevity, you want to make sure that you provide infinite adjustability so that you now have tight connections that don’t accelerate wear on other components on that connection point. So our infinite adjustments go from housings, swivel drawbar eyes, infinite adjustments on our hinge assembly, even infinite adjustments on the air take-up system that we have on our pintle hooks. You don’t have to adjust it. It’s set. So if you can do that for your complete connection point, you’ve now provided a really good system for the drivers and the fleet managers.

Jamie Irvine:

Awesome. Well, thanks for taking a minute to explain that. If you could leave people with just one thing to remember about Premier, what’s that one thing ?

Derek Quys:

We are a solutions provider and it’s part of the High Bar Brands mantra, where we are a solutions provider to the industry. We’re always going to look for things that could improve performance, life and provide satisfaction to the end user that they know they have a domestic made manufacturer with direct people that are there to work with them, help provide solutions to them and give them something that they need in their applications.

Jamie Irvine:

You’ve been listening to The Heavy-Duty Parts Report. I’m your host, Jamie Irvine. We’ve been speaking with Derek Quys, who is the senior director of sales at High Bar Brands, and they own Premier Manufacturing. Derek, I really appreciate you being on the show and if people want to learn more, they can go to premier-Mfg.com. So that stands for manufacturing. So that’s premier-mfg.com. Links will be in the show notes. Derek, thanks for being on the Heavy-Duty Parts Report.

Derek Quys:

Thank you. Appreciate it.

Jamie Irvine:

Thank you so much for tuning into this week’s episode of Heavy-Duty Parts Report. I’m your host, Jamie Irvine. And I just like to remind everyone to focus on cost per mile and let’s keep those trucks and trailers rolling.

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