Mine mechanics’ trucks need more payload capacity, more storage space and more muscle to handle bigger jobs. The newest models meet all requirements.

The ongoing trend throughout the mining industry for larger, more powerful and increasingly sophisticated production equipment has an important flip side—a concomitant need for maintenance tools, vehicles and systems to match. As any mine maintenance manager can attest, equipment upsizing doesn’t take place in a vacuum; mechanics accustomed to working on 230-ton-capacity haul trucks generally need bigger tools when 360-ton-haulers join the fleet, lowboy trailers that previously carried a mine’s dozers and other tracked support equipment may not be adequate for newer, larger models, and crane-equipped mechanics’ trucks might not have the power or balance to lift and swing larger components.

It’s almost impossible to visit a surface mine without spotting at least one mechanics’ service truck somewhere on the property. From a distance, most look quite similar to each other except perhaps in size or color—but these workhorse vehicles can be configured with a vast range of standard and optional features tailored to specific needs and preferences, with bodies mounted on almost any imaginable truck chassis rated correctly for load. Although there are literally dozens of suppliers worldwide that offer service-body choices ranging from simple slide-in toolbox sets to turnkey drive-away service-truck packages, a brief sampling of vendors can provide a basic understanding of the configuration possibilities available.

In the U.S., many of the industry’s major service-body suppliers are located in the Midwestern states. One of these suppliers, Iowa Mold Tooling (IMT), a subsidiary of specialty truck builder Oshkosh Corp., recently introduced its next-generation line of Dominator mechanics’ trucks, explaining it had enhanced its Dominator I, II and IV bodies, and designed its new Dominator III body to support the increased reach and capacity of IMT’s new telescopic cranes and to ensure its truck-crane units would be stable under load.

The company’s new telescopic cranes—the 7500, 8600, 9500, 10000, 12000 and 14000—have been assigned model numbers corresponding to their maximum capacity and feature a patent-pending Penta Boom design. They each offer up to 30 ft of reach and increased capacity over previous models. A new stabilizer,  mounted at the right front of the body and extending out and down, provides improved stability; operators now have the ability to perform lifts in the approved load area at full capacity of the crane load chart. The Dominator I model offers compatibility with the 7500 crane, while the Dominator II truck can support the 7500, 8600, 9500 or 10000. The Dominator III vehicle is designed for the 12000 crane, and the Dominator IV unit can fit the 12000 or 14000.

Additional enhancements to the Dominator mechanics’ truck bodies include a patent-pending, energy-absorbing boom stow that protects the top of the body compartments from damage if too much pressure is exerted from stowing the crane, high-intensity LED compartment lighting and a multiplex electrical system with programmable logic for increased reliability.

Another Iowa-based vendor, Maintainer Corp., offers an extensive selection of standard and custom service body configurations. The most recent entries in Maintainer’s product line are the MTS service crane body, the Signature Select body line and the H series of truck-mounted cranes.

The MTS 1-ton service crane body offers increased payload capacity. Maintainer claims its use of 80,000-psi high yield strength materials throughout the design enables the MTS 1-ton body to provide up to 600 lb more payload. Maintainer also notes the addition of Nylatron rollers to its manual outrigger extension assembly reduces the force required to extend the outrigger.

The Signature Select Series service bodies are available in
56-, 60- and 84-in. CA truck configurations in steel and heavy-duty aluminum construction. Steel service crane configurations support electric/hydraulic or hydraulic cranes with rated capacities up to 36,000 ft-lb. Bodies are available with 14-gauge A60 grade Galvanneal steel or 1/8-in. 5052-H32 aluminum compartments and doors. The series features multiple bolt-on bumper options with vise mounts and hitch receivers and infinitely adjustable shelving. Minimum chassis GVWR rating is 10,700 lb.

Maintainer’s first model in its new line of H Series hydraulic cranes is the H7024, providing design features such as a winch located on the outer boom assembly to provide better performance and increased operator visibility; a high weigh-to-capacity ratio, allowing up to 180 lb more payload for any service truck configuration and maximum capacity rating of 7,000 lb with 24 ft of reach, and an operating range of 91°.

Stellar Industries, also located in Iowa, offers its top-of-the-line 14528 telescopic crane in combination with its TMAX3 service body, intended for placement on truck chassis rated 33,000 lb GVWR and higher. Specifically intended to serve the increasing demands of heavy equipment dealers, mining companies and others who service fleets of large equipment, the 14528 is rated at 82,600 ft-lb (with Stellar’s CDT boost mode, which allows lifting at almost 120% of the crane’s normal operating capacity for short intervals) and can lift a maximum of 14,000 lb at 5 ft and 2,950 lb at 28 ft. With the addition of the standard LMI (Load Moment Indicator), overloading the crane isn’t possible, according to the company. A multifunctional, standard-equipment radio remote incorporates a variable-speed trigger that allows the operators to feather the crane with precise control. Additionally, the radio remote control handle features engine start/stop functions, compressor on/off, engine speed controls, and an emergency shut-off.

Stellar notes its mechanics’ service bodies feature an innovative crane support design, which isolates the crane compartment from the rest of the side pack. Lifting stresses are transferred to the outriggers and box-type subframe, not the compartment doors.

At Tiger Cranes, Sioux Center, Iowa, the newest crane is its model 4027E,  an electric hydraulic crane powered by an integrated 12V DC power system. The 4027E has a lifting capacity of 4,000 lb and a reach of 16-1/2 ft. It features hydraulic boom extension from 7 ft 4 in. to 11 ft 10 in. with manual extension from 11 ft 10 in. to 16 ft 6 in. Powder coated booms, turret, rotation and accessories make the exterior of this crane highly durable. According to the manufacturer, the 4027E is the perfect complement to sister company Service Trucks International’s line of 2042 Eagle Pro service bodies.

Summit Truck Bodies, headquartered in Colorado but with manufacturing facilities in Kansas, markets three service-body lines, the largest being its 10 Series bodies for 33,000-lb GVWR truck chassis. Constructed of 10-gauge steel and weighing more than 7,100 lb, the 10 Series bodies are designed for heavy-duty service operations.

Ground Force, located in Post Falls, Idaho, is known for its custom-built, high-capacity water and fuel tank trucks, but also offers custom heavy-duty service truck bodies it says can fit virtually any truck chassis available.

In addition, Ground Force builds articulated fuel and lube trucks that can deliver a wide spectrum of products in a variety of applications and ground conditions. The company’s artic fuel/lube models offers capacities—that may vary depending on chassis size and weight distribution—for diesel fuel from 2,000 to 6,000 gallons, and new oil and coolant product capacity from 500 to 2,000 gallons, with a used oil tank and grease drum or large removable bin available as well as air compressor with reservoir tank.

Other available features include full product filtration capability, exterior and interior lighting packages, new and used filter storage, ground level remote fill for all products, enclosed rear and/or side reel compartments with spring, hydraulic and electric reels available, enclosed and heated bodies and product tanks for frigid climates, as well as other options.

British Columbia, Canada-based Nor-Mar Industries manufactures the Brutus service-truck body line, offering a wide range of options from a choice of heavy-duty, welded steel cabinets or lightweight huck-bolted aluminum cabinets; to roof systems that can be ordered in any length and can be mounted flush with the cabinet tops or raised to any height desired by the customer. For customers that don’t need a custom-designed service body, the company said it stocks standard body shells in primer finish that can be configured with the customer’s choice of paint, crane and compressor.
A number of suppliers in Australia build custom or standard configuration service bodies. To name just a few, Queensland-based XL offers the Z-Body—the largest in its line. Among other design points, the company notes the top of the Z–Body aligns with the cabin roof of the vehicle and provides maximum storage while minimizing frontal aerodynamic drag. And, when loaded correctly, the Z-Body still has a relatively low center of gravity due to its low chassis mounting points.

In addition to supplying complete service-truck packages, Support Vehicles Australia (SVA), located in Western Australia, also offers full custom design-and-build services for specific applications. For example, it designed and delivered a custom cable reel handling truck for BHP Billiton’s iron ore division that provides superior convenience and safety when handling large electric-cable drums weighing up to 3 metric tons. The cable drums are held on a rotary table that can slew 360°. To eliminate the risk of the rotating table being activated while an operator is standing on the table, the man-access way was fitted with a self-opening gate and limit switch that provides a safety interlock to the table operation. And, because cable-reclaim operations can damage the cable cover or the expensive plugs at the cable ends, the rear loading deck was designed with large rounded corners and no pinch points, eliminating the possibility of cable jamming as it is wound back on the reel.