Questions on Converter Dollies? See below our answers
to frequently asked questions.
Aren't all converter dollies pretty much the same?
Just like with class 8 trucks and semi-trailers, attention to detail when choosing a dolly can mean big operating differences. The choice of materials, priming and painting, plumbing, hose and electrical routing, fit and finish, suspension design, counterbalancing, frame design, weight, and ease of repair/maintenance all add up to major impacts over the life of the dolly. A converter dolly is the steering axle for the second and third trailer, and it warrants thought and attention in its design. It is this focus on the details that sets Silver Eagle dollies apart.
Why do some of your dollies have that upside down suspension?
The transverse leaf spring design works better than a conventional suspension on the converter dolly, and has since the 1940s. Today, Silver Eagle is the only manufacturer of this dolly style. It is the design of choice at UPS, SYSCO, several FedEx operations, and many others. There are two primary reasons it’s better: 1) It lessens the distance between the trailer’s center of gravity and the suspension’s pivot point, making the trailer more stable and more resistant to roll over. 2) It allows the use of a cambered axle that is toed in and laser-aligned to the center of the lunette eye, allowing up to 20% more tire life and a reduction in trailer rearward amplification, or whip. You'll really notice the difference in triples and in a crosswind.
Is the transverse leaf (Eagle) the only dolly Silver Eagle makes?
Silver Eagle is one of the few manufacturers that support a complete line of converter dollies. With choices like tandem axle, air ride, Hutch 9700, and sliding/multi-position drawbar dollies, Silver Eagle has a model for almost any on-highway dolly requirement.
Why do I need to buy new?
Dolly technology, like everything else, eventually becomes obsolete, and after too long a fleet is likely spending more to keep an old piece of equipment in service than it costs to replace it. An outdated fleet can find itself plagued by issues like corrosion, poor operator ergonomics, and trying to source obsolete parts. At the same time, they can struggle to meet regulations as they face decreased vehicle performance and safety in critical areas like braking and tracking. New dollies keep your fleet operating at peak performance and keep your drivers safe.
Do I need a jack?
For a single axle converter dolly with a drawbar length of less than 88” you don’t need a jack as long as you're buying a dolly that is counterweighted. Not all dollies are designed with ergonomics in mind. Single axle Silver Eagle dollies are designed with a tongue weight of less than 85 lbs -- the maximum under TMC recommended practice. A common complaint of other brands is the effort required to safely move a dolly into position, an issue that affects driver satisfaction, efficiency, and workman's comp claims.
Why do I see so many dollies that look neglected and abused?
Worn out dollies are likely past their useful life, aren't being properly maintained or weren't built to last. A little thought and investment up front, as well as regular, periodic maintenance will go a long way toward having a reliable, good-looking fleet. Unlike the power unit, dollies don't have a driver in them and aren't necessarily used in every trip, so they don’t always get the attention they deserve. All the more reason to buy Silver Eagle, a brand that can stand up for itself.
Can I improve the dolly's appearance and paint life?
If you start out right, your dolly can look good for years to come. Silver Eagle is the ONLY dolly manufacturer in North America that offers electro deposition (e-coated) primer, a proprietary process that comes from its work with the US military. E-coated primer gives the paint up to four times longer life, and works well against the effects of today's highly corrosive magnesium and calcium chloride de-icing solutions.
Can’t I avoid the cost of ABS by refurbishing my old dollies?
If your trailers are equipped with ABS, you're inviting a vehicle handling issue by using non-ABS dollies. The converter dolly is the lowest mass vehicle in the combination, and therefore has the smallest brake capacity. All other things being equal, it will lock up first, resulting in loss of control of your trailer’s steer axle. A locked up dolly with the one or two trailers behind it pulsating is a prime jackknife scenario. You can avoid this nightmare situation by using dollies with ABS.
Is there anything I can do to reduce the tire wear on my dollies?
The most likely causes of dolly tire wear are misalignment (crabbing) and suspension slack, both of which can be reduced or even eliminated with the our Eagle dolly. The Eaglehas a no-slack suspension and an aligned axle that enables the dolly to track true to the line between trailers, a characteristic which an independent study showed gave up to 20% more tire life. Tires are the third highest operating expense in a heavy equipment fleet, and only Silver Eagle gives you the means to maximize your tire investment.
What can I do to avoid the headaches associated with bent dolly drawbars?
With the exception of the condor, all of our frames use huck-bolted fasteners and a serviceable lunette eye, allowing individual frame component replacement using readily available, grade 8 fasteners. You'll sleep better knowing that, for the most part, you no longer need a welder to repair your converter dollies, including the eye replacement.
Why would I spend the extra money for LED lights on dollies?
The rear frame on most converter dollies takes a good deal of punishment, especially if you tow them unloaded. LED lights will last much longer than incandescent lighting in this position.
What's the right drawbar length for my fleet?
Choosing the correct drawbar length depends upon many factors. These include kingpin settings and pintle hook placement, as well as whether the trailers have reefers or tailgates, tandem or single axles, and whether the dolly needs a wide or narrow track. Your best bet is to pull measurements off an existing unit and work with a dolly expert such as Silver Eagle.
A bonus to using our Eagle converter dolly is that even if you miscalculate by a couple of inches or your needs change, a simple procedure allows you to adjust the drawbar length without additional parts or welding. Only Silver Eagle offers this flexibility.
Why is there so much valving required on a dolly?
For the most part, regulation for converter dollies follows semi trailers, and the dolly's air braking system has to perform similarly under certain conditions but without spring brake chambers. Brake timing and air pressure loss through the length of a triples combination also play a role.
How long should a dolly last?
Most fleets expect dollies to have a 15-20 year service life, although one customer's analysis shows the benefits outweighing the costs after only 8 years.
Can I rent or lease a dolly?
Silver Eagle does neither, but our quality dollies can be found in most of the major rental and leasing operations such as Ryder, Penske, and TIP.
Could my drivers complain about the effort and additional handling dollies require?
Most drivers don’t want to fight a dirty, unwieldy dolly. Why not make it as easy as possible on them by using a dolly that takes their needs into consideration? Silver Eagle dollies are well balanced, easily maneuvered, and allow drivers to stay clean while moving them around with minimal strain. Details like these go a long way toward keeping your team happy. Give your drivers the Silver Eagle advantage!