Article: The Brake System – Using an Airbrake Operator’s Log



By Pete Snidal © 2005

For many owners, it may be helpful to maintain a log of your daily brake checks. This would incorporate the morning air compressor and leak check, as well the periodic slack adjuster checks during the trip.

Morning Startups

The morning check should consist of noting and recording the air buildup time, checking to see that the compressor shuts off, fanning the brakes to get the pressure back down to cut-in pressure, observing the rebuilding to cut-off pressure, shutting off the engine, and checking for any audible leaks. If any leakage is heard, investigate and correct before driving. Max brake slack is 1" - adjust if greater.

Hourly Roadchecks

Every hour or so, more or less, I like to stop and check my brakedrums and hubs for overheating, and "pound the tires." - This last check involves hitting each of the rear tires with a 3 Lb hammer which I keep in the fire extinguisher cabinet just for the purpose. You can be running with one of the duals flat and not know it - until it catches fire, that is! (Or until the one still holding up that entire side goes flat, too!) So it's a good idea to monitor the tire pressures - the crude way is just to pound with a hammer. (If you catch yourself pounding your front tires on a walkaround, too, give your head a shake and get some coffee!) You also want to ensure your operating pressures are within specs as well - usually 85-95psi - but this needn't be done on as regular a basis as simply ensuring the tire isn't flat or on its way. A tire going soft will make a distinctly different sound from those of the other three.

A Records Chart

Keeping a chart of your brake inspections can be helpful in a number of ways:

  • Safety: A graphical representation of just how fast your brakes wear during periods of use in various types of service (cruising on flats vs mountain driving, for example) will be valuable in determing how often to do checks on the road.
  • Legal: In the godhelpus event of legal complications such as those surrounding a road accident, a log sheet of your recent brake maintenance could come in mighty handy.
  • Service: A record of brake adjustments required can be helpful in helping a mechanic or brake service professional in diagnosing any brake troubles you may be having in the future.

You can print out a copy of a brake maintenance log sheet using your computer's printer. Just click the link below, and then click File-Print in your browser program.

Click the link below for a printable chart: The Chart

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