Mr. Truck 7-27-09
I toured the factory with Michael Terry, president of Cimarron Trailers. You have to be in shape to keep up with Michael, as he has lots of energy and loves the trailer business. Even in the current recession, Cimarron Trailers is improving, expanding and zeroing in on efficiency. The factory is staying the same size, but putting out 25 percent more trailers. There is a handful of aluminum trailer manufactures at the top in premium trailers. The top trailers need smart engineering, custom doors and windows, top components, strong beautiful welds, etc. The result is quality uniformity on all trailers from roof to axles. Where else would you build horse trailers, but the heart of Oklahoma – rich in trailer history and qualified skilled workers.
The operation is very much a group effort with labor and management on the same team and many workers and supervisors that have been with Cimarron since the beginning. Lean efficient manufacturing systems creates savings per trailer built. That savings goes to employee bonuses and quality incentive – after rework, employees get bonuses, making it a good place to work in a recession.
Beautiful trailers, the trademark of Cimarron, sell in a normal economy. In a recession, Cimarron proves itself with a quality investment in a trailer that won’t let you down on the road.
Michael Terry does his part managing costs and inventory control that is so important for factory and dealer survival. His goal is to be around for the long term, eliminating waste and increasing efficiency. Touring his trailer factory revealed the dramatic changes from three years ago with my last report.
From big living quarter trailers, to easy towing two-horse bumper pulls, the strength is where you can’t see it. Framing is massive, engineered for the suspension to flex, not the frame. This is something truck manufactures have learned, with stiffer frames they can dial in a better suspension.
They feature assembly line efficiency and standardization, similar to Japanese auto makers. The supplies are on carts instead of shelves, so they can come to the assembly line after being loaded from stock. With less space, it takes less time getting components to the assembly line. The line is closer together and the parts roll to the trailer. These are some lessons from Henry Ford’s assembly line, only better.
Andy, the engineer using a 3D computer program, can stress test components, speeding up improvements and strength in Cimarron trailers. Engineering changes such as a steel rear corner boomerang allows narrower corner post for a wider stronger door opening.
Computer engineering allows 4-inch wider and 2-inch taller doors. Using Huck bolts, not welding the 1/4-inch plate boomerang gusset, is stronger than a typical welded fishplate.
Look at the bracing; boomerang steel reinforcement is huck bolted to the aluminum frame. Huck bolts, like giant rivets, stay tight permanently, not like lock washers, bolts and nuts.
With an 18-inch radius reinforced nose, this steel gooseneck has a 42-inch wing gusset. Standard posts are 1 3/80-inch by 2-inch posts, 4-inch wide posts at the doors.
I’ve been in trailer factories where metal was welded on top of metal, on top of metal, to be sure of strength without knowing what was needed – no engineering, no understanding why they built it that way, not a Cimarron. The Cimarron way builds on purpose and tests.
Wider and longer trailers get a larger floor rail, 9-inch tall frame, 1/4-inch thick, using huck fasteners to attach to neck. The T-frames are one piece, tail to tongue, with an off-set 3-inches on top and 6-inches on bottom. This allows for lower jams on side doors without cutting the frame and more protection below for water tanks. Extruded floor sections go together like Legos on a 6-inch center I-beam double tongue-groove for a solid strong floor. Another added feature is the rear bumper skid plate under the rear frame; you know you’ll drag your butt sometime. All Cimarron roofs are 1/2-inch honeycomb fiberglass, rated R3 for insulation, 20 degrees cooler, quieter, not popping like aluminum roofs tend to do and it supports my 280 pounds of muscle.
Rivets can loosen as trailer skin expands and contracts. Cimarron doesn’t use rivets, but 3M VHB Tape to secure the aluminum skin to the trailer frame. The foam on the 3M tape quiets the trailers too.
These trailers have it all, triple wall construction with 1 3/8-inch styrofoam insulation, a ribbed aluminum floor to hold mats and 6005A aluminum alloy that is resistant to urine.
The spring loaded stall dividers are 1 1/2-inches thick, 3 foot 3 inches wide, with a flush powder coated aluminum stall latch. The fenders are bolted on – replacing fenders will happen to you sometime on any trailer. The drop down windows with side latch are easy to reach and have an adjustable striker plate to stay tight with safety bar grills; hip windows are 34 inches. There are 4-inch radius post at drop down windows, with two sides protecting the horse with smooth edges.
There is no more adjusting trailer brakes with Cimarron trailers! Cimarron is using Dexter axles with self-adjusting brakes on all sizes of axles.
On the 7-foot 1-inch height Lonestar stock trailer, you gotta love the chrome and black, bling, bling. It makes you want to go out and buy cows! With the five-hinge stock trailer, hauling cattle is a whole different ball game. Cattle don’t stand still and they really test a trailer.
The aluminum heavy duty casting cam lock latches are smooth, quiet and horse safe. Nylon Bushings make them easier to operate and quieter. Independent rear doors are used with a new wiper seal – no need for a post, they are independent. The foam wiper seal allows wider rear door opening and with the collapsible rear tack room, there is more room for a mare and foal or four wheeler.
The tool free, adjustable saddle rack is removable with Powder coated aluminum – no carpet to mold. It is designed to keep the saddle from bucking off on our smooth interstates. Double struts on the saddle rack makes swinging out your heavy saddles easy.
Kent Sundling (alias “Mr. Truck”) spent 20 years wearing out pickup trucks as only a farmer could. With over 1 million miles pulling trailers, Mr. Truck has a unique collection of truck and farm stories that will educate and entertain. Mr.Truck gave up his bib overalls and John Deeres in his quest to save the farm and moved to the big city to sell trucks. After selling trucks for 10 years, this farmer now writes for eight magazines and owns over two dozen Web sites, helping folks find the “Right Truck.” If you have a question for Mr. Truck, you may contact him at his Web site, http://www.mrtruck.net.
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