United's fleet of deicing trucks is mixed and consists of 10 Premiers, 25 Trumps, and 12 Vestergaard Elephant Betas. Both Innes and McLeod like the Betas for maintainability. "They're designed with maintenance in mind," offers McLeod.
New equipment purchases ceased as of September 11, 2001 but because the funding had already gone through for the new maintenance facility, that project, items such as new, in-floor vehicle lifts, and anything else for the new building, were allowed. Innes, McLeod and the rest of their teams are excited about moving into the new maintenance building.
"We've been sharing this hangar with the aircraft maintenance mechanics," says Innes, "and they'll be glad to get their space back when we leave."
United's maintenance philosophy prefers the preventative approach with safety as the top priority. Dividing a deicing truck in half, Innes and McLeod predict that from the middle on forward, the 'B'-check service check takes 16 hours. The middle to back is twice as long at 32 hours. Every "squawk" is noted and will be attended to following the completed check.
"Unless it's a safety item," says Innes and McLeod in unison, "then it gets fixed right away."
The team approach seems to work well for the GSE maintenance technicians during the course of the service checks.
"As a team, we decide the best way to approach maintenance after the preliminary checks," explains Innes. "I hate paperwork and Scott is great with paperwork." He adds, "I'll take the greasy and dirty jobs."
Deicing equipment undergoes a 500-hour service check where things like filters are changed and then the 1,000-hour service check, where the tanks are drained, and more intensive maintenance inspection and troubleshooting take place.
Each truck type has its own checklist that the deicing team follows to assure nothing is overlooked.
"It's easier to use the checklist to test hydraulics than to start tearing down the boom to figure out why the boom won't reach full extension," says McLeod.
The checklist for the 'B'-check on UAL's Trump D40D and D240 deicers has approximately 100 items to examine, while the newer Vestergaard Betas' checklist has roughly 120 items to include a testing of its electrical system.
The first order of business on all equipment is the Operations Check. Deicing trucks are driven around, brakes, steering, heaters/defrosters, and transmissions shifts are checked as are "moving parts" such as the windshield wipers and deicing booms.
Working from the outside to the inside, and front to back, mechanics first inspect the front chassis and cab for visible damage or problems with the truck body, headlights, boom beacon lights, windshields, windows, seals, and tires. Inside the cab, all gauges, latches, door handles and window cranks are checked, as are safety-related items such as the condition non-slip surface of the brake pad and operation of the parking brake.
From here, transmission, differential, and brake fluid levels are inspected. The steering gear assembly and related components are inspected and the front and rear springs, mounts, and U-bolts are checked for wear and fatigue.
The front engine inspection follows to include items such as filter replacement, fuel system/fuel line inspection, alternator output testing, starter operation, load testing of batteries, and exhaust system testing. The coolant system is pressurized and inspected for leakage.
Hydraulic system inspection involves the checking for leaks, filter and hydraulic oil replacement, right down to proper safety signage with the display of the emergency lowering placard.