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Roll-off Hoists


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May 2004
-View the list of manufacturers at the bottom of the page

In the spirit of specialization, this review is limited to cable-style roll-off hoists. Hook-lift systems will be addressed in the future.

The world of solid waste handling is full of specialization. Haulers can choose specialized tools for duties ranging anywhere from scheduling runs to keeping things clean and tidy. But when it comes to the heavy lifting, perhaps no piece of specialized equipment works harder than the roll-off cable hoist.

Roll-off hoists are specialized trailers that raise and lower roll-off containers from the ground to the trailer rails - usually for transport to and from MSW processing facilities. Since full containers of waste can weigh as much as 75,000 lbs., roll-off cable hoists pack a lot of pulling power.

To pull the container up onto the trailer, hydraulic cylinders raise the tilt-frame to an inclined position, and a cable is attached to the container.

Steve Doughty, sales manager for BenLee, Inc. of Romulus, Michigan, makers of a full line of roll-off hoists and related waste handling equipment said, “The hoist works by taking up cable, pulling the container up onto the rails of the trailer. It’s an arrangement configured much like a reverse block and tackle, with a stationary pulley – or ‘sheeve’ as they are known - near the head of the trailer frame and a traveling sheeve attached to a slide plate. Hydraulic cylinders push the slide plate toward the rear of the trailer, taking up slack in the cable. That pulls the container up into place on the rails of the tilt frame,” he said.

The cable may travel as much as three or four times the length of the trailer frame. “A three-part line runs the length of the frame three times,” continued Mr. Doughty. “A four-part line is sometimes needed for long pulls where the container may be placed a ways back behind the trailer,” he added. However, with every change in direction of the cable, the hoist will lose a portion of its pulling capacity.

Choosing a roll-off cable hoist
There are several varieties of roll-off hoists in use today. Which one is right for the job depends on a number of factors.

Inside rail – This design features rollers on the inside of the tilt frame rails that mate up with rails on the container as the hoist guides it into place. The inside rail was one of the earliest designs in use for solid waste hauling.

•Outside rail – A versatile, stable design, the outside rail roll-off hoist accounts for the majority of hoists in the market. Rollers on the outside of the tilt-frame rails align with glide rails on the bottom of the container to guide it in place. The vast majority of containers in use can be loaded with outside rail roll-off hoists.

•Inside/outside rail – This style of hoist can accommodate roll-off containers of either variety, making them a versatile choice for haulers with both style containers on the same route. This situation is not uncommon, considering the degree of acquisition and consolidation in the solid waste industry in more recent years.

•Stinger tail – Some roll-off hoists feature an extendable subframe section on the back of the trailer. When the tilt-frame begins its upward extension, the “stinger” is extended rearward, bridging the gap between the ground and the rails of the tilt-frame. This simplifies moving the container from the ground to the trailer when space is limited. While stinger tails are handy, there are weight limits on the extendable subframes that make them unsuitable for heavier loads.

•Dead lift – Dead lifts were developed for accessing containers in tight quarters such as densely populated, urban neighborhoods. There are a lot of solid waste containers in narrow alleys behind downtown buildings for example, which are difficult to get at with more conventional hauling equipment. The dead lift roll-off hoist features a large sheeve at the back edge of the trailer frame. The cable passes over the sheave and lifts the front of the container straight up onto the rollers that guide it in place.

There are a number of questions to ask before choosing a roll-off cable hoist. Questions such as what will you be hauling? What type of container(s) is on the route? Are you moving long distances or dealing with a greater number of short hauls? All of these issues will determine what size hoist is needed and what features or capabilities are essential.

Perhaps the most important issue is weight. How much weight is involved – in conjunction with state and local regulations – will impact trailer design and construction.

“More axles enable the trailer to haul more weight. Haulers must understand load limits on roads in the area they service, along with bridge laws to choose the best roll-off hoist for their needs,” said Steve Doughty. “There is a lot of variation from state to state, so staying informed is critical for making good decisions.”

Safety and training
Anytime people are moving a lot of weight, safety is a prime consideration. Roll-off hoist operators usually need training to ensure the safe operation of equipment.

Gary McLeskey, president of Cascon Transportation Company in Ridgefield, Washington said, “Each unit we deliver comes with a full compliment of owner and operator training manuals, and our salespeople spend time reviewing safety features with customers at the time of delivery. We’ll even have people ride with customers, reviewing proper operating procedures under actual working conditions. This helps drivers to understand how systems work firsthand. It’s safety through training,” he added.

Once on board, containers must be secured to the trailer/hoist before the driver moves on. The pull-on connection is one point of contact with the container. Ratchet straps or cam-style binders are common types of safety tie-downs to be sure the container stays put. Gary McLeskey points out, “One of our systems uses an endless chain design in place of a cable, but otherwise operates the same. The chain system is a power on/power off approach that affords some additional flexibility. And because it is driven by a hydraulic, planetary gear system, the container stays locked in position unless pilot pressure is applied through the operating controls.” Mr. McLeskey said additional tie-downs are used to further secure the container.

Maintaining your roll-off cable hoist
There are a number of issues involved with proper maintenance of a roll-off cable hoist. Most are simple, routine items a driver can perform. Others are more comprehensive in scope and may be required only under special circumstances.

Brian Harper, of Galbreath, Inc., Winamac, Indiana said, “The real driver behind maintenance is the number of cycles per day. On average, most roll-off cable hoist systems cycle about 10 times per day. At that rate, we recommend rollers and cables be inspected and lubricated every week. Hydraulic hoses should be inspected weekly as well, replacing worn items as needed,” he said. Galbreath offers a broad line of roll-off hoists and related waste handling equipment.

In spite of regular attention to some components, others may be overlooked. Brian Harper continues, “The truck chassis manufacturers have done a good job educating owners on basic engine maintenance such as oil and filter changes. But it can be difficult getting owners to maintain the hydraulic systems. We recommend that hydraulic filters be changed every six months and that fluids be changed a minimum of once per year,” he said.

The DOT requires drivers to perform a visual inspection, or “walkaround” before starting out each day. The walkaround is a quick check of the condition of key system components – a direct reflection of maintenance.

Company Name
Contact Person
Phone Number
American Roll-off Div Automated Waste Equip. Co. Fred Fisher 609-588-5400
BenLee, Inc. Steve Doughty 800-521-4620
Cascon Transportation Equipment Tony Jolly 800-628-8722
Clement Industries, Inc. Bill Garrison 800-562-5948
Converto Manufacturing Co. Clarence France 800-828-8241
G & H Manufacturing, Inc. Delton Garnett 800-654-5291
Galbreath, Inc. Doug Podell 800-285-0666
Galfab, Inc. Perry Frakes 574-946-7767
Huge Haul, Inc. Donald Wene 262-662-5500
K-Pac Equipment Div. Krause Corp Steve Ellingboe 800-957-2873
Marathon Equipment Company Mitch Covington 800-633-8974
McClain Industries, Inc.Nu-Life Environmental, Inc. Dan Dominquez 800-628-2624
Nu-Life Environmental, Inc. Sam Knox 800-654-1752
Rudco Products, Inc. Michael Avis 800-828-2234
Universal Handling Equipment Richard Kool 888-843-4232
Wastequip, Inc. Mark Clendaniel 800-285-0666
Wastequip-Accurate, Inc. Seth Weinharten 800-220-2228
Wastequip-Holt, Inc. Terri Brittain 800-643-8713

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