In mid 2004, the RV and specialty trailer industry had been experiencing an excessive number of wheel-off events and was nearly ready to abandon aluminum wheels for trailer applications. At a Washington DC hearing of RV and trailer manufacturing representatives in September of 2004, the National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration (NHTSA) addressed this dangerous issue and insisted that appropriate actions be implemented to address the wheel-off problem.
Additional meetings in September and October resulted in the formation of the Trailer Safety Industry Coalition (TSIC). The TSIC, with money contributed by members of the RV and trailer industries, began an extensive engineering analysis to find the root cause of wheel separation and discover methods to correct and prevent further incidents.
TSIC spent over $200,000 to better understand the service loads and the load capacity of the wheel/axle joint. The load capacity studies included evaluating 42 different combinations of wheels, hubs, and lug nuts. Also, the testing included evaluation of the coefficient of friction to evaluate how the different wheels interacted with the hub.
The load capacity studies measured proving ground loads using two different tandem axle trailers -- one with rubber torsion axles and one with equalized leaf springs. Both trailers were instrumented with MTS wheel force transducers and the service loads measured while the trailer was pulled over a durability course consisting of smooth roads, rough roads, and peak events like pot holes. The results on the peak events indicated that for some combinations, there would be insufficient clamp loads to avoid slip of the wheel relative to the hub, which leads directly to the wheel-off event.
HiSpec Wheel founder Brad Richards and Ron Williams, General Manager, were both members of the TSIC. The two provided technical guidance to the committee and were instrumental in moving the committee forward. The "Recommended Practices" presented to and accepted by the NHTSA not only helped the RV industry to solve the wheel-off problem; they set new and higher standards for the industry as a whole.
From this massive study, HiSpec Wheel developed the principles that make Improved Clamp Force Technology (ICF TM) a reality. This engineering breakthrough was the origin of the "Safety Wheel" specifications that HiSpec adheres to today.