No worker wants to be left in the dark on a nighttime job site. However, being negligent about the state of your diesel-powered light towers as you transport them onto the site can place the site itself and other workers in jeopardy. There are several things you should know about how to transport light towers in a safe and secure manner.
Securing the Mast and Stabilizers
A loose or fully erect mast is one thing you never want to see as you're towing your light tower. During transport, the mast should always be in its stowed and locked position with the mast lock pin firmly in place. Even moving the light tower a few yards while it's fully erect can cause the entire structure to topple, damaging the tower, as well as endangering your fellow workers.
Before you move the light tower, you want to make sure of the following:
- The light fixtures are tightly secured to the mast
- All outrigger jacks are retracted, stowed, and secured
- All engine compartment doors have been closed and locked
- The light fixtures are turned inward to protect against potential rock strikes
Don't forget about potential pinch points on the mast structure itself where wires can become trapped and pinched. You'll also want to keep your own hands and fingers away from these pinch points when handling the mast.
Stick to the Speed Limit
Towing an important and expensive piece of equipment over a wide variety of roads, including fast-paced interstates, has its challenges. While it's tempting to keep up with or perhaps even blow past traffic, you're better off maintaining the towing speeds recommended for your light tower.
For safety reasons, recommended towing speeds from most light tower manufacturers range from as low as 45 mph to as high as 65 mph. However, most light tower rental companies tend to cap these speeds to 55 mph. Exceeding these recommended speeds may not only induce trailer sway and cause a sudden loss of control, but it could also violate your rental agreement and create further complications in the event of an accident.
Unsecured Towing Can Damage Bulbs
Metal halide bulbs commonly found in most light towers are designed to last for very long periods. However, the rough-and-tumble towing environment can easily cut its maximum 20,000-hour lifespan short. The constant jarring and bumping that comes from frequent towing can easily damage the lighting element within the bulb or even break the bulb itself.
Before you begin towing, you'll want to make sure the lamp sockets are positioned downward with the lenses turned inward. Along with securing the mast itself, this will help reduce the possibility of the bulbs being broken or jarred loose during towing. Replacement bulbs should be kept in a clean, safe place.
Proper Tire Care is Crucial
As with any other type of trailer, making sure your light tower's tires are in good condition is especially important. Any type of tire failure can pose severe danger for yourself and other motorists around you.
For safety's sake, all tires should be properly inflated to the trailer manufacturer's recommended PSI rating and have an adequate amount of tread left. Once the tires reach a remaining tread depth of 2/32-inches, you'll want to consider having new rubber installed. You can verify tread depth either by using the "penny test" or by looking at the tire's wear indicator bar.
Don't forget to check the wheel lugs for the proper tightness. For a brand-new light tower, the wheel lugs should be checked after the first 50 miles have passed and again at 100 miles. Afterwards, the lugs should be checked at periodic intervals as recommended by the manufacturer.
These care and safety considerations will help you stay safe as you transport your light tower from site to site.