Rehabbing equipment

Charlie Caudill
Equipment Maintenance Superintendent
City of Yuma, Arizona
Member, APWA Fleet Services Committee

With entities struggling for their piece of the budget pie, a choice sometimes has to be made as to when and how to replace equipment. Well, there is an alternative to replacing, which is to rehabilitate equipment and vehicles. The City of Yuma, Arizona has done just that; we look for candidates throughout the fleet that can be rehabbed and put back into service and further extend their usefulness.

This process begins with the Equipment Replacement Program identifying units approaching replacement age—this brings the unit up for review that allows the Fleet Department to evaluate whether to replace or rehab. First, the vehicle or equipment has its repair history reviewed to reveal any hidden problems that have been with the unit. Next, the using department is questioned as to the mission the unit is being utilized for and whether it is still a good fit. The unit then is looked at for hours/miles of operation on the unit and if it is a low-use unit. If the other mentioned items are okay, the unit is then deemed a candidate for rehab.

The extent of the rehab process is dependent upon the unit itself and its use. We have done replacing of dump bodies on dump trucks to rehabilitating a motor grader. The process usually includes soliciting bids on the work to be done, following up on the work being done, and taking delivery of the finished unit. After the unit is received we may do additional work ourselves on the units before putting them back into service. We do in-house replacement of a/c units, custom ladder racks, custom lighting packages, and mounting of special equipment to fit the using department's needs. We do complete preventive maintenance on the units to include new drive belts, coolant hoses, engine tune-up, brake overhaul, tires, front-end alignment, floor mats, redo seats and other cosmetic items. The units are sent out for necessary body and paint work, and then the unit is decaled, renumbered, and readied for return to service.

We have done a variety of vehicles and equipment in the past few years, five-yard dumps, ten-yard dumps, sewer vacuum/rodder trucks, motor graders and refuse packers. We can perform more rehabs than some other areas can due to the dryness of our climate, which doesn't cause the body rot of the wetter climates.

We have realized cost savings on a typical rehab of 60 to 70 percent of the cost of new units and have been able to extend the useful life of most of them at least five years, some more. The city's different departments have applauded this process as it has allowed them to utilize funds that would have been normally used for replacement units for other needed items. The vehicle drivers and operators have also accepted the program because we usually include upgrades to the units to increase creature comfort along with functionality. This really helps, because if the operators don't approve of something then usually it won't get used, and all is for naught.

To reach Charlie Caudill, call (928) 343-8716 or send e-mail to