Volume 34, Number 11,  November 1999


An In-Depth Look at Purchasing a Glass Rack

by Tom Barkow and Brian Nixon

Purchasing a glass rack and truck is different than buying any other type of glass machinery. As the glass industry has specialized, so too has the equipment that services it. The safe and efficient transport of flat glass, and its related services, has resulted in literally hundreds of glass rack designs to meet these needs. Because of the large number of options available, a thorough study of your individual requirements is a necessity. Although you can buy a standard glass rack from most manufacturers, for little or no additional cost you can create a custom glass rack to meet your exact needs.

Custom features of the chassis and body result from evaluating your requirements in the following categories:
•    Type of service and products delivered
•    Climate
•    Distance traveled
•    Payload requirements
•    Budget
•    Projected useful life
•    Leased or owned
•    Special employee considerations
•    Company image
•    Safety considerations
Knowing your requirements in these areas will help you select the chassis and body combination that will maximize your investment.

Remember that bodies can normally outlast two or three chassis. Planning this far ahead requires a lot of thought since the body can only be remounted on a similar chassis. The chassis type will also dictate major features of the body design such as rack sizes, ledge width, and payload.

Body Materials
Glass racks are now available in three basic materials: carbon steel, aluminum and stainless steel. Each has advantages and drawbacks.
Carbon Steel: This is the least expensive material, but can result in high maintenance costs to keep it looking good, especially in corrosive weather conditions.
Aluminum: Lightweight features make this material popular, and if painted or anodized, it will look great for years with minimum maintenance. The material is more expensive than steel and is more difficult to repair.
Stainless Steel: This is an excellent material choice for buyers concerned with corrosion and long product life. When gauged correctly, it should provide years of low maintenance and durable service. Since the material is immune to corrosion, etching the surface for painting is difficult, and thus the bodies are not painted. A brush finish is its normal appearance. The only drawback so far is its high cost.

Load Holding Design
The more load holding capabilities you have, the more secure the load will be. Three primary load holding designs are now in use: stakes, load holding straps and spring-loaded logistic poles. Stakes and strap assemblies are excellent choices on exterior racks, and spring-loaded logistic poles and strap assemblies work well on the interior racks.

Slat Design and Placement
The two slat designs most widely used are extruded slats with full-length rubber inserts, and fabricated logistic track with rubber cushions. The extruded slats offer good rubber cushioning, but cannot accept straps. The logistic track is a good all around choice. It can be manufactured in all three materials. You can have rubber inserts as close as 2 inches on center, if desired, and it can also accept straps.
The placement of these slats can be critical depending on the height of the glass carried. Extra slats or combinations of slat types can be added easily prior to production, usually at no additional charge, or a slight charge for additional slats. It will pay to give thought to your future glass requirements and consult with your
manufacturer about this.

Ledge Width
The wider, the better. However, this is constrained by maximum legal width limits and the width of the rear wheels or pickup/van body. On larger chassis the ledges can go up and over the rear wheels for maximum width. Again, be careful of your vehicle choice to ensure acceptable ledgeboard width.

Safety Features
Safety is always an important issue. Listed are some of the common features available. Give serious thought to all of these.
•    Necessary lights and reflectors
•    Angle gauges to indicate tilt
•    Underride protection
•    Stabilizer legs
•    Strap assemblies
•    Caution labels
•    Fixed front stops
•    Grip strut tape
•    Steps and step bumpers

Marketing Features
Look for features that can benefit your company image.
•    Front and side sign panels
•    Custom painting and lettering
•    Quality construction and material

Evaluate the features that will give you the best value for your investment with the highest quality.
•    Material choice
•    Design options
•    Price and availability
Other custom features to consider:
•    Setting blocks or continuous rubber on ledges
•    Interior floor material of  composite, hardwood or steel
•    Weather enclosure sides, top, rear tarps and doors
•    Vertical upward extensions
•    Metal carrying capability
•    Windshield- and crate-carrying capabilities
Don’t be afraid to ask your glass rack manufacturer for custom features. He is an expert in the design of glass racks and can guide you through the process of choosing the rack that will best fit your needs. Investigate the price differences to get a design that will fully meet your requirements. Ultimately, it may not cost you any more dollars, only a little extra time to complete the order. With a thoughtful analysis of your needs, you will end up with the perfect glass rack for your business. 

Tom Barkow is chief executive officer and Brian Nixon is president of Glass Rack Specialties Inc., a manufacturer of custom glass racks for the glazing industry.


Copyright 1999 Key Communications, Inc. All rights reserved. No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.