No matter how well a ready-mix truck is cleaned and serviced, the constant wear and tear of aggregates and water take a toll inside the drum. In a slow economy, fewer producers have the luxury of replacing their drums as soon as they begin to wear.

Specialty maintenance contractor Swag's Re-fin Service, of Fort Wayne, Ind., offers an alternative: removing and replacing old, worn-out mixer fins. With a decade of experience building and servicing ready-mix drums, owner Steve Swygart literally knows them inside and out.

Swygart's team can refin a drum for about one-third the cost of a new one, giving it four to five more years of life. The process takes about 14 hours and can be done completely onsite.

Rick Wobrock, regional manager for Doan Co. in Ypsilanti, Mich., has hired Swag's for partial or complete re-finning of almost one-third of the 130 trucks in his fleet.

“It's worth bringing in an expert. Swygart can bring in his team and get five or six trucks done in a weekend, quicker and cheaper than we could do it in-house,” says Wobrock. “Since he's a master welder, I trust him to do the job right. He can gauge the drum thickness and tell us if it's even worth replacing the fins.”

Wobrock estimates a truck's fins should be replaced after delivering about 20,000 yards of concrete. The maintenance schedule varies, depending on the style of truck and type of work it does. Doan typically has fins replaced before its county and NRMCA truck inspections each year, saving the thousands of dollars it would cost to buy new drums.