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December 13, 2011

Hand-Held Phones Banned

Beginning January 1, it will be illegal for truck and bus drivers to use handheld devices while driving. Doing so – and getting caught – means big fines and license suspension. It also means fines for the trucking company employing the driver.

The joint rule by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration is the latest move by the Department of Transportation to ban driver distraction and the potential safety risk from activities that detract from a driver’s ability to recognize potential accidents and respond promptly to avoid them.

The rule allows driver penalties of up to $2,750 for the first offense. A subsequent offence calls for commercial driver license suspension for 60 days, so drivers have to be very conscious of the high costs of using any handheld device – a cell phone in particular  – from the start of the new year.

December 11, 2011

A NASCAR win for Alliance Truck Parts

The Alliance Truck Parts brand continues to expand, with new products in the mix and an expanded NASCAR race season for car #12, driven by Sam Hornish Jr.

The Alliance announcements were made at a press conference in Miami, shortly before the NASCAR season’s closing races for the Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series Championships. The Saturday race saw Hornish finish in a very creditable seventh place, working his way through the field from a starting position at 13th in the 300-lap race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

December 2, 2011

"Shipping Wars" to debut in January

Another trucking reality series is set to air in January 2012. In an announcement at the A&E website on December 1, the channel said the 10-episode 30-minute shows would debut January 10 at 9 pm and be immediately followed at 9:30 by the follow-up show. The theme of this series is a competition between six owner-operators who bid for freight that regular freight haulers don’t want to touch or can’t handle.
“Each episode of ‘Shipping Wars’ dives into the cutthroat world of heavy-duty movers as they battle for the chance to transport the unshippable,” according to the announcement. “The competition begins with uShip, the world’s largest online auction house for independent truckers. Every day, thousands of shipments are put up for auction. The battle is fierce as the movers have only minutes to bid, and the lowest bidder gets the load.”

December 1, 2011

Getting a lot more for a lot less

No company still around is doing business like it did in the ‘90s. We’re all leaner, more productive. Doing more with less.

A great example is emerging in the truck maintenance area from the ranks of ATA’s Technology and Maintenance Council (TMC). Some of the most well known members have become limited-time executives, spreading their expertise over a number of smaller truck fleets as they spend time with each client. Doing so brings big-fleet practices and years of experience to the smaller, intermediate fleet level at a cost that’s spread over the client base. And it’s precisely when fleets must tighten belts and look for new ways to manage at a lower cost that these limited-time executives add significant value to operations.

November 3, 2011

Hybrid reefer offers big savings

This was the head on the intro story I did on the Carrier Transicold Vector 1800MT back in 2006. The subhead told the story: A revolutionary truck refrigeration unit offers hybrid fuel economies and major maintenance savings.
And what was true then is even more so now, as a news release received recently spells out: Mile Hi Foods, a Denver-based refrigerated food service distributor that has 27 Vector units – second-generation Vector 6500s and multi-temperature 6600MTs – is generating huge savings using electric stand-by. By piggybacking on the unique diesel-electric Deltek hybrid architecture of the Vector units, this relatively small trucking operation is saving $85,000 per year and offering customers a smaller carbon footprint.

October 27, 2011

There was little good news

This year’s American Trucking Associations (ATA) Conference was a curious one. Held in mid-October at the Gaylord Texan at Dallas-Fort Worth airport, the event drew the usual managers and owners from the nation’s top trucking fleets. The main focus of the sessions was the economy with the “All Eyes on the Economy” panel discussion moderated by economist and Fox News Channel financial anchor Stuart Varney closing the General Session luncheon.

It was one of those affairs where you could feel everyone straining to hear whatever good news could be gleaned from ATA economist Bob Costello, and from John Felmy, chief economist for the American Petroleum Institute and Martin Regalia, chief economist for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Unfortunately, there was little good news.

October 24, 2011

It’s Official: Detroit Engines are Detroits

Setting the seal on common usage, Daimler Trucks has rebranded Detroit Diesel to just plain Detroit. This opens up the division and the brand to encompass the multi-faceted line of Daimler Powertrain products that will be offered under the new name.

Detroit Diesel was originally a GM brand, grown out of the GM Diesel division that launched the two-cycle Series 53 and Series 71 in the late ‘50s. The Detroit Diesel Engine Division became its own brand in 1965 and was acquired by Daimler in 2000 to become the wholly owned and captive engine manufacturer for Freightliner and Western Star – and, at the time, Sterling.

October 21, 2011

Trucking’s Top 10 issues

Release of trucking’s Top 10 issues by the research arm of the American Trucking Associations (ATA) shows that the state of the economy is the number one concern of trucking’s executives. The economy has held the top spot for three years, after being in second place in 2008 as the current economic situation loomed. The poll, conducted by the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI), surveys 4,000 industry executives. This year’s results were released at ATA’s Management Conference and Exhibition in October.

Consistently in the Top 10 is concern about hours of service issues, propelled into second place in the latest poll on concerns about proposed changes to the rules that would see a reduction in driving time. The approaching crisis of driver recruitment has many concerned, too. Always in the Top 10, the issue dropped several places over the last few years as fleets downsized capacity for the shrinking freight market. However, with the hoped-for return to better times signaled by the weak, but positive growth in GDP , finding drivers is expected to be a big problem again soon.

Although still at the bottom of the list, on-board technology and size and weight have come on the radar in the last few years. Conspicuously absent in the latest rankings are regulatory concerns and the environment.

This powerpoint shows the ATRI Top 10 issues for the trucking industry for 2005 through the 2011 results just released. First is the complete matrix, which is a little hard to read and extract trends, so I’ve broken out the issues one by one on the subsequent slides. The order is based on the most recent survey results. And if you page through all, you’ll see the odd instance of a “dead end” like the insurance issue in 2005. This came up because of a blip in the truck insurance business the previous year that saw an almost total abandonment of trucking by the insurers at that time.

With the individual issues broken out, it’s easy to see the impact of outside influences like fuel price, the general economy, and the evolution of technology on trucking. All in all, it makes for an interesting series of snapshots of what grabs the industry’s attention at the moment. And it also shows those issues that endure.

October 19, 2011

Driving the new Caterpillar Truck

Caterpillar’s CT660, the all-new on- and off-highway truck, is just now rolling into the dealers and a few high-profile customers. The green light startup of production was September 5th. To mark the occasion, Caterpillar staged a press briefing and drive at its Edwards Demonstration & Learning Center close to the Peoria, Ill., headquarters of the manufacturer of the more familiar construction equipment.

George Taylor, director of Caterpillar Global On-Highway Truck Group and head honcho for the CT660 talked of the enthusiastic reception of the new product by dealers and early customers. During the press day, many of the same presenters from the Las Vegas launch in March revisited the materials from the pre-production reveal at ConExpo.

But the highlight of the day was an all-too-brief opportunity to drive a couple of examples of this special Caterpillar product – the first highway truck in the broad and deep Caterpillar lineup.

September 7, 2011

A Game Changer for the Trucking Industry.

As Frost and Sullivan’s global director of commercial vehicle research said at the Commercial Vehicle Outlook Conference (see September 2 blog) one of the biggest opportunities on the horizon for trucking fleets and equipment operations is the ability to manage downtime. Some call it prognostics, some call it condition-based maintenance (CBM) but what it means is that problems that take equipment out of service can be identified early and managed. That minimizes surprises, manages costs and avoids service failures.

Roadside repair and towing are expensive and disruptive, result in service failure and cause driver dissatisfaction. Preventive maintenance is how fleets attempt to avoid breakdowns today.

September 3, 2011

Commercial Vehicle Outlook Peeks at the Future

The Commercial Vehicle Outlook conference preceding the recent Great American Trucking Show at the Dallas Convention Center was a very interesting two-day program of presentations from industry consultants, economists and association watchdogs.

The first speaker, Sandeep Kar, an industry watcher from Toronto-based Frost and Sullivan, discussed the potential in the American truck market for heavy trucks much like those going to work in emerging markets China and India. He then spoke on telematics, particularly as it enables predictive or prognostic maintenance and fast response to potential breakdown situations. Interestingly, this came hard on the heels of Freightliner’s launch of Virtual Technician (see Blog for August 17th).

Low-Cost Trucks
Kar says low cost heavy trucks doesn’t equate to low technology content. The low cost for these future trucks, he says, will come from the way the parts are sourced and the inexpensive way the trucks are built. He predicts a class 8 truck would come in at around $65,000, targeted at the regional haul carrier as well as the vocational user.

September 1, 2011

Two Shows in One at GATS Pride & Polish

National contest award winner in working combo
 was Jonathan Eilen, Hampton, MN, with the 2010
Black & Orange Peterbilt 389/2007 Mac Dump.

A record 71 beauties turned up for the Great American Trucking Show’s Pride and Polish contest, staged in the exhibit hall of the Dallas-based show in August. There were many of the show circuit’s favorites. And that was appropriate for this was the last in a five-show national contest to find the top trucks in the country.

At GATS, awards were passed out for the national winners, with prizes and trophies going to Paul Voigt/Night Train Trucking, St Cloud, MN, for Limited Mileage Combination with his 1999 Blue & Black Peterbilt 379/2004 Great Dane Reefer. The combo goes under the name “Disorderly Conduct.” Taking Limited Mileage Bobtail was Randy Stroup/First Class Trucking, Lewisport, KY, with his 1986 Candy Vibrance Peterbilt 359, which won “First In Class.”

August 30, 2011

CB Radios and Such

Cobra is part of trucker folklore. Those LT21 CB radios were part of the growing up of the owner-operator through the ’72 Arab oil crisis – the CB connection allowed independent truckers to find scarce fuel through their own communications network, truck to truck.

That was a little before my time, but I’ve enjoyed 20 years of CB aid and assistance since arriving here from Europe in 1980. True, I cringed for much of that time at the absolutely horrifying language, propositioning and general behaving badly that seemed to be part and parcel of CB radios, and the more unseemly part of our industry that used the CB. And likely it still is. But through it all, the uniquely trucker radio seems to have survived.

August 25, 2011

Weighing in on 13-Liter Engines

In a drive of the then-new International Prostar, I thought I’d push the envelope on fuel economy and slide the trailer up tighter to the tractor, just to see what sort of fuel numbers I could get.That was a big mistake. First scale I crossed I got the opportunity to slide it back out again to get some of the excess weight off the front axle!

That particular truck had an axle rated at 12,000 pounds, pretty commonplace. But more recently, doing a story that included Hendrickson and its work on steer axles – especially 13,200-pound rated axles – it became apparent that all truck OEMs are battling with increasing weight, especially on the front axle.

August 23, 2011

Options Boost Pete 382 Performance and Versatility

Additional options have been released by Peterbilt for its Model 382. Included are higher axle ratings and more horsepower and torque configurations to appeal to a wider market. Already accepted in regional and short-haul applications as a truck or tractor, the 382 has broader appeal in municipal specifications and a variety of construction, refuse, fire service and emergency applications.

New options on the 382 include:
• Cummins ISL9 engine with REPTO functionality
• Front axles rated to 20,000 pounds
• Rear axles rated to 46,000 pounds
• Frame rail options to 11-5/8 inches
• Bendix ESP Stability system for truck applications
• Hendrickson, Reyco and Chalmers rear suspension choices.

August 20, 2011

Freightliner Parts When and Where You Need Them

At a press briefing last week, Freightliner managers talked about changes to the company and product that make Freightliner the “Undisputed Market Leader.” Among the deliverables that guarantee this position is service support. John O’Leary, Freightliner senior vice president for aftermarket says the organization not only supports the brand, but because of the wide offering of remanufactured parts in the parts program, it has contributed to the corporate sustainability goals. For example, Freightliner’s glider business accounted for 2,700 units last year.

Gliders are a new rolling chassis without an engine, and they’re offered for assembly with a remanufactured Detroit Diesel Series 60 engine. When assembled and with some tax savings, the glider comes out at around 75% of the cost of a new truck, says O’Leary. However, the interest of late is less to do with the cost savings than fear of the new technologies introduced to comply with EPA2010. With the widespread good experience of those technologies – notably SCR aftertreatment – the market is now much more accepting of new trucks and Freightliner is anticipating a softening in demand for the gliders.

August 19, 2011

The Lowest of the Low

The easy way to establish this blog was to go through a Google site. The bonus, I thought was to get the occasional Google ad. To date this has made me $1.50 in six weeks. These ads appear as if by magic. I have no control and if, when I posted the Ram 3500 story, I was pleased to get a Dodge ad, was that so bad? Do I look professional, or what?

But today I was horrified to see an ambulance-chasing lawyer ad on my own website.

August 17, 2011

Freightliner's Virtual Technician

Operating trucks with the maximum time on the road means top revenue, too, and Freightliner’s commitment to uptime starts with the recently introduced Virtual Technician. Already available as standard on Cascadia models and due to be implemented across the board, Virtual Technician is an application on the truck that watches for engine fault codes.

What makes it special is that it tracks engine data on a rolling minute and captures a snapshot of engine parameters 45 seconds before the code is thrown and 15 seconds after to enable a self-diagnosis of what caused the fault.

When a fault code is recorded, an alert is sent via cell phone to whoever is listed as the recipient – dispatch, equipment manager, CEO, even the fleet's home dealer. At that point, the Detroit Diesel customer care desk is also alerted and a ranking is given to the fault. This can be a 'service info,' which is just an indication that there is something to attend to; a 'service soon' that means a dealer or fleet shop call is necessary but not mission critical; or a 'service now' which calls for immediate action. In the latter case, the Detroit Diesel team responds with suggestions for the nearest service provider so the fleet responder can decide where to have the truck serviced.

August 16, 2011

Measuring Fuel Economy

One of the least accurate measures of fuel economy is the engine ECM data, according to Tim Tindall, director of component sales at Detroit Diesel.

In a detailed presentation during the Freightliner press days in Napa Valley last week, Tindall showed how his company runs fuel economy tests to verify its claim of industry-leading fuel economy. He said the convenience of the ECM fuel reports is far outweighed by the fact that many times the reports are not measures of fuel consumed but mere calculations. Not only do they not measure fuel used, he said, but often the manufacturer may set the software to “aggressively” report fuel consumption.

August 15, 2011

Freightliner’s Low-Cost Leadership

Freightliner has reasserted its “Run Smart” tagline with an uncompromising new campaign to its dealers and to the marketplace. The message ‒ Freightliner is still Running Smart and this philosophy gives it "undisputed market leadership" ‒ is a rallying cry for the company and a slogan the dealers can get behind. And however much other truck companies might dislike it, it's pretty much a statement of how things are.

At a press meeting last week in California's Napa Valley wine country, company officials laid out plans that will differentiate Freightliner from its competition and assure the company stays in the lead. Obvious examples are to be seen in the print advertising and Internet presence that emphasize the trucks and, more importantly, the people who own and operate them. The theme is that operating the trucks from the undisputed market leader is a shortcut to business success.

August 13, 2011

Are You “Cooling Challenged?"

Although the Technology and Maintenance Council’s (TMC) taskforce looking into EGR cooler maintenance has not issued a “Recommended Practice,” from the literature and Internet searches, it seems heavy-duty diesels are by and large not susceptible to cooler problems. It’s the medium-duty trucks and Ford diesel pickups that are most troubled. The power units in question are the Ford full-size pickup with the earlier PowerStroke (by Navistar, not the latest Ford diesel) and the VT-365 V8 in International light-to-medium trucks.

August 9, 2011

Truck Greenhouse Gas Regs are a Go

Today, President Obama met with industry officials to discuss the fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas pollution standards for work trucks, buses, and other heavy duty vehicles ‒ and to thank them for their leadership in finalizing a successful national program for these vehicles. This meeting marks the Administration’s announcement of the standards, which it claims will save American businesses who own and operate commercial vehicles approximately $50 billion in fuel costs over the life of the program.

Representing Mack and Volvo Trucks NA, Denny Slagle, president and CEO of both divisions of Volvo AB said in a Volvo announcement: “The SCR trucks we have in the market today are the cleanest in the world in terms of regulated emissions. Our focus moving forward is to continue improving fuel efficiency and reducing the carbon footprint of both our products and operations, standing side by side with our customers in managing through the implementation of this new rule.”

Vastly Reduced Driver Turnover and Improved safety

One of the more elegant ways of bringing new drivers on board with a fair degree of confidence that they’ll stay is by pre-screening to see if they fit the profile of the job. It isn’t new – I had my first conversation with Mark Tinney of JOBehaviors probably 10 years ago – but lately it’s gained major traction with some big name trucking companies and tens of thousands of drivers going through the system.

Judging from the feedback from those using the service, it really works. I keep hearing of enormously reduced turnover and vastly improved safety experience of the fleets taking on new drivers – always a chancy situation.

August 6, 2011

The No Cam, No Crank, No Carbon Engine

The first time I visited Sturman Industries, I found a handsome office building perched high on a mountain in Woodland Park, Colorado. Inside, people gaze out of the three-story windows at the breathtaking views of the mountains. They are being creative. They are the engineers of Sturman Industries.

And the creations of the 40 or so managers, engineers and technicians all lead in one direction: environmental care through advances in the management of fuel and air in an internal combustion engine. This is done by controlling emissions, performance and economy independently of conventional mechanically-connected camshaft and crankshaft.

Sturman Industries is a research and development hothouse. Its designs are licensed. And many are based on the digital valve technology, originally developed by Eddie Sturman for the Apollo space program of the mid-60s. Sturman Industries was created by Eddie and Carol Sturman to develop and commercialize applications for his innovative latching digital valve.

August 5, 2011

The Three Points of Economy Driving

Drivers have a major influence on trucking costs, just how much was driven home for me at Mercedes-Benz, when I was in Germany late last year. It came as no real surprise as we know through work done here by the Technology and Maintenance Council of ATA that a driver can impact fuel use by 30% ‒ far more than can be gained by all the fuel saving gizmos that can be hung on a truck.

Of course, in Europe where fuel is $7+ per gallon, the drive to deliver fuel-efficient products at the manufacturer level is intense. So the driver won’t negate those fuel economy efforts, since the early 1970s Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz brand has partnered with its trucker customers to do something about the driver impact on fuel economy.

July 25, 2011

Truck Maintenance Tip: Hose Hints

Silicone used to be the watch word for low-maintenance hoses. It's been a good substitute for rubber because it's more temperature stable and doesn't age and crack like rubber, particularly in an ozone-rich atmosphere. As such, silicone has reduced the number of cooling system problems and that's good, because the cooling system is the number one reason for roadside call-outs accounting for 40%-50% of the problems.

But silicone has its problems: It doesn't grab on to the radiator or manifold outlets in the same way rubber does, it's intolerant of hose clamps and it will cut if a wire loop clamp is used. For minimum maintenance, silicone hoses must be used with constant-torque flat clamps.

July 24, 2011

Driving a Roadtrain to Roxby Downs

“If all else fails, go for first gear.”
This was the only advice I received when I asked the regular driver of the Freightliner FLD prime mover of the 240,000-pound roadtrain I was to drive from Port Augusta in South Australia up to the Australia’s largest underground copper mine at Roxby Downs.

With that, I settled in to the driver’s seat – on the right-hand-side – and using my left hand picked up low crawler in the Eaton 18-speed. With a five and a quarter ISX with 1,850 lb-ft, there was plenty to get it rolling. Even so I split each gear up through the low side of the transmission as we eased through Port Augusta to pick up the two-lane Stuart Highway that heads out to Alice Springs in the middle of the huge, mostly barren land that is Australia.

July 23, 2011

Truck Maintenance Tip: Pre-set hub bearings

Weeping hub seals are a real nuisance. And if my experience is any indication, you're just as likely to find leaking seals on new trucks as on trucks in service for several hundred thousand miles. It just goes to show that installing and setting wheel seals and bearings requires skill. Careful handling of the seals and then precise setting of the hub bearings to minimum runout is a requirement.

Industry standards set by The Maintenance Council of the American Trucking Associations (ATA) says wheel bearing clearance should be 5/1000 of an inch or less. But even this small amount of runout is not as good as a slight bearing preload. The problem is you can't easily measure the preload.

July 22, 2011

Heavy-duty Fuel Efficiency Regs on the Horizon

In case you missed it, the heavy-duty fuel efficiency regulation that the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced jointly last October goes into effect in 2014. This set of mpg rules for medium and heavy trucks was crafted in response to President Bush’s 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act and the Obama Administration’s call for greenhouse gas emissions reduction technologies for commercial vehicles.

Never mind that commercial considerations provide a major incentive for engine and truck manufacturers to deliver the best fuel economy at the most affordable price. It’s yet another example of how regulators and lawmakers are out of touch with the real world. The danger is that fuel economy mandates will bring unintended consequences – like additional costs for technology that don’t pay back over the life of the truck.

July 18, 2011

The Why of Variable-speed Fan Drives

A great innovation that is only slowly catching on in North America is the variable-speed cooling fan drive. As innovative as it is, it surprises me that it isn’t being adopted more readily. Today, 85% of drives are still on/off drives instead of the newer two- or three-speed, or ECM-controlled variable-speed viscous drives.

Given the benefits of the new technology, I think anyone specifying machinery that requires a fan and cooling system would benefit from the variable-speed drive. It’s kinder to the drive belts, results in less thermal cycling of the engine, is generally a lot quieter, drags less dirt and other contaminants into the radiator, and is, in the case of the truck driver, kinder to the operator.

July 16, 2011

Recordsetting Truck Climb

First time out, Mike Ryan and Freightliner Cascadia set a new record in New Hampshire’s Climb to the Clouds. Ryan, the first competitor ever to race a heavy-duty truck in this event, reached a top speed of 94 mph and completed the course in an impressive 8:02 minutes, establishing a new record.

The Dirty Dozen - Leading Causes of Truck Breakdowns

Sifting the data from one of the nation’s biggest breakdown services shows where the biggest truck breakdown problems lie.

FleetNet America is one of the largest truck breakdown service agencies in the nation and the company’s customers call by the hundreds of thousands for a tow or a roadside repair. The boss is Oren Summer, an industry leader who has built an organization that utilizes a network of more than 60,000 truck repair vendors to assist in providing vehicle repair and emergency road service throughout the continental United States and Canada. Summer has looked back at the last five years of summary data to identify the Top 12 reasons for roadside callouts. Here are the most likely causes for breakdowns for anyone operating a class 3 through 8 truck.

July 14, 2011

Fifth Wheel Lubrication is a Messy Business

Most of the grease that you squirt or squeegee on to the fifth wheel is either peeled off on the front of the trailer or it squishes out between the upper coupler and the fifth wheel plate. Either way, it drops on the tractor frame or the trailer crossmembers and finally falls on the parking lot or the highway. The remaining lube washes off from road spray and then you have to put more grease on again.

Do the math: The grease plunked on America's fifth wheels every year adds up to 40 million pounds, or a thousand truckloads of grease that slips and drips its way on to the ground.

Heavy-Truck Glider Kits

Heavy-truck glider kits used to be popular when the truck manufacturers offered them. Some truck owners would go to extraordinary lengths to “build” their own trucks so they could get the specs they preferred. Bill Signs Trucking comes to mind. This heavy-haul outfit used to assemble fire-breathin’ Peterbilts like Pappa Clyde, a V8 Cat-powered truck that, back in the day, was opened up to win the 1,000-hp challenge on the Hawthorn Caterpillar rolling-road dynamometer.

July 13, 2011

Detroit Rolls Out Welcome Mat

Here’s something to make the day a little more interesting if you’re in Michigan next month. Detroit Diesel has announced that in recognition of all of the hard-working truck drivers that keep America’s economy rolling, it has designated August as “Detroit Diesel Driver Appreciation Month.”

July 12, 2011

Stay Safe POPH Drivers

POSH – a word that for more than a century has been used to describe upper-crust members of British society – is according to that somewhat doubtful reference Wikipedia, a backronym. A bacronym, says Wikipedia, is a word that’s wrongly assumed to be an acronym with the associated reference a manufactured phrase. In the case of POSH, it’s widely accepted to be the acronym for Port Out, Starboard Home.

July 11, 2011

Mack Moves Mountains

An interesting comparison between trucking in America and trucking in Europe shows that on the continent where the manual gearshift dominates the passenger car field, nearly all heavy trucks have automated gearshifts. Here in America, though, where virtually every car is an automatic, trucks are manually shifted.

That could be set to change if truck manufacturers can offer automatic transmissions as good as Mack’s mDrive, an automated 12-speed that’s smart, slick, and makes every driver a star performer. At the Mid America Show, Mack’s on-highway product planning manager Jerry Warmkessel said that the mDrive has been so well received that it could account for 40% of production within two years.

July 8, 2011

Driving the Longhorn Ram

Wanna make a statement? Get one of these: the Ram 3500 Crew Cab, Laramie Longhorn Edition. It’s big, it’s brawny, and at the curb it says this trucker has style and can afford to pay for it. At just a few dollars shy of $60,000, it’s an expensive vehicle. But however you measure it – by weight, by area on the parking lot, by acreage of tooled leather, by bragging rights – this is something of a bargain.

July 6, 2011

Driving Kenworths

The marketing people at Paccar twins Kenworth and Peterbilt decided a couple of years back that the money wasted at some of the truck shows could be better spent. I would have to say I agree. Spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to reach maybe 50,000 people seems such an extravagance; the same money in advertising dollars would reach as many as a million readers. But you likely hear the noise of my grinding axe ...

In the Ditch

Getting the whole thing in the ditch on a test drive is really embarrassing!

It was the first ride ‘n drive of the Navistar International MaxxForce engines for 2010 and I got off-route for the sake of a good picture. With the photo in the bag, we set off – chief engineer Aaron Peterson and myself – to regain the route by dint of some country-road reroute. Said reroute involved a back-over-the-shoulder right turn with a “Stop” sign right on the apex. Of course.

July 5, 2011

Cat Readies CT660 for Delivery

Caterpillar's own-brand highway truck for the construction industry should be reaching the dealers within the next few weeks. Designated the CT660, the 6x4 construction chassis is the first of what will be a full line of trucks and truck tractors targeted at construction and waste management operations.

Global warming, global warning

Do you like a good read? A fast-paced fiction that you can’t put down? I have one for you: Michael Crichton’s State of Fear. It is all about man-made Global Warming. And the basic story is not fiction. The premise is that there is no discernable man-made global warming. And this book pre-dates the expose of Professor Phil Jones of England’s University of East Anglia whose work has been used for years to bolster efforts by the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to press governments to cut carbon dioxide emissions.

Shell Rotella SuperRigs 2011

Well, we just had a post-SuperRigs conference call and concluded that the contest isn't broke and we don't need to fix it. Though a little tweaking is in order. Just in case you've never heard of it, SuperRigs is the annual truck beauty contest and this last was the 29th. It is also the event from which the Shell Rotella SuperRigs Calendar trucks are selected, so from the competitors standpoint, the event is huge, with winning recognition and prizes in the main event, or getting a calendar slot. This latter is, for most, better than a show win.