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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.