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November 23, 2005 Vol. 1, No. 6

There’s certainly no shortage of auxiliary power units around these days, and that’s not a bad thing. This time we feature a recent arrival on the APU scene, the CCS Lightning from Mechron Power Systems in Ottawa, and the company says it can save 5500 liters of fuel in a year by reducing idling time by five hours a day. With a competitive base price of C$9500, that should mean payback well under two years.

Mechron, incidentally, is owned by Toromont Industries, the Caterpillar distributor
in Manitoba, Nunavut, Ontario, Newfoundland and Labrador. It’s been around
since 1949 and specializes in power generation for niche markets. The ‘DEW Line’ that protects our far-northern flank, for example, relies on Mechron power, and it was a military application that launched the Lightning. It’s based on the APU that’s been used in the U.S. military’s armored personnel carriers for the last 10 years or so.

But Mechron’s Paul Asselin says trucking is tougher!

Highlights include quiet operation, compact size, 500-hour service intervals, and a
promise of reliability. It combines cab heat with air conditioning, engine heating,
battery charging, and shore power is a simple-to-install $300 option. The whole
unit can be installed in four hours, Mechron tells me.

And don’t forget that you can get a grant worth $1400 toward the purchase of an
APU from FleetSmart, the federal government’s effort to encourage fuel saving by
eliminating idling.

Another money saver, and I like this one, comes from Sandy Johnson in Calgary.
With a great deal of experience behind her, she runs Total Trucking Management Ltd. (TTML), and offers an interesting GPS-based tracker that collects and manages data very affordably for small fleets and owner-operators. TripDAWG
(Data Acquisition With GPS) is the product’s name, and it means fuel-tax reports and trip records can be managed automatically.

The system can collect positioning data via free GPS, store it for up to a month, and then download it and create a simple trip report. It can also tabulate and complete IFTA fuel-tax returns, prorate licensing, state weight/distance tax returns, and more. The in-truck hardware is inexpensive (purchased outright or leased) and Sandy says it’s easy to install.

One of the more interesting angles to this one is that you can manage data on your own or have TTML do it for you.

Every little bit helps on the payload front, so the new Dana Spicer RS 40 trailer
suspension’s weight should appeal to many truck operators. It weighs 60 lb less than previous equivalents, and it achieves that in spite of bigger, more robust axle tubes that also serve to decrease deflection. That, in turn, reduces tire wear and improves fuel economy. It’s in production now.

Rounding things out in this edition of Product Watch are a new line of industrial-grade hot-water pressure washers from Hotsy and – for the fun of it – an accessories catalog from Mack that highlights chrome and stainless steel and other fun stuff, all of which save no fuel but make you feel good.

Note that I’ve also posted a couple of updates on other APUs on our website.
Rigmaster’s on-board power source has been approved for biodiesel fuel and Thermo King’s TriPac now offers 1000-hour maintenance intervals.

This newsletter is published every two weeks. It’s a heads-up notice about what you can see at where you’ll find in-detail coverage of nearly everything that’s new. Plus interesting products that may not have had the ‘air play’ they deserved within the last few months. There’s more here than we could possibly fit into the magazine. Subscribe today!

If you have comments of whatever sort, please contact me at

Rolf Lockwood, Editorial Director

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Rolf Lockwood is editor emeritus of Today's Trucking and a regular contributor to

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