Rolf Lockwood

April 12 Vol. 2, No. 8

These days it’s all about engines. No matter where you look out there in hardware land, you either see 2007 engines or you see the result of changes demanded by them. It ain’t always pretty. And it’s most definitely expensive.

I’ll stop short of delivering a rant here, but I truly don’t think the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency had the faintest clue about the costs involved when they
launched us into this seemingly endless round of ever tougher diesel emissions standards. In fact, I don’t think they cared anyway, and maybe that was the right approach. It’s pretty clear that we’ve been – as a continental society – environmentally irresponsible for a great many years. And equally clear that we had to fix it. I might argue the means, but I’ll leave that for another editorial space.

For now, I just wish there was a way to tally the total cost. We’re talking billions and billions and more billions of dollars.

Last year alone, by my rough calculations, North American class-8 truck buyers spent some $22 billion more on new trucks than they would have spent if the 2002/04 EPA standards hadn’t caused an engine price hike.

This line of thought arises when I look at the massive, though actually fairly subtle in most cases, changes to Peterbilt’s line of trucks detailed here. The truck
maker’s general manager, Dan Sobic, says it’s the largest product-development investment in company history. The changes were often substantial enough to warrant new model names – the 379 becomes the 389, for instance.

In that particular case, it seems clear that the modifications – mainly to the hood, now with a broader grille — were largely required to deal with the cooling and packaging demands of some ’07 engines. The new 388 and 389 sport new cooling systems too. And there’s sufficient concern about fuel economy that Peterbilt engineers have had to resort to design work on some pretty small
aerodynamic details as well as the big ones. Like oval-shaped exhaust stacks and a little air foil on the trailing edge of the outside air cleaner. Interesting tricks.

Nonetheless, give them credit, because with all these changes, they say they’ve reduced the 389’s aerodynamic drag by 40% or more compared to its predecessor. That’s not a small number, and the new 389 still looks like a classic

Western Star, incidentally, chose a different route in order to accommodate the larger radiators required to cool ’07 engines. The engineers there added a drop-front frame casting on all models so that they wouldn’t have to make exterior modifications to the traditional Western Star hood and grille.

There’s also good news on the engine front, I have to say, some of which I witnessed first hand at a Cummins distributorship in Louisville just ahead of the Mid-American Trucking Show last month. I saw a demonstration, for instance, of the diesel particulate filter cleaning process. Simple and quick describes it, with air blown into the DPF at 30 psi on a machine made by SPX. A second pass
won’t always be necessary but it can be done at 60 psi. And it took all of five minutes, plus the time required to remove the DPF from the truck. Less than an hour, all told, while some other engine makers are talking two or three hours. Luckily, this won’t be required until 200,000 miles or more.

If the filter is really gummed up – maybe by an oil leak of some sort – the SPX machine will be outgunned, and the DPF will go to Cummins ReCon on a core/exchange basis.

On another front entirely, an interesting bit of news from Carrier Transicold. It’s linked up with Teleflex, makers of the Proheat auxiliary power unit, to be its exclusive distributor of APUs in the aftermarket. Carrier’s new ComfortPro series is the Teleflex line with a new name, and you won’t see the Proheat moniker again (which dates all the way back to 1990). The product line provides electricity for sleeper air conditioning and heating, 4000 watts of 110/120-volt household current for on-board appliances, 40 amps of battery charging, and engine
preheating for cold-weather starts.

And finally, how about the Titan Trailers ‘Walk-Thru’ B-train described elsewhere in this newsletter? Amazing flexibility for chip haulers and others, with a live floor
that can exhaust its load out either end. I mentioned winter testing in this item, but what I didn’t say is that it was Titan president Mike Kloepfer himself who, fed up
with southern Ontario’s warm winter, hauled a test train a thousand miles north to where polar bears roam. Pricey, no doubt, but I can see this one being popular in its niche.

So maybe it’s not all about engines after all. Just seems that way these days.

This newsletter is published every two weeks. It’s a heads-up notice about what you can see at www.todaystrucking.com 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. Subscribe today!

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

Rolf Lockwood

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

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