Truck News


Freightliner unveils innovations for lighter and safer trucks

Freightliner used the Great American Trucking Show as the platform for a number of new product announcements, including a lighter Century Class S/T, tubular side air bags, dry van offerings and a new ...

Freightliner used the Great American Trucking Show as the platform for a number of new product announcements, including a lighter Century Class S/T, tubular side air bags, dry van offerings and a new truck for owner/operators.

Designed specifically for the weight-sensitive needs of dry and liquid bulk haulers, Freightliner has shed approximately 1200 lb. in the design of its new lightweight Century Class S/T.

The new model takes advantage of the safety and technology features of the standard Class 8 design in addition to some additional lightweight components.

Weightsaving components include the 12.8-liter MBE4000 engine from Mercedes-Benz, a composite spring 12,000-lb. front axle, Michelin X-One wide-base tires on Accuride aluminum disc wheels, an Eaton Fuller Lightning transmission and a Jost lightweight, integral angle-mounted fifth wheel.

Both 120- and 112-inch BBC models will be available in a variety of cab and sleeper configurations.

Freightliner Trucks also introduced a new tubular side airbag system on its Century Class S/T and Argosy heavy-duty models, designed to cut down on the often tragic results of rollover accidents.

During such accidents, the truck driver’s head and body typically are propelled upwards and sideways as the truck proceeds through the rollover. Extensive crash testing has proven that even wearing a seatbelt still leaves the trucker vulnerable to injury when their head strikes the left side of the truck’s interior.

To alleviate the hazard, the new airbag inflates to 2.3 feet in length, extending from the A-post to the upper B-post covering the upper side window and the surfaces above it. The operator’s head is cushioned before it has a chance to collide with the door or other interior componentry.

Straight-truck buyers across North America will soon find a new integral option at Sterling and Freightliner dealerships thanks to a new joint venture between their parent company Freightliner LLC and Wabash National.

The two manufacturing giants have decided to pre-package some of their products to maximize convenience and enhance service for customers running dry vans.

Freightliner president and CEO Jim Hebe says the move will make specing a straight truck much simpler.

There are several benefits associated with plan: one-stop shopping, less paperwork, faster delivery times, proper installation by skilled technicians as well as a premium truck and body bundle.

Buyers can choose from Freightliner’s Business Class FL 50, 60, 70 and 80 models in addition to Sterling’s Class 5 through Class 8 Acterra designs.

Finally, the new Class 8 Coronado will give owner/operators the opportunity to take part in the truck technology revolution so far bypassed in traditionally styled trucks, according to Hebe. Enhancements and design advancements in aerodynamics for better fuel economy, safety features, integrated electronics and significant improvements in both ride and noise abatements had all but forgotten the independent trucker, according to Hebe. The Coronado has been engineered to offer all the benefits the most modern technology has to offer without sacrificing the look of an individual, Hebe claims.

Two new clutches released by Meritor joint venture

Meritor Clutch Co., a joint venture between ZF Meritor and Exedy Corp. has announced two new clutch offerings.

The AutoJust clutch, available in all popular torque capacities, continually maintains proper clutch adjustment to reduce maintenance costs and reduce the downtime associated with adjustment.

“An average clutch that is run 400,00 miles would typically require about 13 adjustments – that kind of time and money adds up quickly,” says Liz Woodhull, marketing manager for ZF Meritor.

Engineered with Meritor’s Lite Pedal technology, the AutoJust clutch also reduces pedal effort to make it easier on drivers. It includes Meritor’s Long Travel Damper disc, which alleviates torsional vibration. The disc is designed to move the resonant point of the powertrain to a lower rpm, allowing the truck to operate at rpms well above the range in which damaging torsional vibration could occur.

The Six Paddle clutch, now available through all Class 8 OEMs and authorized aftermarket distribution centres, is claimed to offer 50 per cent more friction material over traditional four paddle clutches for longer life.

“The Six Paddle clutch is perfect for operators in vocational markets who frequently encounter a lot of stop and go traffic,” says Woodhull. The clutch uses Meritor’s LTD disc design and is available with the AutoJust cover, which makes it self-adjusting.

ZF Meritor bumps up torque rating on its 10-speed trannie

ZF Meritor, a joint venture between ArvinMeritor and ZF Friedrichshafen, has announced that its 1850 lb-ft “C” ratio 10-speed heavy-duty truck transmission is now available to all Class 8 OEMs.

Until now, a torque rating of 1850 lb-ft was only attainable with multi-speed transmissions. However, ZF Meritor says design enhancements to its 10-speed transmission have resulted in additional torque capacity, enabling this model to achieve the same torque rating as a traditional multi-speed transmission.

With ZF Meritor’s Torq-2 option, which allows the top two gears to handle 2050 lb-ft of torque, the transmission can manage greater engine torque, considerably reducing shifting efforts.

The company’s advanced shift systems, ESS and Sure Shift, are also available with the new 1850 10-speed.

HID lighting has bright future according to Grote

Grote Industries unveiled a prototype of what it believes is the future for forward lighting systems in commercial trucks.

The composite forward lighting system combines high-intensity discharge (HID) and halogen infrared (HIR) bulbs to deliver the claimed benefits of a whiter light, a greater distance of illumination, and longer life.

The technology is currently being used in select passenger cars and light trucks in North America and Dominic Grote, director of product development, is hopeful that increasing use will drop the new lighting system’s price, which is currently estimated at double the price of the sealed beams widely in use in Class 5-8 commercial vehicles.

Grote’s prototype composite forward lighting system uses a replaceable HIR bulb for high-beam applications and a replaceable HID bulb for low-beam applications. HIR bulbs are halogen bulbs with an extra coating on the outside for an increase of some 20 per cent in light output.

Unlike halogen and other incandescent bulbs, HID bulbs don’t use filaments and so don’t burn out; they just get dimmer with time. They are filled with xenon gas that’s excited by a high-voltage electrical arc to produce light. HID lamps fade over time as the gases inside them evaporate making it easy to schedule their regular replacement and avoid the danger of driving with a burned out headlamp, Grote said. He added that HID lamps last three times longer than standard incandescent bulbs.

Grote says the HID technology puts out three times as much light as standard incandescent headlamps – 3000 lumens for HID vs. 1000 lumens for halogen. Despite the increased light output, however, the HID technology actually lightens the load on the truck’s power system. The HID bulbs have a luminous efficacy of 86 lumens per watt, compared to an efficacy of 18 lumens per watt with halogen bulbs. This means that HID bulbs use only 35 watts of electrical power rather than the 55 required by incandescent bulbs, leading to less demand on the vehicle’s electrical system.

Sterling to offer MB power in its heavy-duty truck line

Sterling Truck Corp. will be offering the Mercedes Benz MBE4000 diesel engine on its heavy-duty trucks.

The MBE4000 is an in-line, six-cylinder, 12.8-liter diesel engine with a horsepower range of 350 to 450 and torque range from 1350 to 1550 lb. ft. Designed for the regional freight transportation, bulk hauling, grocery distribution and vocational applications, as well as linehaul, the MBE4000 will be available on Sterling L-Line 9500, A-Line 9500 and SilverStar models.

engine boasts a cast-iron block; induction-hardened cylinder liners, cam and crankshafts; forged steel connecting rods and a ceramic-coated piston. Valve seats are made of wear-resistant material, while the cylinders are wet-sleeved with a stainless steel seal ring under the liner flange. This, it is claimed, eliminates deformation of the seal ring under the clamp load of the high-strength cylinder head bolts.

New Western Star owner announces enhancements

Less than two months after the Freightliner purchase of Western Star, the first visual indications of the impact on the popular owner/operator truck were on display at the Great American Trucking Show.

Displayed at the show held in Dallas were Western Star 4964SX and 4964EX models with Freightliner-designed suspensions.

Despite the equipment changes, however, Freightliner president Jim Hebe vowed to preserve the Western Star brand, engineering and styling.

“This truck has been around for more than 30 years and we have no intention of changing it,” he said adding that, in fact, the takeover will bring security to Western Star. “No more will Western Star be that little niche company always recorded in statistics as “other”. The future of Western Star as a truck brand is now secure.”

One of the two new Freightliner-designed suspensions to be available on Western Stars, the Airliner, has fewer parts, aluminum brackets and aluminum air-bag pistons, all of which contribute to an undisclosed weight savings. Also elastomer bushings ensure metals parts won’t rub together and underslung trailing arms permit low fifth-wheel heights and are claimed to promote longer life. A ride-height control valve that is claimed to lengthen the driveshaft life compared with a conventional rubber-seat valve, which deteriorates with age, is another feature. The Airliner provides single suspension rates of 21,000 lb. and 23,000 lb. Tandem drive suspension rates offered are 40,000 lb. and 46,000 lb.

The other new suspension to be made available on Western Stars is the TufTrac spring suspension, engineered for on/off highway vocations. It requires no periodic adjustments or lubrication and provides three capacity ratings: 40,000 lb.; 46,000 lb; and 52,000 lb.

The list of internal enhancements and options is longer. They include:

The Cummins RoadRelay 4 driver information display for information on fuel mileage, engine hours spent on idle, plus a new route recorded feature that analyses user-definable routes, and optional GPS;

The Clifford remote control security power lock, which is a waterproof keychain remote control with a panic button; remote keyless entry, remote engine/ heater/AC starting, audible warning and other security options;

Clarion Radio options;

Webasto’s ThermoCooler system;

Updated interior cab colors , curtains and storage;

Hebe also said Western Star’s military business will be scrapped but the Warrior commercial vehicle will continue.

“You bet we are going to do that truck and it will probably have MB power. By next year we may have something to show,” he said.

Hebe also commented on the progress of other parts of the integration action plan which will combine Western Star with Freightliner subsidiary Sterling Trucks. He said three weeks after the sale was completed, Sterling and Western Star dealers were able to have their first dealer meeting. The intention is to move towards a single integrated North American dealer network of up to 400 outlets (including Mexico) to sell Western Star and Sterling trucks.

Western Star will also soon be added to Freightliner’s Spec Pro electronic maintenance system and will actually be the first truck maker to use the new Spec Pro version when it’s rolled out next year.

Hebe added the Sterling-Western Star pairing should also give birth to medium-duty offerings, including a “low COE product very soon.”

And they will also target the growing e-commerce application market with Class 4-5 products.

Tire management system aims to eliminate the road gators

The Dana Spicer Heavy Axle and Brake Division has grown its line of tire management systems to include the Tire Maintenance System for Trailers.

Tires represent the second highest maintenance cost for all fleets (second only to fuel) and represent the highest cost for companies that only handle trailers. If tire pressure falls by 10 percent it increases tire wear, explains Gary Schultz, product manager for Dana Spicer Tire Management Systems.

“Unlike tractors, disconnected trailers can go for months without tire maintenance,” he adds. “Trailers sit around in yards, at warehouses or on docks where air is not available so they infrequently get their tires re-inflated.”

The new system ensures that correct tire pressure is maintained to a pre-set minimum level.

Michelin X-One offers new performance efficiencies

Michelin is marketing its new X-One as a more fuel-efficient alternative to traditional dual tires used in the trucking industry.

The X-One replaces dual tire sets with just one tire on tandem-axle tractors and trailers.

The tire is being introduced initially in a 445/50R22.5 size in a drive pattern (XDA) and a trailer pattern (XTA). This particular size is interchangeable with dual low-profile 22.5 tires for a simpler fit.

According to Michelin, going from two wheels to one per axle end reduces weight, lowers rolling resistance due to compounding by reducing the number of flexing sidewalls, and improves fuel economy.

The 445/50R22.5 X-One XDA is currently available for OEM 6X4 tractors purchased through Freightliner, Sterling and Western Star and for replacement purchase through authorized Michelin dealers. The 445/50R22.5 X-One XTA is available for OEM purchase through major trailer manufacturers and for replacement purchase through authorized Michelin dealers.

Hendrickson, Freightliner offer smooth ride with new AirTek

Hendrickson has announced the release of a new, lightweight front air suspension and steer axle. Only available on Freightliner trucks until mid-2003, the 12,000-lb. rated AirTek front air suspension and steer axle consists of a 238-lb. suspension and a 274-lb. axle assembly.

The unit represents the first integrated front air suspension and steer axle design to offer the industry the opportunity to run on a full air platform, consisting of a trailer air suspension, drive axle air suspension and steer axle air suspension.

The steering and tie rod arms have been integrated for increased strength and reduced weight, while the knuckle packaging delivers a 50-degree wheel cut. The design of the knuckle eliminates the need for king pin removal during bearing service. The knuckles use low friction industry standard bushings and thrust bearings with integrated seals for maximum service life.

Until now, attempts to extend the air platform to the front steer axle have been hindered by an engineering problem that sacrificed ride comfort for stability.

Reyco Granning takes lighter approach to van slider design

ReycoGranning is laying claim to having the lightest air ride slider on the market with the release of its 854-lb 19AR/ RS1062 air ride van slider suspension system.

Company officials say they found that by using narrow beams and hangers, only two crossmembers, and eliminating u-bolts in the axle attachments, weight could be removed without reducing strength. The company also claims its tests show that the 19AR axle attachment outlives competing products by 300 percent.

The company adds that strength has been added to the suspension system through a unitized hanger design which attaches the hangers to the sides of the rails not just at the bottom of the rails. Hangers and rails are joined by plug welds to reduce stress risers. Also adding strength are nine-inch seven-gauge side rails, industry-standard double convoluted air springs and 4.5-inch wide bushings. The suspension system is rated at 19,000 lb.

Dana new drive axle designed to reduce torsional vibrations

Dana Corp. has brought a new 40,000-lb. tandem drive axle to market, which the company contends dramatically red
uces torsional vibrations.

As the latest addition to the Roadranger System, the Dana Spicer Torsionally Tuned-40 (model DST40) is claimed to diminish excessive inter-axle driveline angles and improve overall drivetrain durability and performance, while minimizing size, cost, and weight concerns for fleet owners.

“That translates into lower maintenance, a better ride, improved satisfaction, and more quality time on the road,” says Steve Slesinski, program manager, Spicer Heavy Axle and Brake Division.”The new DST40 reduces torsional vibrations by avoiding excessive U-Joint accelerations that can lead to premature failure and cause expensive repairs.”

A number of variables – such as the suspension type, ride height setting, axle torque, braking, gross loaded axle weight, fifth wheel location, axle installation angles, and axle spacing – may also create conditions that contribute to poor inter-axle driveline conditions and damaging drivetrain vibrations.

According to Dana, the DST40 tandem design allows for parallel axle installations, which maintain consistent angles between the forward and the rear tandem axles at a variety of ride heights and vehicle conditions.”When the DST40 is specified with other Roadranger components, the result is the industry’s only torsionally tuned system of drivetrain components,” Slesinski says

The DST40 is designed to slip seamlessly into various vehicle suspensions -in both line-haul and vocational applications – with engine ratings as high as 1,650 lb.-ft., up to 500 hp and a gross combination weight rating up to 110,000 lb.

Caterpillar, DaimlerChrysler form engine systems alliance

Caterpillar Inc. and the commercial vehicle division of DaimlerChrysler AG are forming a strategic alliance on medium-duty engines, fuel systems and other powertrain components.

The agreement lays the groundwork for several other joint ventures, supply agreements and cooperative projects. The fuel systems venture will include research and engineering in key areas such as combustion technology, electronics, air handling systems, exhaust aftertreatment and materials technology.

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Truck News is Canada's leading trucking newspaper - news and information for trucking companies, owner/operators, truck drivers and logistics professionals working in the Canadian trucking industry.
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