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Kenworth showcases future

Kenworth is continuing its practice of looking ahead with its T2000 High-Tech truck – a showcase of gadgets to come. And if this year’s model is any indication, you can expect night vision, cameras and monitors to eliminate blind spots, a device that tracks driver fatigue, and more navigation tools in the near future.

The truck addresses blind spots with a series of cameras that feed an in-cab monitor, while the company is also working on technology that will recognize specific objects.

The view from a night vision camera mounted above the windshield is projected on the same monitor. Cameras mounted on the side of the sleeper will offer a curb view by the end of the year, while other camera-based systems are expected to come by 2001.

The truck’s dash-mounted drowsiness monitor, meanwhile, looks much like a radio, but it tracks fatigue by watching such things as lane position and erratic driving habits, and calculating a score. If the score drops too low, an “obnoxious” alarm will sound and not turn off until the driver pulls over.

An Alpine navigation system (available by May) incorporates maps on a single DVD rather than traditional nine-CD systems, and it draws information about specific positions using a GPS satellite.

The truck’s automated transmission is controlled with a joystick, while an Electronic Braking System includes disc brakes on all wheel ends, with sensors that electronically measure lining wear.

One product in particular will offer owners a chance to put their personal stamp on trucks. A new fingerprinting system promises to work as an anti-theft tool. Drivers put their finger to a pad that will identify them and determine whether or not they are authorized to drive an outfitted rig. The system would also remember personal information such as specific monitor configurations, and set up the five flat-screen displays in the truck to show information the driver has selected.

Creating a lighter, sleeker Star

The new 4964SX from Western Star is a design that’s meant to glide through the air with the greatest of ease.

The sloped hood design that steps away from Western Star’s traditional long-nose conventional sweeps down to a rounded grille surround. That, in turn, overlooks a new 14-inch chrome, swept back bumper. All of that can sit under the new 62-inch Star Light sleeper’s high roof option that replaces the need for roof fairings. Fenders, too, have been rounded in the name of aerodynamics, and the bumper bends back to greet it.

Meanwhile, Western Star’s lightest version of the Constellation Series highway tractor now weighs in at less than 14,000 lb.

The 4964FXL weighed 14,960 lb. during last year’s show, marking a 2,000-lb. improvement over any previous Constellation trucks. This year’s truck goes further with the standard truck optioned with a 62-inch Star Light sleeper, dual exhausts, dual air cleaners, Jake brake and dual 100-gallon fuel tanks.

Many of the improvements come with new component, including the Cummins ISM engine, a 1,300-square-inch, two-row, cross flow cooling module, aluminum rear axle carrier, and lightweight wheel and tire combination.

Volvo guarantees cost per mile

Volvo Trucks has introduced a Cost Per Mile program that removes the uncertainty of maintenance costs.

The program covers all maintenance at a pre-determined cost based on the number of miles that a fleet expects to log. Non-Volvo trucks and trailers can also be included in the program, which includes 24-hour emergency roadside assistance, DOT reporting, and Environmental Agency costs related to the work.

A leg up on the competition

Truckers who have had trouble reaching the pedals while sitting comfortably in the driver’s seat now have a leg up on the problem.

Freightliner has designed pedals that can be adjusted to move three inches from the standard position toward drivers, and are controlled by dash-mounted switches. Not only will it meet the needs of shorter drivers, but it will help heavier drivers who need to move the seat back to offer more belly room.Once adjusted into position with electronic controls, the pedals lock into place.

The feature will be available as an option on Century Class S/T and Columbia Class 8 trucks.

Freightliner also announced it will install 1,100-watt Trace Engineering power inverters at the factory beginning this July, converting direct current from the batteries to AC power that can be used for appliances in the sleeper.

When hooked up to 120-volt shore power, the option also acts as a charger, feeding power into the batteries. This particular model offers 3,000 watts of surge power for such stubborn appliances as microwaves, weighs 26 lb. and mounts under the bunk.

The inverter/charger will be available by July on Century Class S/T, Columbia, Argosy and Classic XL trucks with SleeperCabs.

Columbia available as day cab

Regional, inter-city and bulk haulers now have a Freightliner Columbia built for their needs, with a new day cab version of the truck.

The 120-inch BBC tractor with a setback axle offers a 50-degree wheel cut for tight turns, while there’s room under the hood for the largest engines in the industry – those pushing with up to 600 hp.

Weight-sensitive applications can take advantage of the aluminum cab, lightweight frame and suspension.The ride is on a redesigned front suspension with a leaf and a half spring and tuned shock absorbers, in conjunction with a rear air suspension and air cab mounts.

CH day cab gets facelift

Mack has made a host of changes to the interior of its CH day-cab conventional for the 2001 model year.

Starting from the dashboard, there are now two oversized cup holders and two standard 12-volt outlets added to the list of standard features. On top of that, the dash includes a race-type 12 o’clock needle positioning for easy reading. The back lighting on the gauges has also been upgraded and Mack is now including its Vehicle Information Profiler in the CH day-cab package. The Vehicle Information Profiler lets operators know how the engine is running by monitoring fuel efficiency and other important trip data. The Mack V.I.P display works in conjuction with the V-MAC III electronic vehicle management and control system and a standard Datamax onboard data logger/trip recorder. The data gathered can be analyzed using InfoMax, Mack’s PC-based software program.

The improvements go beyond electronics and enhanced data gathering. More attention has also been paid to good old-fashioned comfort with the Mack Performance Seat. Three years in development, the seat has been engineered with adjustable support mechanisms in the kidney, lumbar and thigh areas. Other seat advancements include: a three-way adjustable armrest; cloth inserts to improve breathability; variable shock absorbers and expanded vibration dampening to reduce operator stress; and multiple storage pockets.

Also included in the 2001 CH vehicles is a new Mack noise and vibration prevention package and a new electronic HVAC system with revamped heating and air conditioning ducts.

The sleeper hasn’t been neglected either. There is an enlarged opening that now stretches the entire width of the cab, while both the driver and passenger seats swivel a full 180 degrees.

Star unveils severe hauler

Western Star was born making trucks for off-road logging applications, and it has built on that heritage with the 6964SX that has been unveiled as an evolution in trucks designed for severe service.

The truck using a Constellation Series cab replaces the earlier Heritage Series, but don’t let the choice of cabs confuse you. It differs from its on-highway brethren in a number of areas.

Although it has a BBC of 132 inches, a new heavy-duty bumper sits nine inches ahead of that. The axle is set back 59 inches, offering a turning radius of between 35 and 40 degrees, depending on spec’ing options.

The Heritage Series was only offered with a forward-axle position.

There’s no doghouse to be found since the cab has been moved
to the rear – the engine now sits entirely in front of the firewall. Meanwhile, the radiator and engine have all been raised 3.35 inches, allowing the frame rails to be extended intact under the rad. The new positioning also improves access to the engine, around the reinforced mounts for the radiator, and protects the vital components that ride underneath.

K300 cabover expands to Class 6

Freightliner has designed pedals that can be adjusted to move three inches from the standard position towards the driver.

Kenworth has expanded the options for its K300 medium-duty cabover with the addition of a Class 6 rating for the truck that was unveiled as a heavier Class 7.

“The cabover segment of medium duty is small, but it is expected to grow,” says Kenworth general manager Ed Caudill. “We’re well-situated to meet the need.”

Wheelbases measure between 169 and 236 inches, offering configurations for a variety of straight truck applications. Equipped with a North American drivetrain and featuring Cummins’ ISB engine (with 185 to 240 hp), the K300 can be matched with either a Fuller six-speed synchronized transmission, or, beginning in August, a six-speed Eaton Fuller AutoShift or an Allison MD-series automatic transmission.

Lo-Profile option for Ford F-650

Ford’s F-650 Super Duty SuperCab can now be spec’d with a Lo-Profile package that provides room for up to six passengers, depending on cab style.

The Lo-Pro package option can be spec’ed with three cab styles – Regular Cab, SuperCab (4-doors) and Crew Cab. It’s aimed at operators of tow trucks and delivery services, who do not need the truck frame to be at dock height.

The top frame is about five inches closer to the ground than the standard height class, which provides the lower ground-to-top-of-frame height that many truck jobs require. The frame section remains straight to the edge of the vehicle with no kickups over the rear axle. The package also includes 19.5-inch wheels and tires, which further reduce overall vehicle loading height.

The Super Duty F-650 with the Lo-Pro package is being offered in three axle ratios: 3.42, 3.58 and 3.91. The 3.91 is available with standard 22.5-inch tires. Prior to this, the fastest rear axle ratio offered was 4.11:1. The lower ratios now available will deliver higher top speeds while keeping engine rpm down.

Powertrain combinations include four-, five- and six-speed Allison automatics, and Eaton or Spicer five-, six- and seven-speed manuals. Diesel engines available include Ford’s Power Stroke as well as Cummins and Caterpillar offerings.

Peterbilt bolsters its lineup

Peterbilt is beefing up its presence in the medium-duty market by upgrading its Class 7 Model 330 and rolling out a new version of the 330 for the Class 6 market. The manufacturer, which J.D. Power and Associates ranked best in customer satisfaction for medium-duty conventionals last year, is also testing the waters with its 270 COE model.

The company’s new Class 6 offering, which goes into production in August, is aimed at carriers with general freight, pick up and delivery, retail distribution and leasing applications.

“The Class 6 market has been growing steadily since 1993,” said Nick Panza, Peterbilt general manager. “It features customers who require low GVW ratings without compromising reliability and durability.”

With a 50-degree wheel cut, dramatically sloped hood, an ergonomic steering wheel, and fender-mounted turn signals, the Model 330 is designed with busy urban traffic in mind. It comes standard with Dana Spicer axles – the 180 front axle rated at 8,000 lb. and the 19060S rear axle rated at 18,000 lb. A Cat 3126B @ 210 hp is the standard power spec. The cab is an all-aluminum construction and includes an option for three-person bench seating. Also, 19.5-inch, low-profile tires and wheels make for a lower cab floor and frame height.

Turning to the Class 7 market, Peterbilt’s changes for its Model 330 include driver environment upgrades, new transmission options and a crew cab conversion kit.

A new ergonomic steering wheel with tilt steering column and Vermilion burl dash panels headline the changes inside the cab. The new transmission option is Eaton Fuller’s semi-automatic AutoShift in six-, seven- and ten-speed configurations. The new crew cab option is a four-door, extended cab configuration that combines Peterbilt’s chassis, hood and cowl, cab substructure, dash and door apertures with a more spacious interior and a full-width rear bench seat for three.

The Model 270 COE, which is now rolling off the line at the Ste. Therese, Que. plant, marks an $80 million investment into a new market for Peterbilt. It has a stamped steel cab and is designed for distribution applications with its 50-degree wheel cut, low cab floor height and doors that open 90 degrees.

International demos green tech

International put what it considers the next critical step in cleaner diesel engine emission technology on display for the first time at the Mid-America Trucking Show.

International’s Green Diesel Technology is a continuously regenerating silicone-media trap that uses ultra-low sulfur diesel and is claimed to reduce emissions without compromising engine performance.

Patrick Charbonneau, who demonstrated the technology on an International 4900 6×4 dump truck equipped with an International 530 diesel engine, said tests showed that it reduced engine particulate matter by more than 90 per cent compared to today’s standards and brought it to a level 50 per cent lower than the best certified levels of natural gas engines. Hydrocarbons were reduced below measurable levels, eliminating the odor associated with diesel, and nitrogen oxides were reduced by 90 per cent.

However, ultra-low sulfur diesel is an absolute necessity for the technology, which poses a supply issue. The ultra clean fuel, which has less than five parts of sulfur per million, is available in California by ARCO but how quickly it will become readily available in the rest of North America will largely depend on how willing fleets will be to move to the new fuel.

He added that International is pressing to have low sulfur fuel listed as an alternative fuel. Certainly this fuel option has its advantages beyond being environmentally friendly: There is an ample supply of the base stock and the supply can flow through the existing distribution infrastructure; no special storage or handling is required, no engine modifications are required. In comparison, methanol is corrosive and requires additional engine components, natural gas requires heavy and complex fuel storage while gasoline uses 40 to 60 per cent more fuel per mile than diesel.

Charbonneau also said low sulfur fuel not only will not affect engine performance, its higher cetane levels may improve it.

Fl unleashes heavy MB power

Freightliner has unveiled a proprietary heavy-duty engine line in the MBE 4000, flexing the muscle of its European parent Daimler Chrysler.

The 12.8-litre in-line, six-cylinder Mercedes Benz engine family offers seven power ratings ranging from 350 to 450 hp, with torque rated at between 1,350 and 1,550 lb-ft. A 470-hp/1,650 lb-ft model and multi-torque ratings are to come in the near future, as well as a 500-hp model designed for fire and emergency service.

“This engine raises the bar for heavy-duty power in North America,” says Freightliner president Jim Hebe. But, he adds, Freightliner has no plans to “vertically integrate” its products, which means that other engines will still be available in its trucks.

The new engines are designed for traditional linehaul applications, but Freightliner is particularly targeting regional jobs, bulk haulers, grocery distribution companies and vocational applications.

The engine is as much as 400 lb. lighter than some competing models, while the weight is comparable to the Cummins ISM until a compression brake adds to the weight of that model.

The MBE 4000 doesn’t need such an addition, thanks to the integrated engine brake that offers 325 braking horsepower at 2,100 rpm. With an optional turbo brake, the stopping
power increases to 600 hp.

In terms of electronics, the engine incorporates both a traditional Electronic Control Unit and a new Vehicle Control Unit, which can be easily accessed inside the cab.


Changes for tighter spaces

Transmission Technologies Corp. (TTC) has announced a series of enhancements to its AMT-7 automated mechanical transmission that will make it easier for drivers to back into tight spaces and keep their vehicles from rolling once they’re stopped.

The AMT-7 employs a microprocessor-driven control system to manage the operation of an otherwise conventional seven-speed manual transmission. The system gathers operational inputs from critical operating parameters, such as engine rpm, drive shaft speed, gear position and brakes. The inputs are evaluated by the processor to determine if the transmission is in the best gear. When a gear change is required, the computer sends messages to the AMT-7’s hydraulic system, which engages the clutch, shifts the transmission and then disengages the clutch.

By operating a transmission smart enough to know which gear it should be in, fleets are experiencing an up to 15 per cent increase in fuel economy, according to TTC’s Lee Davis. However, some drivers also found that AMT-7-equipped trucks tended to back up too quickly, making it difficult to back into tight spaces such as loading docks. TTC has now addressed the problem by redesigning the system to launch the vehicle when the brake pedal is released in a smooth, controlled creep similar to what passenger car drivers experience when they take their foot off the brake pedal, according to Davis.

Additional software refinements have also made the AMT-7 more tolerant of bad driving habits, such as brake stabbing and throttle pumping. The Launch Assist feature, which prevents the vehicle from rolling once it has reached a stop has also been improved to operate more smoothly.

Eaton adds to Autoshift line

Eaton Corp. has expanded its line of AutoShift transmissions with seven-speed models for regional carriers and LTL markets.

The seven-speed Autoshifts are available with maximum torque ratings of 1,150 lb. ft and 1,450 lb. ft. and include a “ball ramp” technology inertia brake for fast upshifts.

The seven-speed transmissions communicate with the vehicle’s engine via the J-1939 data link and include AutoShift Generation 2 enhancements such as improved connectors and upgraded circuitry. The new transmissions also have progressive ratios to provide less shifting in the lower gears while maintaining close steps at the top end for fuel economy.

Their “shift by wire” technology eliminates manual lever shifts and the clutch is only used when starting or stopping the vehicle. Once the truck is in motion, shifting is fully automatic.

An inertia brake with Eaton’s “ball ramp” technology is standard. This technology uses electromechanical forces and a clutch pack to convert a relatively low electrical current into a large amount of torque. That helps reduce engine rpms so upshifts can be completed quickly with little loss of road speed when operating the vehicle, particularly on uphill grades.

The transmissions weigh roughly 611 lb. without the clutch and have an overall ratio of 12:35:1.

Meritor boosts trailer productivity

Meritor has rolled out two new options on its RHP Highway Parallelogram trailer air suspension system aimed at helping carriers gain more productivity from their trailers.

First, Meritor is addressing carriers’ desire to reduce their trailer maintenance costs, a particularly tough task considering trailer brakes operate in a relatively open, unprotected environment. With its LX500 Extended Lube option, which consists of a specially mated brake and automatic slack adjuster combination, Meritor has pushed the lubrication envelope to three years/500,000 miles for on-highway linehaul van applications. The option, available in July, comes with the company’s RHP Highway Parallelogram trailer air suspension equipped with 16.5-inch Q Plus brakes.

Truckers looking for a “spec it and forget it option”, can opt for the MX500 Long Life package on the RHP system. The package requires no lining or drum maintenance for three years/500,000 miles, in addition to the LX500 Extended Lube feature. The MX500 package includes a proprietary friction material and new dust shield and requires Meritor trailer axles with 16.5-inch x 8-inch Q Plus brakes assembled with Meritor hubs and drums.

The second option aimed at increasing trailer productivity addresses the need to increase payload by shedding weight. Meritor is offering its RHP Highway Parallelogram for dry van applications with a nominal 1/2-inch wall TN axle, which typically reduces axle weight by 10 per cent over the current TN axle. That equates to over 60 lb. in weight savings per axle.

New offerings from Hendrickson

With the launch of its INTRAAX 300 trailer suspension system, Hendrickson has created the first integrated suspension-axle-brake system available in a 30,000 lb. structural capacity.

Offered in both top mount and low ride height/liftable configurations, the AA300 brings Hendrickson’s INTRAAX technology to axle/suspension ratings of 23,000, 25,000 and 30,000 lb.

For truckers looking for all the features built into the AA300 but at lower weight capacity, Hendrickson has also rolled out the AA250 Plus, a 25,000 lb. axle capacity suspension with the additional option of an HN spindle.

Meanwhile, the latest addition to Hendrickson’s HN line of vocational suspension systems is the HN 522 with a 52,000 lb. rated capacity, and claimed to be the lightest vocational suspension in its weight class. In fact, the HN 522 weighs just seven pounds more than Hendrickson’s 46,000 lb.-rated HN 462.

Hendrickson has also put liftable axles, which save a lot of tire scuffing, on a crash diet with its new Under Beam Lift (UBL).

The lift mechanism weighs less than 60 lb., which is half the weight of most competitive lift mechanisms, according to Hendrickson.

The lift is built right on the mechanism which means there’s no need for extra crossmembers and retrofitting is simpler.

“It’s pretty simple technology but it hadn’t been done before,” said Hendrickson’s Frank Stevens.


Unitized wheel ends save money

Meritor Automotive says there’s up to $4,000 worth of savings on maintenance costs sealed in with each of its new UWE-90 unitized wheel ends designed for linehaul and city delivery applications. The product, available with the company’s 23,000, 34,000 and 40,000 lb. gross axle weight rated single and tandem drive axles, is pre-assembled, pre-set for preload, permanently lubricated and sealed for life.

“By reducing wheel end maintenance, we estimate this wheel end has the potential for reducing life-cycle costs by $4,000 or more compared to conventional wheel ends over the first one million miles,” explained Brad Arnold, vice president and general manager for Meritor’s Heavy Vehicles Systems Axle business.


More heat offered for trailers

Webasto Thermosystems has unveiled a new beverage heating system for those operations that haul products in pup trailers.

The new CSL 45 BT to be available by July 1 complements the CSL 31 B that was designed for straight truck applications.

The 45,000 BTU/h design will pump out up to 1,000 cfm, meeting the needs of 20-bay trailers up to 40 feet long.

Drivers are warned with a red “low temperature” light if internal trailer temperatures are dropping too low, or if bay doors are left open too long. While the light is mounted on the dash, it can also be mounted on trailers, visible in the West Coast mirror.

Expect more versions to come.

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