Aluminum driveshaft

| April 01, 2011

Lighter, yet stronger is the thinking behind Dana’s new Diamond Series aluminum driveshaft for commercial vehicles.

“Aluminum driveshafts have been in use in light vehicles,” said Ralph Polehonki, vice president, global engineering for Dana. “But they have not been available for the commercial vehicle market until now,” he said March 31 during a press event in Louisville, Ky.

Polehonki said Dana engineers have developed a manufacturing process that joins Spicer steel U-joints to a new one-piece aluminum shaft, offering a driveshaft that is as strong as conventional designs, yet weighs up to 40 percent less. “In real terms, that’s up to 100 pounds in weight savings,” he said. “Additionally, the new design has fewer parts, and helps reduce problems associated with noise, vibration and harshness; is eco-friendly; and retains a like-new appearance throughout the component’s service life.”

Designed for heavy-duty commercial trucks using two-piece steel driveshafts of 7.5 feet to 10 feet, Dana said the Spicer Diamond Series driveshafts reduce installation costs through elimination of the center bearing and by reducing parts count from three joint connections to two. Environmental benefits result from elimination of painting and the metal inert gas welding process. The one-piece design – without the center bearing and one universal joint – improves vehicle efficiency by reducing component wear, and the use of high-strength aluminum offers resistance to corrosion and improved appearance.

The driveshafts will be available late in the fourth quarter.

Dana Holding Corp. has also introduced a new family of heavy-duty 40,000-pound tandem drive axles. The new Spicer Pro-40 axle is designed to offer fleets a reliable, lightweight and competitively priced alternative to current available axles for linehaul, bulk, regional and city delivery vehicles.

Steve Slesinski, Dana director of product planning, said the Pro-40 tandem drive axle offers weight reduction and improved power density, which enables fleets to increase payload and improve fuel economy. The axle is more than 120 pounds lighter than competitor axles and 100 pounds lighter than the Dana Spicer DS404, he said.

The Spicer Pro-40 axle comes with ratios from 3.25-3.90. It is designed for trucks with 9-, 10-, 12- or 13-speed overdrive transmissions; diesel engines rated up to 475-hp and 1750 lb.-ft. of torque; and Gross Combination Weight Ratings up to 80,000 pounds.

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