Roadside Attractions

Overdrive Staff | December 01, 2011

Since the Truck Stop Coupons app launched for iPhone and Blackberry devices, it’s expanded and changed its name to Trucker Tools. You’ll get access to a comprehensive truck stop guide with real-time fuel prices and traffic as well as weather forecasts and a message board. Scan the QR code for the new Android app or search in associated apps markets on your phone. The app (pictured) was created by Overdrive publisher Randall-Reilly Business Media and Information and partners.

A tank to bank on

With his Legacy Edition 2007 Peterbilt 379, independent Dan Bollinger runs on a dedicated contract for a liquid feed supplier to feedlots in western Kansas.

Single-truck independents are a rarity in tank hauling, partly because of the expense of the equipment. For example, Kansas-based Dan Bollinger paid $35,000 six years ago for a two-compartment, 6,000-gallon 1999 Polar tank. That was quite an expense for a seven-year-old trailer with more than 700,000 miles on it.

“The barrel itself was in good shape, but some cross-members in the frame were rusted pretty bad,” he says. In the first year, he put around $7,000 into refurbishments.

On the bright side, says Polar sales manager Willie Graham, an ex-driver himself, most tanks can be counted on to last. “Vans and flatbed have a seven-year lifespan,” Graham says. “Tank trailers better last 20 years. Typically one will outlast five trucks.”

Resale values are great, note Graham and Bollinger. Though he’s put on 760,000 miles since he bought it, “I could easily get $40,000 in resale out of it today,” Bollinger says. “A new Polar like this would be around the mid-70s in price. By the time you got it plumbed and set up to work, you’d have close to $80,000 in it.”

Salve for your shifting hand…

And your soul, says the maker of a line of shift knobs built from rocks. “If I’m ever stuck in traffic or I’m stressed out by circumstances in my life, the mere acts of looking at and touching one of these shift knobs drains away the stress,” the maker notes on its website, You may never need to buy another, either. About a $209 knob built from petrified 225-million-year-old wood from Madagascar, the maker says it “will match Mother Nature and offer a 225-million-year warranty on it.”

Q Do hydrogen-adding technologies work to boost fuel mileage?

A Some research shows hydrogen slightly improves diesel combustion, but the improvement may not be significant enough to warrant all the equipment necessary to separate it and meter it back in. Hydrogen does not add any energy. It only helps the fuel burn a bit faster and more completely. Diesel is two-thirds hydrogen anyway, so the probability that such a system will help the engine to run differently is likely to be small.

Ideally, the maker of such a system — those I’ve seen separate hydrogen from distilled water and meter it into the intake system — will have had an SAE Type II test to verify any mileage increase. Review the results. Then consider the cost of the system, including installation, and recurring costs, like distilled water and maintenance. You should also find out the system’s power draw and evaluate whether you’d need to install a more powerful alternator to handle it without strain. Also, check with your engine manufacturer to make sure doing this won’t void your warranty.

John Baxter

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