Hitting the big time

First-class exhibits, entertainment, giveaways and educational seminars attracted record crowds to the Dallas Convention Center in August for the eighth annual Great American Trucking Show.

The number of attendees increased by 2.2 percent over the 2005 show, reaching 45,914 by the close of the three-day show.

“We are very pleased with this year’s sustained growth,” said Alan Sims, executive director of GATS. “The show floor grew by 16 percent, with nearly 570 exhibiting companies displaying the latest equipment and technology to allow fleets, drivers and owner-operators to operate more efficiently.”

Several music, television and radio personalities were also on hand to sign autographs and perform at GATS.

Mobil Delvac sponsored a free concert starring country singer Aaron Tippin on Aug. 25, and Volvo Trucks North America sponsored a free concert by the legendary Ronnie Milsap on Aug. 26.

Signing autographs at GATS were country singer Trace Adkins, stars of Trick My Truck and radio personality Bill Mack, among others.

The show also offered Partners in Business owner-operator success seminars and the second Fleet Forum, hosted by the Texas Motor Transportation Association and Commercial Carrier Journal and featuring keynote speaker Dallas Cowboys football great Roger Staubach.
CJ-4 oils

Oil manufacturers announced they are ready to launch new versions of their oils to meet API CJ-4 requirements. The updated oils are designed to work in 2007 engines and also will be backward compatible.

Chevron says its new CJ-4 big-truck motor oil will thrive in the higher heat created by ’07 engines.

Chevron says its extensive testing – which included big-truck engines from Caterpillar, Cummins, Detroit Diesel, International, Mack and Volvo – shows that CJ-4 lubricates as well as or better than its predecessor, CI-4 Plus.

CJ-4 hits the market Oct. 15, in Chevron’s Delo jug with LE for “low emissions” or Texaco’s Ursa jugs sporting EC for “exhaust compatible.”

Mobil Delvac’s updated lineup includes a newly reformulated Mobil Delvac 1300 Super (15W-40). Coming in October 2006, and with more than 7 million miles of on-highway testing, Mobil Delvac’s “Million Mile Oil” will exceed API CJ-4 requirements for soot-viscosity control, wear performance, deposit control and oil consumption control, the company says.

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A new addition, Mobil Delvac Elite 15W-40, will be introduced in 2007 as an advanced API CJ-4 version of its current Exxon XD-3 Elite 15W-40, a heavy-duty, synthetic-blend diesel engine oil offering extended drain capabilities beyond conventional diesel engine oils.

A newly reformulated Mobil Delvac 1 (5W-40) heavy-duty diesel engine oil is also coming in 2007.

Shell Rotella CJ-4 diesel engine oil will be made available in gallon containers Oct. 15.

It had to undergo seven new tests to be qualified. “It averaged 50 percent less wear in all areas, including rings, liners, crossheads, bore polish,” said Dan Arcy, the company’s business-to-business technical marketing manager, at GATS. The oil’s proprietary detergent system also performed well in terms of the depth and thickness of the sludge in the oil pan, Arcy said.

With a 29 percent reduction in wear metals, it also will help to extend the life of older engines that don’t use a diesel particulate filter, Arcy said.
— Kristin L. Walters

News from the truck makers
Freightliner LLC introduced its new Excelerator breakdown assistance program, designed to assist owner-operators and fleets up to 25 units.

According to Freightliner, the initiative offers a 24/7 call center staffed by Freightliner personnel to assess drivers’ needs, find the best local service providers, expedite repair parts and assist with towing and other roadside services. Three packages are offered: Excelerator On Call, Excelerator Preferred and Excelerator Preferred Plus.

Chris Patterson, president and chief executive officer of Freightliner, also unveiled a proof-of-concept prototype utility truck, a Class 7 Business Class M2 106, expected to soon come to market. A full-parallel hybrid with regenerative braking that recharges the batteries, the truck launches with electric power, and the diesel engine provides additional torque as required.

Peterbilt announced at GATS that its flagship Model 379 will go out in style with a 1,000-unit special Legacy Class Edition. The Legacy Class features emblems on the grille and both sides of the cab, a custom dash plate, a polished aluminum hood centerline, premium UltraRide seats, the exterior Platinum Oval Package and the Platinum interior.

The truck can be ordered now, for delivery in the first quarter of 2007, with 2006 engines.

Peterbilt said earlier this year that it would replace the 379 with the new Model 389, which incorporates key styling elements of the 379 while introducing advanced technologies and refinements for improved aerodynamics.

During a meeting with trucking journalists at the company’s Denton, Texas, plant, the company also announced a new medium-duty cabover and new medium-duty engines.

The new cabover, Model 220, will be offered initially in Class 7 configurations and limited to 100 units. Full production of the 220 is scheduled for late 2007, at which time a Class 6 version will be offered.

The new engines, the Paccar 6.7-liter PX-6 and the 8.3-liter PX-8, will be available in 2007.

Freightliner to Stop Reconfiguring Day Cabs from Sleepers
Freightliner has announced that it is closing its day cab reconfiguring operation in Tooele, Utah. Shutdown of the plant will occur in phases through October and early November of this year.

The first of its kind, the Tooele Reconfigured Day Cab operation started in 2000 amid decreasing sleeper cab values and a shortage of used day cabs. The 80,000-square foot facility was dedicated to refurbishing and reconfiguring used heavy-duty vehicles.

Using state-of-the art manufacturing technology, the plant transformed used sleeper cabs into the industry’s first OEM Reconfigured Day Cabs, and the product was marketed by Freightliner Market Development Corp., the division responsible for used truck remarketing and the SelecTrucks brand.

Now, Freightliner is discontinuing day cab reconfiguration because of improved resale values of used trucks, an increased demand for used sleeper cabs and a more balanced availability of as-built day cabs.

“The used truck industry has changed since we started the Reconfigured Day Cab manufacturing operation, and our customers now indicate a stronger need for long-haul trucks,” said Rich Ferguson, president of FMDC. “We intend to channel our supply of used sleeper cabs directly to the market, as opposed to reconfiguring them. In addition, we will continue to support our loyal Reconfigured Day Cab customers by maintaining diverse inventory of quality used as-built day cabs.”

Freightliner said it would work with local organizations, the Utah Department of Workforce Services and temp agencies to help employees find other jobs.
– Brittani Tingle

First Kenworth T660 Rolls Off the Line at Chillicothe Plant
The first Kenworth T660 rolled off the assembly line in Chillicothe, Ohio, on Aug. 16. Kenworth unveiled the T660 in March at the Mid-America Trucking Show as the replacement for its T600, effective with the January 2007 switch to new engine techology. The initial units are for validation of the T660 for both on-highway operations and factory production.
The T660 includes a number of features and options:

  • Aerodynamic improvements have been made in bumpers, hoods, grilles, windshields, fenders and headlights.

    Mike Dozier, Kenworth chief engineer, said these measures are partially in response to the heavier 2007 engines, which will add at least 100 pounds of weight, and to the drop in fuel economy expected from ultra low sulfur diesel fuel. He declined to quantify any aerodynamic improvements but said the T660 definitely is more aerodynamic than the current T600.

  • New halogen-projector headlights produce 40 percent more light than conventional sealed-beam lamps. Optional xenon high-intensity-discharge headlights provide 70 percent more light than sealed-beam lamps. The headlights also can be replaced without tools, Dozier said.
  • New seats include armrests that fold away to provide 4 more inches of sleeper access.
  • The Kenworth GPS has a new in-dash color display, with touch-screen control, that provides diagnostics including real-time fuel economy. The GPS provides turn-by-turn guidance throughout the continental United States and Canada, with a memory that stores up to 1,000 destinations. A built-in MP3 player stores up to 5,000 songs for playback through the cab stereo system.

GPS is standard on the Diamond cab interior and optional on the Splendor cab interior. “That’s a growing demand item,” said Bob Christensen, Kenworth general manager. “There’s a lot of interest in navigation.”

Another new factory option for the T660 is the premium Pendleton Limited Edition cab and sleeper, which features leather in the seats, door pads, steering wheel and sofa bed and wood grain throughout the interior. It comes with a plaque of authenticity from Pendleton Woolen Mills and a custom Pendleton travel bag and wool jacquard blanket that share the design touches found in the sleeper.

Available on the 72-inch sleeper beginning in the second quarter of 2007 is the new Kenworth Clean Power system, a proprietary design years in the making, which provides up to 10 hours of 110-volt hotel power with the engine off, thanks to four dedicated batteries that store the power generated simply by driving. Five hours of operation fully recharges the system.

Simply driving also freezes the liquid inside the under-the-bunk Thermal Storage Cooler. About the size of a microwave oven, it can cool the parked sleeper for up to 10 hours even in 95-degree temperatures. It’s a closed system, so the water doesn’t evaporate, Dozier said.

Heating uses a small fuel-fired heater, also mounted beneath the bunk. Shore power, when available, serves to recharge the whole system.

Kenworth believes its system is friendlier to users, to the environment and to government regulators than traditional diesel-based HVAC systems, Dozier said. The target weight for the system is 550 pounds, comparable to that of a medium-size APU, and the price should be comparable as well, Dozier said.

To show off the new truck, a four-month Kenworth T660 Road Tour launched at the Great American Trucking Show, Aug. 24-26 in Dallas, and goes on to nearly 60 Kenworth dealerships nationwide, from California to New Jersey.

Kenworth also announced it is expanding its plant – its largest – by nearly 30 percent.
The project will add 105,000 square feet to the Kenworth-Chillicothe plant, which has produced more than 270,000 trucks since it opened in 1974. The facility is located on 120 acres and currently is 372,000 square feet in size.

Work on the project began in July and is scheduled for completion next summer.

McQuary said the expansion will add new manufacturing technologies and processes with an extension to Kenworth-Chillicothe’s mainline, as well as its new cab, sleeper and Kenworth T2000 trim lines. The project is also expected to bring advancements in plant logistics.

Earlier this year, the Chillicothe facility implemented a major cab and sleeper robotic paint system. In June the plant was named Quality magazine’s “Plant of the Year” in the large plant category of over 250 employees.
– Andy Duncan