Trucking Through The Mid-America Show

Truck sales are skyrocketing, and sales of all related truck components and trailers are following. So it's not surprising that the Mid-America Truck Show held in March in Louisville, Ky., was chock full of new and improved models and products, many designed for waste disposal and recycling fleets. Here is a sampling of the show's highlights, as well as other recent introductions by major players in the transportation industry:

American Isuzu Motors, Whittier, Calif., offers its 1999 Class 6 and 7 commercial trucks. The 1999 Class-6 FSR, Class 6-7 FTR and Class 7 FVR are powered by an Isuzu 6HK1-TC diesel in two horsepower (hp) configurations. In the FSR and FTR, the 6-cylinder diesel develops 200 hp at 2,400 rpm and 441 pounds per foot gross torque at 1,500 rpm.

The higher-payload FVR's diesel develops 230 hp at 2,400 rpm and 506 pounds per foot gross torque at 1,500 rpm. The 7.8 liter overhead cam engine is turbocharged, intercooled and equipped with direct-injection fuel.

The cab of the F-Series has a standard tilt and telescopic steering column, complete with stalk-mounted light and wiper controls.

The FSR, FTR and FVR feature a 53-degree wheel cut angle to allow for a curb-to-curb turning circle of 51 feet with a 20-foot body.

The 1999 Class 6-7 FTR includes 140-inch to 248-inch wheelbase models, which can accommodate bodies from 14 feet to 28 feet.

The models are available with gross vehicle weight ratings (GVWR) of 25,950 pounds.

The heavy-duty Class 7 FVR boasts a 33,000 pound GVWR, with wheelbases of 140 inches to 248 inches.

Bandag Inc., Muscatine, Iowa, has introduced two new tire treads, the ATR-M for Class 6, 7 and 8 vehicles, and the ATR-LT an aggressive traction tread for commercial light truck users.

Featuring 221/432nds of tread depth, the product fits a broad range of tire sizes from a 215/75R17.5 to 12R24.5 and bias ply equivalent sizes.

Because of the aggressive tread pattern, the ATR product also is designed for vocational fleets that need to run in rural road conditions.

Eaton Corp., Cleveland, is extending its AutoShift transmissions line with a new 6-speed model for medium-duty applications.

By eliminating manual lever shifts, the clutch is required only when starting or stopping the vehicle. Once the truck is in motion, shifting is fully automatic.

The AutoShift 6-speed is designed for markets where extensive shifting is required and professional shifting skills may be lacking.

Also new is the electronic X-Y shifter on AutoShift 6-speed transmissions, built with the same mounting pattern but with fewer parts than the 10- and 18-speed AutoShift transmissions.

The 6-speed AutoShift is available with four driving modes: reverse; drive, with automatic shifting between gears; hold, which holds the current gear or any driver selected gear; and low, for startups requiring deeper reduction.

In addition, Eaton has introduced the Lightning Series heavy-duty transmission. One of Lightning's primary advantages is reduced weight - more than 120 pounds less than the transmission model it replaces. It also is more than 4 inches shorter, which combined with a standardized length for all future torque capacity 10-speeds, will simplify installation for truck original equipment manufacturers (OEM).

Finally, Eaton has introduced the Eaton Tire Maintenance System, which automatically detects and re-inflates under-inflated tires.

Its previously announced product, the Tire Monitor System, alerts operators to a low-pressure problem with a warning light, while the new system reduces the instances that the light will go on.

Ford Motor Co., Detroit, has unveiled the new 2000 Model Year Super Duty F-650 and F-750, which replace the F-800 series, and are targeted for refuse and recycling. The F-750 offers a GVWR of 30,000 pounds and 33,000 pounds. The F-650 has a GVWR of 26,000 pounds, the highest that can be operated in most states without a commercial driver's license. Multiple wheel bases range from 158 inches to 260 inches.

Three engine families are available: the Ford 7.3-liter PowerStroke, rated at 210 hp; the Cummins 5.9-liter ISB, with three hp ranges; and the Cat 3126E, with four hp ranges. All are diesel engines, electronically controlled, and 50-state-emissions certified.

The new F-series models are available with hydraulic and full-air ABS braking systems. In addition, the suspension system consists of front 8,500-pound and 9,000-pound multileaf springs that are 2 inches longer than those of the discontinued F-800 series.

Freightliner, Portland, Ore., has introduced a dual-fuel Cat CFE engine available in 190-hp or 250-hp ratings. This powerplant runs on a combination of diesel and liquified natural gas (LNG) or compressed natural gas (CNG).

The Cummins C8.3G engine, which also runs on natural gas, is offered in ratings from 250 hp to 275 hp for Freightliner trucks.

Also available are the Cummins B5.9G and B5.9LPG (propane) engines in ratings from 150 hp to 230 hp.

Additionally, Freightliner has introduced a 112-inch BBC Century Class heavy-duty tractor powered by the Caterpillar Inc., Peoria, Ill., C-12 dual-fuel engine, which is designed for fleets operating under stringent clean air laws.

The engine operates on 100 percent diesel until the engine temperature reaches 150 degrees, at which time it switches to a combination of 85 percent LNG and 15 percent diesel. The engine requires no spark plugs or pre-combustion chambers because diesel provides the ignition source.

There are two ratings for the C-12 engine - 410 hp with 1,250 pounds per foot of torque and 360 hp with 1,250 pounds per foot of torque. This engine can be converted easily to pure diesel power for resale.

Freightliner also has introduced a Mercedes-Benz, Portland, Ore., engine that will be standard in business class medium-duty trucks. A Japan-based Aisin, automatic transmission now is available as an option. Core components come with the MBE900 family, including induction-hardened cylinder bores, cam and crankshafts; forged steel connecting rods; chrome ceramic-coated piston rings; and a cast iron engine block optimized for lightweight strength. Expected life is 500,000 miles, based on normal use.

Molded rubber gaskets fit into integrated, machine channels for leak-proof joints. An internal engine oil cooler keeps lubricant temperatures low, and an automatic tensioning system is designed to keep belts from loosening over time.

Oil and filter change intervals are suggested at 20,000 miles. Engine efficiency on the MBE900 is increased with a gear-driven air compressor.

The new Aisin A581 automatic transmission features full electronic controls and incorporates a single-stage, three-element, two-phase torque converter with lock-up in second gear or higher. It has five forward speeds and one reverse and operates in power and economy modes. There also is a limp mode, to allow for manual operation if necessary.

International, Chicago, has introduced the heavy-duty International 5000i Series. The diesel engine provides up to 330 hp and 1,150 pounds per foot torque. The series includes the new International 5900i set-forward axle (SFA) with 120-inch bumper-to-back-of-cab (BBC) and the International 5600i SBA with 114-inch BBC, built on a common chassis.

A new Diamond Logic engine brake is available from International and is designed to increase stopping power while reducing wear on chassis brakes. Because all six cylinders are actuated at different percentages depending on the horsepower level, the engine brake slows the truck on steep grades.

The series also features downhill cruise control and an automatic mode that does not require a manual switch operation to increase the brake's horsepower.

Kenworth Truck Co., Kirkland, Wash., is entering the Class 7 cabover market with the introduction of the K37, which will complement the T300 medium-duty conventional truck.

With four wheelbase options, between 169 inches and 236 inches, the K37 can be configured to meet a variety of straight truck applications.

The standard engine is a Cummins ISB, which can be spec'd from 175 hp to 230 hp and matched to a 6-speed synchronized transmission. Eaton Spicer 12,000 pound front axles and 21,000 pound rear axles are standard; Eaton brakes and a Meritor WABCO four-channel, anti-lock braking system round out drivetrain components.

The K37 has a two-year, unlimited mileage warranty.

Mack Trucks Inc., Allentown, Pa., has introduced its new Vision tractor with a Mack E-Tech engine from 300 hp to 460 hp with 9-, 10-, 13- and 18-speed transmissions. Vision has a cab with fully electronic, non-glare dash instrumentation and an ergonomic pedal placement.

The standard Vision chassis warranty is one year/100,000 miles with 100 percent parts and labor coverage. The Mack E-Tech engine is covered by a three-year/300,000 mile warranty, with major Mack components covered for five years/500,000 miles.

The company also has announced a new standard for oil drain intervals for its heavy-duty trucks - 50,000 miles. This change easily outdistances Mack's previous standard recommended drain interval by 10,000 miles.

To take advantage of the new oil change intervals, vehicles must meet certain criteria: EO-M PLUS engine oil must be used; the vehicle must have a new E-TECH engine or an E7 engine with a V-MAC II electronic control system (1997 chassis or newer); vehicle fuel consumption must be 6 miles per gallon (mpg) or better; and the engine must be equipped with a Centri-Mas oil filtration system and use the OEM centrifugal rotor.

Peterbilt Motor Co., Denton, Texas, has introduced its Model 387, an aerodynamic, conventional truck available in two BBC configurations.

The exterior has a sloped hood and fender design to optimize airflow and visibility through the windshield. For safety, the new forward lighting system is designed with a lens for the aero headlamp that is thicker than a typical lens for durability.

Also integrated into the headlamp is an inboard turn signal and amber daytime running lights.

The hood of the Model 387 consists of three panels. If damaged, one panel can be replaced separately, rather than replacing the whole hood. An in-cab hood release system is located inside the cab. Additionally, the model comes equipped with a two-piece fender liner to reduce engine noise.

Sterling Truck, Willoughby, Ohio, offers the L7500 and L8500 series of trucks and tractors, which have received a horsepower and torque boost for their standard engine offerings.

The standard engine for the company's midrange trucks now is a 190-hp Cat 3126 diesel, a 15-hp increase. The 3126 also has a new standard torque rating of 520 foot pounds at 1,440 rpm.

To handle the new torque and horsepower, the standard midrange transmission changes from an Eaton-Fuller FS-4205A to an Eaton-Fuller FS-4205A 5-speed.

Tandem axle LT7500 and LT8500 models now have standard Con Met aluminum front and rear hubs. In addition, Sterling is phasing in the EquiFlo fuel line system that provides dual-tank fuel equalization without crossover lines, as well as fuel return in a single- or multi-tank system.

Because EquiFlo eliminates fittings and low-mounted crossover lines, the system minimizes the potential for damage from road debris, while improving ground clearance. This is particularly important for vocational vehicles that frequently operate in rugged terrain, such as dirt roads, landfills or construction sites.

Volvo Trucks, Greensboro, N.C., has introduced the new VE D12C. Like its predecessor, the VE D12C is a 6-cylinder, turbocharged, air-to-air cooled in-line diesel engine. Initially, it will be offered with a 465-hp rating delivering 1,650 pound per foot of torque in the 1,100 rpm range. Three additional models rated at 345 hp, 385 hp, and 425 hp also will be available in its class.

The Volvo Engine Brake (VEB), a feature on VE D12 engines, also is available on the new engine. The VEB works as a compression brake in combination with an exhaust pressure governor (EPG).

Kenworth Truck Co., Kirkland, Wash., and Peterbilt Motors, Denton, Texas, are readying their trucks for the year 2000 with technologically advanced controls and driver comfort options.

To make certain advanced technology systems feasible on future production models, Kenworth is using a T2000, the company's premium on-highway model, as its "smart" truck. The vehicle features an in-dash computer display; global positioning system (GPS) navigation, which enables the driver to program a trip and receive verbal directions; sophisticated electronic diagnostics; an electronic vision system, which includes video cameras mounted inside the side mirrors; advanced exterior lighting, including an infrared night-vision camera that displays a temperature-based view of objects beyond the headlights; a transmission with gear shift controls on the steering column; and Internet, cable television and phone access.

The in-dash computer display monitor features GPS mapping, service maintenance information, the driver's log and gauge modes, which can be activated by keypad or voice. The maintenance mode assists in pre-trip-inspection, automatically testing lights, turn signals and other systems, and noting needed repairs. Error or component failure messages are communicated directly to the driver, or to fleet headquarters via the truck's satellite communications link. Data for the driver's log is entered with the keypad and can be transferred to a spreadsheet.

Peterbilt has unveiled a concept medium-duty cab-over engine (COE) designed for special vocational applications.

The COE features a stamped steel cab that is galvanized throughout. The cab has a low floor height and doors that open 90 degrees. Front and rear suspension stabilizer bars are included, and a 50-degree wheel cut is designed to facilitate maneuverability.

The concept cab has a narrow engine cover and short gear shift, enabling the driver to enter and exit from either side of the cab and move throughout it to avoid traffic. In addition, the ergonomic cab layout provides easy access to driver gauges and controls.

Visibility is provided through the expansive, 2,300 square inch windshield, side windows, a small A-pillar design and large mirrors.

The concept truck is configured in a 33,000 pound gross vehicle weight with 12,000-pound capacity front springs and a 21,000-pound rear suspension. Componentry and wiring are secured below the frame rails, keeping the back of cab area clean for easy body installations.