The Last Word

In our own backyard It's not my style to get the last word, but I would like to make some constructive comments. Don't get over-excited to buy these European-type fancy, tailor-made, non-standardized, expensive road trailers with lots of gimmicks and unnecessary components.I agree that implementing modern technology improves reliability and safety. Extra-lightweight, greater volume, and lower service

In our own backyard It's not my style to get the last word, but I would like to make some constructive comments. Don't get over-excited to buy these European-type fancy, tailor-made, non-standardized, expensive road trailers with lots of gimmicks and unnecessary components.

I agree that implementing modern technology improves reliability and safety. Extra-lightweight, greater volume, and lower service costs - that's what everybody wants. But what's the price tag? Don't forget about important costly consequences, such as increased M&R expenses, damage vulnerability, after-sales service problems, and reduced spare-parts availability during breakdowns in remote areas. In addition, more complex components create more downtime and may reduce the life span of the equipment.

The best trailers I've seen - in terms of quality and value - to carry freight from A to B were not in the Far East or Europe, but in the U.S. Don't reinvent the wheel. - Ben J.H. Van Melle

(Mr. Van Melle is a former European fleet manager for a major trailer leasing company and is now an intermodal transportation equipment consultant based in France.)

"Typical linehaul vehicles travel less than one mile in first gear during their entire lifetime." - Steve Slesinski, drive axle product manager, Spicer Heavy Axle and Brake Div., Dana Corp.

You'll be able to surf the net while you're filling up the tank if Gilbarco Inc. has its way. The company has introduced a "Web-enabled" fuel dispenser with a 10-in. video screen mounted at eye level.

The pump displays downloaded headlines, weather forecasts, and other information from selected Web sites. And on a more practical note, using Internet-standard protocols to link automated fuel dispensers should make them easier to manage remotely, as well as more entertaining.

Glen Brown, president and CEO of Contract Freighters Inc., set a new world land speed record for a heavy truck last month at the famous Bonneville Salt Flats, averaging just over 162.5 mph in two runs. The previous record was 147.696 mph set by George Neilsen in 1995.

Although Brown's "Red Racer" had a standard Kenworth T2000 cab and 60-in. sleeper, as well as a fifth wheel and an air-ride tandem, the rest of the truck's specs aren't likely to become CFI fleet standards. Built with the help of Kenworth engineers, the KW was powered by a Cummins 2,200-hp. K-series engine with twin turbochargers, and it ran on aeronautic Bridgestone tires made for the Boeing 737. Auxiliary braking was provided by parachutes, which have not yet been approved by FHWA for over-the-road use.

"It was like going to the grocery store," said Brown, who earlier in the year drove another T2000 in the Pike's Peak International Hill Climb.

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