Super Duty F-Series offers diversity, power

Ford's new two-platform strategy recognizes the differences between commercial- and personal-use markets.Ford Motor Co. will soon begin a mass replacement of existing Class 2 through 5 product. Next March, two dozen F-250 HD, F-350, and F-Super Duty models will be superseded by 44 new Super Duty F-Series units.The imminent arrival of the 1999 models, built on a new, heavier platform, also signals

Ford's new two-platform strategy recognizes the differences between commercial- and personal-use markets.

Ford Motor Co. will soon begin a mass replacement of existing Class 2 through 5 product. Next March, two dozen F-250 HD, F-350, and F-Super Duty models will be superseded by 44 new Super Duty F-Series units.

The imminent arrival of the 1999 models, built on a new, heavier platform, also signals Ford's determination to bridge the GVW gap that now exists between its 15,000 lb.- and 22,000-lb.-rated vehicles, thus meeting the needs of its fast-growing commercial customer base. At the same time, the multitude of new vehicles will enable it to fulfill the requirements of specialized and, in some cases, low-volume market segments.

Ford contends that its new Super Duty Fs will not only fill the GVW void in a strong, roomy, and powerful manner, but also provide smooth rides. The latter will be accomplished through the use of computer-modeled, gas-charged shock absorbers in conjunction with longer leaf springs.

The new series will be available in the following GVW ratings: 8,800; 9,900; 11,200; 12,500; 15,000; 17,500; and 19,000 lb. The truck maker is also contemplating production of a Super Duty F-650 medium that could be rated at 26,000 lb. GVW, just below the CDL threshold in most states.

Super Duty Fs will be available in a wide variety of body styles, including Regular Cabs, SuperCabs (the industry's first four-door SuperCab will be among these), Crew Cabs, and chassis cabs. All models in the new lineup will bear strong styling kinship with the 1997 F-150. But other than sharing a locking tailgate with the lighter duty vehicles, the Super Duty F-Series is quite a different breed.

For example, with regard to overall length, Super Duty F-250, F-350, F-450, and F-550 pickups are nine inches longer than current production F250 HDs. In addition, a Super Duty's wheelbase is four inches longer and its cargo area both taller and longer than that of the F-250 HD.

The truck maker has also developed a pair of more potent Triton gasoline engines to power the new vehicles: a 235-hp. 5.4L V8 and a 275-hp. 6.8L V10. An uprated version of the Power Stroke 7.3L V8 diesel, which puts out 235 hp. and 500 lb.-ft. of torque at 1,600 rpm, is also available.

Available in both two- and four-wheel drive, and with short- or long-box options, the vehicles will be specialty-body friendly. In addition to offering a box-delete option, the frame rails on all Super Duties are now constructed perfectly flat to ease body installation.

One of the most unusual aspects of the new Super Duty chassis is the design of the 14 frames. Rails are made in two pieces and fastened together. In the event of an accident or front-end collision, this feature can help reduce repair costs as it allows a damaged forward section of the frame to be removed and replaced with a complete assembly replacement module.

While cab interior dimensions vary somewhat by model, Ford increased the new trucks' shoulder room by more than three inches and hip room by more than five inches.

The 4R100 automatic transmission, an option on all Super Duties, is the first automatic to offer a provision for integral power takeoff (PTO), according to Ford. A new 6-speed manual gearbox, the M6OD, made for Ford by ZF Industries, will be standard with the diesel option.

Ross Roberts, Ford Motor Co. vice president and Ford Div. general manager, says that "the entirely separate Super Duty platform is recognition of the fact that the commercial users' truck demands are often rigorous, and cannot be met with under-8,500-lb.-GVW equipment."

Rodi Power Systems has announced an initial public offering to help fund development and production of a new heavy-duty diesel powerplant. The HT1-450 is a reverse uniflow two-stroke, V-4 configuration powerplant designed by Byron Spain.

Spain, a former Boeing engineer who holds 12 international patents, including the solid-state digital flight data recorder (black box), founded Rodi in 1987 and has been working on diesel engine technology ever since.

Now in the prototype stage, the HT1-450 engine weighs 1,430 lb. In addition to fuel economy savings, the new engine is a very compact package, allowing it to be placed in short-nosed trucks.

The 450-hp. HT1 generates 1,572 lb.-ft. of peak torque at 1,300 rpm. The engine is governed at 1,800. Its torque curve is relatively flat, dropping from 1,572 to 1,313 lb.-ft. at full governed rpm.

The HT Series of engines can be produced in a variety of forms -- I-2, I-4, I-6, V-4, V-8, and V-12. The turbocharged two-cylinder power module is based on a pair of enabling technologies unique to RODI: the reverse uniflow two-stroke engine cycle, and the two-point microprocessor engine control and its associated interactive software.

In the reverse uniflow two-stroke cycle, pressurized air is admitted via intake valves located in the cylinder head and exhaust is discharged through ports machined into the lower extremity of each cylinder liner. This eliminates the need for exhaust valves while still achieving efficient scavenging of the exhaust within the cylinders.

The two-point microprocessor engine control is designed to permit initiation and termination of fuel delivery. This is programmed independently for each individual cylinder. The control system computer is designed to continuously monitor and control all engine functions to optimize operating efficiency.

This technology is expected to result in quick starts, smooth operation, and minimal exhaust emissions. The control system can be programmed to run the engine on either bank of the V, resulting in a 15% reduction in fuel consumption during that portion of operation.

An integral cellular telephone/ modem will be designed into the system, enabling the operator to receive diagnostic or repair assistance from a factory service specialist at any time. The service specialist will actually operate/adjust the engine by remote control.

Other features:

* The ability to operate on two of its four cylinders when lightly loaded or idling to improve fuel efficiency.

* The power head can be separated from the accessory drive unit and removed from the truck without breaking any connections to the power steering pump, air conditioning compressor, air brakes or alternator. This greatly reduces the downtime normally required for major overhauls and facilitates the sale of remanufactured power heads.

* The large oil pump also serves as a dynamic brake capable of producing up to 75 hp. silently.

* The powerplant reduces the number of main bearings from seven to three, and the length of the crankshaft by 45%.

* There are no exhaust valves. The heat normally lost to the head's coolant in competing engines is harnessed by two turbochargers in the HT1-450.

Dana Corp.'s Drivetrain Service Div. has introduced a new Chelsea PTO and pump combination specifically designed for the 4R100 automatic transmission, which will be an option on the new Ford Super Duty F-Series pickup trucks. Known as the Chelsea 242/244 Series, the pump and PTO are available for 4-wheel drive (244) and 2-wheel drive (242) applications.

The automatic transmission and PTO/pump specification is targeted at fleets specializing in utility work, dump and snowplow vocations, and towing and recovery operations. The unit operates in all gears (except overdrive), including drive, neutral, reverse, and park. Installation kits include mounting hardware, transmission fluid temperature sensors, panel mounted temperature gauges, and engagement switches. To meet varying displacement requirements, five pump sizes are available for the 244 Series, and ten for the 242 Series.

According to Chelsea, a PTO and pump combination is significantly faster and easier to install than a traditional clutched pump. The PTO/pump package also offers longer life and less maintenance than clutch pumps. Directly mounting the pump to the PTO also eliminates many problems associated with accessory interference and heat generation. The unit carries a two-year warranty.

Additional features include a new electronic interface for troublefree connections, and weathertight connectors that ensure solid connections.

Both versions of the 242/244 Series have SAE "A" 2-bolt flanges and 5/8-in. 9-spline shafts. The 242 may be ordered with a round, 1-in. output shaft to provide good clearance for universal joint swing.

Cummins Engine Co. and Meritor Automotive have launched a new engine/transmission technology called Torq-2 that is expected to help improve vehicle performance and reduce capital outlay for drivetrains.

The advanced torque management system works by providing drivers with an additional 200 lb.-ft. of torque in the top two gears of a 10-speed transmission to improve hill pulling. However, the system could also provide gains in vehicle safety and help reduce the wear rate of drive tires.

For its part, Cummins has introduced three new N14 Plus engines with "smart torque" ratings. The 370- and 435-hp. ratings will each be limited to 1,450 lb.-ft. of torque in gears one through eight, but will provide up to 1,650 lb.-ft. in the top two gears. A 460-hp. rating will produce 1,650 lb.-ft. in gears one through eight, and up to 1,850 lb.-ft. in the top two gears.

According to Martha Brooks, vp of medium- and heavy-duty marketing for Cummins, "the Torq-2 system remains relatively inexpensive overall, but provides performance equal to a much more expensive powertrain" when integrated correctly.

Meritor is launching four special transmissions to handle the additional torque. The new RM10-145AT and RMX10-145 (AT or CT versions) will be the direct and overdrive teammates for the 1,450/1,650 lb.-ft. ratings, while the RMX10-165CT overdrive will be teamed with the larger rating.

According to Frank Palmieri, director of sales and marketing for Meritor's transmission, clutch, and driveline business, Meritor will offer the Torq-2 feature solely with Cummins for an introductory six-month period.

Meritor Automotive has introduced two planetary axles for off-road heavy dump trucks: the SPRC-4808 tandem (140,000- to 180,000-lb. application range) and the PSC-1876 driving steer axle (50,000- to 65,000-lb. range).

The 4808 tandem, which replaces the company's SPRC-4806 and offers the largest torque capacity of any Meritor planetary, features a larger ring gear, upgraded axle housings, and beefed up wheel-end gearing. A positive-flow oil pump and filter are standard on the forward carrier and optional on the rear, depending on suspension configuration.

Meritor's new planetary front axle provides easier vehicle handling and reduced steering effort, thanks to a 3 deg. castor and 7 deg. inclined kingpin. The axle features a 29 deg. wheel cut, with up to 35 deg. in special situations. A number of reduced maintenance features incorporated into the 1876 steer axle include a kingpin design that improves grease purging, and 25% wider brake linings.

Daybeam Inc. introduced DRL-200, the second generation of its daytime running light system. The new model, which can be configured for reduced-intensity high- or low-beam operation, has been designed for the heavy-duty market.

A one-unit-fits-all model, the DRL-200 can be used with either high- or low-side switching schemes, 12- or 24-volt electrical systems, separate headlamp circuits, adjustable output power, and multiple enable/disable modes. Easy-to-use FASTON interconnects are available with optional cable assembly or Packard adapters.

This year's Automotive Aftermarket Week drew some 60,000 attendees to Las Vegas in early November to four simultaneous trade shows sponsored by several associations, including the Automotive Service Industry Assn. (ASIA), Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Assn. (MEMA), and the National Tire Dealers & Retreaders Assn. (NTDRA).

Medium-duty steer tire Dunlop Tire Corp. has launched a new "premium" steer-axle radial for medium-duty truck applications. The SP 381 is a non-directional steer tire and the first of three radials to be known collectively as Dunlop's Performance Profile Series (PPS).

Dunlop points out its PPS technology features a unified casing profile to improve mileage, fuel economy, and wear, and a standard 8.5 retread cap size. Joining the SP 381 in mid-'98 will be the SP 481 closed-shoulder drive tire and the SP 181 shallow-depth trailer tire.

Other features of the SP 381 include a warranty that allows unlimited retreads for up to four years as well as no reduction in casing allowance throughout the life of the warranty.

Shoulder-decoupling grooves promote even shoulder wear and reduce irregular (river) wear.

In addition, a new stabilizer rib enhances even wear on the 2nd and 4th ribs to help extend original mileage, and button-type ejectors prevent stone trapping and drilling.

Five-rib highway radial According to a Yokohama Tire Corp. representative, the new RY237 all-position tire will be available in the spring. The manufacturer says the tire is "ideal" for use on steer axles of longhaul highway trucks, but is also suitable for drive- and trailer-axle application.

The RY237 features a straight five-rib pattern, which Yokohama says provides excellent lateral stability, improved steering feel, and water dispersion, while also promoting even wear.

The manufacturer says the tire also combines a wide tread design with a 19/32-in. depth and Yokohama's patented stress-control groove to substantially increase removal mileage.

The RY237 also benefits from Stem-2 (strain energy minimization) technology, which prolongs casing life by controlling heat and internal tire stress.

Siped light-truck tire First offering in a new family of light-duty radials from Kumho is the Road Venture HT. The new tire is designed primarily for highway use on pickups and other light trucks.

According to Kumho, the Road Venture HT features five heavily siped ribs that enhance footprint stability, tread wear, handling, and dry/wet/snow traction. Wet handling and traction also benefit from four deep circumferential tread grooves that evacuate water from the tire's footprint area.

A full line of Road Venture HT tires will be available in the spring. Twenty-two sizes will cover flotation, LT-metric, wide-base, and popular 15- and 16-in. P-metric applications.

Light-duty performance tire Michelin says that its new Pilot LTX for pickups and sport-utility vehicles combines the handling of the Pilot tire with the durability of the LTX light-truck radial. The maker states that the tire delivers on-highway handling characteristics usually associated with performance sedans.

The Pilot LTX features a tread pattern with wide solid-shoulder ribs and bridged interior ribs to improve handling and cornering. Wide circumferential grooves help resist hydroplaning by rapidly evacuating water from the contact patch. And a specially formulated silica-tread compound provides for high levels of adhesion in wet conditions.

Contributing to the tire's high-speed stability is Michelin's proprietary BAZ technology. This involves using spiral-wrapped nylon banded at zero degrees to tire rotation to help control tire shape and maintain handling by resisting the centrifugal forces encountered at higher speeds.

The tire also features a high-strength steel belt package for resistance to punctures. In addition, the Pilot LTX uses Michelin's exclusive bead-tension structure to aid sidewall rigidity, which enables quick steering response while retaining enough flex for a smooth ride.

The Pilot LTX is initially being offered in a P255/55R17 (H-rated) size. Tires in P265/70R17 (H-rated) and P255/55R18 (V-rated) sizes will become available in the first quarter of next year. Three other H-rated sizes will be added by midyear.

Timken's light lineup The Timken Co. has rolled out a comprehensive aftermarket line of bearings, seals, and related components for light-duty vehicles.

To be marketed as Timken tapered roller bearings and Timken "Automotive Service Parts," the new line consists of premium products for vehicles built in the U.S. as well as overseas. In addition to roller bearings, Timken will offer seals, clutch bearings, ball bearings, and hub units.

While Timken manufactures its tapered roller bearings, products offered under the Automotive Service Parts label are specified by the company's engineers for production by selected manufacturers.

Replacement springs Dana Corp.'s Spicer Chassis Products says its Velvet-Ride springs are designed "to reduce the vibration, hop, skip, and jump" of full-size pickups and vans. The manufacturer says the rubber torsion springs are easy to install as replacements for the conventional rear shackles on a light truck's leaf springs.

According to Dana, the springs provide a smooth ride when the vehicle is lightly loaded and improve cornering on rough roads.

"Velvet-Ride springs control the overcompensation of light-vehicle leaf springs when driving empty," notes Lee Murray, vp-aftermarket sales, Dana's Automotive Sales Div.

"In tests, the springs reduce vibration a full 20% at 30 mph, yet still carry the vehicle's rated weight when loaded down," he states. "In addition, cornering on rough roads is significantly improved, and rear-end vibration is reduced when towing a light-duty trailer."

Velvet-Ride springs are available from all Dana and Perfect Circle chassis-products distributors.

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