Manager: Doug Hansen
Fleet: Green River Lines, Peru, IL
Operation: National tour bus fleet
When you're hauling people for a living, you can't afford to skimp on maintenance. With that being said, in this high-dollar age of fleet operations, you try to save where you can without compromising the health and safety of your equipment.
That's the mantra followed by Doug Hansen, owner of Peru, IL-based Green River Lines, a full-service bus and tour company that offers nationwide service.
His fleet of 10 Prevost tour buses — called “coaches” — are powered by Series 60 Detroit Diesel engines that crank out 430 hp. and carry a maximum of 56 people. A fully loaded coach weighs approximately 45,000 lbs. and travels, on average, 65,000 mi. per year. Depending on the tour, on-road travel days could be as long as 12 hours. Tours operate year-round and, in many cases, the coaches travel throughout wide temperature extremes and climates. For example, a January tour departing from a cold Illinois climate could end up in a warm Florida climate the next day.
As you might expect, Hansen's buses require a lot of oil changes, which aren't cheap. As a result, he wanted to upgrade to both an engine and gear oil that would allow him to safely extend drain intervals without compromising wear protection or increasing maintenance downtime.
“My dad started this company 30 years ago and now our buses go everywhere,” Hansen says. “We wanted to cut down on oil changes to save money, but we didn't want that decision to compromise the life expectancy of our equipment.”
So he started working with Uranich Coal & Oil in LaSalle, IL, a local oil distributor, to see what oils might do the trick.
Hansen decided to switch to Petro-Canada's Duron-E 15W-40 heavy-duty engine oil and Traxon E Synthetic 75W-90 gear oil. On the engine oil side of the ledger, Hansen reports he's been able to safely extend drain intervals out to 25,000 mi. for both newer and older engines alike, as it's suitable for use in '07 and pre-'07 EPA compliant low emission engines.
“[Duron-E 15W-40] performed really well year-round [especially] in all of the temperature extremes we tour through. Even my 1998 engines don't have any start-up issues anymore,” he says. “It's nice to have peace of mind, knowing that our oil is working to reduce the risk of equipment failure or downtime.” He's also spending “a lot less” on general maintenance and service.
Make no mistake, though, Duron-E 15W-40 is a premium engine oil blend, so it costs more than many other formulations. Yet Hansen says the benefits of that higher price come from easier cold weather start-up, minimized engine wear and oil consumption, plus longer drain intervals.
According to Hansen, the company also saved money by switching to Traxon E Synthetic 75W-90 heavy-duty, extreme pressure GL-5 gear lubricant.
“Before we switched, we used to drain and change the oil every year,” he says. “Now we just check the oil levels periodically, but don't drain and change until about every three years. So we've basically tripled our gear oil drain intervals, which equates into dollars saved on maintenance costs.”
Maintenance Bay presents case studies detailing how fleets resolve maintenance-related issues.