The crowds were as large and the smiles as big as ever at this year's Mid-America Trucking Show, probably because 2006 was a great year for both the manufacturers with products on display and the fleets wandering though those booths.

The crowds were as large and the smiles as big as ever at this year's Mid-America Trucking Show, probably because 2006 was a great year for both the manufacturers with products on display and the fleets wandering though those booths. But under all the bright lights and shiny chrome, the mood was one of caution as both sellers and buyers try to read the economic tea leaves for some idea of what the next six months might hold for trucking.

For the truck OEMs and their suppliers, the big economic news was long anticipated — truck sales have dropped dramatically as the industry switches over to the new low-emissions diesels mandated by Environmental Protection Agency rules that took effect in January.

Through the end of March, truck build rates at the major OEMs were down 40% over last year, according to Joe McAleese, president and CEO of Bendix, which supplies many brake and other safety-related components to the industry. Following a torrid buying spree by fleets last year as they sought to avoid the added cost of the '07-spec engines, everyone expected to see that drop in the first half, with a strong recovery in the second half, he said during a press event before the show.

However, fleets are also experiencing an unexpected decrease in freight tonnage and a weakness in equipment utilization, McAleese said. Combined with what appears to be a developing weakness in the country's general economic condition, McAleese has revised that initial outlook and said, “I don't see the recovery now in the second half.”

Instead, truck sales will now be “robust” in 2008 and 2009 as they are driven once again by new emissions regulations that bow in 2010, he said.

Both in press conferences and private conversation, the top executives at all the major truck manufacturers painted similar pictures, with expected slumping sales not recovering as quickly as anticipated. As Bill Jackson, the newly appointed general manager of Peterbilt Motors, pointed out, though, even if the second half remains relatively slow, 2007 will be “the seventh or eighth best [heavy-truck] retail year in history.”

And with the next emissions hurdle set for 2010, fleets will buy replacement trucks ahead of that deadline, according to Chris Patterson, president and CEO of Freightliner LLC. “The question is when,” he told a group of suppliers at the annual MATS breakfast hosted by the Heavy Duty Manufacturers Assn. The economy and freight levels “may push the expected third quarter recovery out further, but that surge of orders will come and we [manufacturers] will just have to ramp up when it does.”

Perhaps reflecting the uncertainty surrounding both truck sales and freight to be carried in those trucks, press activity at this year's show was also relatively subdued compared to previous years. Although the three-day schedule of press events didn't slacken at all, for the first time in memory there were no major new trucks or components unveiled.

Instead, most truck makers offered details on updates for the new model year and the large component suppliers focused on new customer support and training initiatives. The one trend that did emerge was a wide-scale attack on engine idling, with both integrated systems from truck builders and aftermarket products from both new and established companies accounting for most of the significant new product news at the show.

Despite the uncertainty surrounding trucking at the moment, though, the enthusiasm of the crowds was undiminished as they climbed into new trucks for every possible application, talked trucks with suppliers and generally celebrated the industry's vitality. In the end, it's that enthusiasm, not sales or freight, that has always been the source of trucking's underlying strength and energy.

PETERBILT: Day cabs, hybrids, idling solution

An extended day cab, a Class 5 conventional, an alternative to idling and four hybrid models head the lineup of new products announced at the Mid-America Trucking Show by Peterbilt Motors.

The new Model 387 Extended Day Cab and Model 384 “complete the company's aero truck lineup,” according to Landon Sproull, Peterbilt's chief engineer. Intended for tanker and regional hauling applications, the extended day cab version adds six inches to interior cab length and will be offered with both medium and “premium” length hoods. The 384 has a 116-in. BBC and will be offered as a day cab or with a range of Unibilt sleeper boxes. Both feature the aerodynamic styling introduced with the Model 387 and will be available later this year.

The company's traditionally styled Models 388 and 389 have also received updates with a new grille for better air flow to the engine and redesigned hood mechanism for easier service access.

On the vocational heavy-duty side, Peterbilt introduced redesigns for the Model 367 with a 127-in. BBC and Model 365 with a 115-in. BBC. Both feature new front axle positions for better maneuverability in tight work sites and a range of weight-saving options.

Joining Peterbilt's current Model 335 Class 6 conventional truck will be the Class 5 Model 325 later this year, according to Bill Jackson, Peterbilt gm and Paccar vp. A Class 5 version of the COE Model 220 is also expected later this year and will be called the Model 210.

Available this summer for all Peterbilt Class 8 tractors with 70-in. Unibilt sleepers, the Peterbilt ComfortClass system will provide heating or cooling and 110V electric power for up to 10 hours without idling the truck's diesel engine, according to Sproull. The factory installed option stores both electrical power and a cold charge collected while the truck is running down the road, and then uses the stored energy to keep a driver comfortable without idling either the truck's diesel or an auxiliary power unit. A small diesel-fired heater provides heat if needed and shore power can be connected if available to run the system.

Peterbilt's hybrid vehicle program covers four distinct models, with the earliest seeing limited production by next year. The medium-duty Models 330 and 335 are hybrid diesel electric vehicles for P&D and utility truck applications, respectively.

The Model 386 hybrid is an OTR tractor with sleeper that uses the diesel electric technology to provide hotel power without idling and augment the main diesel engine's power while on the road. The fourth vehicle is the Model 320 refuse truck, which uses a diesel hydraulic hybrid system.


Sizing up, and down

This year Hino Trucks is placing increased emphasis on the Class 7 market, especially with trucks for vocational applications, such as the dump truck it displayed at the Mid-America Trucking Show, according to Nick Vermet, senior vp of sales, marketing & customer support.

Vermet also told Fleet Owner that while Hino is not ruling out a move into Class 8 at some time, it is more immediately focusing not only on Class 7 growth but on “filling up” its model line to provide more coverage of Class 4 and perhaps Class 3 applications.

He pointed out that there's a bracket still to fill between where the new light-duty Toyota Tundra pickup leaves off and the Hino lineup begins, indicating there is opportunity for additional models to evolve. Over time, that would enable the corporate siblings to provide a full range of light- to medium-heavy work trucks across the two nameplates.


No-idle cooling

Webasto Products North America said its new NiteCool (Non-Idling-Technology Evaporative Cooler) TCC-100 (Truck Cabin Cooler) system for sleepers and day cabs uses water evaporation to cool interior air without requiring any power or emitting any emissions.

According to the company, NiteCool is based on the scientific principle of heat extraction through water evaporation. It initially draws warm air in from outside the cabin. In the next step, the air circulates through a pre-cooling chamber and is then further cooled when the warm air molecules naturally try to evaporate water from the unit's 7-gallon water tank. The evaporation process causes the remaining air molecules to be cooler, which are then circulated into the truck cabin to reduce the interior temperature.

Unlike other products on the market, including some from Webasto, the NiteCool TCC-100 system does not use any fuel and produces zero emissions.

Early testing of the unit shows that when outside air has 40% relative humidity and is 86°F, the NiteCool TCC-100 will put 72.5°F air into the cabin. In the same example, when the outside temperature is 95°F, the air going through the evaporative system will come out at 79.8°F. Varying temperatures and humidity levels will produce different air temperature outputs.


High-tech cargo detector

Delphi Corp. introduced a cargo detector that uses infrared technology to determine whether or not a trailer is empty. For use in conjunction with a mobile asset tracking system, the cargo detector, which is placed on the top front wall of the trailer, sends an “empty” or “not empty” signal back to the tracking system.

“The cargo detector adds even greater value to an asset tracking system by allowing logistics managers to instantly pinpoint trailers carrying cargo and those that are empty,” said Beth Schwarting, an executive with Delphi's safety product unit.


OEM adds to heavy, medium lines

Kenworth Truck Co. introduced an emissions-free no-idle system that will help OTR fleets meet stricter state clean-air regulations, as well as several new models for its heavy- and medium-duty lineups.

General manager Bob Christensen said that in June the company will offer the “Clean Power” no-idle system as a factory-installed option on Class 8 T660 72-in. AeroCabs. Clean Power incorporates a deep-cycle battery pack, thermal cooler and diesel-fired heater so drivers can heat and cool their trucks without running the engine. It generates 110V of “hotel load” power to operate items such as computers, TVs and microwaves while the truck engine is shut down. The system can also recharge and operate while connected to shore power, noted Mike Dozier, chief engineer.

“Clean Power comes with a factory warranty and generates no emissions compared to diesel-powered APUs,” Dozier said. “That's critical because the California Air Resources Board is working on a diesel particulate filter rule for diesel-powered APUs for 2008 that could add $2,000 to $5,000 to their cost.”

Also new for the KW heavy-duty lineup is an extended cab version of the T660 that adds six inches to the standard model's 122-in. BBC length, five inches to its height and two inches behind the wheel.

Gary Moore, Kenworth's assistant general manager, noted that on the medium-duty side, the Class 6 T270 and Class 7 T370 will join the company's T330 conventional line in July, followed by the Class 6 K260 and Class 7 K360 cabover models in November. All will come standard with either the PX-6 or PX-8 engines built by Paccar.

The OEM also plans to roll out a medium-duty hybrid package this spring based on the T330 platform. The hybrid counterpart is designed to improve fuel economy by 30% in P&D, municipal fleet and utility service operations, according to Dozier.

“Trucks have been for too long the villain in terms of their interaction with the environment,” Preston Feight, director of product development, told Fleet Owner. “Having hybrid medium-duty trucks and an emission-free no-idle system for Class 8 tractors will really change that — reducing emissions and saving fuel in each application.”


High-performance ISX

Cummins Inc. debuted a high-performance ISX rating, announced production of its Comfort-Guard APU and unveiled its next-generation QuickCheck information tool at the Mid-America Trucking Show.

Jeff Jones, vp-sales & market communications, said the 600-hp. and 2050 lb.-ft. torque rated engine is aimed at heavy-haul and expedited-freight customers.

Jones said the high-performance ISX provides extra torque so drivers can maintain road speed even on steep inclines, reducing the number of downshifts and fuel consumption. He added that with the ISX enabling a higher average road sped with less shifting, driver fatigue can be lessened and trip times shortened.

“The fact that we've increased the torque on this engine and maintained exceptional fuel economy while meeting the '07 emissions regulations with a single diesel particulate filter and turbocharger shows the true benefit of our integrated design and manufacturing capabilities,” Jones said.

Jones also announced that Cummins is “bringing back our Uptime Guarantee for all heavy-duty products.” He said if it takes longer than 24 hours to fix one of these engines, Cummins would cover the cost of a rental vehicle for three days. “This is our way of stating our confidence in these products.”

Other key announcements:

  • The ComfortGuard APU (auxiliary power unit) is now in production as an OEM-installed option or as a field retrofit. According to Cummins, this “complete and compact” system offers an effective solution for heating and cooling the cab with the main engine off.”

  • The new QuickCheck 5100 engine information tool is a self-contained handheld device that makes capturing and reading engine data easier and faster, said Cummins. It connects to any electronic diesel engine, using standard J1587 or J1939 data links. A supplied USB cable allows users to link their QuickCheck 5100 to a desktop PC. It runs on the Windows CE operating system and is preloaded with QuickCheck CE and PowerSpec CE applications.

  • Cummins has approved the use of B20 biodiesel blends in its 2002 and later (including 2007)EPA-compliant ISX, ISM, ISL, ISC and ISB engines. The engine maker said this was thanks to a new ASTM fuel spec; greater availability of quality fuels; and because it has completed the testing it felt necessary “to ensure customers can reliably operate their equipment with confidence using B20 fuel.”

As for what will be coming down the pike to meet EPA 2010 diesel emissions regs, Steve Charlton, executive director of heavy-duty engineering, said Cummins will be ready to announce which direction it will take to meet those requirements sometime later this year.


Synthetic gear lube

Chevron introduced a synthetic gear lubricant, Delo SAE 75W-90, developed for use in rear axles and differentials. The gear lube also meets SHAES 256 Rev C, a spec developed by Dana for improved performance in subzero temperatures According to Chevron, Delo SAE 75W-90 should contribute to gains in fuel economy, improved equipment durability and fewer churning losses, particularly at low operating temperatures.

Other benefits include:

  • Extended drain capabilities;
  • Exceptional performance in a wide range of temperatures;
  • Excellent thermal and oxidation stability ;
  • Meets all OEM specs and warranty requirements.

Chevron's new Delo Truck also made its debut at Mid-America. A 2007 Volvo VT880 hauls a customized trailer that houses the company's D-Lab, an interactive educational exhibit showcasing Delo products and information on issues such as lubrication technology and correct use of engine oils, lubricants and coolants.

The high-tech interactive exhibit includes digital graphics and light and sound effects, as well as a virtual “host,” providing an experience that is entertaining as well as informative. The 625-hp. 18-wheeler will take the D-Lab to truckstops, dealers and distributors across the country.


Spotlight on MaxxForce

International Truck and Engine Corp. announced the power and torque ratings for its new MaxxForce 11 and MaxxForce 13 diesel engines at the Mid-America Trucking Show. The six new models for the Class 8 market provide up to 1,700 lb.-ft. of torque at 1,000 rpm with ratings between 330 and 475 hp.

The in-line, 6-cyl. twin-series turbo-charged MaxxForce 13 has a horsepower range of 410-475 hp., designed to deliver 1,450-1,700 lb.-ft. of torque. The in-line, 6-cyl. 10.5 liter MaxxForce 11 has a horsepower range of 330 to 390 hp. and delivers 1,250 to 1,450 lb.-ft. of torque. Both engines feature a compacted-graphite iron cylinder block, high-pressure common-rail fuel system, overhead cam with roller lifters and isolated oil pan.

In the case of the MaxxForce engines, however, the total is greater than the sum of its parts. “These are our best products ever,” said Jacob Thomas, vp of International's Big Bore Diesel Engine Business Unit. “This is the first Class 8 engine designed in and for the 21st century. They feature unprecedented integration — a true systems approach to 2007 compliance. According to Thomas, there are numerous benefits from this integrated approach, including improved fuel economy, excellent power characteristics, lower and less harsh noise and vibration and higher strength without greater weight.

The new Class 8 engines are the latest addition to the MaxxForce lineup, which also includes engines for the Class 4 -7 market.

International also announced that its flagship ProStar Class 8 tractor will be available with Caterpillar's new C13 engine beginning this summer, as well as a new 113-in. BBC length option and a wider range of roof heights and new driver amenities.


New horizons

Trucker Buddy International, the non-profit organization dedicated to helping educate and mentor children in grades 2-8 via pen-pal relationships with professional truck drivers, continues to broaden it scope and bring new experiences to its members.

To expand outreach efforts, two full-time staffers will be added, said executive director Roxanne Rose. They'll be based at the group's new headquarters in Jefferson, GA, roughly 100 miles north of Atlanta.

Wal-Mart driver Mark Taylor was named president of Trucker Buddy, taking over for Don Nehring, a former ATA Road Team Captain. “Wal-Mart has the resources to help us grow,” said Rose. “We're not the same Trucker Buddy we were two years ago and we won't be the same five years from now.”

Evidence of the organization's expanding reach were present at Mid-America. While the Arian, WI, special-needs class that works with driver John Waldrogal watched the press conference in real-time via video, driver Bruce Brandon had to miss the event because he was visiting his 6th grade class in Njardvik, Iceland.


Inks small-carrier deal with BestPass

PrePass and BestPass announced they've agreed to offer their weigh-station bypass and toll-collection services as a package to motor carriers operating five or fewer trucks.

“Carriers still paying cash for tolls may be spending up to 30% more than necessary, as well as wasting time and fuel,” said Bill Joyce, BestPass CEO. And according to Dick Landis, president & CEO of Help Inc., which offers PrePass, each unnecessary stop at a weigh station can cost operators about $5.

Joyce said that the combined offering provides for toll savings of 5% to 30% in these states: Delaware, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia.

He noted that the package amounts to “one stop” convenience for handling a fleet's toll and weigh-station bypass administration and billing.

Interested carriers may call either 1-800-PrePass or contact BestPass at 518-458-9696 to enroll. Registration information is also available online at or


Profits in a soft market

While 2007 will be a profitable year for Freightliner LLC, truck sales are somewhat softer than anticipated, especially for over-the-road heavy-duty tractors, according to company president & CEO Chris Patterson.

“It's only March, but the good news is that it doesn't appear that we'll have to cut back the work force as much as we originally thought,” he said in an interview during the Mid-America Trucking Show.

The softness in Freightliner heavy-duty sales is being offset somewhat by stronger than anticipated medium-duty and school bus sales, as well as vocational truck sales at Sterling and Western Star. Export markets in South America and Mexico are also seeing strong sales, Patterson said.

Despite the slow initial start for orders for trucks with '07 EPA compliant engines, heavy-duty orders for the last half of the year look stronger as fleet customers come back into the replacement market, he said. Overall, Patterson expects North American retail heavy-duty sales to still hit the 220,000-unit level.

Freightliner's all-new tractor, which will eventually replace the Century Class and Columbia models, is set to be introduced next month and start full production in July, Patterson said.

As for the next round of emissions cutbacks in 2010, Freightliner “remains completely committed to SCR (selective catalytic reduction),” Patterson told Fleet Owner. That technology, which is already in use by Freightliner's parent, DaimlerChrysler Trucks, in Europe, “offers the best economic alternative for customers in terms of fuel economy and performance,” he said.


Staying legal

A new line of liquid-filled, calibrating onboard load scales from Right Weigh Scales made their debut at the Mid-America Trucking Show this year. “We developed this line of scales in direct response to the industry's need for onboard scales that can be flush mounted without requiring any protective enclosure, yet still give the driver the information they need to stay legal,” said Andy Mount, vp.

Measuring and reading in actual weight (lb., not psi), these weathertight analog gauges contain low viscosity silicone that prevents corrosion, while absorbing vibration and pressure spikes, according to Mount. These gauges also have an operating temperature range of -40°F to 140°F and are vented to prevent altitude and temperature from affecting their accuracy. The scales use face-on-face calibration, ensuring accuracy to within 250 lb. or better.


Brake updates

Bendix Spicer Foundation Brake LLC, a joint venture between Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems LLC and Dana Corp., provided an update of its activities at a news conference at the Mid-America Trucking Show. Kishor Pendse, president of Bendix Spicer Foundation Brake, made these key announcements:

  • Bowling Green, KY, has been chosen as the site for a new state-of-the-art plant for manufacturing both drum and disc brakes. Located at the former site of a Hayes Lemmerz wheel plant, it will be the first dedicated foundation brake plant operated by the joint venture.

  • A new lightweight version of the Bendix ADB22X air disc brake package that features an aluminum hub and splined disc assembly reduces total wheel-end weight, greatly reduces rotor dynamic stresses, provides improved thermal balance, and offers longer brake life. The aluminum splined disc can save as much as 240 lb. (total) compared with drum brake configurations on a typical 6×4 tractor and offers savings of 209 lb. (total) compared with other air disc brakes, which use an iron hub and conventional rotor, on the same typical tractor configuration, said Pendse. Peterbilt will be the first OEM to offer it as an option on new on-highway trucks.

  • The industry's first portable training unit to demonstrate foundation brake assembly, disassembly and proper maintenance practices. The new Foundation Brake Training Unit eliminates the need for Bendix customers to tear down their own vehicles or use partial brake hardware to conduct vital foundation brake training.

Fred Andersky, marketing manager-electronics group, noted that in January 2008 Bendix will introduce its TABS-6 SST trailer stability system. He said this “simple package” allows retrofitting stability complements but does not replace the Bendix ESP stability system. It is aimed at fleets that own trailers but use owner-operators or have only roll stability on their tractors.


Safety first

Volvo Trucks North America announced at the Mid-America Trucking Show that its Volvo Link Sentry and Volvo Action Service (VAS) programs are now standard on all trucks ordered after October 31, 2006. The new standard features include three years of wireless satellite communications services at no additional charge.

A vehicle monitoring and communications system, Link Sentry works in conjunction with the VAS roadside assistance program. Sentry tracks and communicates key productivity and performance information each week for individual trucks, including:

  • Fuel used, distance traveled and fuel economy based on a combination of rpm “sweet spot,” pre-set road speeds, and cruise control

  • Idle time and fuel consumed

  • Total fuel used

  • Low battery voltage

  • Diesel particulate filter status

  • Diagnostic code summary

Volvo said that Sentry now offers a feature that can help fleets monitor “driving behavior and performance that affects safety.” The system tracks the number of interventions by the company's enhanced stability system, antilock brake activations, traction control assistance events and wheel spinouts.

Sentry also tracks diagnostic codes and automatically sends data via satellite to technical experts at VAS, who can analyze the codes. When and if the driver asks for help, VAS will have the information it needs to contact a dealer and schedule service.

“The security and support offered to drivers and fleets from Volvo Link Sentry and Volvo Action Service are so great that we made both services standard for Volvo trucks,” said Scott Kress, senior vp of sales & marketing.

In other news from Volvo, the OEM announced that Volvo Enhanced Stability Control Technology (VEST) is now standard on all VHD concrete mixers. VEST is a full electronic stability program that helps prevent rollovers and jackknifes using a standard pneumatic foundation brake system.

Volvo said that VEST will become standard on the rest of the VHD vocational models as each configuration and application gets approval from the engineering department. It launched the vocational technology with its mixer models because the seven-axle configuration “is the most complicated for a stability system,” according to the company.


Cold heart, warm look

Attendees at the Mid-America Trucking Show got a first-hand look at the new X2-Series single-temperature refrigeration units from Carrier Transicold, which had a major exterior redesign last year.

Besides a new look, the X2-Series features improved sound quality and superior serviceability, said the company. Compared to the X-Series' panels, the DuraShell 2 composite material for the X2-Series full-length doors has triple the impact strength, double the UV light resistance, 50% better thermal stability and 20% better heat resistance.

The units are nicer to listen to as well as to look at, thanks to the DuraShell 2 twin-sheet panel construction, acoustic foam on the interior surfaces, integrated door seals plus a quieter gearbox and redesigned grille openings, according to Carrier Transicold.

The hinged side doors help keep the noise in when they're closed, but technicians may appreciate the access they provide to the system when opened even more. With the flip of a single latch on each door, they open all the way to the top.


Advantage for small fleets

Combining roadside service, cash back on purchases and online business tools, the Michelin Advantage Program gives smaller fleets access to services and benefits normally reserved for larger national accounts, according to Marc Laferriere, vp-marketing for Michelin Americas Truck Tires.

The program starts with an application for a Michelin Advantage Visa credit card. Michelin tires and dealer services purchased earn a 3% rebate and all other purchases, including fuel, earn a 1% rebate. The card has no annual fee and a lowered introductory interest rate for the first six months.

Cardholders are automatically enrolled in the Michelin OnCall program, which offers emergency roadside assistance within two hours or the dispatch fee is paid by Michelin. It also extends national pricing for service to smaller fleets and offers online access to prices, services and summary reports.

The third element in the new program is Michelin Direct Information Advantage. Offering access to Michelin's business-to-business web portal, it provides smaller fleets with tire-management software tools, fuel modeling calculators and new product information.


Lights on

Grote Industries unveiled its new WhiteLight interior and forward LED lighting products. For vehicle interior use, Grote said it has developed new “warm white LED lights” that deploy advanced optics and spectral technology to deliver a “bright, but pleasant, more soothing light. No longer will people be forced to endure harsh, stark light to enjoy the benefits of enhanced interior illumination,” said Dominic Grote, vp-sales & marketing. He added that Grote's Led WhiteLight colors are “not only warm, but bright. They literally reduce stress and provide optimum viewing comfort. You might call it ergonomic lighting.”

Grote also revealed what it called the “groundbreaking development of an auxiliary off-road driving lamp,” which it created for last fall's running of the Baja 1000 off-road race. Grote crafted three, 2,000-lumen, “blazing white” LED lamps and installed them on a race team's truck. “Never before had more LED lighting horsepower been bolted to any vehicle,” said Grote. “The LEDs not only did a better job of slicing through the dust and silt-choked course than the truck's overhead incandescent lights, they outlasted the vehicle.”

According to Grote, the crew was able to demand the most from the lights in part because the company found a way to dissipate the lamps' internal heat without resorting to “primitive technology,” such as fans. “The heavy-duty, off-highway market has been waiting for LED, forward lighting and work lamps, and Grote will deliver them in a matter of months, not years,” Grote stated.

Other Grote announcements included:

  • New line of LED military lighting offering standard WhiteLight illumination as well as tactical or “blackout” mode;

  • New LED electronic dome light controls, mounting pans and wiring systems;

  • Opening of a state-of-the-art electronics center in Waterloo, ONT;

  • Opening of a high-tech manufacturing facility in Monterrey, Mexico;

  • Formation of a European joint venture, Luxi Lighting, with Spain's Rinder Group.

“We have the technology. We have the manufacturing and distribution channels in position, and we have the products the marketplace is demanding either on the road right now or on the drawing board, ready to move forward,” Grote added.


Winches galore

Ancra International rolled out a new product for flatbed trailers — the EZ Torque Winch — and unveiled a new partnership with erstwhile rival Traction Technologies.

The gear-drive EZ Torque Winch replaces Ancra's standard 34-in. winch bar with a 6-in. handle, allowing truckers to secure flatbed loads with a smooth, simple rotational motion. Ralph Abato, director of sales & marketing for the cargo systems division of Ancra, said the EZ Torque Winch requires just one-third the amount of force needed to torque-tighten a winch strap compared to its winch-bar system. It can achieve about 1,500 lb. of tension on the load straps with as few as a dozen rotations of the removable handle.

Throught its partnership with Traction Technologies, Ancra will help manufacture and distribute Traction's Cinch winch, introduced in 2006, which uses air pressure to tighten and maintain tension on load straps.

Abato noted that Ancra's partnership with Traction would also give flatbed fleets another winch option for securing loads, as Traction's Cinch allows operators to tighten load straps with a simpler, air-powered two-button operation.;


Performance plus

ArvinMeritor took advantage of the Mid-America Trucking Show to update customers and members of the press on its three-year restructuring initiative, Performance Plus, and to introduce new products.

“We looked at how the company was run and then looked for opportunities to restructure,” said company chairman, CEO and president Chip McClure. This included divesting ArvinMeritor of non-core businesses. Going forward, the company will focus on chassis, suspensions, drive trains, advanced axles, alternative drive trains and vehicle safety and security.

Customers will not have to wait for the future, however, to see new things from ArvinMeritor. Carsten Reinhardt, president of ArvinMeritor's Commercial Vehicle Systems, announced several immediate changes, beginning with a stronger focus on its Commercial Vehicle Aftermarket (CVA) remanufacturing business, with the goal of enlarging its portfolio of OEM-spec remanufactured components.

“One of the key benefits to customers of remanufactured components versus rebuilt is their quality,” explained Doug Wolma, general manager for the company's CVA. According to Wolma, all remanufactured components are brought back to engineering-approved specifications…yet are available at a lower cost.

The CVA business also announced the addition of Meritor-WABCO-branded products to its Meritor All-Makes Air Systems Program, including air valves and an AD-9 style air dryer cartridge.

ArvinMeritor also announced that the Meritor RideSentry trailer suspension system will be in production starting in June 2007. The suspension system features a PinLoc slider locking mechanism designed to reduce the potential for incidents by using an angled pin design and an air assist with a parking brake interlock to securely engage the slider before the trailer moves out onto the highway behind the tractor.

In early summer, North American customers will also have access to the company's new global hub reduction axle family of single and tandem rear axles for on/off highway vocational applications.


All-electric HVACs

Dometic Environmental Corp., a business unit of Dometic Corp, has introduced an expanded series of all-electric auxiliary air conditioning systems. The new systems run on 12V power from the truck's batteries and include a 7,000 or 10,000 Btu split- or self-contained AC system, a DC/AC inverter, a high-capacity alternator and optional shorepower connection. Both sleeper and day cab versions are available.

The patented split-system design features a condensing unit mounted on the outside of the truck and an evaporator/compressor/blower unit installed inside with quick-connect refrigerant line sets.

“The installed cost [of the all-electric system] is considerably less than that of an APU-based system and maintenance costs are virtually eliminated. Since no separate diesel engine is required, they are quieter, use no fuel and produce no exhaust emissions,” said Lou Siegel, sr. vp-marketing & strategic business development.


More to choose from

Ford Motor Co. plans to add several new model sizes to its Class 3-5 F-Series Super Duty pickups beginning this July, according to Joe Castelli, director of commercial truck sales & marketing. “We need to build the stuff the customer wants,” he explained during a press conference at the Mid-America Trucking Show. “Its part of our effort to make our lineup the best possible fit for them.”

The new size options include:

  • F-550 Regular cab: 60-in. cab-to-axle (CA) bed lengths and 108-in. CA bed lengths;

  • F-550 Super cab: 60-in. CA and 84-in. CA;

  • F-550 Crew cab: 60-in. CA and 84-in. CA;

  • F-450 Super cab: 84-in. CA;

  • F-350 Super cab: 84-in. CA;

  • F-350 Crew cab: 84-in. CA.

The new bed lengths will be available in both 4x2 and 4x4 versions of the trucks.


Lightweight APU

Kohler Power Systems introduced an air-cooled 5-kW APU that it describes as a self-contained, side-rail mounted unit weighing less than 340 lb. The new APU is designed to power a Kohler-branded in-cab heating and air-conditioning system, recharge the truck's batteries and handle various hotel loads besides.

The unit's diesel-fueled, four-cycle, single-cylinder engine is certified by EPA for Tier 2 emissions regs, as well by the California Air Resources Board (CARB). It uses “tenths of a gallon” of fuel per hour under typical load and has an oil service interval of 500 hours.

Directly connected to the engine, the dual-brushed generator is mounted in a protective aluminum enclosure with Class H insulation and features copper windings, remote start capability, an integral muffler, and four-point mounting with vibration insulators. The result is a system that purrs along at under 70dBA, according to the company.

The Kohler Advanced Digital Controller is standard on the new APU. It is engineered to allow the operator to start and stop the generator and adjust the heating and cooling from inside the cab. It also features an LED screen that displays up to 13 operational conditions, including runtime hours, crank cycle status, diagnostics, and numerous fault code and warning indicators.


Extra protection

New ideas can come from the most unlikely places. That's exactly what happened with Great Dane Trailers' new CorroGuard exterior spray-on protectorant.

“Our trailer sandblasting booths take quite a beating, so we used a spray-on bed liner on the walls to see if it could reduce wear and tear,” said Rick Mullinix, vp-engineering. “It held up very well, so we asked ourselves whether we could use something like it on our trailers.”

Trailer makers use paint to create a barrier against corrosion, but rocks and other debris kicked up as a tractor-trailer rolls down the highway can easily chip the paint away, leaving bare metal exposed to the elements.

CorroGuard, a thick, grainy thermoplastic elastomer that doesn't chip or flake off when hit by debris, is Great Dane's solution to that problem. To show just how tough the coating is, the trailer maker shot a piece of CorroGuard-coated metal at close range with a .22 bullet full of birdshot. While the birdshot discolored the CorroGuard, it didn't damage it and the seal against the metal beneath remained intact.


Highway Hero

Goodyear named Edward A, Regener, a driver for FedEx Freight, its North America Highway Hero for 2006 at the Mid-America Trucking Show.

As Regener drove a tractor-trailer carrying drums of battery acid and paint on Interstate 10 near Phoenix last November, he noticed a speeding car headed his way across the median. The car collided with a pickup that was trying to pass Regener, pushing the pickup into his truck.

The pickup caught fire, which spread to Regener's cab and first trailer. After escaping through his passenger door, Regener ran to the car that caused the accident and pulled two men from the vehicle, which was also on fire.

Regener, who is from Perris, CA, received a $10,000 savings bond from Goodyear, as well as a Goodyear Highway Hero ring.

“Too often, we only hear criticism about trucks and drivers, but that's not our view of the trucking industry,” said Peter Christoffersen, gm of marketing for Goodyear. “We know that most driver's are hardworking, safe and courteous. And in the case of Ed Regener and the three Highway Hero finalists, these drivers stopped to help others without regard for their own lives.”


From green to greener

At nearly 70, Thermo King numbers among America's older companies, but it's going green, not gray, as it approaches its eighth decade.

The company announced the availability of new products and programs designed to deliver both bottom line and environmental benefits, including a new dry cell battery engineered for longer life, greater efficiency and lower lifecycle costs. Dubbed the “EON,” the 75-lb. battery uses Absorbed Glass Mat technology that enables it to deep cycle as well as provide five-second cranking power, even at low temperatures. It also features a 200-min. reserve capacity.

The EON battery is already debuting in more than one Thermo King application. In a reefer unit, for example, it can help reduce fuel costs because less engine time is required to recharge the EON when the refrigeration unit is in the “Cycle-Sentry” mode. Since it's designed to last about five times longer than a wet cell battery, users will need to buy fewer batteries over all.

The battery is also incorporated in the EON Power Pack, an auxiliary power system for operating truck lights. The Power Pack is designed to help avoid dead truck batteries caused by running lights. It includes a low-voltage disconnect, a weatherproof switch with integrated 45-min. timer and a charging circuit to connect the system to the truck alternator or reefer unit.

Thermo King introduced a new cargo heater kit, the E-28, as well, designed to protect perishable cargo from cold temperatures without running the truck's engine. It includes an Espar D8 diesel-fuel operated heater, wiring to the truck battery system, a 110V plug-in connection, weatherproof thermostat enclosure and fuel pump and hoses contained in a painted aluminum enclosure. According to Thermo King, the system burns 0.26 gal./hr. in the High mode and 0.11 gal./hr. on Low to deliver 27,300 Btu/hr. (on High) or 11,900 Btu/hr. (output in Low).

For refrigerated carriers operating in California, Thermo King is offering several options to help fleets comply with the California Air Resources Board's (CARB) Airborne Toxic Control Measure regulations for transport refrigeration units, including a Level 2 diesel particulate filter, engine retrofit kits, and new CARB-compliant reefer units.


Northern and southern lights

Aurora Parts and Accessories, U.S. wholesale supplier of trailer aftermarket parts, announced that it has added Transcraft flatbed and drop-deck trailer products to its parts lineup. Late last year the company added Hyundai Translead trailer parts and accessories for areas west of the Mississippi, as well as Wisconsin, Ohio and the Chicago area.

In addition, the company has nearly doubled its dealer network in Canada, for a total of 27 dealers, and named Chris Giefert as regional sales manager there.

To support new business, Aurora launched a trailer fleet for North American shipments. “We're proud that we have recently acquired this new fleet of trailers from our OE partners, Wabash National and Hyundai Translead, to carry our trailer parts throughout North America,” said Tony Difilippantonio, vp-sales & marketing for Aurora.

A new order management system, dubbed FleetPer4m, will be available to Aurora partners, both fleets and authorized dealers, in the third quarter of 2007, according to the company.

The system is designed to enable users to search for parts by category, sub-category, vendor, VIN (vehicle identification number), or part number. Once parts are located, the system will verify pricing upfront. Users will also have online access to billing statements, account summaries and invoice reports.


Composite plate trailer

Vanguard National Trailer Corp. rolled out its new VXP composite plate trailer. Composite plate sidewalls, pointed out Robert Taylor, director of trailer sales, provide maximum cube and inside width. He said the VXP's sidewall panels sandwich a HDPE foamed plastic core between two galvanized steel cover sheets to provide strength and durability against abrasion and damage. Rust preventive primer and polyester finish coats are baked on the cover sheets for longevity, he added.

If damaged, the composite panels may be removed and replaced without affecting adjacent panels. No special shop tools are required. In addition to Vanguard's standard trailer warranty, the composite side panels carry a ten-year warranty.

The composite plates are joined by unique steel posts paired with galvanized internal posts with log slots, said Taylor. “The smooth, rounded rivet heads provide a snag-free interior sidewall and these inside posts on 48-in. centers provide vertical logistic availability the full length of the trailer.”

Taylor said Vanguard has included many premium specs as standard on the VXP including:

  • Galvanized rear frame, including gussets;

  • Galvanized rear underride guard;

  • Galvanized threshold plate to protect rear floor from fork trucks;

  • Galvanized front apron on upper coupler;

  • Galvanized one-piece front understructure;

  • Galvanized air/electrical channel full length;

  • Galvanized logistic posts and bonded roof bows;

  • Galvanized steel internal bulkhead;

  • Galvanized five-post front wall construction.

  • One-piece, extruded aluminum top front rail;

  • All LED Lights, both California and Canada Legal.


Keeping cargo safe

Kinedyne introduced several products, including an adjustable lever binder that provides a quick, easy solution for properly tensioning chain to load requirements. By rotating the adjustable end of the unit, the binder can be extended or retracted to its desired length.

The company also showcased its Saf-T Binder, designed to reduce personal injuries and broken chains via its shortened “T” handle, which gives drivers a firmer grip for securing cargo. This enables them to achieve the proper tension by hand without the use of “cheater” bars.

A ratchet winch bar was unveiled that can be operated from an upright position to limit driver movement and reduce back strain. The unit effectively converts most trailer wrenches into ratchet winches.

Finally, Kinedyne rolled out KwiK Winder, a device geared to save flatbed drivers time when rolling up loose straps after their trailers have been unloaded.


It takes a legend

Bob and Shelley Brinker's 2000-model Freightliner, named “The Legend of the Black Pearl,” (pictured above), took first place and a cash prize of $5,000 in the 2006 Truck-Lite Trophy Series National Truck Show Championship, held at this year's Mid- America Trucking Show. Ron and Jan Huey's “Silver Eagle,” a 9000 Series International, grabbed second place, netting the couple a cash prize of $3,000. Truck-Lite sponsors this annual event on behalf of the National Association of Show Trucks, providing the cash prizes and trophies.


From the ground up

East Manufacturing introduced Genesis II, its next generation of dump trailers, which uses the company's smooth-side technology on the floor and sides.

Cross-member construction has been replaced with a totally smooth floor designed to optimize strength-to-weight ratio. Made of a new aluminum alloy, floor panel extrusions are deeper and longer than wall extrusions and contain internal stiffeners for more efficient handling of cargo loads. A “hollow” panel design improves insulation to prevent freezing.

Genesis II is currently available as a frameless dump trailer.

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