Gizmos, more gizmos: What is a gizmo?

  1. An unspecified or unspecifiable object; something one does not know the name of or does not wish to name; dingus, gadget : ''Why weren't you using the gismo?'' ''I was. It didn't work''/ ''What's this gizmo?'' I asked.
  2. gimmick (Gambling)

The term gizmo has be around and used for many years as an expression for something that is defined as an object as read above. The person using the term usually has little confidence in the product or the results of using the product.

Gizmos are tested or used hoping that they will solve an issue, improve something and be the next Earth-shattering device that will solve world hunger. Many fleet managers see gizmos as a way to dazzle those who do not understand IRON and look like a hero. There are few gizmos I have seen that have lasted and been a resolve of an issue or improved the value of a piece of equipment. Instead, they are devices of sizzle with no steak – propaganda to trigger the belief of huge fuel savings, or HUGE cost savings …

Let’s list questionable gizmos that I have seen through time (some failures, few survived, and some for debate):

  1. Rote Lube: A device installed on a driveline to continue to lube the u-joints to improve life and reduce failures. I was forced to use it and it was a huge failure, cost too much and the real issue was greasing procedure. We did not need to retro drive lines with this gizmo.
  2. Anti-spray brushes on the side of trailers: Many tried and believed that it would solve our splay and spray for passing vehicles; this did not last very long, that’s what wipers are for. Although I understand they’re mandatory in some northwest states.
  3. Centrifugal oil filters: Gizmos that worked and on earlier engines; they were the only filters available. Used in conjunction with everyday media filters was an additional filtration that may or may not have been needed. Seems we did quite well without them in the past – and currently. If it is standard on the current engines, OK, but retrofitting as a gizmo has no value.
  4. Washable engine oil filters: Who wants to wash out an oil filter? I think we like to unscrew them and screw on a new one. Now, I believe WIX Filters made a Detroit Diesel oil and fuel adapter to convert from sock filter to spin on gizmo, which was one that worked.
  5. CNG LNG, Hydrogen: Add-on gizmos that improve fuel economy on retrofitting to an engine were more work, and efforts to save what?
  6. Brake drum coolers: Added to the hubs to cool off brake drums, why? To extend life. Immeasurable in my opinion.
  7. Fuel saving thingies on the side of air fairing, trailers, hood of vehicles: Do they really work in the real world, or just in a wind tunnel?
  8. Flaps with thousands of holes: Do they really work, just look good, or worth their value? I have used them but in the real world. The sales pitch rumor was up to 2 miles per gallon savings. Really?
  9. Wheel covers: Gizmos around the tandems. Do they really work, and are they worth the expense and aggravation? Looks like a safety hazard to me. What happens when one falls off and hits a vehicle?
  10. Fuel catalysts: Added to the fuel lines to improve fuel economy, or the pills you drop in the fuel tanks?
  11. Oil additives to increase engine life: Think titanium oil will give you 50% longer engine life? Sounds like football tickets to me.
  12. Balancing beads: Liquid, balancing rings, or gizmos disguised as golf balls.
  13. Trailer tails: Now some automatic, is there a true cost benefit in the end, or just aggravation to the driver, maintenance and yard man?
  14. Nitrogen filled tires: Yes, tires will run a little cooler, but they also will with proper air pressure.
  15. AGM batteries: Capacitors, still out for individual debate of economic value.
  16. Stroke indicators and wheel nut pointers: Gizmo here, mask of poor maintenance.
  17. Crazy looking wheel covers and tandem sleek gizmos around the tires.

Here are some examples of gizmos that worked, and took on a life that we cannot operate without.

  1. Automatic slack adjusters: Started as a gizmo, cannot live without them.
  2. On-OFF viscous fan drives and non-medal light weight fan blades.
  3. Start-stop gizmos work great on reefers off road equipment in cold country.
  4. Air shields worked, started as a gizmo and SOP today.
  5. Fuel heaters – intank and external.
  6. Tire inflations systems on trailers: Yes, a gizmo that developed into a good factory option.
  7. Solar panels taking a sustainable place in vehicles. Now becoming factory options.
  8. Quick release glad hands for trailers.

There are few gizmos that have taken a life and have improved through time and have been successful. The story of these is to make sure that as the definition says, gimmick, that basic common sense and not spreadsheets that turn out any number you want it to if you wanted it to.

Ensure that you evaluate it with common sense, not pressure. Maybe try a few, but if it is not an option at the factory or never being an option, then retrofitting gizmos normally never works long term. Experimenting is the beginning of invention.

Just be careful that something is not oversold and the rules of common sense should always prevail. Retrofitting increasing monthly spending and if the gizmo does not work or cannot justify the savings, termed as ROI, then overlooking it may save your job. New vehicle option gizmos you can hide, but retrofitting gizmos can hurt you. Just saying NO to Gizmos may be cost savings by itself. 

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