Better-designed, better-performing air disc brakes catch buyer interest

Oct. 1, 2004
Interest in air disc brakes is growing among Class 8 truck buyers, according to Kenworth. The company recently began offering Bendix Spicer ESD225 air

Interest in air disc brakes is growing among Class 8 truck buyers, according to Kenworth. The company recently began offering Bendix Spicer ESD225 air disc brakes on T600 and T800 Kenworth models.

Leading the way is Contract Freighters Inc.(CFI). The Joplin MO-based truckload fleet is going standard with disc brakes on all new Kenworth trucks it purchases over the next few years.

Bruce Stockton, vice-president of operations for CFI, said his company believes spec'ing disc brakes will help the company lower operating costs. “We have been testing disc brakes on a Kenworth T2000 for over three years now,” Stockton said. “I've driven that truck and Glenn Brown, our chairman, has driven it. That convinced us that we needed to spec disc brakes on all our trucks as soon as possible.”

Stockton said CFI worked closely with Kenworth to give input on the new brakes.

Jim Bechtold, Kenworth's chief engineer, said fleet interest in heavy-duty air disc brakes is rising because of the improvements made to their design in recent years. “They have better actuators and better performance,” he said. “They've improved significantly compared to first-generation air disc products offered in the North American truck market.”

Bechtold said the long pad life of the Dana Spicer air disc product would allow many fleets to get a payback in maintenance costs. “A typical truckload fleet should be able to eliminate at least one reline and drum replacement,” he said. “That translates into a savings of around $700 in maintenance costs over 500,000 miles.”

Truck operators who spec disc brakes now may also get valuable experience with them ahead of new brake standards expected from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. “It's expected that the chassis stopping distance could be reduced significantly in the new regulations,” said Bechtold. “Disc brakes will probably be one of the compliance alternatives.”

The Dana Spicer air disc brake features a straightforward design that reduces maintenance costs while the brake's caliper design provides strong caliper support, minimal slide pin wear, and reduced lining and rotor wear. Quick-change brake linings and a unitized actuator minimize maintenance labor and expense. Plus, fade resistance is improved under extreme high brake temperatures.

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