How it Works: Smoothing The Ride

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Suspension System Basics

By Tom Kelley

Different applications, operations, regulations and priorities, all contribute to the complexity of choosing the best suspension. Far from a “one size fits all” proposition, the suspension system is one of the most important and most complex choice to make on a truck.

The main problem arises from the fact that most “truckload” hauling is an “all or nothing” scenario, running either at tare weight or at maximum gross. It may be fairly simple to suspend a truck that spends most of its life operating inside a very narrow weight range, but it’s more complex when operating at the extremes is normal.

With trucks and trailers used in truckload operations, the spring rate that provides the best ride when empty, won’t be sufficient for running fully loaded, and conversely, the spring rate that rides best when loaded will beat you to death when running empty. Because of this suspensions generally designed to ride best when they are loaded.

Another problem that adds to the complexity of choosing a suspension is the wide variation of local, regional, state and federal weight regulations that can dictate the number and spacing of axles required to maximize payload in a given operating area.

At the most basic level, there are six key considerations when choosing a suspension.

1. Capacity – How much weight can the suspension support?

2. Payload – How much does the weight of the suspension components reduce or increase the truck’s maximum payload? Today, it’s more important than ever to consider the suspension weight.

3. Ride Quality – How well does the suspension absorb input from the road, whether the truck is loaded or empty?

4. Articulation – How much of an input can the suspension absorb before transferring that input to the chassis, and how well does the suspension keep the wheels engaged with the ground while absorbing input?

5. Durability – How well does the suspension stand up to the rigors of daily operation, and how much regular maintenance is required?

6. Stability – How well does the suspension mitigate lateral forces imparted by dynamic or high-center loads?

 

Web Roads: Old Meets New

BettsCompanyWebsite

New Website For One Of The Industry’s Oldest Suppliers

By Tom Kelley

While it’s not uncommon to learn of a new website from one of the younger and/or more tech-oriented companies in the trucking business, it’s rare that a fresh presence on the web can trace its heritage back nearly 150 years. But as the website for a sixth-generation family-owned and managed business, www.betts1868.com brings old and new together in the centerpiece of a new branding initiative intended to re-introduce the historic company to customers, prospects and the general public.

The story begins when William Michael Betts, a talented English steel craftsman, sailed to the United States in 1860 in search of new opportunities. The country was then divided by war, but Betts was not deterred from his quest to pioneer spring manufacturing west of the Mississippi.

After the war subsided he set sail again, around South America to make port in the bustling city of San Francisco. There he would open his own shop, originally named Betts Spring Company, making springs for carriages, streetcars and wagons of every kind. It didn’t take long before Betts Spring Company became a well-known and respected business.

For over 145 years, the company has practiced the mission of its founder by “Building Well, Serving Better.” From its early start as the first spring manufacturer in the Western United States, Betts has developed into a diversified concern that serves heavy duty transportation, aftermarket automotive and other industrial sectors with innovative products made in the USA.

Formerly known as Betts Spring Company, Betts Company announced its new name in February 2013. Acknowledging the historic roots of its founding in 1868, the company also adopted a new corporate tagline: “Improving the Way Things Move Since 1868.” The 1868 founding date also figures prominently in the new www.betts1868.com website address.

“Now well into our second century, Betts Company has a long history of providing component parts and services for transportation and other industrial applications of the highest quality and at superior value,” said Betts Company VP Bill Betts. “We are committed to improving the quality of life for our associates, customers and suppliers, maintaining high standards of ethical conduct and conserving our irreplaceable environment.”

The Betts Company home page includes links to the websites for its three operating divisions, Betts Spring Manufacturing, BettsHD, and Betts Truck Parts & Service. Visitors to the website can download information including a new corporate brochure and video, or sign up to receive the Betts Company e-newsletter.

Check it out at www.Betts1868.com on the web.

Web Roads: Old Meets New

New Website For One Of The Industry’s Oldest Suppliers

By Tom Kelley

While it’s not uncommon to learn of a new website from one of the younger and/or more tech-oriented companies in the trucking business, it’s rare that a fresh presence on the web can trace its heritage back nearly 150 years. But as the website for a sixth-generation family-owned and managed business, www.betts1868.com brings old and new together in the centerpiece of a new branding initiative intended to re-introduce the historic company to customers, prospects and the general public.

The story begins when William Michael Betts, a talented English steel craftsman, sailed to the United States in 1860 in search of new opportunities. The country was then divided by war, but Betts was not deterred from his quest to pioneer spring manufacturing west of the Mississippi.

After the war subsided he set sail again, around South America to make port in the bustling city of San Francisco. There he would open his own shop, originally named Betts Spring Company, making springs for carriages, streetcars and wagons of every kind. It didn’t take long before Betts Spring Company became a well-known and respected business.

For over 145 years, the company has practiced the mission of its founder by “Building Well, Serving Better.” From its early start as the first spring manufacturer in the Western United States, Betts has developed into a diversified concern that serves heavy duty transportation, aftermarket automotive and other industrial sectors with innovative products made in the USA.

Formerly known as Betts Spring Company, Betts Company announced its new name in February 2013. Acknowledging the historic roots of its founding in 1868, the company also adopted a new corporate tagline: “Improving the Way Things Move Since 1868.” The 1868 founding date also figures prominently in the new www.betts1868.com website address.

“Now well into our second century, Betts Company has a long history of providing component parts and services for transportation and other industrial applications of the highest quality and at superior value,” said Betts Company VP Bill Betts. “We are committed to improving the quality of life for our associates, customers and suppliers, maintaining high standards of ethical conduct and conserving our irreplaceable environment.”

The Betts Company home page includes links to the websites for its three operating divisions, Betts Spring Manufacturing, BettsHD, and Betts Truck Parts & Service. Visitors to the website can download information including a new corporate brochure and video, or sign up to receive the Betts Company e-newsletter.

Check it out at www.Betts1868.com on the web.

How It Works: Smoothing The Ride

Suspension System Basics

By Tom Kelley

Different applications, operations, regulations and priorities, all contribute to the complexity of choosing the best suspension. Far from a “one size fits all” proposition, the suspension system is one of the most important and most complex choice to make on a truck.

The main problem arises from the fact that most “truckload” hauling is an “all or nothing” scenario, running either at tare weight or at maximum gross. It may be fairly simple to suspend a truck that spends most of its life operating inside a very narrow weight range, but it’s more complex when operating at the extremes is normal.

With trucks and trailers used in truckload operations, the spring rate that provides the best ride when empty, won’t be sufficient for running fully loaded, and conversely, the spring rate that rides best when loaded will beat you to death when running empty. Because of this suspensions generally designed to ride best when they are loaded.

Another problem that adds to the complexity of choosing a suspension is the wide variation of local, regional, state and federal weight regulations that can dictate the number and spacing of axles required to maximize payload in a given operating area.

At the most basic level, there are six key considerations when choosing a suspension.

1. Capacity – How much weight can the suspension support?

2. Payload – How much does the weight of the suspension components reduce or increase the truck’s maximum payload? Today, it’s more important than ever to consider the suspension weight.

3. Ride Quality – How well does the suspension absorb input from the road, whether the truck is loaded or empty?

4. Articulation – How much of an input can the suspension absorb before transferring that input to the chassis, and how well does the suspension keep the wheels engaged with the ground while absorbing input?

5. Durability – How well does the suspension stand up to the rigors of daily operation, and how much regular maintenance is required?

6. Stability – How well does the suspension mitigate lateral forces imparted by dynamic or high-center loads? υ

Web Roads: Factory Features

OEMs Upgrade Web Presence

By Tom Kelley

Truck manufacturers are getting increasingly serious about making their online presence as high-tech as their trucks. In just a few short years, truck websites have been transformed from basic billboards to fully interactive, online expressions of the companies’ brands. Here’s a look at some of the newest online upgrades:

PETERBILT SHOWROOM APP

Earlier this year, Peterbilt launched its “Class Pays” tablet app that allows users to tour vehicles, browse features and specs and even select different truck colors. The app highlights vehicles from Peterbilt’s on-highway, vocational and medium-duty lineup, including its newest Models 579, 567 and 220. With the swipe of a finger, users can take a 360-degree tour of the featured vehicles and can also view the chosen truck in a variety of popular colors.

Peterbilt-app

The app also includes product brochures, overviews of features and benefits, and spec options. In addition to information about the truck models themselves, users can learn more about Peterbilt’s technologies, including the PACCAR MX-13 Engine and the SmartNav driver infotainment system.

The free “Class Pays” app, compatible with Apple and Windows tablets, is available through each brand’s app store by searching for Peterbilt Class Pays.

 

MACK GOES MOBILE

Having recently refreshed its visual branding, Mack Trucks is bringing that new look online with the new www.MackTrucks.com website. Designed for easy use and optimized for mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, the new site provides information about Mack’s products and services, and also helps customers connect with local Mack dealers.

Bold photography is used throughout the site to complement Mack’s updated visual branding. Another key feature of the new site design is the application-focused layout, which allows users find the right tools for the jobs they need to do, whether it’s on the highway, on a construction site, or anywhere else they’re operating.

macktruckscreen

Along with information about the different truck models, site visitors can also learn about the support services offered by Mack, including the GuardDog Connect package for proactive diagnostics and repair scheduling, as well as the Pedigree Uptime Protection package of business solutions for service, parts purchasing and asset protection.

Feature stories about how Mack owners use their trucks are also posted on the site. Customers will also figure prominently in a soon-to-debut online forum planned to include a photo gallery of Mack owners’ trucks, along with a Q&A section to get answers from product experts.

How It Works? Doing More With Less

North American Truckers Warming Up To 6 x 2 Axle Configuration

By Tom Kelley

The default configuration for OTR truck tractors in North America has long been a three-axle unit with one steer axle and tandem drive axles. This configuration is commonly known as a 6×4, denoting six wheel ends with four of the six powered.

The key reason for having two axles at the back of the tractor is to meet the legal weight restrictions imposed on each of a truck’s axles. Before gearing, braking and tire technology reached its current state, it was also beneficial to spread a truck’s power across a greater number of wheel ends, so virtually all tandem axle configurations offered for tractors featured driving power on both axles.

Now that engine horsepower and torque ratings have reached a plateau that is likely to extend well into the foreseeable future, the technology behind tires and axle gearing caught up to the point where getting power to the ground can usually be accomplished through a single drive axle, in all but the most extreme weight, grade and horsepower scenarios.

Although the newer drivetrain technology enables removing the drive function from one of the rear axles, weight carrying capacity still requires two axles at the back of the tractor, even if one isn’t powered. This configuration is referred to as a 6×2, six total wheel ends on the tractor, with only two powered.

Integreated-powertrain
There are two major benefits to using a 6×2 configuration.

The larger benefit is weight reduction, about 400 pounds in most cases, due to the lack of a differential and axle shafts in the rear-most axle.

The lesser, though still important benefit is a significant reduction in friction loads on the drivetrain. Every rotating part of the drivetrain adds some parasitic friction load, so eliminating a whole bunch of drivetrain components can measurably improve fuel economy.

Road Ready: Know Your Rig

Check What The Inspectors Check

By Tom Kelley

By the time you’re far enough through your training to be looking for a driving job, you should have a pretty thorough command of what’s required for a pre-trip walk-around inspection, but that is just the bare minimum standard, not necessarily the best you can do. There are certain systems that should be subjected to expanded scrutiny when you inspect your truck, because if you don’t find the problem, you can bet there’s a roadside inspection officer somewhere out there who will find the problem.

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) is an association of law enforcement officials responsible for motor carrier safety laws. The CVSA North American Standard Inspection program includes the following items for a vehicle compliance inspection:

● Seatbelt System

● Vehicle Inspection Report

● Brake Systems

● Coupling Devices

● Exhaust Systems

● Frame

● Fuel Systems

● Lighting Devices

● Safe Loading

● Steering Mechanism

● Suspension

● Tires

● Truck and/or Trailer Bodies

● Wheels, Rims, and Hubs

● Windshield Wipers

● Hazardous Materials Requirements (if applicable)

Defects in many of these areas may cause the vehicle to be placed out-of-service, requiring adjustment, maintenance, or repair on the spot, before the vehicle can be returned to operation on public roads.

While this list represents the standard, some state motor vehicle codes specify additional criteria that can result in a truck being placed out-of-service.

With the exception of instantaneous failures caused by abuse or abnormally high shock loading, most problems that will render a truck out-of-service will show visible symptoms well before the breakdown actually occurs. Spotting a potential component failure before a trip is far less expensive than waiting and having the breakdown occur on the road. Not only is the cost of a field service call and/or a towing bill eliminated, but the potential for lost revenue can also be avoided.

How It Works: A Bright Idea

Truck Lighting (Finally) Meets The 21st Century
A_ProStar_White1

By Tom Kelley

Even though many components have continually evolved since trucks first hit the road, one key part remained frozen in time until late in the twentieth century. At the same time as engines became computerized, transmissions became synchronized, and suspensions gained sophisticated air systems, truck lighting changed very little.

Because delivery schedules don’t always fit conveniently between the hours of dawn and dusk, lighting is just as important as horsepower to the operation of a truck.

Light Emitting Diode (LED) lamps were originally developed for turn, stop, tail and marker lamps, but are now being used throughout the truck. The LEDs use far less power and have a greatly extended the lifespan compared to conventional incandescent lamps. Increased resistance to vibration is also a benefit.

Most LED lamp assemblies use several individual LEDs to generate light, so a complete instantaneous failure is unlikely. While initial cost is higher than that of incandescent units, the total lifecycle cost, including replacement and labor cost, is competitive.

One of the newer developments in LED lighting technology has been the addition of white LED lamps to the original red and amber offerings. This has allowed LEDs to move inside the truck or trailer for use in interior lighting fixtures. Compared to incandescent and fluorescent interior lighting, the LED lamps perform better in cold environments such as those found in refrigerated bodies/trailers.

In just the last decade, LED technology has broken through the final frontier on trucks to become available for headlamp applications. With a projected life-span measured in years rather than hours, the LED headlamps are said to provide daylight clarity in pre-dawn/after-dusk operations.

While LED lamps were quite expensive when they first debuted in stop/tail/turn applications – leading to a bit of a problem with theft of the lamps – mass production, wider acceptance, and economies of scale have driven down the purchase cost dramatically. When the LEDs reduced maintenance costs are factored in, they are quickly eliminating any cost advantage once held by traditional incandescent lighting.

Web Roads: Retread Revamp

TRIB Updates Site, Goes Mobile

By Tom Kelley

retreadscreenshot

One of the most misunderstood elements in trucking operations today is the use of retreaded tires. Retreading is a process where a used tire, after careful inspection, gets a new tread surface applied, allowing the tire’s foundation, or “casing,” to serve multiple lives before disposal.

To address the widespread lack of knowledge about retreads, the Tire Retread & Repair Information Bureau (TRIB) was formed by many of the key players in the tire manufacturing and retreading industry. The TRIB website at www.retread.org serves as a repository of tire retreading information, and a link to reputable retailers.

According to Managing Director David Stevens, “TRIB is a non-profit trade association established in 1974 to promote the positive economic and environmental benefits of tire retreading and proper tire repair. We support an industry that delivers immense environmental benefits through the safe retreading of tires. In addition, the industry helps commercial and public fleets, including federal, state and local governments save money through the cost-effective use of retreaded tires.”

Recently, TRIB launched their newly redesigned website at www.retread.org. “We’ve used the latest in website technology to redesign our website to accurately and professionally represent our industry, as well as make it easier for users to find all the great content we offer,” said TRIB Managing Director David Stevens. “With the continued growth of smartphone web-browsing, we’ve also invested in the website to create a mobile-optimized version for our users.”

Some of the major features of the new website include:

* – A “Learn More” section devoted to educating the public about the retread and repair industries and dispelling common myths.

* – A Resources section that includes: all TRIB Educational Videos, Recommended Links, Downloadable Government Studies concerning retreading, a Retread Tire Buyer’s Guide, and other articles and information for the retread and repair industries.

* – A safe and secure online store for the purchase of materials from TRIB, including: Understanding Retreading Brochures, Industry Recommended Practices, Training Programs, and other reference documents.

* – A simple way for users to look up DOT codes and find retreaders.

* – A mobile-optimized version of the website that presents TRIB’s content in easy-to-navigate ways for smartphone users.

“Anyone who’s not looking at retreaded tires as part of their overall tire program is throwing money down the drain,” says Stevens. “Retreaded tires can save up to 60% compared to the cost of a new tire, and they can be run at the same speeds and same load capacity as new tires.”

Check It Out @ www.retread.org or www.youtube.com/user/RetreadInfo. Follow TRIB on Twitter: @voiceofretreads or find them on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Tire-Retread-Repair-Information-Bureau/177521322243

Introduction to Trucking: What It’s Really Like Trucking, Part 29

Stop and smell the flowers

By Timothy D. Brady

Moving into May and spring’s in full swing, flowers blooming, grass turning green; truckers have more time to enjoy the world outside their trucks. Let’s see what our two truckers do with free time OTR.

 

What are three non-trucking activities you enjoy when you have free time on the road?

Naomi: 1.Scrapbooking – I keep a small bag with me and do a page each week. Photography is a passion of mine. I have pics printed from my phone; just bought a very nice camera and have been taking a ton of pics.
2. Watching a movie snuggled up with my husband.
3. Playing with Princess Paws (aka my dog!).

Ben: Calling family and friends; catching up with them. I have an astronomy app on my Kindle and like to check out the stars when they’re visible. I also have a few interesting games on my laptop.
What’s been the most interesting, fun activity you’ve done to date while OTR?

Naomi: Two: indoor cart racing in California, and the rose gardens and Japanese gardens in Fort Worth, Texas.

Ben: I haven’t really done much that was ‘interestingly fun.’ I drive and then go on break. I don’t go far from my truck.
What one place have you traveled past that you’d like to return and explore when you have the opportunity?

Naomi: NIAGARA FALLS; Meteor Crater and West Yellowstone to snowmobile.

Ben: Portland, Maine. I’d like to go eat a fresh lobster on the coast, looking at the ocean. I traveled through there about 3 months ago.
Best ways to find an extracurricular activity you can enjoy while taking a 34-hour restart?

Naomi: Be creative, look online, ask the cashiers and wait staff.

Ben: I’ve taken 99% of my 34-hour restarts at home. But I would get on Google and find a good restaurant and movie theater nearby, and go eat and watch a movie.
New challenges?

Naomi: Starting a new job. Although I was very happy where I was, I became disillusioned with some things that have been happening. No raises for drivers. Must run a set amount of miles per month to keep the insurance. The new dispatcher was rarely in the office and not working for me. Keeping drivers who dropped trailers or put trucks in the ditch to be towed out, then covering it up. Just was tired of the crap. So, I found a new company. I think we’ll be much happier there.

Ben: Mainly dealing with this weather. It has been a rough challenge; a tough winter and real learning experience.
Interesting experiences?

Naomi: LOL! Donner in a snowstorm with chains on and high winds. That was so much fun.

Getting very, very ill in California – took a cab to the hospital; found out I had pneumonia. And all the idiot dispatcher could say was, “Text – when will you have your load delivered?” He couldn’t have cared less about my health. That was really the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Stopping to take pictures in west Yellowstone. I only took 15 minutes, but it was worth every minute.

Ben: I had a breakdown. It took six hours to get a mechanic out to me to fix the truck. And he brought the wrong part. By then I was out of hours to drive, so I had to get a tow. It took 3 hrs for the tow truck to show up. When he got the truck on the hook and ready to roll, I told him I was gonna get my phone out of the truck. He said OK – when I got in my truck to grab my phone – he took off. So I got to ride in my truck while he towed me. By the way, he didn’t take his time. At one point we were doing 80, according to my navigation!
Advice for someone just finishing school about taking time to smell the flowers.

Naomi: You have to relax and take a breather. So what if you’re running early; they most likely won’t take your load early, so blow that 15 minutes or an hour to do something you love. You’ll go stir-crazy if you don’t find a way to relax.

Ben: Ask people who are from the area you’re in what there is to do that’s interesting. Google search places. But try to stay out of trouble.

Here’s to your future great loads and great roads.

Timothy Brady © 2014

To contact Brady go to www.truckersu.com

 

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