Trucks Change to Meet EPA Rules
Regulations mean new cooling systems and power changes.
Truck and engine manufacturers are continuing to adapt their products to meet new federal regulations for exhaust emissions. Even-tougher-than-current rules will take effect in both 2007 and 2010, say truck manufacturers, and what they're doing bears watching.
The industry has largely adjusted truck configurations to comply with the October 2002 emissions control deadline set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). By that date, diesel-engine manufacturers were to restrict emissions of nitrous oxides and particulates to tough new limits.
And in recent months, the reviews have been coming back from truck buyers regarding the new rules. Cummins, for example, meets the new standards with a technology called cooled exhaust gas recirculation (EGR). Exhaust gas is removed from the exhaust stream, cooled, and put back to the intake side of the engine. As that gas mixes with the air and fuel, it inhibits the combustion process somewhat. The result is a lower flame temperature and lower NOx levels.
One might add that all of this comes for a price. "Regarding Cummins' EGR, no one is crazy about the loss of fuel economy or the increased price of the engine, but I have not heard of major issues with the performance of those engines," says Frank Raney, severe service marketing manager at International Truck and Engine Corporation.
"We know of some new environmental regulations set to take effect in 2007 and 2010," says Jim Crowcroft, product marketing manager at Sterling Truck Corporation. "For all practical purposes, you won't be able to pollute at all in 2007, and for 2010, whatever's left will be gone.
"These changes force costs back into the product, drive down fuel economy, force manufacturers to provide hotter engines, and raise tare weights," says Crowcroft. "On the other hand, customers demand more power. And they want lighter tare weights, zero maintenance, and more automatic transmissions."
Some manufacturers' lineups have changed more than others. "We continue to offer the vast majority of the trucks and horsepowers that we did before," says Stephan Olsen, vocational market segment manager at Kenworth Truck Company. "We've invested heavily in designing trucks to accommodate these new engines, to handle the increased heat rejection that is inherent with the new engine technology.
"The largest impact was on the cooling system," Olsen says. "Our investment is in accommodating the turbochargers, the air piping, and cooling piping." One engine currently missing from Kenworth's lineup is a Caterpillar 600-hp engine, but Olsen says Caterpillar is talking about bringing it back.
"Customers need to pay close attention to the new spec'ing guidelines that engine manufacturers have," he continues. "That's particularly true with Caterpillar's new engines. They're bringing back an old saying: ‘Gear fast, run slow.'"
For optimal fuel economy over the road, he adds, Caterpillar recommends gearing a truck to run 65 mph with its big-bore C15 engine turning over at 1,325 rpm. But that kind of gear ratio might not be as practical for off-road use, and at slower ground speeds with higher engine speeds, construction users could see lowered fuel economy.
Meanwhile, Kenworth has introduced the Cummins ISL engine in its T800 short-hood and its W900S, a concrete-mixer truck. The 8.9-lit. ISL engine has no EGR system - it meets federal rules by virtue of a program of "Banking and Trading" exhaust emissions. (Another smaller Cummins engine has emissions well below the EPA standard, and the company can trade those reductions for a higher level of emissions in the ISL engine.) "The ISL offers the power of a larger engine, without paying a cost premium for the EGR system," says Olsen. "And it has a significant weight advantage over competing engines." Kenworth offers the ISL at ratings from 310 to 350 hp.
New Freightliner Lineup
Freightliner is replacing several models - its FL 50 through FL 80 models and the FLD 112SD (severe-duty), FL 106, and FL 112 models - with the M2 series. Those are the M2 112, the M2 106, and the M2 100 models. (In each case, the large number represents the bumper-to-back-of-cab (BBC) distance in inches.) The M2 112 is a Class 8 truck, and the M2 106 is offered in Classes 5, 6, 7, and Baby 8 models, says Steve Little, vocational product manager. The M2 100 is a Class 5 and 6 product.
Meanwhile, Freightliner has retained - and improved - the FLD 120SD, a severe-duty model that can accept big-bore engines from Caterpillar, Cummins, or Detroit Diesel. Frame rails are stronger, with 120,000-psi steel instead of 110,000-psi steel. "And we improved the maneuverability to give it more wheel cut," says Little.
The FLD 120SD has more cooling capacity. Previously it was limited to a 1,200 in.2 radiator but now can accept larger radiators in both the set-back axle and set-forward axle versions. In addition, Freightliner decreased cab noise by improving the exhaust isolators and the clutch linkage. And air cab mounts now are standard on the truck.
Freightliner began producing the M2 112 in August 2003, Little says. All M2 trucks have an aluminum cab; the dashboard look has been improved, and the heating/ventilation system has been redesigned. "Visibility is one of its best features," says Little. "The nose drops down in front for improved visibility, and we use a low-profile dash."
In other developments, Freightliner recently brought out the Mercedes-Benz 900 Series and 4000 Series engines. The 900 Series fits into the M2 100 and M2 106 trucks, and the 4000 Series goes into the M2 112 and FLD 120SD trucks. Little says the MBE 900 is well proven in European applications and that about 16,000 MBE 4000 engines have been sold.
International is launching a new engine lineup in 2004, including the HT 570 engines for severe duty. The first round of HT 570 engines includes a 295-hp unit and a 340-hp model. The HT 570 is offered in International's 7000 Series trucks.
For the construction industry, International is releasing what it calls a "clean CA package," which means the frame rail has nothing mounted on it between the cab and the axle. That way, a buyer can install a lift axle (or pusher) in front of the tandem rear axles. This clean CA package will be offered across Series 7000 and 5000 trucks, says Frank Raney, severe service product marketing manager.
And as a service to construction users, International offers one-stop shopping for truck-body combinations. In Garland, TX, International builds Severe Service trucks - and there has opened a Modification Center, where customers can select from a full range of dump bodies in steel and aluminum. International offers a three-year warranty for Garland-equipped truck-and-body units.
At Mack Trucks, acceptance of the new Granite series of construction trucks has been "phenomenal," reports Steve Ginter, vocational product manager. The company recently introduced a new 23,000-lb. UniMax integral hub and axle, which adds to the previously available 18,000-lb. and 20,000-lb. ratings. The axle is sealed and lubed for life.
Ginter says more than 65% of Granite trucks are being specified with an engine brake. To meet the demand, Mack now offers its own PowerLeash engine brake, which boasts 420 engine hp - more than the competition, Ginter says. And the Mack brake takes effect in just a quarter-second - faster than the competition.
Mack also touts the benefits of its triple-countershaft transmission, offered as both the T310M and the T310MLR. "The three shafts are nested together in a triangle, so the force is directed inward, which allows us to use an aluminum case," says Ginter. "You get a cooler running transmission. Other truck transmissions are twin-countershaft units."
At Peterbilt, Models 357, 378, 379 and 385 are all getting a new "visibility package," says Ray Paradis, director of vocational markets. Rear-view mirrors have been relocated from the door to the cowl, which affords the driver a better field of view. Also, the rear window is larger, and Peterbilt installs corner windows in the cab.
Exhaust-compliant engines have forced Peterbilt to change its engine-truck combinations somewhat, explains Paradis. He says the Cat C15 is no longer available at 550 hp, but that "Caterpillar tells us we'll be able to get the higher horsepower ratings back later in the year."
In October 2003, Sterling Truck Corporation introduced its new HX chassis for heavy-duty trucks. The new chassis was designed to accommodate new EPA-compliant engines, and Sterling says it will feature stronger, lighter frames, a new air cab suspension, a new cooling system, new fuel tank offerings, and additional front and rear suspension options.
"We completely revised and updated the chassis," says Sterling's Crowcroft. "All of the models are still there." Cab positioning has been adjusted to make room for larger cooling systems. The HX offers new radiator options: a 1,000-in.2 crossflow with or without in-tank oil coolers, as well as 1,200-in.2 and 1,400-in.2 units, both crossflow radiators.
The HX is used in Sterling's models as follows:
- The L 7500 ranges up to 66,000 lbs. GVW - a heavy Class 7 truck with mid-range engine.
- The L 8500 ranges up to 66,000 lbs. GVW with two BBC measurements and the same engines as the L 7500.
- Sterling's core construction truck is the L 9500, offered with four BBCs - 101, 111, 113, and 122 in. with setback front axle. The L-line goes up to 72,000 lbs. GVW.
New frames include new section heights from 10 to 11 in. and an all-new 13-in. frame, which is more than 2 in. taller than any current frame offering, the company says. The HX frame also offers improved frame strength ratings, with optional resistive bending moments (RBMs) up to 5 million in.-lb. when an insert is added.
Crowcroft says Sterling has become popular among public works agencies and municipalities because the company can provide trucks that meet a wide variety of specifications. "Our objective is to be the ultimate vocational truck brand," Crowcroft says. "We think we have the most diverse lineup of vocational trucks." For example, Sterling offers both aluminum and steel cabs, where other manufacturers offer just one material, Crowcroft notes.
At Volvo Trucks, officials note that the VED 12 engine, now EPA-certified for 2004, is the same engine that was certified for 2002. "Our horsepowers were up in the October 2002 release," says Jim Fancher, marketing product manager. "Our 345-horsepower engine was replaced with a 365-horsepower engine, and we had a 385-horsepower engine that became a 395-horsepower engine as of October '02." The company retained the 425-hp rated engine but dropped its torque from 1,550 to 1,450 ft.-lb. to be compatible with the Allison HD automatic transmission. Then Volvo brought out a 435-hp engine with 1,550 ft.-lbs. of torque - and retained its 465-hp engine. All are EPA-certified for 2004 - and all are used in the company's VHD construction truck.
Amid all of the changes, the specs you want are probably still there: Finding them just might take a bit more shopping.
Notable Options and Features
Peterbilt says Eaton's Central Tire Inflation (CTI) system has become popular as a traction-assist tool in the soft soils of Florida. You don't even need an all-wheel-drive truck to pull through soft sand on a job site. From the cab, you can simply deflate your drive tires for improved traction and walk on through to pavement and then re-inflate the tires.
Kenworth now has an extended day-cab option, available on its construction trucks, which adds 6 in. of length to the cab for more leg room, more belly room, and more reclining room. In addition, the new day-cab option can be bought as a kit to convert an older Kenworth AeroCab integral sleeper from a used over-the-road truck to a day-cab construction truck.
The TufTrac vocational suspension offered by Freightliner and Sterling now comes with a two-stage operation to soften up the ride in an unloaded condition. Advantages claimed are high articulation, good weight equalization, and a good ride.
International continues to expand its Diamond Logic electrical system. Instead of cutting into chassis electrical systems to wire up bodies' electrical functions, such as dumping the box, International uses a remote power module that body companies simply plug into. "We're writing specific software solutions for various customers," says the company's Frank Raney. "For example, we programmed a truck to go only 5 miles per hour when the PTO is engaged. And we had one guy who wanted the wipers to come on when he engaged the PTO, just to remind himself." And one can program all snowplow functions using the Diamond Logic system, Raney adds.
Volvo has added a Body Builder ECU, or electronic control unit, to separate the electrical functions of a body from those of the truck. "We provide a connecting point in the floor of the truck for body builders to connect to," says Volvo's Jim Fancher. A body manufacturer connects his wiring harness to Volvo's ECU, which can control all body functions. So, for example, if a light on the body shorts out, it won't affect the truck's electrical system. Before, the body builder's wiring connected through the truck's fuse panel, and faults in the body system could mess up the truck's electrical system.
Author's Bio: Daniel C. Brown writes on safety and technology in the construction industry.