Archive for April, 2016

How Effective are Aerodynamic Additions for Trailers

Posted on: April 27th, 2016 by admin No Comments

More and more trailers are adding aerodynamic devices leading to more and more questions concerning aerodynamics and fuel economy.

So what do these devices actually do?

In order to answer that question, it’s important to understand a bit about aerodynamics. In its simplest form, it’s the science of controlling air flow. Air has mass and when air pushes anywhere on the truck it creates forces that have to be overcome. To overcome this, it requires power which comes from fuel. Obviously, the more force, the more power and fuel it requires to overcome.

These aerodynamic devices help manage airflow by reducing drag. They decrease pressure on forward facing surfaces and increase the pressure in the rear. Pushing harder on the rear doors counteracts the air pressure pushing on the front of the truck and trailer.

These aerodynamic devices usually fall into two categories, fairings and flow control devices. Fairings are surfaces that cover and shield non-aerodynamic shapes like suspensions or even the front of a trailer. Flow control devices are surfaces that modify air flow passing over vehicles. The skirts you see on an increasing number of trailers are fairings that stop air traveling under the truck and pushing on the bogie system.

Do these types of aerodynamic devices really work?

How well these devices work varies depending on the designs and locations of these devices. There are eight zones on a combination vehicle where drag is an issue. They are the front of the truck, the area behind the truck, under the truck, the front of the trailer, the area behind the trailer, under the trailer, the wheels and any surfaces that are not “smooth.”

For trailers, skirts can be effective if they extend to the trailer wheels. Even a plate that runs across the top rear of the trailer to deflect air over the rain gutter can increase mpg up to 2%. Vortex generators can add 1-2% to mpg depending on design and placement. Additionally, wheel covers can minimize turbulence at the deep wells of the wheels, improving fuel economy 1-2%.

What about cross winds?

Cross winds enter gaps between aerodynamic devices and the vehicles themselves. The greater the angle and wind speed, the less efficient most devices will be. And as gap increases, so do the negative effects of cross winds.

Some devices might work better alongside other installed devices. For example, some boattails may be more effective if the trailer is equipped with vortex generators at the rear. Benefits of bogie fairings can diminish faster than skirts as cross winds increase.

What’s important to remember is that aerodynamic devices are tested under ideal weather and road conditions. Obviously, if conditions vary, so will results. When choosing a device or combination of devices, operators should determine what test conditions were and ask the vendor how the device would operate in their world.

A Look at Synthetic Motor Oils

Posted on: April 7th, 2016 by admin No Comments

For quite some time, the only decision a truck driver needing oil for a diesel engine had to make was which brand of 15W40 to purchase. In recent years, the industry has slowly been making the change to synthetic oil. Now, 10W30 is an option and in the future, 5W30 could even be on the table.

What happened?

It all starts with the EPA. Engine manufacturers are under pressure to improve fuel economy and friction is eating into their efforts. The solution is to move to lower viscosity oils in newer engines.

Having more choices can cause confusion and can even be overwhelming. When you put oil in a truck with a $40,00-$60,00 engine, you are directly affecting how this expensive piece of machinery works. It is important to understand the nature of lubricants and how they work can help drivers make better decisions for their truck.

Understanding the Numbers

The numbers on the oil container will tell you its viscosity. The first set of numbers followed by the “W” shows the viscosity of the oil when it’s cold. The other set of numbers shows the viscosity of the oil when at operating temperature.

Advantage of Synthetics

First and foremost, synthetic oil is slicker than conventional oil. Because of this, it picks up fewer contaminants as it does its job of lubrication. Less friction means the motor works more efficiently and that means greater fuel economy.

Oxidation levels are also higher in synthetic oils. This means it is less likely that oxygen will mix with the oil and break it down, keeping your engine cleaner. Lower volatility means there is less evaporation. If you’ve owned an older car and always kept a case of oil handy then you know how important that is. The oil lasts longer in the engine. Less oil burning along with better fuel economy means lower emissions too.

There are many drivers who could argue for conventional oil over synthetic oil. However, one thing those drivers can’t argue against is the lower viscosity and higher resistance to temperatures. The main properties in synthetic oil result in 2% or better improvement in fuel economy and also reduce wear and tear on the engine.

Be sure to always consult a service tech before finalizing your decision.

Getting Your Truck Ready for the Harsh Winter

Posted on: April 7th, 2016 by admin No Comments

Professional truck drivers have to deal with all kinds of elements while being on the road. The most taxing elements on a vehicle and driver are the winter months and all the brutalness that comes with it in the form of snow, sleet and cold. With fall upon us that only means one thing, winter is right around the corner. It’s important to make sure that your rig is ready for the rigors of yet another cold winter. Here are some tips that will allow you to get the most out of your truck during the cold months.

Check the oil grade of your truck

Most trucks operate on 15W-40 oil. While that’s fine for most temperatures, but is truly best in moderate to hot climates. Once the temperatures get into the teens and single digits, typical oil loses its effectiveness. If you drive anywhere temperatures drop it’s a good idea to switch to a 10W-40 grade oil for winter. Depending on the area, the best time to use this type of oil is from November through March.

Check the coolant

Measure the amount of coolant and water in your rig to be sure the mix is the correct blend. If not, you could see a couple issues pop up. You can either see a cracked cylinder block or your antifreeze coolant will freeze and prevent your truck from starting. Be sure your engine is running with a 50/50 coolant and water concentration, which is the ideal concentration for cold weather.

Get a diesel fuel additive

If you are driving your truck in the harshest of winter conditions, this tip/trick is for you. When driving in these harsh conditions where temperatures are well below freezing, the diesel in your truck can actually gel and become unusable. This is a much more common occurrence when driving from warm weather into cold weather because the fuel you might get in a warmer state doesn’t have the same requirements that fuel in colder states have. To combat this, a fuel additive can keep the diesel liquid and usable no matter where you drive.

Invest in an engine heater

Starting up your truck in the dead of winter can be a challenge. Many truckers let their truck idle however with the different regulations, not to mention the added cost, idling might not be the best option. If you want to get the most out of your truck and make it last longer, invest in an engine warmer that surrounds the engine. This helps to heat the coolant and the oil that’s necessary for a smooth start. It also relieves the stress for the engine on a cold day.

Here are 7 additional tips you should check to be sure your truck is ready for the cold:

  1. Make certain that batteries are of sufficient size and in fully charged condition. Check that all other electrical equipment is in optimum condition.

  2. Use permanent type engine antifreeze solution to protect against damage by freezing.

  3. At the end of each daily operation, drain water from fuel/water separator (if equipped).

  4. Fill fuel tank at end of daily operation to prevent condensation in fuel tank.

  5. Be sure to use proper cold weather lubricating oil, and be sure crankcase is at proper level.

  6. At temperatures of 20F and below, it is recommended that you use an engine block mounted coolant heater to improve cold starting.

  7. If operating in arctic temperatures of -20F or lower, consult your International Truck dealer for information about special cold weather precautions.

Conclusion

When you’re on the road, be sure not only you are safe, but you are responsible and keeping others safe. If you’re in a snowstorm, it’s important to keep your flashers on so others can see you. But the biggest piece of advice is to keep an eye on the weather and be careful. If you want to keep your truck on the road longer and running as efficient as possible, go through your own checklist and be sure your truck is ready for the cold.

New 2016 International DuraStar

Posted on: April 7th, 2016 by admin No Comments

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Part II: Getting Your Truck Ready for Winter

Posted on: April 7th, 2016 by admin No Comments

Part II: Getting Your Truck Ready for Winter

Winter will be here before you know it and unfortunately, like a lot of people, trucks don’t particularly like cold temperatures. Metal parts, fluids and coolants just don’t move as they should when they are cold. Additionally, freezing moisture can decrease braking power and the cooling system doesn’t do much better. Metal actually contracts the lower the temperature gets so hose clamps get loose, which leads to leaks. There are however steps you can take that will help you avoid costly downtime as well as your maintenance costs.

Keep the Power Going

Good winter preparation programs should focus on your vehicle’s cranking and charging systems. Be sure to get your batteries load-tested before the cold to ensure they will be able to handle the demand required to turn on a diesel engine over during cold starts. Also, it’s a good idea to keep the lights shining through those extra hours of darkness. Have your cables voltage drop-tested to ensure no hidden corrosion goes unnoticed.

A detailed visual inspection of all components will help you spot corroded or loose connections that may need to be addressed. Also, check for belts that are slipping due to excessive wear.

It’s extremely important that the belts be in great working condition, otherwise your alternator will slip, preventing the batteries from operating at a full charge. Not only will this keep your vehicle from cranking, but the alternator front bearing may overheat which can cost you an alternator.

Don’t Get Wet

Moisture doesn’t evaporate in the cold; it freezes. This is an issue since it can lead to serious problems in your brake system. An additional emphasis on the air drier is good practice. This key part cleans and conditions the air that goes into the wet tank, where compressed air for the brakes is stored. An air dryer that is not performing as it should can let that moisture build up and cause the air pressure gauge to read full even though it doesn’t contain enough air volume to operate the truck safely. The dryer desiccant cartridge should be replaced according to the manufacturer’s recommendation or if you notice excessive moisture in your wet tank during pre-trip inspection.

To Cold to Cool Off

Lastly, we cannot forget the cooling system. If you get your coolant hose clamps inspected and tightened, you will be sure to experience fewer cold water leaks and avoid costly breakdowns due to engine shutdown. It’s important your cooling system be pressure-tested to include your radiator cap. Having the right amount of pressure on the cooling system is critical to controlling the heat load of the engine. A technician should inspect the condition of the coolant to include its additive package. Often times forgotten but certainly important is the condition of your cabin filter. If you want clean, comfortable air from your heating system, the cabin filter needs to be clean.

These steps are part of a standard winterization process, and are very effective throughout the season. They can keep your truck on the road and lower your maintenance costs.

Truck Tires & Fuel Economy

Posted on: April 7th, 2016 by admin No Comments

There are so many factors that affect the fuel mileage of a given vehicle. This includes the driver, the shape and condition of the truck, maintenance, routes, climate, load and of course, tires.

At one point in time, drivers preferred “tall rubber” tires. The idea was that the taller the tire, the fewer revolutions per mile and greater the tire life. Conversely, those kinds of tires came with more weight and higher taxes. Nowadays, many truck tires have low profiles with wide base singles.

The Tread: Lug and Rib Patterns

If all roads were always smooth and dry like NASCAR racetracks, we probably wouldn’t be to concerned with tread patterns, in the real world however, we don’t hault operation whenever it starts to rain. Grooves are put in treads to channel rainwater and snow. Lugs are designed between grooves and the drive tires to give the truck added traction in dirt, mud and snow. All of this is done to maximize the desired attributes of the tire for its selected use, balancing life, traction and fuel economy.

About 1/3rd of fuel consumed by a typical truck goes to overcoming rolling resistance in tires. The tread is responsible for 50-70% of that. A switch from lug to rib treads can result in fuel use savings of 2-4%. Aerodynamics also play a role in fuel savings once the truck exceeds 50 mph. When operating at below 50 mph, rib treads can have a huge impact – increasing the savings to 6% for trucks traveling in lower speed urban operations.

As long as tires wear evenly, it’s actually better to keep them on the truck as they wear down. The thinner tread flexes less and flexing creates friction which is the main contributing factor of rolling resistance. A tire worn to 50% of tread depth is 4.5% more fuel efficient than a new tire.

Tire Pressure

Underinflated tires can reduce fuel economy. In a study done by TMC and FMCSA in 2002, only 44% of about 90,000 tires actually gauged were found to be within 5 psi of their target pressure, and manual tire monitoring practices have not changed much since then. What has gotten better is the increased use of tire pressure maintenance systems. Companies are coming out with innovative tools and systems that allow truck owners to make sure their tires are inflated properly.

Tire systems are designed to do specific jobs. All require sufficient inflation pressure to perform well, just as all require highly engineered components – tread designs, rubber compounds, structures and configurations designed to work together achieve their goal.

Maintenance Items That Might Get Overlooked

Posted on: April 7th, 2016 by admin No Comments

Managers spend plenty of time tending to engines, fuel use, brakes and tire wear, as they should. However, too many times their technicians ignore suspensions, a major truck and trailer component that receives a fair share or wear and tear.

Wrong Parts Replacement

Many service technicians see more issues with people who don’t replace parts correctly. This includes re-torquing the fasteners correctly or cleaning the area before putting in the parts. Suspension manufacturers offer maintenance and replacement instructions on their website. Additionally, there are plenty of times where normal wear items are commonly overlooked. Nylon washers or beam spacers insulate hangers from trailing beams on most brands of air-ride suspensions. On steel-spring suspensions, there are wear pads between hangers and springs themselves. All of these wear out, and as a result a steel-on-steel situation comes about. If these items are not part of a regular maintenance schedule, it can lead to the more expensive replacement of the arms, springs and whatever else can be worn down.

Improper torquing of Fasteners

Improper torque is very common, on both trucks and trailers. Many times, technicians simply don’t do it as it sometimes is not on the preventative maintenance schedule. It’s important that this piece is written down.

Another common item that gets overlooked is not tightening various parts. When a part gets loose, it starts to wear out the flat surface between the fastener and component. Once it starts, there’s no stopping it, it will get worse. U-bolts that secure axles to suspensions are a common culprit. Many times they are found to not be secure. When a brand new truck is either driven or towed from the factory to a dealer or customer, the U-bolts are among the first things that “settle in” and they also “relax”. Because of this, checking the torque on U-bolts should be part of the pre-delivery inspection done by fleet technicians.

Movement in Places where it’s not Supposed to Occur

A mechanical suspensions moves and has a determined life span. Movement in the bolted areas, radius rod connectors, adjustments in the rods themselves and U-bolts, however, are not supposed to move. When they do, things wear out. It’s important for service personnel to retorque the fasteners out of habit.

These bolts aren’t easy to get to and some of the torque loads are quite high. It’s also, unfortunately, a dirty job. The nuts, depending on which way the bolts are put in, can be tricky as well depending on which way the bolts are put in. Rubber wears out and sometimes the vehicle has to be jacked up to take weight off the suspension to see correctly.

Axle Alignment

One of the most important and commonly neglected maintenance items is checking and re-aligning your axles. Axle alignment is something that should be done at least two times per year and periodic checks will lower your tire and fuel expense. Additionally, axles that are properly aligned, allow a driver to focus on driving instead of the steering wheel. This has huge safety implications along with employee satisfaction.

Stay current on not only your scheduled maintenance items, but continue to be vigilant in your preventative maintenance items. Your truck and its drivers will thank you.

Finding a Trucking Mentor

Posted on: April 7th, 2016 by admin No Comments

For a long time, trucking knowledge and skills were passed from the “old hands” to those wanting to take the wheel. These were drivers who not only talked the talk, but walked the walk. Truckers with many years behind the wheel, willing to pass information, gut instincts and hands-on experience knew that everyone would benefit from these new, eager and talented drivers, learning all they could about the industry.

The trucking environment today is different in a number of ways, but it still benefits from drivers sharing their knowledge and helping each other. A new driver who finds a veteran driver that is willing to share information whether it be safety or uncertain moments can benefit everyone on the roads. It can also be extremely fulfilling for veteran drivers.

The Experienced Driver

Every driver believes in their abilities on the road, but handling a truck in bad weather or around truckers who are more focused on texting than driving does not mean that you will be a good mentor. In order for this to work, you yourself needs to be successful. Also, you need to have in-the-trenches experience where learning from mistakes paved the way to your success and you need to be able to take what you’ve learned and teach it.

Those who have driven trucks say it takes about five years and 500,000 miles to gain the experience it takes to be a good driver. It takes that long for the open road and the industry itself to get through enough roadblocks in your path for someone to understand what it truly takes to be a great driver.

Lastly, you need to have passion for trucking and a desire to see other truckers have a greater success than you did.

Finding a Mentor

The rookie looking to learn needs to find someone with all of the traits stated above. Look for the driver who takes care of his vehicle, not necessarily the one with the shiniest, newest truck. Find someone who is professional and presentable even after tying down an entire flatbed

Listen to the driver about the job, ideally, this person should be a problem solver who focuses on finding a way to get things done. The mentor you are looking for should talk about revenue per week, month or quarter rather than looking at it per mile. Be careful around those who constantly talk about their success, the ideal mentor should be rooted in reality and humility.

Once you’ve established a good working relationship, ask about books, podcasts, publications or courses that might help you achieve your ultimate goals. Even ask them how they reached their biggest goals. They might be able to shed some light on what it takes and what is needed.

The more diversified their experience the better. Finding someone who has bought trucks, trailers and even owned their own company is deal as they can share a diverse set of experiences in each part of the industry.

Mentors Can Learn Too

A good mentor listens to others. The greatest benefit of being a mentor is knowing you’ve helped a trucker get his or her professional life in order; taking a unique lifestyle and teaching them how to earn a very good living from it.

Learning from those who have been on the road before is something that needs to continue in order to progress the industry and keep everyone safe.

International HX™ Series

Posted on: April 7th, 2016 by admin No Comments

The all new HX™ Series is engineered to outwork and outlast, hour after demanding hour. The HX™ Series is designed to endure the most punishing of job sites, and to look great while doing it. Not to mention providing its driver a spacious, comfortable environment for work, day in and day out. Built to sustain whatever comes its way, and extensively tested to move you to the head of the class. Contact your Stadium Trucks sales representative for more information.

A Look at Synthetic Motor Oils

Posted on: April 7th, 2016 by admin No Comments

For quite some time, the only decision a truck driver needing oil for a diesel engine had to make was which brand of 15W40 to purchase. In recent years, the industry has slowly been making the change to synthetic oil. Now, 10W30 is an option and in the future, 5W30 could even be on the table.

What happened?

It all starts with the EPA. Engine manufacturers are under pressure to improve fuel economy and friction is eating into their efforts. The solution is to move to lower viscosity oils in newer engines.

Having more choices can cause confusion and can even be overwhelming. When you put oil in a truck with a $40,00-$60,00 engine, you are directly affecting how this expensive piece of machinery works. It is important to understand the nature of lubricants and how they work can help drivers make better decisions for their truck.

Understanding the Numbers

The numbers on the oil container will tell you its viscosity. The first set of numbers followed by the “W” shows the viscosity of the oil when it’s cold. The other set of numbers shows the viscosity of the oil when at operating temperature.

Advantage of Synthetics

First and foremost, synthetic oil is slicker than conventional oil. Because of this, it picks up fewer contaminants as it does its job of lubrication. Less friction means the motor works more efficiently and that means greater fuel economy.

Oxidation levels are also higher in synthetic oils. This means it is less likely that oxygen will mix with the oil and break it down, keeping your engine cleaner. Lower volatility means there is less evaporation. If you’ve owned an older car and always kept a case of oil handy then you know how important that is. The oil lasts longer in the engine. Less oil burning along with better fuel economy means lower emissions too.

There are many drivers who could argue for conventional oil over synthetic oil. However, one thing those drivers can’t argue against is the lower viscosity and higher resistance to temperatures. The main properties in synthetic oil result in 2% or better improvement in fuel economy and also reduce wear and tear on the engine.

Be sure to always consult a service tech before finalizing your decision.

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