September 2002

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Volvo’s redesigned VN
Volvo Trucks North America unveiled its new VN series of Class 8 highway tractors. The goal of the three-year, $190 million development was to make improvements in productivity, aerodynamics, driver safety and comfort, the company said. The effort led to the redesign of more than 1,000 parts that comprise the previous VN model.

In the area of aerodynamics, the new VN has a drag coefficient that is 3.2 percent less than the previous model – an improvement that can result in as much as a 1.5 percent improvement in fuel economy. Volvo also has made some changes that, when taken with other changes made in recent years, make the new VN up to 1,500 pounds lighter than the original VN launched in 1996. Among the areas where Volvo saved weight were the frame rails, front air suspension system, gear reduction starter, power steering and various brackets.

Meeting the challenge of the October 2002 emissions requirements was one of the goals of the redesign. “We weren’t going to try and make a new engine fit into a chassis it was never designed for, under an old hood with a grill opening that is too small for the cooling requirements and so on,” says Susan Alt, vice president of marketing, Volvo Trucks North America.

By redesigning the entire package – cab, chassis and engine – Volvo was able to adjust for some negative aspects of the Environmental Protection Agency mandate. For example, the company was able to counter the additional weight of a compliant engine with weight reductions elsewhere in the vehicle.

The improvement in aerodynamics results from a number of changes, including:

  • A lower profile and wider body;
  • A shorter wheelbase that reduces the trailer gap by as much as 12 inches;
  • Reduction of other gaps between cab and trailer
  • A new headlight design;
  • A new front bumper that manages airflow under the truck;
  • Flared fenders that minimize airflow across the vehicle;
  • New mirrors; and
  • New splash shields that reduce dirt buildup.

Volvo expects to gain reliability improvements from several changes in VN design, including:

  • A new engine cooling system that includes a high-performance fan for maximum cooling;
  • Air intakes on each side of the hood to balance intake and dissipate heat rejection;
  • An air charge projection system that uses air pressure to determine vehicle load;
  • A new hood and mounting system that reduces vibration;
  • A new environment control module that allows a driver to program an automatic shutdown order for electrical appliances so that battery power never drops below what is needed to start the engine;
  • A new gear reduction starter that is less susceptible to wear;
  • New electronic architecture based on a data bus that cuts down on wiring; and
  • A three-piece bumper that protects the input shaft from contaminants during harsh driving conditions.

A major emphasis in the VN redesign was providing easy accessibility to serviceable areas and designing components that are more durable and cost less to repair. Improvements include:

  • Accessible service areas located on the “cool side” of the engine – away from the exhaust gas recirculation system;
  • Two-piece engine cover;
  • Three-piece bumper that is easy to remove and replace and provides better access to the engine compartment;
  • New fairings that were designed to be completely removable without tools for access to frame-mounted equipment;
  • New headlamps that are less prone to damage and allow individual replacement of low beams and high beams;
  • A new cowl with spring clamps improves access to the windshield wiper assembly;
  • New side mirrors that require only the glass to be replaced if broken;
  • Injection-molded splash shields are easier to remove and provide better accessibility to the engine compartment;
  • A hood release located under the steering column so it is accessible from both inside and outside the cab;
  • V-ribbed belts on all front-end accessory drivers ensure longevity and can be changed in less than 6 minutes;
  • A radiator that has a pivot design allowing cores to be cleaned without draining the coolant;
  • A new climate control system that includes additional aluminum tubing to protect sensitive fluids from leaking. Also, more powerful evaporators and increased filter sizes extend service intervals. And new electronic controls reduce maintenance by eliminating cables; and
  • An oil change interval that is unchanged.

Driver comfort and safety
Volvo engineers worked with interior designers and ergonomic experts on the redesign of the cabin area. Improvements include:

  • A wraparound dash designed to minimize stress and fatigue and allow for more rocker switches for aftermarket accessories;
  • An automotive-inspired instrument cluster that includes a primary display computer limiting what systems the driver can control while the vehicle is moving;
  • A larger message center located directly in front of the driver and controlled through the windshield wiper control stalk on the steering column;
  • A new steering wheel that allows the driver to control lights and the radio from the steering wheel for improved safety;
  • New electronic climate control for more precise temperature settings and better airflow;
  • A new driver’s seat;
  • New electrically heated side mirrors that improve visibility;
  • An optional remote keyless entry system;
  • New interior amenities; and
  • Sleeper upgrades

The Volvo VN will be available from dealers in November as requirements for lower-emission engines take effect.

Volvo Trucks North America

Diesel smoke opacity tester
Using OTC’s Smoke Check 1667 Diesel Smoke Opacity Tester fleet personnel can immediately determine if a diesel will pass sate standards and interstate emissions programs. It is portable and can perform accurate tests even in windy conditions with one operator, the company says. A digital LCD screen walks users through each step, and a verifying printout of test results is produced.

Workbench, work tables
Akro-Mils’ new line of work centers includes steel work benches and work tables outfitted with storage bins, hanging systems and cabinets. The work benches are offered in 30 x 60-inch or 30 x 72-inch desk sizes, with optional features. The work surface is available in 11-gauge steel or 1.25-inch finished oak with rounded edges. Both steel and wood work surfaces accommodate a vise or clamps. The fixed-height model stands at 34 inches and the adjustable-height model has range of height settings from 30 to 40 inches.

For applications requiring mobile workstations, heavy- and medium-duty work tables come with two fixed and two swivel casters. The heavy-duty model features a welded-steel frame with a steel-reinforced hardwood work surface. The table is 24 inches long x 48 inches wide with nine adjustable height settings from 36 to 48 inches. The medium-duty work table measures 24 inches long x 48 inches wide with a fixed 36-inch height.

Diagnostic tool
Diagnostic Innovations’ Digital Diagnostic Assistant integrates software from OEMs into one tool. It validates the system and removes possible software conflicts between various programs as well as reducing the number of cables and interface boxes needed. Diagnostic Innovations partnered with Panasonic and its “Ruggedized” Toughbook line of products. A package that includes training, technical support and next-day shipment of replacement units is available.
Diagnostic Innovations

Extended, crew cab options for M2
Freightliner Trucks last month introduced Extended Cab and Crew Cab models for its new Business Class M2 line of medium-duty and vocational trucks. Production of the optional Extended Cabs and Crew Cabs will begin in the fourth quarter of 2002, and customers can order the cab options from dealers starting in October.

Extended cab
The M2 Extended Cab measures 132 inches from bumper to back-of-cab (BBC) – 26 inches longer than the standard day cab models. It can seat four comfortably and is designed for applications in towing, specialty hauling, emergency rescue and ambulance service, or in other vocations where extra capacity and storage are needed.

Buyers can specify the Extended Cab with or without rear seats. The two optional rear jump seats face forward and fold up when not in use. In place of rear seats, a 24-inch-wide bunk that meets DOT specifications is available for sleeper applications.

The Extended Cab has 460 square inches of tinted glass on each side. As an option, the bunk windows can tip out for improved ventilation. The one-piece, 882-square-inch rear window offers unobstructed visibility.

Crew cab
The M2 Crew Cab measures 154 inches BBC and offers seatting for up to six people, including the driver. Crew Cabs are designed for applications in fire and rescue, various service applications, moving vans and RV hauling.

A variety of seating options are available, including air-suspended or non-suspended seats and bench seats for both the front and the rear of the cab. Both the front and rear doors of the Crew Cab have been redesigned and offer improved entry and exit – especially important for fire and rescue workers wearing bulky protective gear.

In a related development, production of the Business Class M2 truck line began in June at Freightliner’s Mount Holly, N.C., truck plant. Freightliner is gradually replacing its original Business Class line with the new M2.
Freightliner Trucks

Welding hose reels
Aero-Motive’s VPR Hose Reel line consists of spring-driven hose reels that feature durable steel construction and a containerized mainspring. They are designed for general and industrial oxygen/acetylene welding and are UL listed for oxygen/acetylene, MAPP gas, propane and natural gas. They feature an adjustable guide arm for wall, ceiling or truck mounting and offer a four-roller guide, a ratchet lock and a forged brass fluid path with fluorocarbon seals. The reels handle up to 65 feet of 1/4-inch ID low-pressure hose.
Aero-Motive Company

Ceramic heaters
Space-Ray’s DK Series infrared ceramic heaters are available in natural or propane gas and are ideal for spot and area heating applications. The heaters feature a honeycomb design for a more radiant surface, and will operate at temperatures up to 1800 degrees F. The new line consists of 14 different models with input capacities from 30,000 to 160,000 Btu/hr.

Wheel end assemblies
Webb Wheel Products’ Platinum Wheel End Assemblies combine Webb’s Platinum drum and its Platinum aluminum hub for all popular trailer axles and “R” series rear axles. This combination offers savings of up to 16 pounds per axle over any other combination of lightweight components, according to Webb.
Webb Wheel Products

Underbody coating
Magnet Paint’s Chassis Saver underbody coating is formulated to prevent automotive and truck corrosion without the use of primers and top coats, according to the company. Chassis Saver is a one-paint solution that chemically bonds to rusted metal to create a hard, glaze-like non-porous finish. It helps to resist road salts, gasoline, oil, battery acid and other solvents, and can be applied to bare or rusted metal with a brush, roller or any type of spray equipment.
Magnet Paints

Rugged creeper
Pegasus Products’ Bone Rough Rider mechanic’s creeper is designed for use in less-than-ideal situations, such as off-road or rough terrain. The one-piece molded body cradles the user close to the ground. Five-inch diameter wheels and extra-wide, high flotation tires don’t sink in soft surfaces and roll easily on gravel, dirt or broken pavement. It is 47 inches long, 25.5 inches wide, has about a 2-inch ground clearance and weighs 25 pounds.
Pegasus Products Company

Remote mike for two-ways
Motorola has created a wireless remote microphone for Motorola two-way radios. Using Bluetooth wireless technology, Motorola’s designers developed microphone that enables Motorola two-way radio users to work without cords. The wireless remote speaker microphone features a range of up to 30 feet depending on environmental conditions.

New hubs for airtek
Hendrickson’s Airtek integrated front axle and air suspension is now available with unitized aluminum hubs, manufactured by ConMet. The introduction of the ConMet hub marks the first time a unitized aluminum hub has been available for front axles in North America, according to Hendrickson. Airtek is available on Freightliner Century Class, Columbia and Coronado, and Western Star set-back axle models.
Hendrickson International

All-pupose wipers

New Pig’s Pig All-Purpose Wipers are available in a portable Pop-up Z-Box. The wipes are made of pliable cellulose and absorb oil, grease and water without leaving behind wet residue or lint. They are available in white or blue and are packaged in quantities of 150 or 200 wipers per box.
New Pig

Security training
J.J. Keller’s Truck Driver and Cargo Security training program shows drivers how to protect themselves and their cargo against security breaches. A 25-minute video explains what drivers can do to increase security at pickup, in transit and at delivery. It covers topics such as checking paperwork, supervising loading, using trailer seals, planning trips, securing cargo and watching for suspicious activity. It also includes a section on hazmat-specific security information, which covers bills of lading, placards and labels.

The program also includes instructional materials. The program is available for $179.
J.J. Keller & Associates

Vocational steer axle line
Dana released new models of its vocational steer axle for 16,000- and 22,800-pound rated applications. The axles are designed to meet the needs of construction, waste and municipal applications. The use of patented “power rib” wide beam designs improves handling and reduces weight, while allowing for greater maneuverability, the company says. The tires are positioned at a wider track, and the axles are designed for a maximum 50-degree turn angle.
Dana Corp.

Trailer air suspension
Ridewell’s RLT-230-S self-steering trailer suspension system includes suspension, brakes and a fully-dressed fabricated axle. It can be used in the pusher or tag position and is rated at 13,200 pounds. Other features include: a 70.06-inch KPI straight axle design; 12.5- to 18-inch range of mounting heights; 27-degree wheel cut; and compact 21.8-inch package space. The pre-assembled RLT-230-S self-steers with constant axle caster, which comes pre-set, as does total alignment.
Ridewell Suspensions

Transport cart
Akro-Mils’ Compact Tote Truck features a three-position fold-down handle and a compact shape for better handling and storage. The molded-in deck handle can be used for storing the cart on walls or inside delivery vans. The steel, push/pull handle is epoxy-coated to resist rust, and folds down flush to the deck. The Compact Tote Truck is molded from high-density polyethylene structural foam. The 35.5-inch long x 22.5-inch wide deck platform is textured, providing a non-skid surface.

A/C system diagnostics
Red Dot’s ProTecht is an integrated A/C system protection and diagnostic tool. The system includes a refrigerant charge sensor, a high side pressure transducer and compact electronic control unit. The system warns of low charge, and shuts the system down to protect A/C components from premature failure. The sensors make adjustments for excessive system pressures, excessive clutch cycling and, if required, will engage the condenser fan.
The electronic control unit gathers real-time data from the system-protection components and logs faults that occur. The optional A/C Technician software monitors and displays real-time information.
Red Dot Corporation

Forklift truck
Mitsubishi Forklift Trucks introduces its new 3,000- to 6,000-pound capacity electric cushion-tire forklift series. The entire series can be tailored for the customer’s specific needs, and numerous optional features are available, says Mitsubishi. Standard features include an energy-efficient hydraulic system with a newly designed valve and a transistorized drive controller, featuring proportional regenerative braking and an interactive LED display.
Mitsubishi Forklift Trucks

Heavy-duty industrial gauges
GB Instruments’ GBI Precision heavy-duty industrial gauges and instruments are designed for use in new or existing applications. Each gauge is tested three times before leaving the factory and is warranted for two years from date of manufacture, according to the company. In addition, any GBI Precision product can be customized with a company logo or product name.
GB Instruments

Hydraulic jack hose
Parker Hannifin’s Parker Jack Hose is designed specifically for the hydraulic jack applications. It has a maximum working pressure of 10,000 psi and is fully functional within a temperature range of -40 degrees F to 160 degrees F.
Parker Hannifin

Hot-water pressure washers
Landa’s new line of hot-water pressure washers with a vertical burn design have a cleaning power of up to 5 GPM @ 2000 psi. The electric-powered Vertical Hot Water Super-Size line has two basic models with three electrical configurations for each. Each model includes the following features: quick-coil access; Triplex, oil bath, belt-drive General pump; trigger gun with variable pressure wand; tubed pneumatic tires; easy-to-access control panel; slotted panel for monitoring the fuel level; 50 feet of wire-braid hose rated for up to 3000 psi; tri-lingual operating instructions; and ground-fault interrupters on single-phase models.

Exhaust hose reels
Nederman’s exhaust hose reels keep workshops clear of hazardous exhaust fumes. The reels can be ceiling or wall-mounted. The manually operated hose reel is spring recoiled, and its hose and nozzle hang above the operator’s head. The motor driven reel is controlled through a pendant and cable, which can be mounted to the wall or remotely controlled. A complete range of nozzles, in metal or rubber, and various types of hosing, including thermoplastic, rubber crush resistant, and super temp Kevlar are available.
Nederman Inc.

Fan drive repair kits
Horton’s new series of premium repair kits are designed to upgrade S and HT/S Advantage fan drives. PolarExtreme repair kits feature an improved D-shaped seal design made from hydrogenated nitrile rubber compound. The new construction will not harden or lose its seal in cold temperatures, the company says.
Horton Inc.