Roadranger presents new drive systems

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Roadranger, the joint marketing arm for Dana Corp. and Eaton Corp., last week introduced Class 7 and Class 8 truck components designed to operate more efficiently and, to appeal to less experienced drivers, more easily.

A conceptual drive-axle system and heavy-duty steer axle and hub systems from Dana, and automatic transmissions from Eaton were featured at Roadranger’s press conference in Kalamazoo, Mich.

Dana’s conceptual drive-axle system eliminates drive gears from the rearmost axle on a Class 8 truck. Fewer moving parts and less lubrication simplify the drive-axle system, decreasing weight and maintenance costs.

The forward axle – Dana Spicer’s S21-170DE drive – provides hauling power and traction. For extra traction the driver engages the axle’s differential lock. This deflates the air bags on the rear axle – Dana Spicer’s R21BS reconfigurable tag – so during low speeds all weight is transferred to the forward axle, which delivers pulling power to left and right wheels.

“This 6×2 drive gives the same traction or perhaps even better traction than the traditional 6×4 tandem axle,” says Dana’s Leo Wenstrup. Pulling up to 160,000 pounds, the 6×2 drive weighs 200 pounds less than a 6×4 system.

Eliminating the rear differential and inter-axle driveshaft means less downtime, fewer repairs and a truck more suitable for less experienced drivers who often misuse drive-axle systems in low-traction situations.

To address resale problems associated with a 6×2 drive, Dana has kits to reconfigure the rear tag into a conventional drive. Wenstrup says the conversion takes about eight hours, and costs less than the resale value it adds to the truck.

Eaton’s UltraShift Line-Haul Performance 14-speed automatic transmission also addresses driver shortage problems by eliminating manual shifting concerns. The two-pedal LHP is operated the same as a car’s automatic transmission.

“Although the LHP is aimed at the high-performance segment of the market, it offers improved driver comfort and satisfaction, simplified driver recruitment, reduced training and maintenance costs and increased uptime,” says Eaton’s Scot Steurer.

During test drives behind a 425-hp Caterpillar C-15, the LHP started 65,000 pounds from a dead stop on a 10 percent grade with no rollback. During maximum acceleration, the LHP took the same rig from zero to 60 mph with no slippage or hesitation between shifts. The transmission can handle up to 1,750 lb.-ft. of torque and haul up to 110,000 pounds. It allows for fully automatic or clutchless manual operation, and the LHP’s “low” setting allows early downshifts for maximum engine braking and upshifts only at maximum engine RPM, smoothing for inexperienced drivers even the toughest hills fully loaded.

Dana Spicer’s D-2000F and D-2200F steer axles are compatible with disc or drum brakes, offer a 5-inch drop option and come rated to 22,800 pounds. “The features can add more productivity for fleets,” says Dana’s Mark Davis.

The 5-inch drop allows for a lower chassis, which makes entering and exiting that cab easier. The heavy-duty axle handles rougher treatment sometimes associated with new drivers. The steering kingpin assembly is more durable and reliable and maintains camber alignment longer.

The D-2000F has Dana’s patented “power rib,” which allows for weight savings and the added strength. Patented seal and boot designs decrease contamination and increase lube retention for lower maintenance and longer life.