TRUCK TRACKS

Ready with the ready-mix models

Trucks Article December 28, 2000
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Needs of readers of this magazine were clearly on the minds of truck makers as they developed new models for the next millennium.

Featured in the line of new producer Sterling Truck Corp. is a ready mix unit that, like other Sterlings, was developed from one of the heavy-duty models purchased for Sterling from Ford truck. The full Sterling line was reviewed in detail in the August issue (see Truck Tracks, p 14) of ROADS & BRIDGES.

Vital efforts to design new truck components received a lot of attention from chassis makers and their parts suppliers. Changes in international trade arrangements were noted all around the truck scene.

New entries in the ready-mix truck field for the year ahead are Mix Smart rear-discharge models with Volvo chassis and Conquest II front-discharge mixers from Mack. Mixer bodies for the former are the products of London Machinery of London, Ontario. On their way to nationwide distribution, they went on sale first at Volvo outlets in five southern states.

Mix Smart models consist of a chassis based on the Volvo WG64F model, a 335-hp Cummins engine, a 10-speed Fuller transmission, 22,800-lb front suspension and Volvo’s 46,000-lb T-Ride rear suspension. The trucks come with a 10.5-yd mixer body.
Volvo stressed that its trucks are built up as ready-mix units from the start to reduce delivery time when concrete business is booming.

Mack’s Conquest is powered by the truck company’s E7 E-TECH 350-hp engine with an advanced V-MAC III electronic control system. The diesel is mounted at the rear of an Oshkosh S series front-discharge chassis.

The producer said the mixer relies on a McNeilus mixer-barrel system and is available with an Allison HD 4060 or 4560 6-speed transmission. There is a choice of 46,000-lb rear suspensions from three manufacturers.

Introducing the Conquest, Paul Vickner, Mack’s executive vice president, sales and marketing, said, "Mack has been able bring together the leaders in the ready-mix industry to produce an important evolution."

The king returns

Truck people at Ford Motor had their work cut out for them when it was time to get ready for the truck market of 2000. The company got out of the heavy truck business when it sold the heavy end of its line to Freightliner Corp.

In effect, Ford had to develop a new top for its line, but at the same time keep the new models below the 33,001-lb line where heavy-duty models begin.

New offerings from Ford now start with four medium-duty models. The line is now led by F-650 and F-750 models which are making their debut as 2000 models. Engine choices include Caterpillar, Cummins and Ford diesels.

Six manuals from Eaton and Spicer and three automatics from Allison are the transmission choices. The 6 and 7 trucks are being introduced as 2000 models.

In one of the many examples of increased international touches in the truck business at this point, 650 and 750 Fords will be produced for all the world’s market in factories in Latin America.

A stronger leader

The two General Motors truck lines, Chevrolet and GMC, will offer a stronger top tiltcab model in the year ahead. It is the WT5500, which amounts to mounting the line’s larger, maneuverable T series tiltcab on W series frames. Gross weight ratings are 18,000 and 19,500 lb.

Competing in an even heavier segment of the market is the strongest truck among the 2000 models in the Hino line from Japan. It has a top gross vehicle weight (GVW) rating of 32,900 lb. This is a popular GVW rating because it is about 100 lb under the point at which a hefty federal excise tax on heavy-duty models kicks in to hike prices up.

What’s the special?

Navistar International unveiled special lightweight engines before revealing its participation in the growing wave of global truck activity.

New from the Navistar engine operation are in-line, 6-cylinder diesels that weigh only 1,425 lb but are said to be able to handle the heavy work formerly assigned to 10- and 11-liter powerplants.

Navistar’s latest move on the world scene is a joint venture with the Siemens Automotive Group of Germany, which will manufacture diesel engine injectors that help control exhausts.

Bering Truck Corp., a line of Class 3 through 8 trucks which got its start in Korea, is looking forward to a busy year in 2000 now that its headquarters and factory have been set up in Front Royal, Va., just east of Washington, D.C.

Meritor Automotive, formerly Rockwell Automotive, has moved out of the transmission business after only a short stay to join ZF, the dominant European transmission maker, in a joint gear box effort to be headquartered in South Carolina.

Meanwhile, after acquiring the LucasVarity brake line, Meritor never misses an opportunity to point out its lead as a supplier of big vehicle truck brake parts. Meritor isn’t reducing the scope of its business, having just added to its line of front axles.

Preparing to hang onto its ranking as the top-selling maker of big trucks in the U. S. in the new century, Freightliner Corp. has made several changes in its product lineup, led by the addition of a daycab version of its flashy Argosy cab-over-engine family.

The Oregon-based manufacturer, which is a subsidiary of Mercedes-Benz of Germany, is paying attention to the needs of those in roads and bridges work. When showing off its business class trucks, which feature M-B diesel power, one of the units shown last spring was fitted with a concrete pumper body.

In the suspension field, the Hendrickson companies’ line of 2000 products drew attention with the introduction of steerable lift axles for work in tight quarters. A star in the line is the ParaRev Ultra that features a shift mechanism that allows fore and aft axle movement and full steering self-steering in both forward and reverse.

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