November 2000

Article December 28, 2000
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Although tried and proven components have a way of dominating what’s used in truck work performed by readers of this magazine,

Although tried and proven components have a way of dominating what’s used in truck work performed by readers of this magazine, novel hardware comes along from time to time that is worth more than a second look.

Here are some examples:

  • New two-cycle diesel engines that offer the promise of saving fuel. There also are some new diesel injectors; and

  • A single-axle suspension system, featuring rubber Aeon springs, that saves weight and is backed by a five-year warranty.

Yes, two-cycle diesel engines have been around for some time. New is the fact that Rodi Power Systems, a budding maker of such powerplants, has just purchased a 159,200-sq-ft engine factory in Abbeville, La., about 120 miles west of New Orleans.

Founded in 1994, Rodi is said to be dedicated to delivering advanced diesel power to the truck and heavy equipment industries. Its headquarters is located in Puyallup, Wash.

Funding for tooling the Louisiana factory and continued development of Rodi products was obtained before acquisition of the factory was announced. An early project in equipping the factory, already underway, is installation of the production area that will feature an automated "monorail" (overhead) engine assembly line.

Lethal injector

Rodi has announced details of its high pressure, solid state diesel fuel injectors which were said to be 200 times faster than currently available mechanically actuated, solenoid-type injectors.

Better fuel economy and lower emissions lead the announced list of advantages along with an ability to work with the engine computer to obtain uniform power from each cylinder.

Relying on the use of the alloy Terfenol D in a process devised by the Navy for use in Sonar, the injectors’ design and concept were said to have U.S. and international patents pending.

Byron Spain, a technical expert with an extensive aircraft industry background, is founder, CEO and chairman of Rodi. Paul Horn, former president of Alternate Power Technology Inc. in Texas, was recently named president.

Production of Rodi’s first two-cycle engine, the HTI 450 (horsepower) is scheduled to begin in January 200l. On-road testing is already underway.

Marvel suspension

A single, nonpowered-axle suspension has been developed by a pair of companies in Ontario, Canada. Timbren Industries did the suspension and IMT Corp. did the axle. I. System Corp. is the name of their marketing venture.

The producers listed these system features:

  • Simplicity: Fewer parts with a simple, clean design and no weld, low torque alignment means this system is virtually maintenance-free, reducing downtime;

  • Reduced weight: This improves fuel mileage and allows for increased payloads for an improved bottom line;

  • Top ride quality: Less driver fatigue can be expected when operating loaded or unloaded; and

  • Durability: Parallelogram design increases life of all components including the axle.

There’s also an industry-leading five-year warranty backed by more than 30 years of trailer axle and suspension experience.

Report on reports

The purchase of engine maker Detroit Diesel by the producer of Mercedes-Benz cars and trucks in Germany, only a report in automotive circles when the last of these columns was written, has since been confirmed.

A top item in automotive circles right now is that General Motors will call upon its Japanese affiliate Isuzu to handle its "commercial truck" business in the U.S.

That may not be as dramatic as it sounds. Fruits of some Isuzu designs already appear in some GM truck offerings. "Commercial trucks" involved could be limited to the Chevrolet and GMC models now officially termed medium-duty trucks, with pickups, Sports Utility Vehicles and compact vans excluded.

About the author: 
Kelley is a truck writer based in Charlotte, N.C.
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