Equipment Innovations

Early 1990s: Bypass/toll transponder systems

November 15, 2011

In 1983, Heavy Vehicle Electronic License Plate (HELP), a private-public cooperative study and demonstration project, pioneered the nation’s first intelligent vehicle-highway system initiative for weigh and inspection stations. HELP’s Crescent Project, implemented in 1991, provided the technology known today as PrePass, a system that allows many ...

Early 2000s: Deep cycle or dual-purpose batteries

November 9, 2011

Deep cycle batteries make it practical for drivers to draw from the batteries during rest periods without shortening battery life. This can eliminate overnight idling or the need for other alternative power systems. Redesigned from lead-acid batteries of the past, deep cycle batteries use thicker plates, ...

1987: Detroit Diesel Series 60

October 24, 2011

The Series 60, able to deliver the best fuel economy in the market, resulted in a two-decade-plus period of market domination among large fleets for its manufacturer. It was the first heavy-duty diesel using an overhead camshaft to operate electronic unit injectors directly (no use ...

1990s: Electronic onboard recorders

October 17, 2011

The flaws of the paper log book system as a way to enforce hours of service regulations have been known for decades, but the transition to electronic onboard recorders has been slow. The devices were first examined by the federal government for potential use in ...

1989: Light-emitting diode lamps

October 11, 2011

During the late 1980’s Grote Industries adapted LED technology for tractor and trailer use, substituting high-tech, solid-state electronic devices for the fragile glowing wire filament of an incandescent bulb. The first LED truck lamp was a clearance marker lamp with amber LEDs that went on ...

1978: Air-to-air cooler

June 7, 2011

Today’s cleaner-running engines would be impossible without the air-to-air cooler.

2004: Onboard navigation units

June 2, 2011

GPS units and software to provide instant onboard navigation help drivers reduce out-of-route miles and time wasted searching for a delivery or pickup point while improving on-time performance.

Early 1960s: Fiberglass tilt hoods

May 31, 2011

These hoods were practical, since the hood was not a structural member of the cab or chassis.

1992: Synthetic lubes

May 29, 2011

Synthetic transmission and axle lubes created a quantum leap forward in warranty mileage limits and increased change intervals.

1988: Auxiliary power units

May 27, 2011

The first practical means of shutting down the main diesel overnight in extreme weather was the auxiliary power unit.

1988: Aerodynamic Peterbilt 372

May 19, 2011

The Peterbilt 372 aerodynamic cabover was believed by many experts to be the most aerodynamically perfect truck ever built at the time.

1985: Electronic control of unit injectors

April 19, 2011

First installed on a Detroit Diesel Series 92, electronically controlled unit injector reduced emissions and increased fuel economy.

Mid-1970s: Nalcool additive

April 19, 2011

Nalcool (also known as Nalco) created a “biscuit”-like additive that put supplemental coolant additive into coolant to prevent cylinder liner cavitations.

1961: Cummins NH220 855-cubic-in. engine

April 8, 2011

The 1961 Cummins NH 220 855-cubic-inch diesel engine achieved major advances in basic design with stronger internal components that resulted in more horsepower and improved fuel economy.

Early 1960s: Cab air-conditioning with roof-mounted condenser

April 8, 2011

The cab air conditioning with roof-mounted condenser system provided greatly increased driver comfort in hot weather conditions while also reducing wind noise in the cab.

1978: Air-to-air charge-air cooling

March 25, 2011

Today’s clean engines would be impossible without this remarkable device.

Early 1990s: Vorad collision warning system

March 17, 2011

The Vorad collision warning system was designed to alert an inattentive driver or one blinded by fog of a slow moving object ahead.

1991: Volvo integral sleeper

March 2, 2011

Rather than bolting a separate structure made elsewhere to the back of an existing cab design, Volvo introduced in 1991 a cab and sleeper manufactured as a single unit in the same facility.

1991: LED brake, turn and marker lamps

February 23, 2011

LED lamps eliminated the hot, thin, flexible and vulnerable tungsten filament of light bulbs and replaced it with solid-state electronics.

1985: Kenworth T600, first truly aero conventional

February 17, 2011

Kenworth engineers found that the immense radiator and high, flat-topped hood of large conventionals was a primary source of wind drag.

1996: Extended Life Coolant

February 16, 2011

Extended Life Coolant, originated at Texaco, provided organic acid protection against corrosion and scale.

1961: The Jacobs Engine Brake

February 10, 2011

Clessie Cummins' turned his diesel engine into an air compressor to help vehicles stop more efficiently.

Early 1960s: Alternators

December 31, 2010

Motor vehicles need to run on DC (direct current) because batteries must be charged with a continuous flow of electrons moving in one direction. But generators that produce alternating current, or current that constantly moves back and forth, are far more efficient. These are what ...

1963: Pre-cure retreading process

December 24, 2010

In pre-cure process widely used today, the tread is made separately at a high temperature and then bonded to the tire casing at a lower temperature.

Early 1960s: Brake air dryers

December 16, 2010

Air from the compressor contains a lot of moisture that condenses out of the air as soon as it cools because of the pressure.

1965: Mack Maxidyne diesel

November 23, 2010

Mack researchers changed the future of diesel engines as they experimented with "torque rise."

1963: Twin countershaft transmission

October 24, 2010

Eaton’s Fuller division had excited the trucking world with the Roadranger range shift concept in the mid-1950s, doing away with the awkward twin-stick shifts of earlier years. The two-countershaft redesign was not obvious to the driver, but the industry still benefits from it in terms ...

Short wheelbase cabovers

October 22, 2010

Freightliner was a pioneer in building short cabovers because the company, having been  started by a fleet, had more incentive for higher profitability with regard to rig length and weight. “In the late 1930s, Leland James, president of Portland, Oregon-based trucking company Consolidated Freightways (CF), sought ...

1971: Gear fast, run slow

October 5, 2010

The gear fast, run slow approach to engine design was a natural evolution after turbocharging came along with its ability to allow the engine to produce more power at a lower rpm.

Late 1960s: Turbocharged diesels

September 27, 2010

Turbocharging truck diesels created a quantum leap forward in power, torque characteristics and fuel economy.

1965: First bolt-on aero device

September 17, 2010

The Air-Shield retro-fit guided air over the top of the trailer, thus greatly reducing drag at highway speeds.
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