Freightliner introduces Argosy cabover

With America's highway capacity straining to keep up with the brisk growth in freight demand, Freightliner Corp. has added a new cabover tractor to its Class 8 lineup to help provide fleets with a unit capable of improved productivity.

Two and one-half years and $70 million in the making, the Argosy was unveiled during Freightliner's annual dealer meeting March 3 in Palm Springs, Calif.

"As we move into the 21st Century, we recognize that productive, efficient, and safe transportation of an ever-increasing volume of industrial goods and consumer products will demand industrywide solutions that come from unconventional thinking and uncompromised characteristics," said Freightliner president and CEO Jim Hebe.

"Until 1984, the cabover was the most popular configuration due to the requirements of overall length laws," added Mark Lampert, senior vp-sales and marketing. "However, as enforcement lessened, the conventional became the overwhelming truck of choice."

Based on the company's Century Class platform, the Argosy overcomes many of the compromises historically associated with cabover configurations by offering enhancements in areas such as driver comfort, safety, visibility, and maneuverability.

Chief among these is a step entry system -- similar to a gangway on a ship -- that automatically swings out when the door is opened. This optional feature enables drivers to enter and exit the unit without using their hands.

Once inside the cab, the driver benefits from an ergonomically designed, wraparound instrument panel featuring an electronic dashboard with digital gauges that face the driver. The driver message center, which is located in front of the driver on the dash, communicates information about fuel usage, fluid levels, and temperatures, as well as diagnostic information and fault warnings.

Depending on the engine selection, the doghouse has been reduced to a 3- to 7-in. rise on the floor, making it easier for drivers to maneuver between the seats.

For enhanced occupant protection, more than 40 Freightliner safety innovations are available as standard or optional equipment, including antilock braking with traction control, electronic brakes, daytime running lights, and a low-profile chassis design for greater vehicle stability.

The front axle is set back 40 in., boosting maneuverability and, because it sits directly below the driver, improving ride quality. Like other Century Class units, the Argosy offers the same taperleaf front springs riding on rubber bushings to improve the ride even further.

Designed for easy service, the Argosy's front grille tilts up a full 120 degrees. Not only has service been made more accessible, but less is required. Wherever possible, extended service intervals have been adopted. An extended chassis lube cycle of 100,000 miles is standard on the Argosy. Some components -- such as the steering shaft, leaf spring bushings, driveshaft, and clutch bearing -- need no maintenance at all. The unit boasts a basic vehicle warranty of 3 yr./350,000 mi.

The Argosy is available in five models, including the 110-in. Raised Roof edition, 90-in., 101-in., and 110-in. Mid Roof versions, and a 63-in. daycab configuration.

Production of the Argosy will begin at Freightliner's Cleveland Truck Plant in North Carolina this fall.

In other Freightliner developments, the company announced:

* Development of an advanced electronic system that will provide instant fuel-use information to drivers of Century Class trucks through a variety of electronic displays.

* A new storage option for Century Class Mid Roof or Raised Roof sleepers. The Backpack features can extend the usable storage space by adding extra storage area to the back wall of the sleeper between the dual upright exhaust stacks.

* A new interior package for its Classic and Classic XL trucks targeted at owner-operators.

Freightliner also debuted the new production version of the Cargo as part of its expanded Business Class product line. The Cargo was part of the company's 1997 acquisition of Ford's heavy truck line.

A Class 7-8 low-cab-forward built on the company's Business Class chassis, the Cargo now has the added flexibility of custom engineering so customers can order a vehicle that precisely meets the needs of their application.

Two Cargo models are available: The FC 70 covers GVW ratings from 25,500 to 35,000 lb. with a single drive axle, while the FC 80 starts at 31,000 lb. GVW in a single drive axle and climbs to 52,000 lb. in the tandem-axle unit.

A 53-in. front-axle setback, standard power steering, and the low-cab-forward design give the Cargo improved maneuverability, as well as a 290-degree field of vision.

Front taperleaf suspensions for FC 70 models are available in 9,000-, 10,000-, and 12,000-lb. capacity. Operators can choose the standard 17,500-lb. rear flat-leaf suspension or select 20,000- or 23,000-lb. flat leaf, taperleaf, and Freightliner AirLiner rear suspensions.

For FC 80 models, front suspensions with 10,000-lb. or 12,000-lb. capacity are available. The selection of rear suspensions includes single-axle flat leaf suspensions rated at 17,500, 20,000, and 23,000 lb. Taperleaf and AirLiner suspensions with 20,000- and 23,000-lb. ratings are optional. Tandem rear suspension choices include 26,000- and 40,000-lb. flat leaf or taperleaf designs. AirLiner and Hendrickson rears rated at 40,000 lb. are also available.

For vocational applications, the FC 80 can be equipped with a 16,000-lb. front suspension and a 40,000-lb. tandem rear.

The Cargo is powered by the Cummins ISB 6-cyl., turbocharged, electronically controlled diesel engine rated from 175-215 hp. A PacBrake exhaust brake is available.

Transmission choices include 5-, 6-, and 9-speed direct manual transmissions, plus 4- and 5-speed mechanical automatics and 5- and 6-speed electronically controlled automatic transmissions from Allison.

Knoedler Manufacturing's new 9800-Series Air Chief features a combination vertical/horizontal suspension design that protects the driver from the jarring effects of harsh road conditions. An exceptionally low profile makes the seat appropriate for almost all cab applications. The suspension system is offered with a 7-in. stroke for Class 8 vehicles, and with a limited stroke and riser that adapts to the floor for Class 5-7 units. In addition to the standard riser, the Air Chief is available with a shorter riser that can accommodate drivers with short legs, or those who prefer a "low-ride" suspension. Other features include fingertip control front-adjustable armrests and an overlapping air-lumbar support system.

Lightweight ISM, a replacement for the M11 Plus, is said to combine lower operating costs and better productivity

Offering a 2 to 4% improvement in fuel economy, the next generation of Cummins' lightweight heavy-duty 11-liter diesel features the same advanced electronic control module (ECM) originally introduced with the company's Signature 600 big-bore diesel late last year. Replacing the M11 Plus, the new Cummins ISM will be available in ratings up to 425 hp. with 1,550 lb.-ft. of peak torque, as well as in a variety of models specifically tailored for over-the-road, vocational, and transit applications.

The new diesel also features a number of hardware and design changes intended to greatly extend oil drain intervals, reduce maintenance costs, and improve driveability. For example, a new filter from Cummins subsidiary Fleetguard, combined with internal engine changes, will allow oil drains to be pushed out from 15,000 to 50,000 mi. in normal operations, and up to 65,000 mi. in certain fleet applications. The engine can also be spec'd with an integrated version of Cummins' Centinel constant oil-replenishment system, which extends oil-change intervals to 300,000 mi.

The new ECM not only saves fuel and lowers vehicle operating costs, but also offers performance improvements for drivers, as well as enhanced data collection and storage capabilities for fleet managers, according to Cummins. In the 425-hp. rating, for example, the ECM also controls a variable-output wastegated turbocharger that's intended to operate like a small turbo at low rpm for better acceleration, and like a big turbo at higher engine speeds for increased power. It also delivers a 20-hp. boost in braking power from the Cummins C engine brake developed and supplied by Jacobs Vehicle Systems.

Other performance features for the ISM's electronic control package include the Cummins SmartTorque feature, which allows the engine to deliver extra torque only in the top two gears. It can be matched with either a fully manual transmission or one that automatically shifts the top two gears, as well as with a fully automated manual transmission.

The advanced ECM can also be programmed to immediately reward drivers who meet fleet mpg or idle-time goals with more power or higher governed speeds.

For vocational applications where trucks go out loaded and return empty, the ECM can increase power when it senses a full load and revert to a lower torque mode for higher fuel efficiency when the vehicle is lightly loaded.

The ISM's control module is compatible with both Qualcomm and HighwayMaster wireless communications systems for remote access to engine data. It can also be used with Cummins' new short-range radio "tag" system for capturing stored engine and vehicle data at terminals or gates equipped with RF readers. The advanced ECM is also compatible with Cummins' INTELECT fleet management software and hardware systems.

Mechanical highlights for the ISM include a new venturi oil filter and lube system that extends drain intervals, increases oil flow, and reduces parasitic power losses. A new auto-tensioner for the belt drive makes it possible to replace the engine's single belt without tools or disassembly, and a new sealed sensor design combines temperature and pressure monitoring chores and offers improved self-diagnostic capability.

FreightQuest, available from the Cummins Engine Co. subsidiary Cadec Systems Inc., combines a removable on-board computer and flexible wireless communications options with dispatch and management software tools for real-time freight and fleet management. For full details, see "Off the Wire" in the truck.com supplement following page 78.

In response to growing customer demand for reduced-maintenance components, Meritor Automotive has introduced a new heavy-duty clutch that eliminates the need for periodic wear adjustments, thereby decreasing maintenance expenses and increasing component life. Dubbed the AutoJust, the new clutch is a 15.5-in. Lite Pedal design.

A recent Meritor survey found that a typical clutch requires an average of 13 adjustments over its 400,000-mi. life span. "When you consider that each of these adjustments costs anywhere from $15 to $45, you can see how the savings stack up," said Tom Sanko, marketing manager for transmissions, clutches, and drivelines. "With an innovative, self-adjusting product like the AutoJust clutch, operators can continually benefit from proper adjustment, keeping their costs in check and their trucks on the road," he said. "Maintenance savings, along with those realized from the increased uptime, pays for the AutoJust clutch many times over."

Instead of a ratchet-type incremental adjustment, the clutch uses opposing sets of spring-loaded tapered ramps to continuously compensate for even small amounts of wear. As wear occurs, one set of ramps slides up the other in an amount equal to the wear. Wear sensors are located in four different areas around the clutch, eliminating the need for technicians to bump the engine as required when adjusting a clutch using just one locating point.

The AutoJust clutch features facings of ceramic friction materials that boost life by up to 75% in most applications. When mated with Meritor transmissions, the clutch offers low pedal effort and reduced backlash, easing release and engagements. A seven-spring disc design helps absorb shock and dissipates engine vibration before it travels to the rest of the drivetrain.

In high-horsepower applications, the clutch incorporates Meritor's Long Travel Damper clutch disc, technology devised by the company to counter the growing issue of torsional vibration. The LTD disc alleviates this problem by moving the resonant point of the powertrain to a lower engine speed.

The AutoJust comes with a 3-yr./ 300,000-mi. warranty, and is available with an extended lube option that stretches lube intervals to 100,000 mi.

Limited availability of the AutoJust begins this month, with unrestricted availability by late summer. It will be offered in all popular torque capacities from 1,150 to 2,050 lb.-ft. ratings.

With The Holland Group's purchase in 1997 of Fruehauf's Pro-Par product line, Pro-Par trailer axles have become available to the entire trailer market.

The axle line includes parallel-spindle axles in both 5-in. round tube and 5-in. square tube configurations to fit specific application and load requirements, and a 5-in. round tube, taper-spindle axle for standard applications. Each axle features an integral, one-piece beam -- forged from a proprietary alloy, heat-treated, and machined into a single tube -- for superior load-carrying capability and improved strength and durability.

Beam capacity for the round-tube axles is 22,500 lb. (25,000 lb. optional) and for the square tube axle, 25,000 lb. (28,600 lb. optional).

A 10-year guarantee states that if any axle beam and/or component that Holland has permanently attached to the beam wears out or requires maintenance in the first 10 years of use, the company will correct the problem or replace the product at no charge.

Future developments from Holland, which Sam Martin, executive vp-engineering, says will "raise the bar" on axle technology and performance, will include maintenance-free camshaft bushings with an expected 5 yr./ 500,000 mi. warranty; a no-lube, maintenance-free slack adjuster; and a cartridge bearing system that will guarantee virtually maintenance-free performance for 5 yr./500,000 mi.