Some 71 medium and heavy-duty Rush Truck Center technicians out of an initial field of 400 travelled to San Antonio in December to compete in the 6th annual "rodeo" sponsored by the company. They worked on medium- and heavy trucks housed in an exhibit hall within the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center (HBGCC), originally built as part of the 1968 HemisFair and expanded three times since to encompass 1.3 million square feet of meeting and exhibition space.
Some 21 of the 71 competing technicians at Rush's 6th annual rodeo focused exclusively on medium-duty trucks. They would be tasked to work on four different medium-duty models from Peterbilt, Navistar, Hino, and Isuzu, with the one posting the highest average score from all four individual events declared the "grand champion" for the medium-duty category.
Heavy-duty technicians, by contrast, competed in one or two distinct categories. Those in the Eaton section found themselves faced with the most "hands on" work, rebuilding a transmission shift bar housing.
In the Caterpillar engine section, technicians faced three identical Peterbilt Model 378s equipped with 435 hp C-15 engines with engine start issues and fault codes requiring thorough diagnostic review.
Those technicians competiting in the Cummins category also faced engine start issues they had to first diagnose properly and then repair if time allowed -- and time is in short supply as the technicians only receive 45 minutes per bout.
Perhaps the toughest test was reserved for the 5 technicians competing in Rush's refuse category. They had to solve a tricky "integration" issues brought on when a fleet customer installed a transmission interlock system; partially relying on an electrical wiring diagram written on a napkin.
The infamous "NAPKIN TEST" provided technicians with a critical piece of wiring harness information on a napkin (at left in photo) which they would need to help them track down the problem area within the truck's pages and pages of "schematic" drawings; a test designed to see how good competing technicians could be in terms of doing their own research to track down information and resources to help solve the problem.
The Henry B. Gonzales Convention Center -- where Rush Enterprises now holds its annual technician rodeo -- is named in honor of the longtime Democratic congressman who began his political career serving on the San Antonio city council. Gonzales, best known for serving 18 full terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, passed away in 2008.
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