We finally did it! One of our clients had a trip averaging 10.1 miles per gallon. He had perfect weather conditions and only 30,000 lbs. in his reefer but he did it. His trip took him from Wisconsin to Michigan, then to Dubuque, Iowa, and then back to Wisconsin. He drove 57 to 58 mph and said he was going to drive “The Bruce Way” without the cruise control. His average turbo boost was 2 to 3 psi and he kept the 13-speed transmission in 11th gear, which is direct (which was possible because his rear gears are 2:64 ratio). The owner-operator’s name is DuWayne Ehrke, and I have written about him several times in these articles.
DuWayne’s truck is a 1998 T-600 Kenworth powered by a DD4 Detroit built by Pittsburgh Power. In fact, everything we have that produces power and fuel mileage is on his truck. DuWayne’s usual run is from Wisconsin to Texas or Florida, and his gross weight is usually 80,000 lbs. His fuel mileage is normally 8 to 9 mpg. We call DuWayne’s truck “Unlimited” because he has unlimited power and speed. So, as you can see, when the operator knows how to use power and what rpm to operate the engine at, great fuel mileage is possible. By the way, there are 45,000 miles on the engine since we built it. For those of you who do not want to believe this mileage is possible, you can call DuWayne directly at 920-723-8955.
When we built DuWayne’s new engine, we also removed the 10-speed transmission and installed a 13-speed double-over, knowing he would operate in the direct gear, which is 11th. That is the most efficient gear. If the transmission is an 18-speed double-over, the direct gear is 16th, such as what Carl Kellner has in his 1999 Pete 379 powered by a 2WS Cat with unlimited speed and power (also running the 2:64 rear gears). Carl regularly gets 8.3 mpg at 58 mph running Buffalo to Chicago with all of Pittsburgh Power’s available parts. Both DuWayne and Carl are exceptional operators, and you must keep that fact in mind, because 33% of the fuel mileage obtained by a truck is the result of the driver!
The ECM (electronic control module) of today’s engines (see photo) is like the black box in an airplane – it records everything the engine experiences: how long the engine idles, the amount of throttle used, speed driven, when and to what degree the engine was overheated, if oil pressure was lost, and who “looked at it” last. ECMs also record average rpm and speeds – it’s kind of like the EOBR (Electronic On-Board Recorder) of the engine. To the knowing eye, drivers’ actual habits are often found to be quite different than what the driver offers verbally (or voluntarily, if you know what I mean).
A lot can be learned about driving habits by looking at the data in the ECM. Many items contribute to fuel mileage including the weather, terrain, type of tires, the amount of air pressure in the tires, type of trailer, the load, gearing, how the engine is tuned, amount of engine power generated, size of turbocharger, amount of exhaust restriction (back-pressure), aerodynamics, ECM settings, valve and injector settings, air filter restrictions, use of cruise control (should only be used on level terrain), tractor-to-trailer alignment, etc. The distance from the back of the sleeper to the front of the trailer is also important, because air can only “jump” 36 inches.
In our ongoing efforts to help owner-operators save money and run more efficiently, our electrical engineers have made yet another breakthrough for the trucking industry! We are now able to rebuild “dead” instrument panels and gauges and can test them on our ECM simulators. We can even email you a video of your “dead” instrument panel working once again!! For more information about this brand new service or to schedule a repair for your truck, give us a call or stop by the shop in Saxonburg, PA.
For those of you running long, extended oil drains, even with the use of a by-pass filtration system, you really should think about installing our “FilterMag” system. The single most damaging contaminant found in oil is iron. The FilterMag system utilizes a “rare-earth” magnet, which means that it’s force is one-directional (the magnetic pull is only pulling from the inside of the filter to the FilterMag, which snaps to the outside of your oil filter and draws iron out of your oil). They are $299 and are good indefinitely. Give us a call and we will send them out to you.
High mileage, even 10 mpg or more, can be achieved by your truck if you set it up the right way and use proper driving techniques. You may have to make some sizable one-time investments in the beginning and you may need to break some old bad habits, but in the end, you and your truck (and your wallet) will be very glad you did! If you have any comments or questions, I can be reached through Pittsburgh Power in Saxonburg, PA at (724) 360-4080 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.