Several years ago, Kevin Rutherford and I were talking about setting money aside for a maintenance account and the amount per mile was 10 cents for pre-emissions trucks. Then, when EGR, DPF and DEF appeared on the trucks in 2011 and 2012, the amount went to 15 cents per mile. Last week, our friend Jane Gates, the PhD chemist who developed the Max Mileage Fuel Borne Catalyst, told us about the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI). They are now saying that the amount of money an owner operator should be setting aside for maintenance and repairs, to operate a late model truck with a 2012 to 2020 OEM engine, is 17 cents per mile – and this does not include tires! Are you saving enough for a rainy day?
Let’s figure that for a truck running 10,000 miles per month, the maintenance cost per year is $20,400 (not including tires). A big part of the increase from 10 cents to 17 cents per mile is because of the emissions equipment failures. Now, let’s think about this. All the new engines are good. In fact, most of the truck is good, and if there were no emissions problems the maintenance cost per mile could drop to as low as 8 cents per mile. The good news is we know how to solve this emissions equipment problem and keep the truck legal – the answer is to use our Max Mileage Fuel Borne Catalyst (FBC). I know you are getting tired of reading about it, but it costs only 1 cent per mile and the savings could be as high as 9 cents per mile.
Trucks using the catalyst in their fuel consistently are just simply not having emissions related problems. The engine, the oil, and the entire combustion and exhaust system all stay clean. No more soot in the exhaust pipes, no more breakdowns and no more unexpected repair bills that come with lost income. Without the soot and carbon in the combustion chamber, the life expectancy of the engine will increase by 30% or more. That is a lot of extra miles!
Let’s use a more conservative number for cents per mile savings when using the fuel catalyst as an example. I like the figure of 15 cents per mile for an emission equipped engine and 10 cents per mile for 2002 (pre-EGR) and older engines, so a savings of 5 cents per mile is more realistic to me. Keep in mind I am conservative, so at a nickel per mile and 10,000 miles per month, the yearly savings would be $6,000. I feel that is a great return on an investment – spend 1 cent per mile to save 5 or more cents per mile. Ask your stockbroker or investment banker to give you a 500% return on your money each year and listen to what he tells you (after he stops laughing).
Not all engine rebuilds are created equal. We recently had a beautiful black and orange Peterbilt 389 “glider” in the shop, equipped with a Cummins N14 engine, with the complaint of low fuel mileage and fuel in the oil. Our initial diagnostics revealed that the number 1 and 2 exhaust ports were wet with fuel. We then removed the valve cover and Jake brake to check the valve and injector settings. With use of a 1/2-inch breaker bar and a large socket on the accessory drive, we could not turn the engine over. So, the mechanic got out the 3/4-inch breaker bar that is four feet long, but still could not turn the engine over. The engine would start with the starter, but it had a Caterpillar sound versus an N14 sound. So, we kept digging.
Next, we removed the fuel pump, the air compressor, and the accessory drive, only to find they were free spinning. So, we then removed the oil pan to reveal no spun bearings, cam or crankshaft, but we still could not turn the engine over with a pry bar on the flywheel. The next step was to remove the #7 main bearing cap to see if the engine builder had installed .010 thrust washers and not standard ones, but we found standard washers. However, there was no end play in the crank – even with the thrust washers out of the engine.
Finally narrowing down on the issue, we removed several of the main bearing caps, which revealed our problem. The line bore of the crankshaft bore was out so far that the crank was being held in a bent or curved position. Now we know why the fuel mileage had dropped to only 4 MPG. Whenever the truck driver removed his foot from the throttle, the truck would drastically slow down (there was no coasting for this truck due to the heavy amount of resistance in the engine).
Here is the lesson: when rebuilding an engine, you must inspect the wear of the main bearings and check if the wear is on one side and not the other. Since the line bore is out, the engine must be removed from the chassis to have the block and crankshaft taken to a machine shop. After the line bore is re-machined, the crankshaft must be hot tanked, magnafluxed, straightened and polished. This was a critical error for the person who rebuilt the engine in this Peterbilt.
On a final note, Long Haul Custom Detailing, across the street from us, just finished polishing a large trailer. This tanker has 6 axles, hauls 13,500 gallons and, at 7.2 lbs. per gallon of diesel fuel, that amounts to a payload of 97,200 pounds. This tanker (see photo) was built by Mac Liquid Tanker in Kent, Ohio and is destined for Michigan. There is a lot of beautiful detailing coming out of their shop.
By the way, if you are coming to our shop and our lot is full, there are 4.5 acres at Long Haul Custom Detailing, and you are welcome to drop your trailer in their lot. You are also welcomed to visit their nice facility and see the beautiful detailing they do. They are also opening a chrome shop soon and will be having a truck show this fall. We will be part of their show and will be doing dyno testing on-demand. Please stay tuned for details or call us at (724) 360-4080.