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12/28/2015 4:00:00 PM Write a Letter to the Editor Write a letter to the Editor

Illinois Trucker on One-Man Mission for 11 MPG


Michael Niss of East Dundee, Illinois, keeps on trucking, plugging away at his plan to one day roll along on North America's highways in a rig that gets at least 11 mpg.

In June, Niss told The Courier-News he had taken six months off from his job as a truck driver, using his own semi running long-distance routes, in part to work on his startup project, Breaking 11.

His truck's low-ride flatbed with its lightweight tarpaulin cover has been adorned with a logo for the project and to promote a related website.

Niss is gradually customizing the $200,000 vehicle with existing equipment and technologies — and a few tweaks of his own making — in an attempt to reach the goal of getting 11 miles per gallon or more in fuel efficiency.

Contacted in December, Niss said, "I'm in Wyoming right now. I went back on the road this fall. I'm in break-in mode, with 45,000 miles on my new truck," he said. "I want to get the engine to between 60,000 and 70,000 miles before I make any more adjustments. As is, I'm getting in the mid-8's for miles per gallon."

That's up slightly from the 8.1 mpg Niss said he got out of the truck he used to own, which he also modified to get better gas mileage.

Niss' truck is a 2015 Kenworth T660 Glider with an 86-inch AeroCab Aerodyne Sleeper. It is powered by a remanufactured Detroit Diesel 12.7L 60 series engine with an Eaton Fuller 13-speed transmission.

With no formal truck design or engineering on his resume, Niss said he took to his project on a route that included prior careers in working as a computer-aided design engineer for a couple of businesses, then running his own remodeling firm in his adopted hometown of Wausau, Wisconsin. He got into trucking after his business took a hit during the recession, he said.

During his planning, Niss also sought out experts from whom he might get advice, including Bruce Mallinson, owner of Pittsburgh Power, a Pennsylvania-based company that specializes in diesel engines.

"The beauty of Mike is he listens, and he implements," Mallinson told The Courier-News last summer. "I think his project is great. The corporate projects aren't going up and down highways yet. What Mike is doing is the real thing. He's making it happen."

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By Mike Danahey
The Elgin (Ill.) Courier-News


Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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