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July 16, 2007 7:55 AM, EDT

Some Fleets Pleased With ’07 Engines

By Frederick Kiel, Staff Reporter
This story appears in the July 16 print edition of Transport Topics.

Truckers who have purchased heavy-duty tractors with 2007 engines say the vehicles have run as well, if not better, than previous engines in terms of fuel, performance, reliability and maintenance.
Most of the executives interviewed said their companies have ordered more or are planning to do so soon.
There are currently no reliable estimates of how many Class 8 trucks are on the road operating with ’07 engines, and Transport Topics’ sampling was small. Dealers have told TT that most new on-highway trucks they have sold this year had 2006 engines, even though some manufacturers have dropped the price of trucks with new engines to within $3,000 to $5,000 of ’06 units (7-2, p. 1). Prices rose in response to the advanced emission controls included in the ’07 models.
“I’d say the ’07 was every bit the equal of ’06 engines in all categories that matter,” said Cameron Fraley, general maintenance manager for Halvor Lines, Superior, Wis. “Their power is very good and their reliability has been excellent.”
Halvor bought two Kenworth Truck Co. tractors with Caterpillar C-13 ’07 engines that were put into operation in January, Fraley said.
“We’ve had absolutely no problems with the engines or the trucks,” Jason Vinje, Halvor’s parts manager, told TT. “We like them so much that we first ordered 10 more, but have since upped that for 70 in all, with Cat C-13 engines.”
Mike Jeffress, vice president of maintenance for Maverick Transportation LLC, Little Rock, Ark., told TT the fleet has been “running a Freightliner with a Detroit Diesel ’07 engine and has put 120,000 miles on it.”
Maverick is No. 100 on the Transport Topics 100 list of the largest U.S. and Canadian for-hire carriers.
“Our drivers like the new engine,” Jeffress said. “The ’07 seems to have slightly better fuel mileage, though I can’t be 100% sure.”
Jeffress said he has driven the new truck and didn’t notice any difference in performance, nor has he changed maintenance schedules.
“Maverick plans to buy another 75 to 100 trucks in the third quarter, and they’ll all have ’07 engines,” Jeffress said.
“What struck me most about the ’07 is that it never sends black smoke out of its exhaust pipes,” Davey Bratton, vice president for truckload carrier Classic One Transport, McVeytown, Pa., told TT.
“Old diesels belched out black smoke constantly, and modern engines before ’07 often did, but whatever comes out of an ’07 looks as clean as air to me.”
Classic One, which operates 65 trucks, ordered a Cummins ’07 engine, putting 110,000 miles on it with no problems, Bratton said.
“Because of the company’s experience with the new model, we’ve already bought six more new trucks with Cummins engines and we’re waiting for them to arrive,” Bratton said.
Dave Kerstetter, president of Kerstetter Trucking Co. in Reedsville, Pa., which runs seven trucks, bought one Kenworth T-660 with a Cummins 600 engine and shares Bratton’s impression of how clean the engine runs with no loss in fuel mileage or performance.
“We run east-west routes across country and we’ve put 64,500 miles on the new truck so far,” Kerstetter told TT.
“The exhaust pipe inside still looks brand new, like the day I bought it,” Kerstetter said. “I’m talking about the inside, you understand, and they always get sooty with diesel engines. Not this one.”
Kerstetter, who drives the truck once a week, says the regular driver “gets seven miles per gallon with it, but one factor is he never goes more than 60 miles per hour. Still, it’s at least as efficient as the old engines.”
Kerstetter said the engine had not given any trouble and its maintenance schedule was the same.
“We just have to use CJ-4 oil instead of the CI-4 we always put in before, and that’s the only difference,” Kerstetter said.
Kerstetter plans to purchase one or two more new trucks in the fourth quarter or early in 2008 and would accept only the new engine.
“I’d say the ’07 engines are very equal to the older engines,” Ralph “Buff” Saner, vice president of maintenance for Zimmerman Truck Lines Inc., Muffintown, Pa., told TT.
“Our major worry was fuel mileage, but the ’07s are giving us 5.9 to 6 miles per gallon, the same as our other trucks,” Saner said. Truckload carrier Zimmerman operates 250 trucks, including two new ones with production-line ’07 engines that went into service in January.
“We’ve operated one for 53,000 miles and the other 70,000 miles, with no downtime for mechanical malfunctions,” said Saner, who said he has driven the new trucks himself.
“They deliver the same power and performance of other tractors . . . and we plan to buy another 20 new trucks this year,” Saner said.