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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Steer Axle Weights Have Increased: Are Your Steer Tires up to the Challenge?

Good tire info thanks to Jim Park and Link provided below:

Steer axle weights have been sneaking up steadily in recent years. Do you have the right rubber for the load? 

Underrated steer tires can be hazardous. Steer axle loads approaching 13,000 pounds are not uncommon today.

August, 2013  Here’s one more thing for which we owe thanks to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: heavier steer axle loads. Not only do we have to sacrifice payload to tote around diesel particulate filters, exhaust coolers and DEF tanks and all their associated plumbing and hardware needed to meet the past decade of EPA emissions regulations, but we also need to ensure our steer tires are capable of handling all that dead weight.
“We have been watching this trend for some time,” says Paul Crehan, director of product marketing at Michelin Truck Tires. “In recent years, truck manufacturers have added significant equipment to their chassis, primarily to comply with emissions regulations. That has added to the weight of the tractor and in particular the steer axle.”
It’s not uncommon to find highway trucks with front axles and suspensions rated for 13,200 pounds. While 12,000-pound axles were the industry norm for many years, the move to 13,200-pound axles came with the addition of all that emissions reduction gear.
Are you running a steer tire rated for that weight?
In mixed fleets running trucks with both 12,000-pound and 13,200-pound axles, it would be easy to overlook the heavier axle rating. It could be even more of a problem if your techs or your maintenance service provider are in the habit of pulling any old steer tire off the rack and throwing it on the truck.
Last month, we covered underinflation and its consequences. Regular readers will recall that steer tires typically run very close to the margin as it is, i.e., a 12,000-pound axle with two tires running 105 psi could carry 11,960 pounds. On many of today’s newer trucks, those tires would be overloaded.
According to Curtis Decker, manager of product development at Continental Tire North America, fleets are running heavier on the steers whether they know it or not.
“Back in 2000, everyone considered 12,000 pounds as the standard steer weight,” he says. “But even with all the changes to trucks we’ve seen since then – aerodynamic packages, emissions controls, set-back axles, etc. – none of us looked as critically at the extra loads on steer tires as we looked at the under-hood heat issue, for example.”
This traditional way of thinking can cause problems, adds Decker.
“When we’re talking about inflation, people are using the same 95 to 100 psi target they used back in 2000 when the standard steer axle was 12,000 pounds,” he says. “Today, we’re going above 13,000 pounds without even thinking about it. Unfortunately, the tires don’t respond well to underinflation.”

Proper practice in the tire world is to inflate the tires for the heaviest load they will carry, so fleets really do need to audit steer axle loads to see where they stand. Decker thinks many trucks are running significantly heavier than 12,000 pounds on steers.
“When I see steers inflated to 100 psi, I think 9 times out of 10 that’s an arbitrary number based on historical perspective,” he says. “Frankly, 100 psi isn’t enough for a 12,000-pound load. Realistically, the steers need to be 105 to 110 in most cases for that weight; 110 to 115 psi for 13,000 pounds.”

The right load range?

According to Bridgestone, there are two ways to increase the load capacity of a tire:
1. Increase the volume of air in the tire (increase the tire’s size) for a given air pressure, or
2. increase the pressure of the air in the tire (increase psi) for a given volume (size).

If you check Bridgestone’s load and inflation tables, you’ll notice that 22.5-inch and 24.5-inch tires (both load range G) have different weight ratings at the same pressures. An 11R22.5 single at 100 psi is good for 5,950 pounds, while an 11R24.5 can carry 6,350 pounds. That’s because the 24.5-inch tire contains a larger volume of air to support the load.
Michelin’s tables show that the same model and size (11R22.5) steer tires have two available load ranges, G and H. The LRG tires can carry 6,175 pounds at 105 psi. The LRH tire is good for 6,610 pounds at 120 psi.
Or, as Donn Kramer, Goodyear’s director of product marketing innovation, puts it, “For a 12,000-pound axle in sizes 11R22.5 and 295/75R22.5, fleets generally would use a load range G tire with single load carrying capacity of 6,175 pounds at 110 psi cold inflation. For a 13,000-pound axle in sizes 11R22.5 and 295/75R22.5, fleets would generally use a load range H tire with a single load-carrying capacity of 6,610 pounds at 120 psi cold inflation.”
The load range rating of the tire ensures the tire is capable of carrying the weight at a given pressure while maintaining the same footprint and amount of sidewall flex. Tire manufacturers may take different approaches to the design and construction of their tires when it comes to load range, but all are designed to meet certain government and industry standards.
So what’s the correct load range and inflation pressure for your steer axles?
Have your drivers axle-weigh each load over a period of time to get an idea what your steer axle loads are, and don’t forget to account for the amount of fuel on board. If the tanks are half full, there could be 100 pounds or more not appearing on the scale ticket.

Once you have determined your steer axle loads, discuss the axle loads with your tire supplier. But be prepared to increase the inflation pressure in the steer tires. A load range G tire at or close to 12,000 pounds needs 110 psi, while a load range H at anything over 12,500 pounds is probably going to need 110 psi to 115 psi cold pressure.
Michelin’s Crehan notes his product line is designed with specific dimensions, load ratings and sizes for a particular loads and applications.
“Our Data Book contains inflation charts for truck tires. A customer locates the tire’s size on the sidewall and then can utilize the table for proper inflation,” he suggests. “These charts are broken down by wheel diameter and the specific psi for singles and duals. The maximum load and pressure on sidewalls are also listed.”
The same applies to the other premium brands. It can be a confusing process, and tire suppliers are always willing to help. Make use of the

Road speed and inflation pressure
Hardly anyone gives this a second thought anymore, but road speed does have an impact on inflation pressure. You won’t see many on-highway tires from the top-tier manufacturers rated for less than 75 mph today – and truthfully you don’t see many trucks going much faster than that. However, some of the off-shore brands and less expensive tires on the market may still have 65-mph speed ratings. Also, if your tires happen to be underinflated through neglect or mismanagement, you could inadvertently be exceeding speed or load capacity of the tire.
When a tire manufacturer rates a tire for 75 mph, it assumes the tire is properly inflated. Steer tires carrying a 12,000-pound axle load (6,000 pounds per tire) must be inflated to a pressure that allows for at least that much load on the tire. Many of the brand-specific load and inflation tables recommend 110 psi for a 6,175-pound load. Note that those same tables show the load at 105 psi is just 5,980 pounds. Sure it’s just under 6,000 pounds, but it’s under.
This is hardly an issue with drive and trailer tires at 100 psi, as they are inflated to well above the minimums for normal axle loads and road speeds.
Steer tires, however, run much closer to the margins where proper inflation pressure becomes critical.    
In cases where steer axles are commonly overloaded, for example with auto-haulers, Michelin’s Truck Tire Data book recommends a 275/70R22.5 XZE or XZA2 Load Range J tire be inflated to 130 psi to handle loads of 6,940 pounds. A maximum speed of 75 mph is possible at such inflation pressures.
Lower speeds would be possible at less pressure, but Michelin recommends scrapping the tire if either the speed or tire loading has been exceeded.
“If you want to load your steer tires heavier, you’ll have to consider road speed,” says Continental’s Curtis Decker. “Conversely, if you want to go faster, you will have to increase the pressure or lessen the load on the tire.”
Goodyear’s Donn Kramer recommends increasing the normal inflation pressure by 5 psi when traveling at speeds above 65 mph to 75 mph.
Also, don’t overlook the potential for running tires in unintended applications. An urban or regional tire, for instance, can easily wind up on a highway truck with potentially devastating consequences.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

I Wanted Trees, Now I have Leaves!

This is a guest post by my wife, Mary. You can read more of her blog at the links provided below or in my sidebar:

Saturday, October 26, 2013

I Wanted Trees, Now I have Leaves!

My husband and I sold our home and moved into an older mobile home with a fabulous yard and lots of trees.  I'm still not sure what kinds of trees and bushes are growing everywhere, accept for the Russian Olive tree (I'm already sneezing just looking at it). I love trees, bushes, and flowers, so much that I couldn't even explain how excited I was to move here.  

As you look out my back door, all you can see are mixtures of colored leaves falling from the trees.

I don't think like a normal person, I am so excited to see all those leaves, even though it means that I will have to physically move them around.  I want to return them back to the soil and work them in for their natural nutrients.   

Now I'm also looking at the other trees hovering over our yard and thinking I had better get started  because there are a lot more leaves to fall!

For now I will cover the side garden spots and wait for springtime to work them into the soil.

I've got a lot of work to do to clean this yard up the way I want to.

As I'm raking the leaves, I'm giggling inside thinking about falling on the pile and rolling around, making a mess, and not caring about the appearance of a grown woman acting like a child . 


My husband likes everything neat and trim.  He mowed and recycled all of the clippings in the neighborhood container.  I drive him crazy with all of the silly and ridiculous ideas I come up with and never finish.   But, that's what gives great relationships substance.  Right?

What a great guy I married, he works so hard, always does what he is supposed to, and never gives up.  On the other hand, I'm like a naughty little BUM.  I make messes and try to create things all over the house, and he just puts up with all of it.  I love him a lot!

Enjoy the beautiful fall colors, and all of the fallen leaves.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Survey Digs into Four-Wheeler Confessions
Interesting piece thanks to and Links provided below:

If you see a motorist cussing in front of kids in the car or flipping people off, it's most likely to be a woman, but men aren't pillars of polite driving, either -- at least according to one newly released survey. commissioned a survey of 1,000 adults, asking them about their rude driving behavior and if they had any regrets about it.
Meanwhile, men are twice as likely as women to key someone's car or flash drivers with their high-beams just to be mean, survey results show.
Here's what drivers admit to, with results also broken down by gender:
  • Honked at someone driving too slowly: 41%, (Women: 39%. Men: 43%.)
  • Swore in front of the kids while driving: 37%, (Women: 44%. Men: 30%.)
  • Flipped someone off while driving: 29%, (Women: 31%. Men: 27%.)
  • Brake-checked a car following too closely: 28%, (Women: 30%. Men: 27%.)
  • Sped up significantly to prevent someone from passing you: 26%, (Women: 25%. Men: 28%.)
  • Gone when it wasn't your turn at a four-way stop: 19%, (Women: 18%. Men: 20%.)
  • Tailgated someone on purpose because he or she was going too slowly: 18%, (Women: 21%. Men: 16%.)
  • Driven to the front of a merge line, then swerved and cut in: 12%, (Women: 11%. Men: 13%.)
  • Stolen a parking spot someone else was waiting for: 11%, (Women:  9%. Men: 13%.)
  • Driven in the breakdown lane around traffic: 10%, (Women: 8%. Men: 13%.)
  • Sped up to block another car with its signal on: 9%, (Women: 8%. Men: 10%.)
  • Chased after a car that cut you off so you could glare at/flip off the other driver: 9%, (Women: 7%. Men: 11%.)
  • Swore in front of elderly in-laws while driving: 9%, (Women: 9%. Men: 10%.)
  • Dinged someone's car in a parking lot and driven away: 8%, (Women: 8%. Men: 8%.)
  • Turned on your brights at an oncoming car just to be mean: 7%, (Women: 4%. Men: 11%.)
  • Keyed someone's car: 5%, (Women: 3%. Men: 7%.)
It's likely that most women aren't swearing in front of their children at home, or that anyone is flipping off an annoying person, say, in line at the grocery store. But people feel less inhibited when driving because they feel more anonymous, says Leon James, psychology professor at the University of Hawaii, who has conducted research on driving behaviors.
“Our social behaviors are for the most part conditioned by the social environment. Different rules apply to different places," he says. "The car gives us the illusion of being alone and safe in our fortress. If we do something ugly or inconsiderate we can always get away. But this is different when standing in line with others who are right there next to us."
Our socialization and culture also influence how we act behind the wheel, says James. "Our driving behavior styles are culturally determined. I call the back seat of the car 'road rage nursery.'  That's when our driver education begins. We absorb how the parents or other adults drive and how they talk and complain behind the wheel," he says. "We also watch TV scenes and commercials where driving aggressively, fast and with plenty of verbal rudeness are portrayed as attractive and satisfying. So, getting behind the wheel changes the rules."
Some drivers aren't losing sleep over their rude driving habits. One quarter of people who admit to bad behavior while driving said they don't regret any of their past misdeeds.
The least-regretted action was brake-checking cars that are following too closely.
But those with a guilty conscious say they have the following regrets:
  • Swore in front of the kids while driving: 75%
  • Dinged someone's car in a parking lot and driven away: 62%
  • Keyed someone's car: 56%
  • Swore in front of elderly in-laws while driving: 51%
  • Gone when it wasn't your turn at a 4-way stop: 51%
  • Flipped someone off while driving: 47%
  • Turned on your brights at an oncoming car just to be mean: 46%
  • Stolen a parking spot someone else was waiting for: 46%
  • Chased after a car that cut you off so you could glare at them/flip them off: 44%
  • Driven in the breakdown lane around traffic: 44%
  • Sped up to block another car with its signal on: 42%
  • Tailgated someone on purpose because he or she was going too slow: 41%
  • Driven to the front of a merge line, then swerved and cut in: 36%
  • Honked at someone driving too slowly: 36%
  • Sped up significantly to prevent someone from passing you: 36%
  • Brake-checked a car following too closely: 34%

Friday, October 25, 2013

My Wife's Shop - Getting ready for Christmas!

Green Bay Packer Christmas Stocking

Large Christmas Stocking for the Green Bay Packer Fan made to hold a big load of candy and toys. 

The Green and Gold print of the Green Bay Packers is made of 100% cotton while the inside is lined with deep green. The Cuff is made with Gold micro fleece and a Green strap for hanging.

18" Long and 14" around the ankle. Machine washable and dry.
Flavors of my Rainbow

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Detroit offering DT12 transmission training video

Story thanks to and Links provided below:

9/4/2013  Detroit Diesel Corporation (Detroit) today announced that it has published a new driver training video for the Detroit DT12 Automated Manual Transmission. The video can be found on the Detroit website
The video will assist drivers in operating the DT12 effectively from the start, and teaches them to take full advantage of all of its features to achieve maximum performance and fuel economy from their Detroit powertrain.
Designed for drivers to watch before they drive a truck equipped with a DT12 for the first time, the video will help them understand the new functions and features of the transmission, such as eCoast, Active Driveline Protection, and more. The video also demonstrates true two-pedal operation with an integrated stalk mounted shifter that controls gear selection, engine brakes, driving modes and manual shifting. Tips on selecting the right driving modes based on terrain and application are also included.
“The DT12 is easy to adapt to and, with the simple instruction provided in the video, will provide a better driving experience,” said Brad Williamson, manager, engine and component marketing for Daimler Trucks North America. “The DT12 helps drivers achieve optimum fuel economy with minimal effort compared to operating a manual or automatic transmission.”
Available now in the Freightliner Cascadia equipped with a Detroit DD15 engine and in October in all Cascadia’s equipped with Detroit DD13 engines, Detroit says the DT12 enhances fuel economy and performance for over-the-road/line-haul applications.
The new DT12 Driver Training Video is one of many resources available from Detroit to help drivers perform safely and efficiently. For more information, go to

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Greg Jennings shakes his head in disgust at the Vikings' miserable offense
Oh my, poor Greg, I'm sure Packer Nation has a lot of sympathy for the poor man. We'll see you Sunday night, bigmouth!

Thanks to Link provided below: 
By  on Oct 21 2013, 11:30p
We've already chronicled how Adrian Peterson is about to post one of his worst career games, but he's far from the low point of the Vikingsoffense on Monday night. Josh Freeman, in his first career start with his new team, has been a disaster under center. He's not been close on a majority of his throws, and put his pass-catchers in dangerous spots over the middle. The offense was averaging 3 yards per play for most of the game.
The performance has been downright Weeden-esque, leading to a loop of frustrated and puzzled looks from the Vikings' sideline all night. Greg Jennings put a nice cap on it late in the fourth quarter:

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Trailer Manufacturer Shares It's History

Photo Source:

Article thanks to and Links provided:

Fruehauf Trailer Company has posted its history online. Compiled by family member Ruth Ann Fruehauf in collaboration with researcher Darlene Norman the site traces the company’s roots to blacksmith and carriage builder August Fruehauf who lived in Detroit during the early 1900s when motorized vehicles were in their infancy.

In 1914, Fruehauf built the first semi-trailer, which was primarily designed to haul lumber. Four years later, August incorporated Fruehauf Trailer and the rest, as they say, is trucking history. It is also a familiar tale of family infighting and how later generations eventually lost the company, with Wabash Trailers buying out Fruehauf in 1997.

Fruehauf reports that she and Norman are planning to write a book: Singing Wheels: The Rise and Fall of the Fruehauf Trailer Company. “Fruehauf facilitated the growth of continental transportation as a viable rail alternative that brought efficient transportation from the farmer’s gate and the factory’s loading door. This brought the opportunity of expanded markets to the whole country.”
The website also offers many historical photos.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

A rare glimpse into the trucking lifestyle

Based in Santa Barbara, Calif., Kim Reierson
continues to do commercial and art photography.
Article thanks to Kim Reierson and Link provided below and you can buy Kim's book at her link. Follow the links below:

It’s hard for those outside of trucking to appreciate what they’ve never experienced, or even seen.
There are books featuring show trucks or antique trucks. There are movies that glamourize or demonize trucking. But rarely is there an accurate, in-depth view of what it’s like to earn a living by driving over-the-road.  
Photographer Kim Reierson attempted to present that stark, honest view of trucking when she published her book, “Eighteen: A look at the culture that moves us,” in 2007. And sure enough, truckers and others told her they were “happy to see a different perspective” when she promoted the book at the Great American Trucking Show in Dallas and the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, Ky.
Some of her book’s photos account for two-thirds of the images in Overdrive’s “Headed home” video. It’s part of our effort to celebrate National Truck Driver Appreciation Week, Sept. 15-21, sponsored by the American Trucking Associations.
You can view the video at the site for Overdrive’s “I luv my trucker” contest. You’ll also find videos and photos submitted by family and friends of professional drivers, saying why a trucker in their life is special.
Reierson met hundreds of drivers as she visited truck stops in 20 states off and on over five years, capturing the gritty lifestyle of trucking on the highway, in truck stops and inside trucks. That included learning about truck stop prostitutes and crime, and being mistaken for a lot lizard.
“When you’re a little na├»ve, you don’t really know the ins and outs,” she recalls, though most drivers would help warn her of potential dangers. 
While at an Ontario, Calif., truck stop, Reierson met driver Tim Young. As she talked with him, he received calls from home – his wife updating him on the latest family news, his daughter reading from her first library book.
“He seemed like a really earnest, into-his-family, loving father and husband,” she says. Reierson had never been over the road overnight, so she took the risk of asking if she could ride with him. “I’m kind of intuitive and good with people, knowing who is going to be the right person.”
It turned out she was right. 
“It was almost nostalgic riding with him because he seemed to be coming from the real-deal kind of trucking, back in the day, where trucking was more of a family kind of thing,” she says. Tim had a “sense of community with other truckers. Because he was so friendly, he’d talk to anybody.”
The photos she got during her days on the road with Young, as well as those with his family at his home in Flat Rock, Ala., formed a key part of her book.
Excerpts from the book were featured in National Geographic’s U.S. and international editions. It led to publicity elsewhere, too, including an interview with trucking radio host Meredith Ochs and this interview on ABC News, where Reierson and a reporter ride in a truck. 
The project also led to more exposure for Young. Through Reierson, he met Brett Morgan, the producer of the 45-minute “Drive and Deliver” video introducing International’s Lonestar. Young appeared as one of the video’s featured truckers. You can see him in the movie’s trailer.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Birds can tell the speed limit on certain roads?
Aug. 24, 2013 at 2:36 PM ET
Though birds haven't yet learned how to read road signs, recent research suggests that birds can figure out the speed limit on a particular stretch of road.
Biologist Pierre Legagneux of the University of Quebec in Rimouski noticed that common European birds standing on the side of a roadway tended to fly away from an approaching car when the vehicle was at a particular distance from the birds.
The distance varied from one road to another, but not on the actual speed of an approaching car. "They reacted the same way no matter the speed of the car," Legagneux told National Geographic. [See Amazing Photos of Birds of Prey]
Were the birds able to determine the local speed limit (or the average speed of traffic) on certain roads? Daniel Blumstein, a wildlife behavior specialist at UCLA, believes there may be some degree of learning in the birds' response.
A speeding car, for example, could knock a roadside bird off its feet. "One or a few trials of getting knocked around may be sufficient for the bird to learn that cars are approaching faster on certain roads than other roads," Blumstein, who was not involved in the research, told NatGeo.
Birds' ability to learn from their environment is a constant source of surprise for researchers. Scientists have discovered, for example, that crows will use stones as tools to raise the water level in a pitcher and snatch a worm floating on the water (just like the clever crow in Aesop's famous fable).
And birds that have a bad experience with humans (such as being trapped and banded for wildlife studies) will remember those particular people's faces — and will teach their friends which humans are the "bad humans," even years after an unpleasant encounter.
Legagneux believes birds that learn to respond to cars based on the speed limits of certain roads have an advantage over those that don't. The birds that don't overreact to approaching cars can spend more time foraging for food (most of the birds studied were sparrows and carrion eaters like crows), while still protecting themselves from any approaching cars.
"This way, they are not spending a lot of time being vigilant by looking at the speed of each car," Legagneux said. The study is published in the latest issue of the journal Biology Letters.
Follow Marc Lallanilla on Twitter and Google+. Follow us @livescienceFacebook & Google+. Original article onLiveScience.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Are 2.23% Fuel Savings Too Modest to Sell this Aero Improver? Maybe Not

Tractor AeroKit panels and wheel covers smooth air flow around
 the tandem. Devices are made of rugged thermoplastic olefin.
Article thanks to Tom Berg, Senior Editor at Link provided below:

July 9, 2013  It takes a tractor to move a trailer, which is why we’re looking at this new product from a small company: Tractor AeroKit from Flow Below Aero Inc., in Austin, Texas. The kit saves fuel by smoothing air flow around the vehicle’s drive wheels.

And even though the proven percentage is modest, the product will pay for itself faster than trailer side skirts, the company’s founders assert.

That claim is based on the fact that many trailers spend much of their lives parked at terminals and in customers’ yards, said Mario Bravo, Flow Below’s marketing manager. The higher a fleet’s trailer-to-tractor ratio, the more standing time, and no aerodynamic device saves anything when the vehicle is sitting still.

An AeroKit consists of panels that close the gaps between a tandem’s drive wheels, and others that guide air as it leaves the tandem area. Circular covers block wheel indentations and reduce turbulence.

OK, my skeptical mind immediately said, aside from aerodynamics, what about durability? How do those panels hold up against impacts by road debris, like heavy strips of wired rubber from blown tires, and to sub-zero cold?

Bravo answered that the devices are made of rugged thermoplastic olefin, or TPO, the same material used for OE-style tractor side skirts and Minimizer aftermarket fenders.

“In ‘Tested and Tortured’ ( they drive over it and drop a wrecking ball on it,” Bravo said of a Minimizer promotion. “In ‘Proving Grounds’ ( they use a baseball pitching machine to propel billiard balls at it at 95 mph, and they freeze it with liquid nitrogen and then hit it with sledge hammers.  Our product is made out of the same material.”

Fine. But is it wise to criticize trailer skirts? Bravo and his colleague, Kyle Walker, insisted that they are not knocking trailer skirts or other aero products, just pointing out the reality that trailers are parked so much. 

Well, what exactly are the savings you saw in testing? I asked Bravo.

“We have internally debated whether or not to publish our percentage fuel savings test results,” he replied in a thoughtful e-mail message. “That is because there are a lot of exaggerated claims from manufacturers of fuel-saving products. I know of no other product on the market that makes a percentage fuel savings claim that represents a realistic number that will be achieved on average on the road. 

“Because of the prevalence of exaggerated fuel savings claims in this industry, we have been told by fleet owners that they usually look at manufacturers' claims and cut the number in half to get an idea of what they will actually achieve on the road. You can see the problem that this presents to us if we are already reporting the number that they will actually achieve on the road while competing aerodyanmics products are reporting exaggerated fuels savings. 

“When the Texas A&M Transportation Institute tested our product, they also tested a popular trailer side skirt that claims in excess of 6% fuel savings,” Bravo continued. “Our product tested at 2.23% fuel savings while the trailer skirts tested at 3.66% fuel savings. Our product tested at 60% of the fuel savings that the trailer skirts did. 

“However, you can see how 2.23% fuel savings can be dismissed by a potential customer as insignificant when compared in his head to 5% to 7.5% fuel savings claims by trailer skirt manufacturers. Our 2.23% fuel savings translates to around $1,800 a year in fuel saved when driving 125,000 miles with diesel prices of $3.90/gallon.”
At that rate, the payback for a Tractor AeroKit is nine months, says the company’s website, The device is also quick to install – about an hour by one man – and it weighs 75 pounds, half or less what a set of trailer skirts weigh.

“If a fleet owner with limited capital is considering either trailer skirts or a Tractor AeroKit, the Tractor AeroKit becomes very competitive when a fleet has more than two trailers per tractor,” Bravo said.  “That is because the fleet owner has to buy twice as many trailer skirts as Tractor AeroKits” to completely equip his trailer fleet. “And you are getting a return on your investment every time that tractor is on the road at highway speeds.  This makes for a faster payback on a fleet owner's investment. 

“We believe that there are many possible reasons for the discrepancies between the SAE J1321 Type II protocol test results that Texas A&M Transportation Institute found and the numbers that trailer skirt manufacturers claim. Testing under higher wind conditions will improve the effects of aerodynamic products. 

“The SAE J1321 Type II protocol allows for testing in wind conditions that average under 12 mph. Our tests were conducted at an average (wind speed) of under 3 mph. If we were to wait around for winds that approach an average of 12 mph, we would be able to truthfully report test results that are significantly higher, yet not representative of what truck drivers would see on the road on average.

“In addition, wheel cover manufacturers claim fuel savings of up to 3%. We have not seen fuel savings test results for wheel covers alone that are above the margin of error of the test. 

“Texas A&M Transportation Institute test results that we have seen show that wheel covers only achieve significant savings when used as part of a system with either our Tractor AeroKit or with trailer skirts.  Again, it puts us in an awkward position to advertise a smaller fuel savings test result for our entire Tractor AeroKit then what is being claimed by other manufacturers for wheel covers alone.”

If you’ve read this far, you might not be typical of a lot of truckers whom Bravo and Walker have heard from. It’s simply a lot of information for people to digest.

“The problem that this poses for us is that people tend to already think they know the answer to what they are looking for,” Bravo lamented. “They read until they see something that they misinterpret as supporting what they believe, and then move on.  I have to delete posts on our FaceBook page every day from owner-operators who make claims about fuel savings that are not based in reality, such as, ‘Aerodynamics don't work at speeds over 64 mph.’"

That brings us back to that unadvertised 2.23% figure.

“If we give them enough information to get them interested, but leave them wanting more information, then they will be more inclined to contact us, at which point we can begin a conversation and clarify any misconceptions they may have.  That has been our strategy, anyway, based on the challenge of trying to remain honest in advertising. 

“Who is to say if our product is the best? We are just trying to avoid the old adage of ‘good guys finish last’ and hope that over time we will gain a reputation for our honesty and reliability.”

Saturday, October 12, 2013

How to fight against red light and speed trap cameras and win!

How One Articulate Voice Can Sway Government

Article thanks to the National Motorists Association and Jim Walker. Link provided below and you can help the cause and join for free!

Earlier this year, Michigan Representative Wayne Schmidt (with support from a few fellow representatives) introduced two bills to the State Assembly, each designed to pave the way for automated ticketing machines, aka red-light and speed cameras. Michigan currently is one of fifteen states that ban the use of photo enforcement*. The camera companies are keenly interested in finding new territories where they can tap into motorists’ wallets.
Ann Arbor resident and lifetime NMA Member Jim Walker would have none of that. Jim is an old-fashioned triple-threat guy—writing letters/posting comments online, granting media interviews, and providing expert testimony to legislative committees to advocate on behalf of his fellow drivers.
When Schmidt’s bills became public, Jim sprang into action on all three fronts to keep ticket cameras out. He developed specific arguments about how the cameras would harm traffic safety, good government, and the civil rights of Michigan citizens.
Jim testified in opposition to the camera bills at two legislative hearings, and was joined in opposition by the ACLU, The Police Officers Association of Michigan, a judges’ representative, The Campaign for Liberty, and others.
His efforts came to fruition when he wrote a detailed letter to Ruth Johnson, the Secretary of State for Michigan, raising the same concerns.

Letter from NMA Member Jim Walker
September 6, 2013

Ruth Johnson
Secretary of State
Michigan Department of State
Lansing, Michigan 48918

Dear Secretary Johnson:
I want to alert you to aspects of House Bills 4763 and 4762, which would enable the
issuance of traffic citations by automatic machines. These bills would do serious damage
to traffic safety, good government, and the civil rights of Michigan citizens.

House Bill 4763 would allow any local unit of government to install automated cameras
at signals and stop signs on any road within their boundaries, including state highways.
Cameras would be operated by for-profit private vendors. The vendors would clearly
have financial incentives to issue as many tickets as possible. The remainder of fines and
unlimited additional “administrative fees” would be retained by the local government and
the state, circumventing the usual appropriation of fines and costs. An additional charge
would be imposed on any motorist wishing to challenge an automated citation in court.

Notice of the alleged violation would be sent to vehicle registrants by one first-class letter
up to 60 days after the fact. Vehicle owners not paying the fees (or not receiving the
letter for any reason) within 30 days of that mailing would be subject to penalties
imposed by the Secretary of State. Your Department would not be able to renew the
owners’ registration or operators’ licenses, or transfer that vehicle title.

If these bills are enacted, you will be told to deny Michigan citizens the right to use our
roads and sell their private property, based on form letters generated by private vendors
with a financial interest in each transaction. You will be told to deprive Michigan
citizens of mobility and property rights, without the adjudication of any court. And how
would the Secretary of State know the camera vendor’s plate identification was correct,
that the notice letter was sent to the right person, or that the vendor did not get payment
in a timely manner? Would it even be legal to impose these sanctions on the word of a
commercial vendor?

By contrast, the Secretary of State can withhold the registration renewal for a vehicle that
has three or more unpaid parking tickets. But, this requires the order of a court, not a
referral that could come from a for-profit camera ticket vendor acting as an agent for the
local government, an agent that would not be subject to the usual FOIA requirements. These bills would force you to impose significant penalties with no due process at all, on
persons who may never have been notified of an alleged violation.
HB 4763 would also impose significant costs on the Department of State. Systems would
have to be devised to issue at least two first-class mailings to each driver penalized, with
associated recordkeeping and data entry. No funds are appropriated to the Department of
State to cover the costs of these collection tasks.

There were two hearings on the bills before the summer recess. Several groups spoke or
turned in written testimony against the bills including the National Motorists Association,
the Campaign for Liberty, the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, and the
Police Officers Association of Michigan.

Currently, tickets with automated machines are allowed only at railroad crossings. A
2007 opinion by former Attorney General Mike Cox prohibits using automated machines
for tickets for other purposes. HB4762 would change Michigan law and create an
entirely new category of Civil Offense, separate from the current Civil Violation. A
representative of the judges spoke in particular opposition to HB4762 on the basis the
judges find it improper and inadvisable to create an entirely new section of traffic law.

I’m sure you can appreciate the potential injustices, administrative problems, and risks of
corruption inherent in this program.

I was the National Motorists Association representative who spoke against the bills at the
two hearings. I would be glad to answer any questions you may have about automated
citations, or meet with your staff to discuss this bill. Logistically, I will be out of the
state from September 7 to September 27, but I will have email access most of the time. I
would be available to come to Lansing to discuss this starting September 30.

I hope that Michigan motorists can count on the Department of State to oppose this bill.


James C. Walker
Life Member, National Motorists Association,
[address and home phone number retracted by NMA]

The response he received about three weeks later excited the normally low-key Mr. Walker. It not only proved the merits of his arguments, but also that government officials listened, understood, and agreed.
The following is the full text of a September 25, 2013 letter to Jim from David Richmond with the Office of Government Affairs within the Michigan Department of State:

Dear Mr. Walker,
Thank you for contacting Secretary of State Ruth Johnson with your concerns regarding House Bills 4762 and 4763, which seek to permit the use of red light cameras. The Secretary asked that I respond on her behalf.
The Michigan Vehicle Code is the current state law that governs the operation and movement of vehicles on Michigan roads. As you are aware, current statute prohibits the use of any automated traffic control devices to issue citations. Representative Wayne Schmidt, Chairman of the House Transportation Committee originally introduced these bills, and has conducted several hearings in order to take testimony on the proposals. I have been in attendance during the committee hearings, and have found your comments compelling, and clearly articulated. Many of the facts that you present in your letter are legitimate concerns shared by this department.
In a media report earlier this month, Representative Schmidt indicated that he is no longer interested in moving the red light camera bills. He was quoted (sic) as stating that he, “. . . has chosen not to move the red light authorization bill forward because of concerns he says he now has about traffic cameras and privacy issues.” It would appear that the testimony offered before the committee has helped Representative Schmidt to reconsider his position.
I congratulate you for your efforts and your participation in the legislative process, and I hope that you will continue to offer your expertise on traffic safety issues as they [are] considered by committee. Please rest assured the department will continue to monitor the status of both of these bills throughout the remainder of this legislative term.
Thank you again for contacting the Michigan Department of State.

You can help support by joining the National Motorists Association for free at

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Safe pullovers
Sometimes you see state troopers not thinking and taking unnecessary risks. Consider the following. Seems like a wise idea for the trucker being pulled over to put on his 4-ways and keep going until a safer place to pull over can be found! Article thanks to Dean Smallwood and Link provded below:

On a recent morning commute on the interstate, I was traveling in the far right lane and reached the top of a hill, where the road then turns to the right for a downhill run. At the top of the curving crest, I was greeted without warning with the sight of a state trooper – lights flashing – parked behind a tractor-trailer on the right side of the road. Both vehicles had been hidden by the natural terrain and weren’t visible until I was practically next to them. 
They’d parked at that perfect spot where they couldn’t be seen until the last possible second. Knowing full well that our state has a pull-over law where approaching traffic must yield a full lane for a law enforcement vehicle, I immediately jerked the wheel to provide space for the truck and trooper, who I noticed was standing on the truck’s steps talking to the truck driver.
After this brief moment passed, I started thinking about the situation. If this wasn’t a breakdown – and it didn’t appear to be – then why pull a truck over in an area with such poor visibility? Not only was this hazardous for approaching traffic, it was also dangerous for the trucker and trooper – after all, not every car in front of or behind me was obeying the pull-over law and was coming pretty darn close to both stopped vehicles.
In addition, consider how unsafe the truck’s return to the highway would be – the driver really didn’t have a good line of sight to determine if he would have enough time to re-enter the roadway before another car whizzing along at 70 mph would be underneath his trailer.
You’d think that considering the size of trucks and the speeding cars nearby, troopers might consider allowing big rigs to continue along until they reach a highly visible spot where a pullover will be safe for everyone – including themselves.
About Dean: I'm Dean Smallwood, managing editor of CCJ and Overdrive magazine. I'm responsible for handling production of the monthly CCJ and Overdrive print and digital editions. I have two decades-plus of journalism experience, with nearly half of that spent covering the transportation industry.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Facing Fear, With Family, in the Sierra

Cottonwood Lakes, site of a campsite at about 10,000 feet.
Photo by Sean McKelvey
Article thanks to Tara McKelvey and Link provided below:

9/5/2013  Standing on Old Army Pass, a trail in the Sierra Nevada in California, my brother Sean looked back at me and said we would have to scramble over boulders. “With exposure?” I asked, referring to the steepness of the rock face — and how far down it was to the bottom.
“Well, about a 500-foot drop,” he answered.
I tried not to think about it.
Like the Sierra Nevada itself, the five-and-a-half-mile-long Army Pass trail offers astonishing views, as well as the possibility you might plunge into an abyss. This was an unlikely vacation spot for someone who is afraid of heights. Yet when my oldest brother invited me and our other brother, Kerry, last year, I — who had never climbed anything more challenging than a steep staircase in New York — said yes.
Sean, 53, a telecommunications engineer and Navy veteran, has worked as a white-water river guide in the Pacific Northwest, gone on 100-mile bike rides and faced a mother bear and her cub at a campsite in California. Our goal for a four-day trip last July was to climb Mount Langley, a 14,026-foot peak that, according to Backpacker magazine, has one of the best alpine views in the country.
With stark walls and craggy cliffs, Langley and the Sierra Nevada embody the myth of the West, providing backdrops for Hopalong Cassidy B-Westerns and dozens of others, as well as adventure. From the summit, you can see the highest mountain in the contiguous United States, 14,505-foot-tall Whitney, as well as the Great Western Divide and Owens Valley, where the water wars immortalized in “Chinatown” unfolded.
Our first day, we parked at Horseshoe Meadow, an Inyo National Forest campsite where a sign reminds visitors: “This Place Is Wild.” Three people have died near Langley since 2009, including two who fell from Army Pass. Nationwide, 30 people died in mountaineering accidents last year, according to the Colorado-based American Alpine Club. Shortly before our trip, Michael Ybarra, a Wall Street Journal extreme-sports reporter who had written for The New York Times, was killed in the central Sierra when he fell from a cliff. I knew about the risks you face on a mountain, but I also knew we would play it safe.
Sean stabbed his pole in the dirt and started up the trail, followed by Kerry, a corporate executive, and me. Sean has a muscular build and knuckles so weather-beaten they look scarred. He also has a weakened shoulder, a stiff knee and gnarled wrist, from surgeries that were necessary after years of running and doing extreme sports.
The air had a rosemary-pine scent, and the trail was a well-marked path of dirt and sand. At various points, you cross over brooks, on logs or small bridges. The trail is not steep, but it is long — about five miles, and Sean had said it would take us three hours. It did not help when three-quarters of the way I began to slow down. Kerry, wearing ear buds, passed me. I discovered my ideal pace was the shuffle he had adopted minutes earlier while trying to fix his iPod, which was stuck on R.E.M.’s “Man on the Moon.”
Finally we reached Cottonwood Lakes, a campsite at about 10,000 feet, surrounded by forest and lakes, and set up tents. Later we saw a mule deer and met our neighbors, Max, a military contractor, and Tom, a surgeon. As Max and I filled water bottles at Long Lake, he told me he was planning to photograph the stars at night. The icy lake was deep and clear, and in the early evening I watched a marmot slip across the rocks near the campsite.
I woke in my tent at 2 a.m. and struggled to catch my breath. My throat was thick, and I swallowed hard. I was suffering from altitude sickness. After a few minutes, though, I made peace with the thin air and got some sleep.
Next morning, Sean fixed coffee on a portable stove, and our neighbor Tom stopped by: I gave him Band-Aids for his blisters in exchange for creamer, and then my brothers and I started up another section of the trail, a well-maintained path known as New Army Pass, part of which runs through Sequoia National Park.
It got colder as we climbed, and the terrain was desolate. We reached the top of the pass three hours later. While we were standing in a clearing, a guy in a faded T-shirt and torn pants emerged from behind a rock. He said a few jumbled words, and wandered off.
My brothers and I headed up a path marked by Stonehenge-like monuments and ran into scree and talus, which sound like the title of a Nickelodeon cartoon, but are diabolical. Talus are rocks that trip you, and scree is fine gravel that feels like quicksand. For every step you take in scree, you slide back a few inches. Sean’s boots scrunched to a halt about 500 feet from the summit. “Tara, there are rocks ahead,” he said. “We have to scramble up them.”
He wanted to forge ahead on a route that led to the top of the mountain, shinnying over boulders near a series of ledges. I was not interested in seeing more drop-offs — and potential falls. Yet I could tell by the sound of his voice that he was determined to get to the summit.
“You can go,” I said. “But what happens to me?”
“We just leave you here,” he said, with a laugh. He pointed to a clearing and said, “You should wait there instead of here.” I looked down and realized I was sitting on a rock at an elevation of about 13,500 feet; I scooted to the clearing.
My brothers continued up the trail, and I settled back and took in the surroundings. There are no trees at this altitude. The terrain is rocky and arid. The Sierra began to form 10 million years ago and are made of speckled granite that shines like crystal. It seems impossible that anything can survive in this lunar landscape, yet I noticed a patch of stubby plants under a boulder. I lay down, with my head in the shade.
Ten minutes later, Kerry returned. He said he had been worried about me — and had also seen the drop-offs. He had decided to let Sean head for the summit on his own. “I was so happy when I heard your footsteps,” I said.
“What if it had been that crazy guy?” Kerry said, teasing me.
As Kerry and I rested near a boulder, a hawk soared above us, coasting on thermal air as if its engine had run out of gas. We were enveloped in hot stillness. The hawk and granite had a timeless quality, as if we had slipped back 13,000 years. I half expected Paleoindians to emerge over the hill, hunting for antelope.
“Did you hear something?” Kerry asked.
I heard a faint voice. “Go down,” Sean called. I wasn’t sure if he was trying to tell us something practical like, ‘I’m going down a different way now — meet you at the campsite.’ Or something terrifying like, ‘I am trapped on a ledge. Go and find a search-and-rescue team.’ I froze. Then, a moment later he was walking across the rocks below us. He had been gone for an hour or so, but it had seemed like several ice ages.
“I was afraid we lost you,” I said. A moment earlier, I had been so glad to see him that tears welled up in my eyes.
He said that happens to his wife, too, when she sees him. He was joking, of course, and I laughed — but not hard. He must have known I was angry, because after a moment he looked into the distance and said, “I’m sorry.” I smacked him on the back of his head, and we started down toward the campsite. We had been out nine hours that day.
After four days of hiking, Sean and I set up lawn chairs near a tangle of rose bushes a few yards from a pool at a Best Western off Highway 395. Before our trip, the Sierra Nevada had meant little to me — “brown rock, blue sky,” as Kerry described the landscape. Yet now as I sat in my lawn chair, I had a different perspective. Looking at the range in the distance was like reading a Russian novel. The view was full of drama and foreboding.
“Most people exist so swaddled against danger, measuring out their lives with coffee spoons, that those who reckon by a different calculation of risk and reward appear insane,” wrote Michael Ybarra in The Wall Street Journal in 2009, three years before his death. “Yet to survive a perilous situation is to love life more than the average person can imagine.”
I do not believe you have to look over a cliff in order to appreciate life intensely. Yet that is what Mr. Ybarra believed and what my brother still believes, and now I have a better sense of why.
Rankings are from 1 (not at all) to 4 (very).
Remoteness 3
The place is popular, with semi-heavy foot traffic on the trail. Yet there is no cellphone reception for miles. If anything goes wrong, it will take hours to get to a place where you can call a search-and-rescue team.
Creature Discomforts 2
The campsite is pretty — and about 10,000 feet high. At this altitude, some people will suffer from shortness of breath and headaches (Advil helps).
Physical Difficulty 2
If you are in shape, you can make it up Mount Langley. You have to scramble over boulders for a couple of hundred feet, though, and as my brother Kerry says, “I don’t like the areas where if I trip, I’m dead.” It’s your call.