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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Truck GPS

Truck GPS - Professional Driver's Best Friend

Article thanks to

For those of you who are constantly on the road, it is important that you have a navigation system you can rely on to get you safely from point A to point B. Truck GPS operate much the same way your standard automobile GPS devices do however, truck GPS units are designed to avoid roads that have restricted access for trucks, or low overhead bridges. GPS for truckers also come with options to follow specially designed routes, including roads with designated weigh stations and special routes for trucks carrying hazardous materials. It is important to remember that since these devices have to carry out more complex calculations that your standard car GPS, truck GPS devices often take longer to calculate the best route for you. It is best to program your route ahead of time so you are ready to go as soon as you hit the road. With so many options available, it is best to do some research before you purchase your truck GPS system.
Features to look for in a Truck GPS
There are several important features to look for in any truck GPS you are considering purchasing to make sure you are getting the best device for your needs.
Screen Display
Consider the size of screen display that is right for you. Most truck GPS devices have a screen that ranges from 4.3 inches to 7 inches across. If you wear glasses, contacts, or have trouble seeing at night you may want to consider purchasing a device with a larger screen size.
It is also important to pay attention to screen resolution and clarity. Make sure the device you choose is easy to read, and has a bright enough display to see under any condition.
Customizable Features
If you are often driving different types of loads, or travel many different routes where you are unsure of road conditions, then it is best to look for a GPS that allows you to customize your route based upon truck height, width and weight. Look for a GPS device that will show restricted roadways based specifically upon the type of vehicle you are driving.
Power Supplies
For long-haul drivers battery life is an important feature. If you will not have access to a power source while you are on the road be sure to find a device with a long-lasting battery. Also consider the type of in-cab chargers that will work best for you. Most devices come standard with a DC charger, but if you will also require an AC charger be sure this available for the model you are looking at.
Additional Features
If you are looking for an advanced system that has several more functions beyond navigation, be sure to compare the additional features a GPS offers. Many devices now include Bluetooth technology that allows driver to talk on the phone without using their hands.
You can also find devices that play movies and music, provide user reviews for nearby attractions and accommodations and also offer voice-assist driving directions.
There are many different brands and GPS options to weigh when considering purchasing a truck GPS. To be sure you are getting the right device for you it is best to read many truck GPS reviews to be sure the promises the manufacturer makes about a device are actually true.
To best prepared when you purchase a GPS system be sure you have read through our <a href="">truck GPS reviews</a>, and also speak with other drivers in the industry who have previous experience with truck GPS.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

My First Road Trip
I was thinking about my dad’s youngest sibling, Uncle Jim last night. I haven’t seen him in more than 20 years. He lives on Marathon Island in the Florida Keys and doesn't like to leave paradise, or his sailboat.

I’m sure he was partly responsible for a couple of ways my life turned out.

My fascination with Corvettes started during my pre-teen years, thanks to Uncle Jim.  My dad’s brother enlisted and became a US Marine back in the mid 1950’s.  Four years later, when he got out of the service, he came home and with a bit of the cash he had saved up, bought a used 1959 or 60 jet black Corvette convertible with a red interior.
Uncle Jim - Home for Christmas
To get up close and touch that car as a youngster was awesome and fueled my lifelong desire to drive a Corvette. I have been fortunate to have had the opportunity to own two of them.

Uncle Jim also took me on my first road trip sometime in the early 1960’s when I was 9 or 10 years of age. After being trained in some type of electronics or radio while he was in the Marine Corps, he obtained a good job in Milwaukee (I think it was General Electric) working in the same field. He had a hand in building some type of computer or electronic equipment that was enclosed in a very large metal cabinet. I was too young to understand what it was all about, but they needed to get it delivered to a university in southern Michigan near Detroit (could have been Lansing or Ann Arbor). It was deemed too valuable and risky to put it on a carrier, so they asked my uncle if he would transport it in a van and make the delivery in person.

Uncle Jim accepted the assignment and asked me if I wanted to go along with him to keep him company on the overnight trip from Milwaukee. I was surprised that he asked me and said “sure”. Jim had two sons of his own, but they were much younger than I was, he must have figured that I would have gotten a greater appreciation of the experience. On the bright summer day we were to leave he drove up in front of the house with a big white panel van with this huge cabinet full of electronics taking up the entire cargo area. We were living on 19th and Chambers at the time. He came into the the house and announced that there was only one seat for the driver and we would have to figure something out. He eyed a step stool that we had in the pantry and took it out to the van, that was my chair for the next two days!

Well, it wasn't very comfortable but I had a fascinating trip with him. I remember going through Chicago for the first time, such a huge city with so many cars and trucks. I wondered how he could drive through it and not get lost. We drove around Lake Michigan and east on I-94 towards Detroit.

As we got into the early evening Uncle Jim decided to call it a day and we pulled into a Holiday Inn (or a Howard Johnson's) to check in and get a room. I had never stayed in a motel before in my life. After getting our room, it was time to get some dinner, so he took me to the restaurant at the hotel which seemed to be really fancy and high class to me. My family almost never ate in restaurants. Money was tight in our household and the occasional splurge for us was bringing home George Webb hamburgers (7 for a buck, with Green Sheet coupon!) or mom making a Chef Boyardee pizza. There were only a couple McDonald's drive-ins in Milwaukee back then and I don’t think we had even tried them yet.

My eyeballs must have been bulging as a waiter handed me this huge menu to look at. I asked my uncle what to do and he said I could have anything I wanted on the menu! His expenses were being covered by his company and he didn't care what I had. I was stunned and don’t remember what I ended up eating, but I’m sure it was good.

The next morning we got up and continued on. As we drove through Battle Creek, I remember him telling me that was the home of Kellogg's, where they made all the breakfast cereal. We continued on and arrived a while later at the university where my uncle went in with the paperwork. He backed up to a garage door and 3 or 4 big burly guys came out and carried the cabinet inside. Then we turned around and headed home.

I’m sure the fond memories of that road trip with Uncle Jim helped me to consider driving as a career in my later years. It’s funny how childhood experiences can influence the direction you take in life. Truck driving is not an easy life, I was fortunate to have worked for two good companies nearly all of my trucking career, made decent money and was able to somewhat indulge my passion for cars, owning a few great ones.

It’s been a great ride, thanks Uncle Jim!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Lawsuits blame FedEx, Bridgestone for I-80 death in east Cheyenne
Article thanks to Sarah Zoellick and Links provided:

CHEYENNE - April 19, 2015
A New York woman appointed as the wrongful death representative for Cheyenne resident James Ednie filed a lawsuit in federal court here earlier this month.

The lawsuit, filed by Ednie's sister, says FedEx Ground Package Systems, Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations and its various subsidiaries, and a company called CLR Transportation acted negligently to cause or substantially contribute to Ednie's death.

Ednie died in November in a nearly head-on collision on Interstate 80 in Cheyenne. A westbound FedEx tractor-trailer went careening through the median into eastbound traffic, striking the minivan he was driving.

Ednie's significant other, Tanya Gooden, also died in the collision.

Her adult son, Cameron Gooden, who was riding in his wheelchair in the back of their minivan, was flown to a Denver-area medical facility where he died from his injuries the next morning.

Tanya Gooden's daughter, Alodie Gooden, filed a lawsuit on behalf of her and her son late last month, also against FedEx, Bridgestone and Utah-based CLR Trucking. An amended version filed Friday no longer names CLR Trucking as a defendant.

Both lawsuits filed in the U.S. District Court of Wyoming say the front driver's side tire of the FedEx tractor failed, causing the tractor and its two trailers to strike Ednie's van near mile marker 363 on I-80.

Two months before the fatal collision, the passenger side tire on that tractor also failed, the lawsuits say.

That tire was purchased at the same time and thus likely from the same lot as the faulty driver's side tire, the complaints continue.

"Bridgestone's tire was in a defective, dangerous condition at the time of its sale," the documents say.

The Gooden lawsuit adds: "FedEx's choice not to replace both steer tires ... was reckless, willful and wanton, and demonstrated indifference to the safety of the motoring public."

The Ednie lawsuit includes that language as well but also names CLR Trucking.

Both wrongful death representatives are seeking damages "substantially in excess of $75,000," to be determined at trial.

"Our thoughts and condolences go out to those affected by the tragic accident last November in Cheyenne," FedEx Ground spokesman David Westrick said in an email earlier this month in response to the Gooden complaint.

Bridgestone said in an email statement at that time that the company takes product safety seriously.

Ednie, a New York native, was well known to many in Cheyenne as a statewide advocate for suicide prevention. He also was known to be a devoted, full-time caretaker for Cameron Gooden.

Ednie founded two organizations - Rock for Life and Rock for Kids - that reportedly sprang from his own experiences dealing with depression and thoughts of suicide.

Ednie's friends said after his death that he was passionate about using music to deliver his message of hope.
Published on: Sunday, Apr 19, 2015 - 11:27:08 pm MDT

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

I-80 Wyoming massive car pile up. April 2015

This is hard to watch......! Got to recognize road conditions, and act accordingly. One person was killed and numerous others hospitalized. I-8o shut down again in Wyoming. Last week was even worse.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Pesky RV Critters - What can be done about 'em
Article thanks to Links provided:

It’s that time of year again, when your RV is sitting in storage and those pesky RV critters decide to make it their winter home. Usually around this time of year I get asked a lot of questions about what can be done to control rodents from getting in your RV when it’s in storage. Now understand, I am by no means an expert on pest and rodent control but after researching the subject I can offer a few ideas that other RVers use to keep rodents out of their RVs. You can be the judge on what works and what doesn't.

When RVs are stored for the winter it’s not uncommon for mice and squirrels to make their winter home in the RV. These animals are notorious for chewing through vehicle wiring, plastic and rubber components, causing extensive and expensive damage to the RV.

Possibly, the most important step is to try and prevent mice and other rodents from being able to access your RV. This can be difficult because they can enter the RV through some very small areas. Start by inspecting the underside of your RV for any gaps or holes. Fill these gaps using silicone or expanding foam. A word of caution, if you never used expanding foam before you should experiment with it on something other than your RV first. When it dries it can expand a great deal more than you expect. Next, open drawers and cabinet doors inside your RV. Look in all of the corners and crevices, especially where plumbing and wiring enter the RV. If you can see any daylight mice can get in. Fill these areas with silicone, foam or steel wool.

Remove all food from the RV when it’s being stored and thoroughly clean the RV to remove any remnants of food that might attract mice and other rodents. If at all possible try to park or store your RV on a solid surface like pavement or concrete. Try to avoid grass, fields or wooded areas. If it’s a motorized RV start it every week to run any squirrels or mice off that may be making the engine compartment into a home for the winter. This is where a lot of expensive chewing damage occurs.

If you don’t mind the smell of mothballs scatter them throughout areas of the RV. I have been told that mothballs will work for a while but eventually rodents get used to the smell and it will no longer deter them. Other people say the alternative to mothballs is dryer sheets, like Bounce. I have talked to people who swear they work and the smell is much more pleasant. The problem with dryer sheets is once they dry out they’re not really effective. If you are close to where your RV is being stored you may want to use conventional mouse traps and check for mice every few days. The only problem with traps is that the bait in the trap can actually attract mice. I don’t recommend any type of poison. It can take several days for the poison to work and the mice will usually die somewhere that you can’t find them. If this happens it can take a long time to get rid of the smell. If you do use poison make sure pets can’t get to the areas where you put it.

I have talked to some RVers who suggest you spray some type of insect spray (that contains mint oils) around the tires to discourage mice. The only problem I see with this is you would need to do it every few days if the RV is stored outside. There are numerous ultrasonic pest controllers on the market. Some even offer money back guarantees. Again, I have talked to some people who swear by them and others who insist they don’t work. I have never tried this method. If all else fails I ran across a product called Fresh Cab that claims to put off a sweet woodsy-alpine scent that will keep mice away for up to three months.

After a fair amount of research on this topic I have come to the conclusion that the only way to really keep rodents away is to get rid of the rodent’s altogether. Continue to set traps for mice until they are gone and in the case of squirrels it may be necessary to trap and relocate them, if there is no other method available to get rid of them.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Drivers are at Risk

Tips to a healthy lifestyle on the road.

Article thanks to rolling Links provided:

July, 2014  Driver health is an issue. But you can use the truck as an exercise machine to lower the risk, and get healthier, less stressed and look better too.
Truck drivers are at risk. It’s a disproportionately high risk due to fatal crash-related injuries but also because drivers are over-represented in numbers of the working population for serious health disorders. While the figure is 10 years old, the numbers from a National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health report in 2004 show a fatality rate for American heavy truck and tractor-trailer drivers was 48.2 per 100,000 workers, approximately 11 times the rate for the general worker population. While there are a lot of crash-related fatalities, the alarming thing is how many are related to poor health.
This report does not stand alone. Study after study reports that the general health and even life expectancy of the driver is, on average much less than others in the American workforce. The latest report released only this last January in theAmerican Journal of Industrial Medicine concludes:
Obesity (69% of drivers versus 31% of the general population) and current smoking (51% vs. 19%) were twice as prevalent in long‐haul truck drivers as in the 2010 United States adult working population. Further, 61% reported having two or more of the risk factors: hypertension, obesity, smoking, high cholesterol, no physical activity, six or fewer hours of sleep per 24‐hr period.
Obviously, this needs to be corrected if you, as a driver, are going to enjoy a long, healthy and rewarding life.
Fortunately, it is a field where things are looking up. And leading the charge is Bob Perry, president and founder of the organization, Rolling Strong.
Some of us remember Perry when he first came around the truck shows something like 20 years ago. Then he had the greatest difficulty getting anybody’s ear but he persisted and now, if you go to Rolling Strong’s website, (note there’s no www) you’ll see the change. In fact, you’ll be amazed at what he’s managed to achieve in terms of spreading awareness, in getting gyms installed at truckstops, in getting gym access at more than 1,000 locations nationwide through his access card. He even shows how you can use your truck as an exercise machine. But his greatest achievement may be the FIT exercise equipment that allows drivers to get a cardio-vascular and strength workout in the privacy of the truck cab.
The kit can be purchased at the website, but last year Freightliner announced it was to offer the FIT, with the acronym customized to Freightliner In-Cab Training system, as a factory-supplied option. When it’s ordered, the Cascadia interior gets mildly modified with built-in attachment points to make the set-up of the FIT exercise bands even simpler than the standard accessory kit from Rolling Strong.
Exercise Around the Truck
But even without the exercise kit, as a driver, you can use the truck to help you address weight and get more exercise to reduce problems like hypertension (high blood pressure) and the heightened risk of diabetes and heart problems.
For a start, you can practice parking at the most distant part of the truckstop lot. This will increase the distance you walk every day. Medical experts like Dr. Valentina Ugolini, a cardiologist featured on a trucker exercise DVD calledTruckercise, mentions the American Heart Associations’ recommendation that you should try to get 30 minutes of exercise daily, half aerobic and half isometric. Aerobic refers to large muscle movement to get you heart rate elevated; isometric helps build strength in the muscles.
In the latest driving hours regulation that went into effect July last year, there is a requirement for a half-hour break after a maximum drive/on-duty time of eight hours. That could of course, be a meal break. Or it could be part of a daily health regimen where you fill the half-hour with exercise, over and above the longer walk from the truck to the restaurant.
At Perry’s Rolling Strong website, there’s lots of good advice, but his tips for a truck-based workout include:
  • Using the truck as a measured distance and then walking around it till you’ve achieved your target distance;
  • Using the lower step as a stair climber by stepping up and down with a stretch between each set;
  • Leaning into the fender and pushing away as a mild push-up exercise;
  • Holding on to the bumper to steady yourself as you do a series of squats.
You can add to this. One suggestion is to use any access steps to the frame behind the cab as a stair-climber. This will give a more vigorous work-out but you have to be careful: a slip or fall could hurt you and set back your new fitness program.
Other Exercise
Push-up and sit-ups can be done anywhere, though until you get buffed out, you may want to do them in the privacy of the sleeper. In fact, you can do a whole-body workout in the sleeper. An excellent website with everything you need to know about weight reduction and getting more fit is at There’s a lot of material on exercising, but there’s also a lot on healthier eating habits as well, and if you’re going to work on getting fitter, you might as well help the program along by making healthier eating choices on the road.
In the Truckercise DVD there’s more about exercises you can do actually sitting in the seat and holding the steering wheel. Each is relatively undemanding, yet by doing a series of repetitions; you can get quite a workout. Suggested exercises are stand-ups. With the seat all the way back, you hold on to the wheel and stand up. Not difficult, but do it 100 times and you get quite the workout. Raising one leg then the other while seated doesn’t seem like much until you’ve done it 100 times for each leg, alternating if you want.
The DVD is not by any means a big-bucks production, but it is very inexpensive and has some good workouts, some using light weights that you can purchase at any sporting goods store. Arm curls and presses with different weights, progressing as the muscles return to strength, are going to give you the aerobic and isometric workout together.
Exercise Bike
You could get an exercise bike into the sleeper, but a much better idea is to carry a folding bike up behind the cab, especially during the months with better weather. For one, the bike will stay cleaner and, for another, you’ll feel much more encouraged to go for a ride and see a little of the surroundings.
Exercise is especially important for drivers. The length of time seated at the wheel has to be compensated with exercise at least a half hour every day. Driving is a risky business with the potential of being hurt in an accident. You prevent that by exercising your driving skills. You don’t want to compound this with elevated risk of medical issues. Especially since, by exercising – period — you can actually do something about your health.
Sidebar — Get FIT
In January, Covenant Transport announced that it has ordered the FIT system for its fleet. Recognizing the value of fit, healthy drivers, the Chattanooga, Tenn.,-based truckload carrier is one of the first major fleets to order the exercise and flexibility system as a reward and health incentive for its drivers.
“Wellness employee initiatives are not new to Covenant Transport,” said Joey Hogan, president of Covenant Transport. “We have been working with all of our employees to develop an intense program that provides the tools, coaching and incentives to motivate good health. The FIT System extends our healthy programs and helps keep our professional drivers safe and healthy.”
The FIT System features a triple-grip handle, which enables users to interchange three bands to change resistance levels. The system uses existing seat tether and bunk resistant mounting points for installing custom brackets, which makes the system easy to attach and use.
At Freightliner, the system is available as a factory-installed option in 72-inch raised roof Freightliner Cascadia sleeper cab models. It can be retrofit in Cascadia, Coronado, Century Class and Columbia sleepers. In fact, it is available from Rolling Strong website ( as a kit to use in any tall sleeper. The tall sleeper is required if the full regimen of exercises is to be accommodated.
The three handles plus different ratings for the bungy cords allow for a gradual increase in workout intensity. The different exercises give a full-body workout, says Bob Perry, the founder of Rolling Strong and the creator of the FIT kit and the workout routine.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Pickup Shocks: When To Replace
Article thanks to Bruce Smith at Links provided:

Sometimes it’s the slow demise of the simplest parts on a pickup that make the biggest difference in performance and efficiency; worn-out shocks are one of those parts

by Bruce W. Smith, Feb, 2015
If you are putting 20,000 or more miles a year on your pickup, and it’s a couple years old, chances are pretty good the shocks are shot.  It’s a simple fact of life.
What escapes most vehicle owners is shocks wear out very slowly, so these critical component’s  inability to control the suspension is  rarely noticed until they break or fall off.
However, shocks, like tires, give warning signs long before they fall off. You just need to know the signs of shock failure.
Signs of worn-out shocks can present themselves as the truck wallowing in corners or swaying when towing, continued bouncing after driving through a dip, clunking when the truck hits a pothole, as well as cupped or scalloped tire wear.
You can also let the odometer be your shock replacement gauge:
“As a general rule of thumb, OEM hydraulic twin-tube shocks only last about 15,000 to 20,000 miles when used in a work truck environment (towing, hauling heavier loads, off-road/off-pavement use),” says Shane Casad,Bilstein of America, who specializes in pickup suspension setups.
According to Casad and other shock experts, low-pressure gas-filled OE shocks, like those found under most of the factory “off-road” pickup suspension packages, are good for 25,000-35,000 miles.
After that shocks are just along for the ride.
Worn-out shocks no longer control the vehicle when a big dip in the road swallows it up, nor do they quickly steady thewobbles, bounces and shakes after crossing the railroad tracks or when a trailer is on the hitch.
Bad shocks also contribute to accelerated and uneven tire wear, and hasten the wear of the front suspension from ball joints to A-arms and CV joints.
So don’t be quick to blame the “new” tires if they seem to wear faster than normal — or your truck just doesn’t seem to ride like “it used to.”
The fix is easy: replace the shock/struts with new ones.
But before you call the local parts house or your pickup dealer consider the ROI between cheap shocks, OEM replacements, and ­high-end off-road shocks.
Spend $100 on four cheap shocks and an hour or more in shop labor for R&R and you’ll be doing it all over again in 1-2 years.
Spending $400 on good off-road shocks takes the same labor time. But those new shocks are probably going to last the “life” of the truck this time around because their robust internal and external construction also helps them withstand the hard knocks of being under a work truck.
The better performance shocks, like those offered by ReadyliftBDSPro CompFox and Bilstein, typically carry a limited lifetime warranty, too.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

I go back to drive! Richard Petty Driving Experience

Posing behind the wall with the portrait car
I did a post a couple years back about my ride-along in the Richard Petty Driving Experience at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway in the early 2000's. I had a blast as my driver dueled back and forth with another race driver and his passenger for three laps around the 1.5 mile speedway. I've wanted to go back and try driving myself ever since, and it has been one of a couple things in my "bucket list" to do before I get too old and feeble. Now at 62 years of age, I thought I'd better get to it as my wife and I planned a week-long vacation in Vegas. I invited my buddy and his wife to fly down from Wisconsin and meet us and they said “sure”. They’re already retired, must be nice!

So a few months ago we picked a week in March and I found a 10 percent off deal on the internet for the Petty Experience. I scheduled a ride-along at 10:30AM for Mary and the 8 lap driving experience for me at 12 noon. The prices were not changed much from 12 or 13 years ago, ride-alongs a little over $100 and the 8 lap rookie driving event a little over $400.

After we got married in 2008, Mary has slowly become a Nascar (Matt Kenseth) fan over the years watching the races with me. This was a totally new experience for her at the track and she was excited. It was definitely one of the most thrilling things I have ever experienced in my life!
Mary, just before her ride-along

We arrived at the track last Tuesday at 10 AM and got Mary signed up. Things have changed up a little from when I did it. My beard was a lot darker back then!

In those days the passengers were just given a helmet and nothing else. Now, you have to get in a race suit with a helmet that is miked up with a audio/video connection. They record your entire ride with a camera on the passenger and also looking forward out the windshield. You can buy the video for an extra $50.

Instead of two cars going side by side for three laps, Mary and her driver went out alone. They only sent out one car at a time. I noticed that they used a different set of cars for the ride-alongs. The professional drivers use cars that aren't rev limited like the other set they let the rookies drive. They all have about 600 horsepower and the ride-along cars will do better than 160 MPH. I remember from my old ride-along that my driver could actually drift his car in the corners a bit pretty effortlessly. The rookie driving cars are rev limited to about 140 MPH. Mary had a blast and after getting out of the car, said she wished that they could have kept going for awhile.

My car. Almost ready to go!

Upon our arrival, they told me to be at the driver’s meeting room at 11:30 AM for my scheduled noon drive. I went in and got my paperwork taken care of and sat down to wait. Soon they fitted us with racing suits and then got us into a room where we watched some videos while they prepared the track. Our crew chief for the program came in and talked us through a video of the track, giving us information to be aware of during our drive.

After that was done we walked out to the pit area to be fitted with helmets before our turn came up. They had us on a list and would call us up to get ready as other drivers finished. The helmets were equipped with two way microphones so the instructor could talk to you while in the car. They also had the audio-video connection to record your drive, which you could purchase for another $100.

When my turn came up the crew chief escorted me over the wall to the car. I noticed climbing in through the window that the seats seemed to be even more restrictive than before. It took some effort to get my butt into the bucket and squeeze my helmeted head through the window at the same time (also due to the fact of being more than a few pounds heavier since the last time!), but once I was in it was comfortable. They attach the back of your helmet to the seat back and it is impossible to turn your head much at all. In the picture of me in the driver’s seat, that was as far as I could turn my head.

The instructor introduced himself and pictures were taken. After last minute instructions he asked if I was ready to go and I said yes. The differential is geared low for the high speeds on the track so you have to give it some throttle as you let out the clutch. I managed to get going without stalling it and the power and sound of it was thrilling as I gave it about half throttle and shifted to second gear. The instructor was talking and guiding me out the exit lane and told me when to get up onto the track. The first lap was to get the feel of the track and I steadily gave it more throttle and got up to speed. I remembered the steep banking from my ride-along so I was not surprised by it. They had a single orange cone just past the pits going into the first corner where you were instructed to lift off the throttle for a bit until you get to a second pair of orange cones were you get back on it at full throttle.

After completing the first lap my instructor told me to go ahead and crank it up. At the double cones I mashed the throttle as we were up in the banking and the car took off. I was pretty nervous the first few laps and tended to lift a bit approaching the corners, but my lap times improved by more than one second on each successive lap as I got more comfortable with the car. The car’s suspension is set up for the steep banking and it was somewhat difficult to make a smooth transition onto the back straight, as the car wants to keep turning left and you have to really fight the wheel turning it to the right. I was surprised at the force needed but as soon as the car got back into the banking it naturally wanted to turn with it and was comfortable to drive.

I knew from pre-race instruction and my own experience that you have to look far ahead down the track when you’re going that fast to stay in a good line. They did have markers painted at various points on the track to aim for. Still, I almost immediately become disoriented as to where we were on the track, and only knew that we went past the pit area when I passed the single orange cone where you lift on the throttle. You just don’t have time to look at anything except the track ahead of you. You're listening for any word the instructor says, if he doesn't say anything, the crew chief told us that is good. I was glad my guy was pretty quiet. On one corner he corrected my line by reaching over and turning the wheel slightly left, as he told me to stay a little further off the wall. There was one recurring corner where the sun was in my eyes making it difficult to see through it and was nerve wracking to me. I had my regular darkening transition lens glasses on and sure wished I would have brought my prescription sunglasses.

It was a great experience that I will always remember, some day maybe I’ll do it again. Richard Petty runs a great program, I would only suggest one thing. While they show you a video in the meeting room of the track and talk you through it, I wish they would have taken us out in a couple of vans for a couple laps to get a better feel of the layout. Other than that minor point, I had a blast and have a much better understanding of the physical effort and concentration it takes to drive one of these cars fast. I would have been totally exhausted within a short period of time, had they let me continue on. Oh, how I wish they would have let me! If you decide to try it, don't forget your sunglasses!

The Richard Petty Experience is at selected tracks around the country, you can take a look at the link below!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

All About Limited-Slips & Lockers

Article thanks to Bruce Smith and Links provided:

When you need more traction from your pickup, turn to limited-slips and lockers to get the job done

There are times when the road less traveled is that for a reason.
Be it mud, snow,sand, deep ruts, or slick rock, whenever the surface where your truck’s tire are fighting for grip gets bad enough, traction is lost and tires spin.
Well, for a few moments on later-model trucks. Then traction control kicks in, the ABS braking system activates and/or engine power is reduced.
In instances where electronic traction control can’t overcome what the computer perceives isn’t there, you’re stuck.
Electronic traction control is effective in the majority of routine driving situations, especially on ice or snow-packed roads. The sophisticated programming that makes split-second adjustments to control the tires is well beyond the driving capability of most drivers.
Yet despite all their wonderful attributes in day-to-day driving, electronic traction controls have shortcomings in more severe applications such as off-highway use. Traction may be there, but the computer just doesn’t let it happen.
That’s where optional mechanical traction aids such as a limited-slip differential (LSD) or, better still, a locking differential can literally save the day.
For situations such as climbing a steep hill on loose dirt or slogging through deep sand or mud, lockers and limited-slips help send more tractive power to the wheel(s) that have more grip. Lockers more-so than “limited-slips.” Here’s why.
Limited-slip differentials have been around since the ‘50s. They may use internal friction clutches either flat or cone style – or a unique worm-gear arrangement to limit torque to the spinning wheel and transfer power to the wheel with greater traction.
As the name implies, they typically allow driven wheels to spin, just not as much as the stock factory “open” differential.
 If serious traction is your goal, most pickup truck owners prefer some type of “locker.” There are two types: automatic and selectable. Some versions, such as the G80 and the electronic-locking diffs, are available as factory options — and the $300-$500 upgrade is worth every dollar.
 A  locker, whether automatic, electric- or air-actuated, such as the G80, Eaton E-Locker or ARB Air Locker, operate like an open differential in normal driving conditions and a fully locked axle when traction conditions warrant.
More aggressive lockers, such as the Detroit Locker, are often used by racers and serious off-road enthuisiasts.
All put equal power to both drive wheels when a certain difference of wheel rotation between axles on the same differential occur.
On the other hand, a “limited-slip” is usually biased in how that torque is split. So when one tire is spinning the other tire on that axle with better grip may only get a small portion of power.
The result of most limited-slips is still a spinning tire and no forward momentum when one tire is hanging in the air, or one is on dry pavement and the other in snow.
(One of the best “limited-slip” diffs is the Detroit Truetrac, which is a gear-driven model that works far better than traditional clutch-type limited-slips.)
How do you know if the rear diff in your pickup is a locker or limited-slip?
One method we’ve seen used is to jack one rear wheel a 1/2-inch off the ground with a floor jack. Start the engine. Put the truck in 2WD. Turn traction control off then slowly apply throttle to see if you can drive forward.
If the truck moves forward, it has a locker. If the wheel in the air just spins, and the truck does’t move, it’s a limited-slip or ope differential.
Another method is to do a burnout. If only one rear wheel, usually the passenger’s side, spins it’s a good sign the truck has an open diff or limited-slip.