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Saturday, March 28, 2015

Is the EPA unfairly targeting Volvo?
Article thanks to Jack Roberts and Links provided:

Feb, 2015  The other day a glowing report noted a recent environmental study, which concluded that “modern” diesel exhaust smoke (i.e. smoke from post-2010 diesel engines) is essentially harmless to humans.
That’s certainly good news. Although I know quite a few people in the trucking industry who wonder if that end justified the means. Because the Emissions War that wracked trucking in the first decade of this new century was a decidedly messy affair. And it seems some battles are still being fought today.
An article by Holman W. Jenkins, Jr., written for the Wall Street Journal came across my desk yesterday. It’s worth a read because it highlights not only how cutthroat the battle over competing emissions technologies became among engine manufacturers, but also spotlights egregious Federal overreach by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It’s one of those rare (these days) cases that unites conservatives and liberals alike and raises serious questions about how much power an agency like the EPA should be granted.
The story dates back to the height of the EGR-SCR wars in 2006, when the EGR camp (Caterpillar and Navistar) was looking for ways to make life difficult for their SCR competitors. The timeline is complex, but essentially, Caterpillar tipped off the EPA about stationary diesel engines produced by Volvo Penta (a wholly owned subsidiary of AB Volvo) in Sweden, that did not comply with a 1999 consent decree forcing all engine makers to accelerate compliance with new emissions standards. The only problem, in Jenkins’ words, was that the engines in question were “not built in America, not sold in America, unlikely ever to end up in America, and not subject in any way to the EPA’s statutory jurisdiction.” Nevertheless the EPA – perhaps a bit drunk with power – slapped Volvo with a $72 million fine, even though the agency had previously certified the engines as compliant with then-current emissions levels. A federal appeals court later found that the consent decree did not in fact apply to the engines, but upheld the penalty anyway lest Volvo enjoy a competitive advantage in the race to develop EPA 2010-compliant engines.
To its credit, Volvo has been steadfastly fighting this case, which has now been appealed to the United States Supreme Court.
The fact that the EPA feels empowered to punish a private company for emission performance outside of U.S. borders is certainly troubling. And, frankly, sets a precedent that ought to give all major global engine players pause. Moreover, it’s clear now that the SCR side decisively won the Emission Wars. The idea that Volvo, which played a key role in developing SCR and was an outspoken SCR and emissions-compliance advocate during that long war, is being punished for the performance of diesel engines it never intended to sell in North America in the first place is absurd.
Here’s hoping the court finds in favor of Volvo and against government overreach.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Suck it up! - Silver Eagle's New Converter Dolly
Article thanks to Tom Berg and Links provided:
Feb, 2015  NASHVILLE -- The large gap between combination trailers can now be decreased at highway speeds to reduce aerodynamic drag and save fuel with Silver Eagle Manufacturing’s T-Dolly, the company says.
The dolly’s tongue automatically retracts 28 inches to close the trailer-to-trailer gap from 40 inches to 12, explained Gary Gaussoin, Silver Eagle’s president. Retraction occurs at 45 mph, as measured  by the vehicle's anti-lock braking system, and extends as it slows past 40 mph to allow sharp turns. A hydraulic mechanism does the pulling and pushing.   
Fleet testing with double- and triple-trailer combinations shows the T (for telescoping, T-shaped tongue) Dolly improves fuel economy by 2.5% to 3.5%, Gaussoin said. Reduction in turbulence and closer coupling between trailers improves stability and reduces the “wiggle” effect, especially after lane changes, something that test drivers remarked on, he said during the official announcement during the Technology & Maintenance Council's annual meeting.

"The only reason to have a large gap between trailers is to make a sharp turn at low speed,” Gaussoin said. “Just think of how little you turn the steering wheel at highway speeds to change a lane; there is a very small steering angle in those situations.”
The T‐Dolly concept was first brought out in 2007 for Future Truck Exposition of the Technology & Maintenance Council of ATA. In 2008 a manually adjustable dolly was tested in Texas, where appreciable fuel savings came from reducing the gap between trailers. Next, wind tunnel tests verified energy savings.
Then the difficult work of creating the mechanical components and methodologies to be fully automatic and autonomous began, Gaussoin said. It needed to work regardless of the equipment to which the dolly was hooked.
“From the beginning we were very aware that the T‐Dolly had to fit into the fleet like any other dolly, and it had to ‘fail safe’ and return to the normal extended position,” said Kevin Sternes, Silver Eagle’s lead engineer.
Mature components and technologies were used throughout the design, he said. Examples are the sliding drawbar system that the company has used for decades; speed readings from the anti-lock braking system; and proven hydraulic cylinders and pumps.
UPS agreed to test the T‐Dolly and has worked through several iterations, employing them in regular service between Portland, Ore., and Everett, Wash.
“The T‐Dolly will play an important part in reducing fuel consumption in our fleet.” said Bill Brentar, UPS director of maintenance and engineering for transportation equipment. “UPS drivers who use these dollies preferred the way they feel in the closed position, and that they settle down right away when changing lanes.”
“An additional benefit of the single telescoping tongue has been better ergonomics for maneuvering the dolly into position, and air and electrical hook ups.” said Brian MacKenzie, Silver Eagle’s director of sales. “This additional open space gives greater clearance for a tight turn and reduces the chance of a bent tongue.”
During fuel efficiency testing on the Ohio Turnpike, a test driver declared, “Triples pull like double 45-foot trailers,” a combination known to be stable, Gaussoin said.
Fuel savings were measured by Type IV testing for double- and triple-trailer combinations. The supervisor was Chuck Blake, an applications engineer for Detroit Diesel and one of the authors of the TMC-SAE test procedures more than 20 years ago.
“This is a no brainer, isn’t it?  Geater stability (less wag) and improved fuel economy, especially in windy yaw angles,” Blake commented. “Even in no-wind conditions the savings are significant and very measurable.” "Right now, the T-Dolly costs about $4,500 more than Silver Eagle’s non-telescoping dollies – meaning its price tag hovers around $14,000 compared to a standard dolly.
Company engineers noted, however, that the fuel savings potential of the T-Dolly should help fleets achieve a return on investment (ROI) within 3.5 years of operation.
And Gaussoin stressed, too, that his company’s long-term goal is to reduce that price difference down to $3,000."

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

How To Cook a Whole Chicken on the BBQ Grill

The following is a guest post from my wife Mary's blog. A link is provided below:

My husband is such a great cook, I wish he would cook all the time.  On the weekends he likes to fix a piece of meat on the grill when we have nice weather, or the oven when it's cold outside.  Yesterday was 70 deg. outside and beautiful BBQ weather, so Dan went and bought a whole chicken for the grill.

This is a step-by-step instruction for my daughter who lives in Cheyenne Wyo, and wanted to know how he cooked a whole chicken on the grill:

First - he has a bag of 100% natural Mesquite wood chips (for use in gas and charcoal grills), he takes about 3 handfuls and soaks them in a bowl of water for 30 min.  Then he puts the wet chips on 2 pieces of foil and wraps them up to place under the grill top on the flames, leaving the ends uncrimped for the smoke to come out.  He also covers an old pan to put under the grill top where the chicken is cooking to catch all of the juices so that it won't be a big clean-up job on the bottom of the BBQ'er when your done. This works best with a three burner barbeque that you can turn off the middle burner for indirect cooking. You can also use a charcoal grill with the coals on each side, but not directly under the chicken.


Next - he goes out and turns on the BBQ to heat for 10 min. so he can clean the top really well, and gets it sprayed with cooking spray.  Now he gets the foil with chips and the drip pan and puts them under the cooking rack. Put the two wood chip packets directly over the burners on each side.

He has prepped his chicken by rinsing and then spicing it.  He never uses the same spices, always different, he sprinkle with garlic powder, onion powder, Season Salt, about anything in the cupboard.

So, outside we go for the fun part.  He slides the chicken off of the plate onto the grill:

The important thing here is to keep the temperature around 350 deg.  He leaves the burners on each end on about halfway, and shuts off the middle burner (indirect cooking method).  Now the wait begins while we sit outside and admire the nice weather and the apricot blossoms blooming at the end of our yard. With a thermometer on the cover, monitor to keep the temperature about 350 to 375 degrees. Try not to open the cover, as the heat and smoke will escape and cool the grill.

About 2-1/2 hrs later, the chicken is perfectly juicy and browned.

Dan grabs a long handle spoon to insert and pick up the chicken, then puts it on a plate to continue our meal inside.

This smells so good I can hardly wait to partake!

Let it sit for 10 minutes before cutting, then dig in..

I can't stop grabbing pieces of skin while he is cutting, it is crunchy and well seasoned, and out of this world delicious.

Dan loves the drumsticks.

My favorite is the chicken breast.  It is so juicy and most that you can't stop until it is gone.  Ok, now I wish I hadn't eaten so much!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Hotshot hauling: How to be your own boss
Article thanks to Todd Dills and Links provided:

In trucking, the term “hotshot” commonly refers to either the truck or the freight – often both. In the former sense, it’s normally a Class 3-5 truck used in combination with a variety of trailers to run for-hire freight, whether for a single customer or less-than-truckload, with multiple customers’ freight making up the same load, though there are exceptions.
The truck often will be one of the big three U.S. auto manufacturers’ ¾- to 1½-ton cab-and-chassis rigs or pickups outfitted for weight-distributing gooseneck- or fifth-wheel-type connections to a trailer.
Hotshot freight is hauled for a single customer and needed in expedited fashion. Jeff Ward of the Atlanta area says the local and regional loads he hauls with his one-truck Brady’s Hotshot Hauling business are “true hotshot freight.” That freight – power company equipment to keep the electrical grid running – is needed as soon as possible to avoid a shutdown.
Most agree the term originated in the Texas oilfields where, decades ago, pickups delivered quickly-needed parts to offroad drilling and pumping operations. The niche survives to this day and has benefited from the growth in U.S. fracking operations.
The advantage to utilizing smaller trucks for such freight for all hotshot customers is avoiding service downtime while minimizing costs. Fon Du Lac, Wis.-based hotshot owner-operator Greg Cutler says he can run his gas-fueled 2010 Dodge Ram 2500 at 85 cents per mile, much less than what the average Class 8 truck owner-operator will spend.
Joey Slaughter operated primarily as a car hauler when he started Blue Ridge Transport in 2010 after years as a Class 8 long-haul company driver.
Slaughter guesses he ran his own 2009 Ram 3500 at about 80 cents per mile, a good deal lower than the $1.20/mile average he later spent hauling cars in a Class 8. He transitioned earlier this year from an open car-hauling trailer to a 53-ft. step deck pulled by a Class 8 tractor. He brought in $1.35 a mile in revenue running hotshot, including deadhead.
While Slaughter says he’s doing better today than the 55-cents-a-mile hotshot income, he views the hotshot route as having been ideal for him getting started. A self-described cautious type, Slaughter drove a gas tanker as a company driver for 12 years.
“I wanted to be my own boss,” says Slaughter, who considered hauling cars, “but I was too cautious to go out and buy a large rig and go into a lot of debt.” He bought a 2005 Dodge 3500 dually for $25,000 and found a new $7,000 Kaufman three-car wedge trailer, and he was in business. 
“I didn’t realize I’d be on the tightrope,” he says, walking the line between federal regulations and earning income as an independent business.
“I just thought I’d be hauling cars, but the next thing I know, I had to get my [Department of Transportation] number, then the DOT officer’s in my house auditing me as a New Entrant. I’m setting up a drug program, just like a regular trucking company with a Dodge dually and a three-car wedge. I asked [the New Entrant auditor], ‘What’s preventing me from going into business with a full-size tractor-trailer?’ Nothing, he said – just sign up with IFTA, and you’re off to the races.”
The view from the other direction – seeing hotshot’s low startup equipment costs relative to Class 8 –drives a great deal of interest from those driving Class 8 long-haul today. Butch Sarma, product manager of the load board, says that every year at the Great American Trucking Show in Dallas, booth visitors show uncommon interest in oilfield work because of lower equipment costs.
“I could buy a new Ford 250 or 350 and a solid, well-built fifth-wheel or fixed-gooseneck trailer for $75 to $80K. That kind of money with a tractor-trailer will not get you a new model.” Furthermore, a new Class 3 rig with a new trailer, says Sarma, “will have maintenance costs lower than those of an 18-wheeler that’s five years old.”
Establishing the business
When it comes to regulatory requirements, as Slaughter intimates, interstate hotshot businesses face many of the same regulations as those of interstate Class 8 haulers.
It’s possible to lease your hotshot to a larger entity, particularly if you’re in an area with a lot of oil drilling, but most hotshot businesses operate with their own motor carrier authority, requiring well less than $1,000 for federal and state filings at startup. The biggest initial cost, unless you’re leased, is buying at least $750,000 worth of primary liability insurance coverage, a requirement to run interstate.
One-truck operators interviewed for this story reported a range of $4,000 to $5,500 for liability coverage.
Unless you’re able to lease to a business, you’ll need your U.S. Department of Transportation motor carrier authority and all that entails, including primary commercial auto liability insurance, membership in a drug and alcohol testing consortium, required driver qualification filings, adherence to hours of service regulations and the like.
Operators who remain plated under 26,001 pounds can avoid filing quarterly IFTA reports and purchase fuel according to the best pump price available. You’ll need only to file via your BOC3 Process Agent in the states where you’ll be doing business.
Like the IFTA requirement, a commercial driver’s license is necessary for combination haulers using typical hotshot pickups only if the plated GCWR exceeds 26,000 pounds.
Search “Be your own boss” on for the HWT sister magazine’s January 2014 guide to running an independent owner-operator business, including a guide to establishing authority and getting the business up and running.
Spec’ing the equipment
You won’t get the biggest amount of payload from a standard tow hitch on the bumper.
The towing specs for the 2013 Dodge Ram 2500 pickups show that factory bumper-pull tow options limit you to a maximum of 17,950 lbs., and that’s with both the short cab and bed and the biggest diesel available, the 6.7-liter Cummins. Ford’s 2015 tow guide for its Super Duty pickups shows a limit of 19,000 lbs. towed, included the trailer’s weight.
If your setup is like hotshot hauler Greg Cutler’s, with a 20-ft. Doolittle bumper-pull trailer with a 2-foot dovetail at the rear, the trailer payload maximum will be under 9,000 lbs., as the trailer weights 9,100 lbs.
Spec to the load: You may not need all the pulling power that the big three auto manufacturers have to offer with their pickups.
Atlanta-based hotshot owner-operator Jeff Ward launched his business with a 2008-model F450 Super Duty dually, with maximum weight up to 35,000 lbs.
But he’s since downsized to a 2012 F350 tagged at 26,000 lbs. GCWR, largely for fuel mileage: the 350′s more than 4 mpg better than the 450, which typically logged about 8 mpg.
The Cadet flatbed body on the unit Ward spec’d has a gooseneck-type hitch, similar to what was on his previous 450.
The majority of his moves are bulky enough to necessitate the 30-foot P.J. flatbed, but he feels the flatbed body delivers more versatility over a standard pickup bed, with more lateral space for freight.
Some of his more local loads are light enough – 3,000 pounds or less – to fit on the flatbed alone, which improves fuel mileage sometimes up to 18 mpg or more.
On the trailer, Ward’s got 25 feet of wooden-deck space, with an additional five on the rear if he doesn’t need the spring-loaded dovetail that pulls out into a set of ramps for the occasional piece of powered equipment he may haul.
The P.J. Trailer’s tandem axles are outfitted with single tires at each axle end, saving weight, and each is rated at about 7,000 lbs. of potential capacity, more than he needs given his heaviest possible load today is just 10,000 lbs. He’s tagged at a combined maximum weight of 26,000 lbs.
Part 2 of this article, which will publish next week, spotlights how hotshoting has worked for three operators.