Oil, Engines & Owner-Operators
Oil Tracking Update
Ron Powers takes the conservative approach to longer engine life

Ron Powers, who's been trucking for more than 28 years, bought his first truck in 1974, a B61 Mack with a 238 Detroit engine. Back then, Ron talked to other truckers and did some reading, and decided to use Shell oil in his truck. He has never found a reason to change his mind.

Ron takes the conservative approach when it comes to his engine. While many other owner-operators are exploring the workability of extended drain intervals, Ron prefers stand on the side of caution. "I want to head off a problem before it happens," says Ron. The practice has worked for him for a good many years.

While attention to details and meticulous preventive maintenance have contributed to Ron's success as an owner-operator, luck has played a role too. In 1993, Ron was driving a Volvo with a 350 Cummins engine, when he and wife Cheri got the most pleasant shock of their lives. Ron was notified he would be driving a new Volvo with a 3606C Caterpillar engine and all the bells and whistles. He'd won the Interstate Radio Network's sweepstakes.

Having a brand new truck and no payments might have some owner-operators complacent, but not Ron.The new truck received the same scrupulous care as its predecessors. In 1997, Ron traded his sweepstakes truck for a new Volvo.

"I turned that truck in with 600,000 miles on the engine, and no abnormal readings on the sample. I have just over 400,000 miles on this engine, and I'm still looking at a clean engine," Ron told Land Line. "I expect to trade this one at about 700,000, and then I still expect to have a clean engine. I've never had an oil-related engine problem, and I don't plan to."

Ron's Volvo Wiattes has a 500 hp Caterpillar 3406E and an Eaton 18-speed overdrive transmission. He uses Shell Rotella T 1540 and drains every 10,000 to 12,000 miles. Ron's engine warranty allows up to 15,000 miles between drains, but Ron says, "I've never gone that long. You do it a little ahead and you're not a likely to have problems. If you do have a problem, you'll find it sooner."

And oil analysis is another must as far as Ron is concerned. And he doesn't understand why all owner-operators don't do the same. "It's the cheapest insurance you can buy. I take a sample every other drain. When you have an in-expensive way to head off very expensive problems, why would you do anything else?"

Pulling a reefer leased to Sunrise Carriers out of Liberal, Kansas and running 140,000 miles a year, Ron doesn't have time to do his own PMs. He chooses a Speedco facility to save time if one is convenient, but also uses truckstop facilities when necessary. Ron and Cheri make their home in Meade, KS, with their two sons, Darryl and Brad. LL