OOIDA director Woody Chambers, a steel haulerfrom Hoffman Estates, IL, doesn't just hope to get a million miles out of his engine, he expects it. In 1992, he bought a used 1989 Kenworth T600A with 300,000 miles on its Cummins Big Cam 400.
"Before I could put it to work, I had to put rods and mains in it," says Woody. "I knew from previous experience that any engine was capable of more miles without those problems. You have to stick to your maintenance program–no excuses."
Woody has lots of previous experience. He's been driving a truck for 38 years (33 as an owner-operator). He pulls a step deck, and is permitted for all of the continental U.S., but he prefers to stay out of the Northeast and Northwest. His partner in life, and in trucking, is his wife Paula. He's been an OOIDA member since 1985, and on the board of directors since 1996.
To keep his engine in top shape, Woody uses Shell Rotella T15-40, Cummins filters, and drains every 15,000 miles. Between drains, he lubes at 7,500 miles. Every other drain (30,000 miles) he has the oil analyzed. Every 100,000 miles he replaces the oil in his transmission and rear-ends with Rotella Spirex 85-140. He has that oil analyzed as well. Woody has his PMs done at Pro-Wrench Truck Service in Carol Stream, IL. His oil is sent to CTC Analytical Services in Addison, IL, for analysis.
Woody is committeed to his maintenance program. "That's the way you head off problems. If you ever think you're too busy or running too hard to take the time for maintenance, think about what a breakdown would do to your busy schedule."
"My engine is in good shape," Woody tells Land Line. "It still has good oil pressure and good power with 800,000 miles on it. I'm looking forward to a million miles, and maybe even a little more, before I rebuild it. My transmission and rear-ends are in good shape too. Analysis shows virtually no wear."
What's Woody's take on extended drain intervals?
"If I were starting out with a new engine, I'd start out with a synthetic oil, and go with extended drains. But, with my engine, I think I'd better stick with what's working for me."
You can't argue with success.
Who's doing your maintenance?
Whether you need maintenance or repairs, when you roll into a service facility, you're looking for two important factors. First, you want a qualified technician to do the work you require. Second, you want to get in and out in the shortest possible time. This may not be easy.
The service side of the trucking industry is experiencing a critical shortage of qualified technicians. There are a number of ongoing industry programs to promote careers in this field. However, advances in technology are changing the components of your truck at such a fast pace, the technician that is fully qualified to work on your truck today may not be qualified to work on the new truck you'll buy next year. Government regulations are also changing the way work is performed in truck service facilities, including EPA regulations that govern the way chemicals (such as oil and coolants) are handled and their disposal.
The MidAmerican Holding Company (MHC), which owns and operates 25 Kenworth dealerships in seven states, has taken an aggressive approach to keeping their service technicians trained in all the latest technological advances, as well as required maintenance practices, EPA and other required certifications. The MHC Technical Training Vehicle is a custom-built mobile classroom pulled by a custom-built Kenworth T-300. Launched in March, the MHC classroom will visit each of the company's facilities and train technicians in critical technologies and requirements.
"There are several reasons we did this," Tamara Cody, MHC's Marketing Coordinator tells Land Line. "Of course, the primary reason is to make sure we have the most qualified service technicians."
Cody says the mobile classroom is a way to maximize staffing while keeping technicians up to speed on new technologies and developments. "It isn't feasible to close a facility in order to train technicians. Sending technicians off to a distant location for training means that a facility could be short-staffed for a couple of days. That isn't fair to our customers. Taking the classroom and instructors on-site means any disruption is minimal."