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Paul’s Picks
The Truck Show – Las Vegas

Paul Abelson
SENIOR TECHNICAL EDITOR

The crowds were smaller than at last year’s International Trucking Show, but the attitude was no less enthusiastic in June for the inaugural version of The Truck Show — Las Vegas. Perhaps the crowd was upbeat because of all the innovative products to be seen. Here are my favorites.

Here’s an item that will complement any show truck. If you have polished stainless trim or deck pieces, you can keep your tools in a matching polished, mirror-finished stainless rolling tool chest. Wrench Worx by DeeZee [1-800-779-2102 or www.DeeZee.com] makes 26-inch and 41-inch upright roller cabinets and a 72-inch tool cart with polished drawers and sides. Matching shop tables have brushed-finish top work surfaces.

Keith Material Handling Technology (1-800-547-6161) or www.keithwalkingfloor.com] introduced their inverted-V walking floor system for bulk loads. Walking floors eliminate the need for hydraulic dump systems and the risk of tip-over when loaded dumps are raised. The steel V-shape floor plates deflect impact and resist abrasion better than the rectangular-section aluminum found in most walking floors.

If you are considering a long dump trailer, you can save weight and maintenance with the Golden Eagle anodized aluminum-alloy telescopic hoist from Dawson Hydraulics [(705) 721-7797 or e-mail dawsonhyd@rogers.com]. The 40-ton capacity, 8-inch diameter hoist has a 265-inch (22-foot, 1-inch) stroke. It weighs 295 pounds, saving almost 500 pounds compared with a steel hoist. Filtered breathers keep dust out of the oil and seals. Seals bear on inside diameters. The Golden Eagle has half the number of parts, and can be taken apart in 30 minutes for maintenance or repair. A heavier 9-inch model is available with a 50-ton capacity. It weighs 385 pounds, 775 pounds less than its steel counterpart.

Axle Surgeons (1-877-FIX-AXLE or www.axlesurgeons.com) are a network of trained, certified axle repair specialists offeringspindle replacements at your shop or where a breakdown occurred. Replacing bent, worn or broken spindles is faster and less expensive than removing or replacing axles. Participating Axle Surgeons service providers are welders certified to ASTM standards. They are insured and trained to follow proper procedures to ensure safe repairs. Improper axle repairs can lead to rapid wheel-seal wear, then complete failure or a wheel fire.

Check out the Acti-Matic Power Washer [(206) 860-7800 or www.acti-matic.com]. It makes quick work of washing your truck. Powered by a rechargeable 12-volt battery in the handle, it performs like a cordless power tool. The washer has a quick-connect water adapter, a built-in soap dispenser and a telescoping wand with a tilt-adjust head that combines a fixed outer brush with a rotating inner brush. It pays for itself after just two or three truck washings.

Show truckers will appreciate 2-inch LED clearance/marker lamps and 4-inch stop/turn/tail lights showing through polished stainless steel, from Hilight Imports [(213) 393-9939]. The company also makes plastic-lens LEDs. When asked whether the stainless LEDs were DOT legal, a company spokesman said they were strictly for show trucks, lacking built-in reflectors. The company supplies a line of traditional LEDs that can easily replace the stainless LEDs after shows.

Perhaps the best safety aid at the show is from KC HiLites [(928) 635-2607 or www.kchilites.com]. Its new TrailBeam rearsafety passing light mounts at the right rear corner of the trailer, behind the tandems. The 5-inch diameter halogen lamp is sealed in rubber for weather and corrosion protection. It projects a narrow beam onto the road perpendicular to the rear of the rig. When the trailer clears a vehicle being passed, the beam is visible on the road surface through the right-side West Coast mirror, letting the driver know it is safe to pull back to the right. Microcircuits in the housing operate the lamp only when lights are on and the right turn signal is activated.

Magna-Guard [(619) 284-7608 or www.magna-guard.com] manufactures ceramic high-power magnets measuring 1-1/4 by 1/4 by 3/8 inches. Placed by hand inside any full-flow oil filter before mounting, the magnets (the number varies with engine size) attract microscopic steel and iron particles and any soot that may have agglomerated with the metals. Held out of the oil stream, the particles cannot abrade engines’ internal parts. 

Magna-Guard also makes Oil-Guard, an inexpensive and easy test for other vehicle oils. While I recommend oil analysis for the complexities of engine oil, the one-drop instant lubricant test gives a quick measure of the condition of transmission and differential oils. When one drop is placed on the special blotter paper, the oil and contaminants are absorbed at different rates. By comparing the paper’s appearance with a printed visual guide, you can determine when to change these oils.

Polished aluminum looks great, especially on machined wheels. Aluminum wheels from Continental Forge [(310) 603-1014 or www.continentalwheel.com] are hot-formed then finished by cold-roll forging for high strength and low weight. They are then machined and polished to a very attractive finish. But their good looks and polish don’t set Continental Forge wheels apart — chrome plating does. The company starts with a strong, light, good-looking aluminum wheel, then plates it with copper as a substrate for the chrome plating to follow. At its booth, the chrome-plated wheel shone like a diamond among polished glass.

Super Dolly Pad (1-888-212-PADS or www.superdpad.com) makes a footpad for trailer landing gear. It measures 15 by 17 inches and is 1 inch thick. Placed under the feet, the polymer pad prevents sinking into soft earth, gravel or hot blacktop by spreading the load over two to five times more surface area than regular landing gear pads. The Super Dolly Pads also work under stabilizer arms on recovery and heavy haul vehicles. Unlike wood blocks, Super Dolly Pads do not absorb dirt, grease or oil. They wash easily and store conveniently.

Airtab (1-866-758-4100 or www.airtab.com) was back with a new, aerodynamic vortex generator to add to its paintable white and black ones. The design is proven, and the fuel savings, especially for those who drive 60 mph and higher, are significant. That’s why Airtab is included in this report. But in all fairness, we’re still waiting for their SAE/TMC test results, which they say will be available as soon as they can afford the costly tests.

Charge air coolers often fail in service, usually where the cooler tubes are joined to the plenums. Dura-Lite (1-800-661-1117 or www.duralite.net) has developed a charge air cooler with patented silicon grommets in a place of traditional brazed or welded joints. The system compensates for thermal fatigue, physical shock and vibration. It resists leakage throughout its operating temperature range.

This next “pick” isn’t from the show. It was phoned to me by members Curtis and Donna Turk, who highly recommend it. Donvel (1-800-411-1725, www.donvel.com) steer axle stabilizers have sets of two air bags that fasten between steel steer axle springs and the frame. Using a unique air control system with a dash-mounted adjustable valve, the Donvel system provides quicker response to jounce and rebound than shock absorbers alone can. Excess spring action is more effectively damped, which results in a smoother ride with less shock damage to truck components and sensitive electronics in the dash. Air pressures in the system can be adjusted to fine tune the ride according to loads.

Donvel also makes motion control systems for cab air suspensions and air seat suspensions. The cab systems control excess side-to-side rocking and vertical bounce. The seat control limits vertical travel and rocking. As a result, the seat is less likely to bottom out.

Paul Abelson can be reached at truckwriter@anet.com.