Paul’s Picks - Great West Truck Show
In June, Senior Technical Editor Paul Abelson trolled the floor of The Great West Truck Show in Las Vegas to bring you highlights of the most innovative and practical new products out there.

By Paul Abelson
senior technical editor


Many owners are switching to absorbed glass mat (AGM) batteries for starting engines and powering air conditioners and other hotel loads. While AGM batteries combine high discharge for starting with deep cycle, deep discharge abilities for extended use, they cannot be recharged like ordinary batteries. Chargers using high voltage (up to 16 volts or more) can burn up an AGM battery. To charge an AGM battery, a specialized charger is required.

EnerSys, maker of the Odyssey battery (800-538-3627, odysseybattery.com), has various chargers with electronic controls for six to as much as 50 amps and single or triple banks of batteries.

Charging AGMs starts with a bulk phase, building to 80 percent state of charge while ramping up to 14.7 volts. That’s followed by an absorption phase to bring the battery up to 100 percent over a four- to six-hour period. Once charged, the third phase is a continuous trickle charge at 13.6 volts.

Tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS) pay for themselves by prolonging tire life and saving fuel by reducing the occurrence of low pressure tires. Valor (valortpms.com, 800-568-9188) makes TPMS that are banded to the bottom of each wheel’s tire well. They monitor and transmit temperature and pressure. Alerts are given for low pressure, slow leaks and temperature build-up that could indicate dragging brakes, bearing problems or excessively low pressure.

IntelliStick (intellistick.com, 888-812-5988) is a smart engine oil dipstick. First introduced a few years ago, models are available that sense oil level, oil condition, water/antifreeze intrusion and now oil temperature. Earlier models sent signals to the engine control module or to a remote data and communications unit. There was no dashboard readout unless the ECM was programmed to send an error message. Alerts were downloaded to an off-board computer or drivers were alerted by warning light.

Now IntelliStick has a 2-inch round gauge that fits in a standard hole. It provides a low oil level alert, oil temperature readout, oil condition (electrical sensing of oxidation byproducts) alert and an alert for emulsions formed by coolant contamination. No warning, no need to change oil, thus extending oil drains. IntelliStick can pay for itself in as little as one year.

RoadKing shock absorbers (class8truckshocks.com, 619-766-9207) have 2.8 times the piston area of OEM shocks and can be rebuilt, according to the manufacturer. For 2010, improvements include a new bronze-impregnated Teflon piston wear band, with a wear rate of 0.001 inches every 100,000 miles. It is supported with an O-ring that ensures even wear between rebuild intervals up to 400,000 miles.

Idle-reduction devices are most often found in sleeper cabs, but with the myriad of laws now in force, day cab operators are often left without options.

Go Cool (getgocool.com, 225-766-7719) is a portable air conditioner that uses blocks of ice, bagged ice or frozen gel packs and a 1.6 amp fan to blow air over the ice. It cools day cab-sized areas six to eight hours and can keep smaller sleepers cool up to 10 hours. It dehumidifies by condensing humidity and trapping it. Go Cool is mounted on wheels, so the 27 pound unit can be taken from the truck for recreational use. It holds up to 42 pounds or nine 2-liter bottles filled and frozen. Drainage is easy with a 6-foot hose (included).