Officials from Freightliner Trucks announced at the Mid-America Trucking Show that the company will begin offering rack and pinion steering as an option on the Freightliner Century Class S/T, Coronado, Columbia, Classic and Classic XL Class 8 models later in 2006.
Rack and pinion steering, which increases control and responsiveness, is lighter, and has fewer moving parts than the integral gear steering system used on most heavy-duty trucks. The rack and pinion steering system offers a number of significant benefits to customers.
In addition to providing more accurate and responsive steering, it is 45 pounds lighter than integral gear systems with spring suspensions, allowing for greater payloads. And because rack and pinion steering has fewer parts and pivot points, it offers more accurately controlled wheel direction. Driver comfort is also improved due to the enhanced drivability and increased feeling of control.
According to Jonathan Randall, director of product marketing at Freightliner Trucks, the idea of using rack and pinion steering on heavy-duty trucks came from Freightliner engineers working with Pikes Peak Freightliner Century Class S/T racer Mike Ryan.
"The lighter weight and extreme precision required to race up a 14,000-foot mountain are the same qualities needed by on-highway trucks to increase payload and maneuver through traffic or in cramped loading docks," Randall said.
As the name implies, rack and pinion steering consists of two components. The rack is a horizontal shaft with teeth, which intersects the pinion at a 90-degree angle. Turning the steering wheel turns the pinion, moving the rack to the left or right, thus steering the wheels.
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