Cummins Engine Plant, Columbus, Indiana

Oscar The Pack Mule, with Hallmark flatbed camper, at CMEP, the Cummins Midrange Engine Plant, during 100th Anniversary Celebrations.

I was in Columbus, Indiana, for the 100th anniversary of the Cummins Engine Company, and the Turbo Diesel Register Rallly.

It will take me a while to sort through all the content I created, but I’m sharing some iphone snaps here and on Instagram. (Heck, I still have material from Overland Expo West I have not finished sharing.)

Tell ‘em you saw it on RoadTraveler.net.

James Langan

Copyright James Langan/RoadTraveler. All Rights Reserved

 

Firestone Destination M/T2 and Transforce AT2

Firestone’s new Destination M/T2

Firestone took a couple big steps forward this year by redesigning two of their light-truck tires that may appeal to the TDR audience: the Destination M/T2 and the Transforce AT2. The previous Destination M/T was a whopping 12-years old and needed an update; even Firestone admits it was very long-in-the-tooth. The new Destination M/T2 retains some family heritage, but the tread, particularly the two center ribs, are noticeably different and more attractive. Every tread block has one long sipe, where the older design had none. The shoulder lugs are a new shape and more pleasing to the eye. Twenty-nine sizes are offered for wheels from 15” to 22”, including many of the most popular 16” to 18” sizes likely to be popular with TDR readers.

The Transforce AT2 will likely be on new Rams soon

The Transforce AT2 targets the other end of the spectrum. It’s a relatively low-void, 4-rib, all-terrain or commercial tire for those that prefer a closed outer rib, which can reduce noise and prevent wear. Many Ram owners are familiar with Firestone’s Transforce line as the OE tire for most late-model trucks, the Transforce HT or the AT. The Transforce AT is the all-terrain upgrade tread that came on my 2017 Tradesman as part of the (AD2) Snow Chief Group. The new AT2 looks very similar to the tire it replaces, but the outer ribs are a bit beefier, and there is some thin (compared to the M/T) shoulder rubber that was not present on the older design. There are 16 sizes, and I bet we will be seeing the updated AT2 on new heavy-duty Rams with the all-terrain tire option.

James Langan

Copyright James Langan/RoadTraveler/Turbo Diesel Register. All Rights Reserved.

 A version of this article was also published in the Turbo Diesel Register magazine.

Source:  Firestone Tire 

Ram Truck Bumpers From AEV, Expedition One, and Warn

Expedition One bumper on a Ram Cummins 2500

Continue reading

Tread Matters: Tire Selection and Fuel Economy

2014 Ram mpg test platform.

Tread Matters: Tire Selection and Fuel Economy

Tires have been a popular subject in magazines for decades, and forums continually see new threads seeking information and expertise. This is partly because they are expensive. They can also provide dramatic style and performance improvements and are an easy upgrade. With so much talk, it is surprisingly difficult to get unbiased, detailed, and authoritative information.

Fuel economy is another perpetually popular topic. Since tire choice affects mpg, or so we have always believed, the subjects are intrinsically linked. Some folks don’t care about mpg, but many care a lot. Except for the purchase of a new(er) truck or major repairs, fuel is our biggest operational expense.

What if it was possible to improve your highway mpg by 5 or 10%? Not a possible increase from the latest magic program pushed by a snake-oil salesman, but simply by choosing a different tread design? An improvement that could be measured and verified, repeatedly, with real world testing, not just theory or laboratory results that are difficult, if not impossible, to replicate.

What Affects MPG?

In the enthusiast truck world it is commonly accepted that bigger rubber reduces miles-per-gallon. Maybe, but bigger is not specific, sometimes it means wider, taller, or both. Taller tires will increase the overall final-drive-ratio, which can help or hurt efficiency depending on the platform and usage.

Previous tests with my 3.42:1-geared, 2014 Ram/Cummins 2500 used for this article indicate that taller meats up to 35” helped economy, or at least hurt mpg less than one might expect when unloaded. Tradeoffs include less torque and slower acceleration from higher final-gearing, though current generation trucks make plenty of torque and horsepower for most reasonable loads. My sense is that stepping-up to 37s would require lower differential gears for optimal performance.

When folks upgrade their tires, particularly on a four-wheel-drive, they often switch to a higher-void pattern; sometimes the more aggressive tread is chosen simply for looks. Even if we don’t mind the road noise or faster wear of an aggressive pattern, how much fuel does looking cool consume if one rarely or never drives off-road? With multiple, simultaneous changes, it’s impossible to say what caused a reduction in fuel economy. Instead of belaboring what modifications can do to our trucks, or what affects what, I’ll briefly quote myself, “Modifications lead to modifications.”

Beefier tires might cost you more mpg than you think.

Three great tread choices depending on your priorities.

Controlling Variables With Cooper Discoverer Tires

With generous support from Cooper Tires, I performed a series of real-world tests to document how tread design (or pattern) or tread width impacts fuel economy. I invested a substantial amount of time and money to prove or disprove commonly accepted hearsay and to produce solid data I could not find anywhere. The pattern design tests are complete, and my procedures are detailed below together with the results in Table Two. The width results are concerning, or at least surprising, and additional work may be necessary to become comfortable with the facts.

Worth $11.

Love knowing what it really weighs.

The primary variable to be controlled for the design test was the size, but weights, odometer and speedometer error, wind, and temperatures were also logged. The bullet list below offers details.

  • Weather forecasts were monitored until several similar days were on the horizon. Because wind is common in Nevada, and typically increases with the afternoon temperatures, just one test was performed each morning, avoiding the higher winds and heat that would influence outcomes if I conducted multiple runs each day.
  • Three used sets of the same 29.8-pound, forged-aluminum (WBJ) Ram Bighorn 18” wheels were purchased from Craigslist, allowing all tires to remain mounted and balanced in case a test needed repeating.
  • Odometer error was measured for every design using mile-markers (MM) and GPS, as different treads in a certain size are not dimensionally identical. A single, constant-GPS distance was used for all mpg calculations. Road speed was monitored with GPS and corrected speedometer measurements.
  • To reduce the possibly of substantial inaccuracies during fueling, and to increase the validity of the data, the roundtrip route distance was 222.7-miles, over mostly level freeway.
  • Refueling was done at a particular pump, on the slowest fill rate to prevent foaming, and never topped-off. The freeway onramp is just one mile and three stoplights from the filling station.
  • Appropriate, not maximum, pressures were used for the modified but unloaded truck- 8,900-pound GVW.
  • The tailgate was up and the A/C was on.
  • Cruise control was used and only adjusted or turned-off briefly when absolutely necessary, and notes were logged regarding any irregularities. If an accident, construction, or other mishap would have caused stopping or a substantial speed adjustment for an extended distance, I would have aborted and repeated the test.

Same GPS distance used for all runs.

EVIC mpg info is often inaccurate, doing the math is better.

All-Terrain, Commercial Traction, Or Mud-Terrain?

When enthusiasts upgrade their rubber it’s common for choices to fit into one of three categories; all-terrain, commercial traction (hybrid), or mud-terrain. I chose the LT295/70R18E size, which is approximately 34” tall and 12” wide, with an impressive 4,080 pound capacity at 80 psi. Cooper offers three of their popular, yet distinctly different Discoverer patterns in this size: the Discoverer A/T3, Discoverer S/T MAXX, and Discoverer STT PRO.

Readers should remember than although every effort was made to limit variables, these were real-world tests using off-the-shelf products; some differences naturally exist. One easily overlooked fact is that tire compounds are proprietary, and each has its own special cocktail. Tread depth, and sidewall and tread plies also vary depending on the terrain and audience targeted. So the differences affecting performance and mpg are not just the visible patterns, but they include the compounds and the overall construction of each tire.

Cooper A/T3, S/T MAXX, and STT PRO designs.

Discoverer 295/70R18E Measurements

The differences between tires of a particular size are often small, though one should be careful when comparing those from different manufacturers and/or a vastly different pattern. Over the past decade I’ve evaluated several sets of Cooper-branded and Cooper-manufactured tires, and my measured values have repeatedly matched the published specifications. Occasional, slight variations appear to be from measuring tools, mounting on narrower rims, etc. Manufactures know precisely what they are producing; they want to be as accurate as possible. Careful measurements were made of each Cooper design, and the details are in Table One.

Reading forums leads me to believe that some consumers don’t measure accurately, and/or expect the on-vehicle dimensions to be identical as the wheel-mounted, off-vehicle measurements; these folks cry foul when they are not. That is silly, as the weight of the vehicle, psi, and wheel width all affect the on-vehicle stature, and this is something the manufactures have no control over.

If you read carefully, and do some math, you may notice that the measured weight of a solo tire, plus the 29.8-pound wheel, does not match the mounted data, there are a few extra pounds in the sums. I’ve seen this many times before, as measuring bare wheels is difficult, and generally I must hold them against my chest and subtract my body weight. The figures listed in table one are what my shop scale, a good bathroom scale, indicated, plenty accurate for weighing heavy auto parts. Emphasis should be placed on the mounted weights, as nobody drives on wheels without tires. The few pound difference between these designs is negligible on a heavy-duty truck with prodigious torque and weighing nearly 9,000 pounds.

All 295/70R18 tread designs were about 34.25” tall.

Straight edge, a rule, and a keen eye were used to record height and width.

Table One, 295/70R18 Measurements

Cooper Discoverer 295/70R18 A/T 3 S/T MAXX STT PRO
Weight (pounds) 60.2 66.4 68.8
Weight mounted (pounds) 92.0 97.4 99.8
Height unmounted 33 11/16” 33 13/16” 34”
Height mounted @60 34 4/16” 34 5/16” 34 5/16”
Tread width 9 7/16” 9 10/16” 10 3/16”
Tread depth 17/32” 18.5/32” 21/32”

Table Two, Tread Affecting MPG Test Data

Tread Matters MPG 295/70R18 A/T3 S/T MAXX STT PRO
Test GVW (pounds) 8,900 8,900 8,900
Tire PSI F/R 60/40 60/40 60/40
Date 9-28-16 9-27-16 9-29-16
Time 0832–1202 0859–1230 0837–1208
Temperatures F 54-59-72-70-76-72 52-58-67-73-75-78 58-60-56-69-79-76
Wind/Gusts 1/2-5/5-2/5-4/4-1/2 4/4-2/3-0/0-1/2-0/0 0/0-3/4-5/6-3/8-0/0
Odometer 27,241–27,459 26,950–27,168 27,503–27,721
Trip Odometer 217.6 217.7 217.5
Odo error % MM & GPS 2.24/2.34 2.17/2.29 2.28/2.39
GPS (miles) 222.7 222.7 222.7
MPH indicated 64 64 64
MPH GPS 65.0–65.5 65.0–65.5 65.0–65.5
RPM Tach/Edge Insight 1,700/1,677 1,700/1,680 1,700/1,677
Fuel used (gallons) 10.380 11.033 11.533
ECM indicated MPG 23.2 22.4 21.0
MPG calculated 21.45 20.18 19.30

The less aggressive Cooper A/T3 delivered much better mpg.

Tread Results Commentary

Choosing the Cooper S/T MAXX over the STT PRO mudder offers a 4.6% bump in fuel economy. Running the A/T3 instead of the S/T MAXX delivered a 6.3% increase. The leap from the STT PRO up to the A/T3 is 11.1%. Wow!

It’s impressive that a modified, heavy-duty, 4WD pickup with prodigious capabilities, weighing 8,900 pounds empty, with 34” x 12” tires mounted, can still reach or exceed 20 mpg during highway travel. Obviously most driving involves at least a few and stops and starts, but these repeatable tests demonstrate what is possible if speed and idling are minimized. If I picked the Discoverer A/T3, it appears that long distance highway runs, even with a couple pit stops, could top 20 mpg.

If one needs the extra grip offered by the STT PRO or S/T MAXX, choosing the A/T3 all-terrain might not be an acceptable tradeoff. Yet, if one is so inclined and has the space, these numbers seem to reinforce the practice of having two sets of tires and wheels. Whether they are all-terrains and mudders for your truck, or highway and winter rubber for your car, strong arguments can be made about picking the right tool for the job. We don’t wear flip-flops to go mountain climbing, and our clodhoppers are out of place in a gymnasium.

Off-highway traction is great with a mudder, but you will pay at the pump.

Does Width Matter?

The initial primary platform for measuring how tread width affects mpg was my modified, heavy, and low-geared ‘06 V8 4Runner, because I already had one of two desirable sizes. One might think the results would be relevant for most light-truck platforms. The conditions and procedures were the same as those for the different tread patterns.

I used Cooper’s S/T MAXX in 255/80R17, and 285/75R16, both 33” tall, but the 285s are substantially wider. The 255s are about 10” wide and the 285s about 11.5”; conventional wisdom says the 285s would consume about 1–2 mpg. Without creating another table, the short story is that theses tests delivered ambiguous results, there was very little difference. I was shocked! Followup runs might indicate these results were a fluke, but there were no obviously problems or procedure inconsistencies. The narrower 255s delivered 18.34 mpg, and the 285s 18.22 mpg.

I thought wider treads consumed more fuel, not so sure anymore.

On the car or dismounted, the 285s are much wider than 255s.

Ram Width Comparison

Two sets of tires and wheels for my ‘14 Ram partially met the width criteria, meaning they were very similar height with the identical tread pattern, yet the width difference was small. I had them, so test I did, using the same parameters, during the same week, weather conditions, etc.

One set were the 295/70R18 S/T MAXX in table one. The other were 285/75R17 S/T MAXX mounted on 2015 (WFV) forged aluminum Power Wagon wheels, which weigh 28.6 pounds each. These 285mm-wide Discoverers are also 34” tall, but just fractionally shorter than the 295s. The mounted, measured tread width difference between these two sets is only about 3/8”.

The seventeens were evaluated at the end of six consecutive days of testing, and the weather started to change, with 22 mph winds near the end of this last trip. This was noteworthy, but I’d argue that there was not enough wind during most the run to impact the outcome. The data appear to support that opinion. For the slight difference in width, the results appear appropriate. There simply was not enough difference to influence economy, 20.18 vs. 20.22 mpg. I call that a draw.

295/70R18 vs. 285/75R17. Not a huge width difference but still easy to see.

Forged 17” Power Wagon wheel on the left, forged 18” Bighorn wheel the right.

Table Three, 285/75R17 Measurements

Cooper Discoverer 285/75R17 S/T MAXX
Weight 64
Weight mounted lb. 93.4
Height unmounted 33 11/16”
Height mounted @60 34”
Tread width 9 1/4”
Tread depth 18.5/32”

Table Four, Ram Width Matters 285/75R17

Width Matters MPG S/T MAXX 285/75R17
Test GVW lb. 8,900
Tire PSI F/R 60/40
Date 9-30-16
Time 0759–1130
Temperatures F 55-59-69-71-73
Wind/Gusts 0/0-3/4-5/5-5/14-22/22
Odometer 27,780–28,000
Trip Odometer 219.0
Odo error % MM & GPS 1.57/1.68
GPS miles 222.7
MPH indicated 64
MPH GPS 65.2–65.7
RPM Tach/Edge Insight 1,700/1,690
Fuel gallons used 11.011
ECM indicated MPG 20.9
MPG calculated 20.22

Good traction with a tolerable mpg penalty, I prefer a hybrid/commercial traction tires like the Discoverer S/T MAXX.

The Ram results were not a big surprise. The lack of separation between the 4Runner’s width test mpg numbers, and to a lessor extent the Ram’s, have me questioning how much tread width alone impacts fuel economy. Much taller tires, with the corresponding overall gearing changes, combined with more aggressive tread patterns may be the main story behind fuel economy losses when fitting aftermarket rubber. Sometimes testing answers questions.

James Langan

Copyright James Langan/RoadTraveler/Turbo Diesel Register. All Rights Reserved.

 A version of this article was also published in the Turbo Diesel Register magazine.

Source:

Cooper Tires: coopertire.com

 

Load Range F Toyos, a 1,700 mile evaluation

Toyo’s New Load Range ***F*** Open Country Tire Line

Toyo’s new load range *F* LT tires. Using ‘em hard.

Backgrounder

Torque, horsepower, and tow/haul ratings in our so-called light-trucks have been soaring toward the stratosphere for several years. The competition between the North American diesel pickup manufactures to one-up the other has never been stronger. They have passed the 900 lb-ft barrier and are marching toward the next big hurdle; 1,000 lb-ft of flywheel torque. (At least that is the number on-paper, torque management can make it feel like less, but the idea is to prevent unnecessary roughness and increase driveline longevity.)

In decades past the transmissions, brakes, frames, and other items didn’t match the grunt of the medium-duty truck engines stuffed into pickups, but those inadequacies are mostly behind us. The constant improvement of these components could not support the increased ratings if light-truck (LT) tire capacities didn’t keep pace. There is possibly nothing less safe than not having enough tire (capacity, speed ratings, etc.) for the job. Manufacturers continually strive to meet market demands. If we ask for and buy, companies are happy to build stuff for us.

More Air For Big Loads  

There is science and some regulating body input that affects how much tires are rated to support. A simple way to think about tire capacities is to understand that it is the total amount of air inside a tire that supports the rated weight. That includes the physical volume/space inside the tire and the air-pressure. A tire of a given size that can accept higher pressures, is almost always going to be rated to carry more mass. More space and more psi equals more capacity in pounds.

As simple as we try to make this, there is at least one combination of ratings that many find illogical. Most, but not all, load range (LR) E LT rubber carry their maximum rated loads at 80 psi, but a few are rated for a maximum of 65 psi. In addition to not supporting as much cargo, because of the lower pressure, trucks with a simple TPMS (tire pressure monitoring system), like a late model 2500 Ram/Cummins, will always have a TPMS warning light illuminated when running with less than the maximum 80 psi in the rear tires and/or 60 psi up front.

The TRA Sets The Standards

The Tire and Rim Association (TRA) is the standardization body for this industry in the United States. It was established in 1903, and it is lead by top technical representatives from member companies. There are a few niche manufacturers who don’t belong to this association, and therefore may not abide by the industry standards, but they are few. The common tire sizes, load ratings, and capacities most of us use and are familiar with were created and sanctioned by the TRA. Traditionally, flotation sizes (33×12.50R17, 35×12.50R18, etc.) have received more conservative ratings, notably lower than those for LT-metric sizes. Why? Because the TRA says so. Maybe there is a technical and/or regulatory reason, but for the end user they are what they are, and we must pick a tire the meets our needs.

Load range *F* 35×12.50R18 handles 3,970# at 80 psi.

New Load Range F Toyo Tires

Toyo Tires is again leading the industry by introducing load range F tires in sizes that were formerly 65 psi, load range E. Toyo is making several in their Open Country A/T II and M/T designs, plus a couple for Open Country R/T. Toyo’s sister company Nitto was actually first to market with LR F light-truck rubber last year, but they are only offered in a few part numbers in one tread pattern, the Nitto Ridge Grappler.

Nearly all of the new LR F products added to the Open Country line are in flotation sizes, instead of LT-metric. Two 35” tall examples of these different size formats are the LT305/70R18 LT-metric, and the 35×12.50R18LT flotation size. Both are roughly 35” tall by 12.5” wide, and made for 18” wheels. All of the new Toyo LR F sizes listed here are for taller, 18”, 20”, and 22” wheels.

Open Country M/T

33X12.50R18LT

35X12.50R18LT

LT305/55R20

33X12.50R20LT

35X12.50R20LT

35X13.50R20LT

33X12.50R22LT

35X12.50R22LT

37X12.50R22LT

Open Country R/T

LT305/55R20

35X12.50R20LT

Open Country A/T II

33X12.50R18LT

35X12.50R18LT

33X12.50R20LT

35X12.50R20LT

35X13.50R20LT

33X12.50R22LT

35X12.50R22LT

37X12.50R22LT

Toyo A/T II Xtreme, 35×12.50R18, 68#, not yet mated to wheels.

Time To Think Differently About Tires. Use The Load Index

The load range letter designations will surely continue, but they are a somewhat confusing standard because the psi and LR are not married like most consumers think, they’re merely going steady but occasionally flirt around. The older ply rating (or P.R.) standard is still used, and this is stamped on the sidewalls of many tires (i.e. 6-ply rating = LR C, 8-ply rating = LR D, and 10-ply rating = LR E) and is arguably irrelevant in the 21st century. The numbers do not mean a tire has that many body plies; they don’t. This is a holdover from the old bias-ply days, where the number of cotton carcass (body) plies helped increase the capacity. Tire technology has advanced a bit over the past several decades, and cotton plies are no longer used. If the ply rating designations are outdated and the load range letters can be misleading or confusing, what should we use? One tire engineer acquaintance suggests we use the load index, and I’m inclined to agree.

Size, load index (128), speed rating (Q), and 12 ply rating.

The load index is a number that indicates the maximum weight a tire can support when properly inflated to its maximum cold psi, and it is stamped on the sidewall like the other ratings and information. Using the load index, and/or the tire inflation charts that I’ve favored for over 20 years, removes much of the potential confusion, as it focuses on how much is supported at what psi. My push to start using the load index over (or in addition to) these older metrics starts here. It will be an adjustment.

35X12.50R18LT Toyo Open Country A/T II Xtreme

My 2014, 25th Anniversary Cummins Turbo Diesel routinely operates at its GVWR, so I welcomed the additional capacity of the new load range F rubber. As a fan of shorter and narrower wheels, I chose the Open Country A/T II Xtreme pattern in a 35×12.50R18LT. With the new load range F/12-ply rating, each tire is rated to carry 3,970 pounds at 80 psi. The load index is 128, the speed rating is Q, tread depth is 17/32”, and each tire weighs 68 pounds.

For comparison, the 35×12.50R18 load range E A/T II has a load index of 123, which is 3,415 pounds at 65 psi. Increasing the maximum load by 555 pounds per tire is a big deal, and it is necessary for fans of big wheels and flotation sizes that haul heavy stuff.

The Xtreme Toyos have decent void for a 5-rib all-terrain.

Starting tread depth is 17/32”.

Perfect Balance

Toyo prides itself on making exceptionally high-quality tires that often require relatively little wheel weight to balance. This is not just a claim; it has been confirmed by Toyos I’ve tested. Mounted on 32-pound Ram Laramie WBL aluminum wheels, the tread width is 10.25”, and the combination weighed 100.6 pounds on my shop scale. Using the dynamic, dual-plane balancing method, they took the following ounces to balance:

Outside      Inside       Total

#1   0.5       0.75           1.25

#2   2.0       0                2.0

#3   1.75      0.5            2.25

#4   2.00     1.5             3.50

“The New Dodge, America’s Truck Stop”, old-school measuring tool.

Dynamic balancing always requires more weight because the tires and wheels are balanced in two planes, vertical and horizontal, instead of just vertical (the so-called static method). For these tall, wide, and heavy tires and wheels to require so little lead is impressive. Four tries requiring so little weight is what one might hope for when using the static method for a smaller, lighter tire and wheel package. Even doubling the numbers here would not be unreasonable for static balancing. Awesome Toyo!

WBL Laramie wheels are slightly narrow, 8” vs. the 8.5” minimum recommended width for a 35×12.50R18 tire. They seem fine.

First Short Drives 

Keeping the balancing data in-mind, it was no surprise that these Toyos were as smooth as glass at any speed on a good roadway. What about the difference between these new LR F Toyos compared to the same tire in a LR E? When I shared with friends I was running new LR F tires, a couple asked about the ride, assuming they would be stiff.

Ride feel is appropriate, no stiffer or sloppier than a typical LR E 80 psi tire. Running 60 psi in front and 80 psi in the rear—the same as most other tires and sizes on my Ram when fully loaded—the truck is as smooth and stable as it would be with any 80 psi tire.

The rugged and familiar 3-ply sidewalls and 7-ply tread of most Toyo Open Country LT designs felt just right. The obvious advantage of the new LR F is being able to carry more weight (load index 128) and not having a TPMS light illuminated when pumped-up to higher pressures.

Field testing in remote Nevada.

Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, east of the Big Smoky Valley, Nevada.

Long Haul — A Quick 1,700 Miles 

These new 35×12.50R18 Toyos were mounted just days before driving from Reno, Nevada, to Flagstaff, Arizona, for the Overland Expo West event. Driving conditions and surfaces included a little city, plenty of high-speed Interstate freeway, winding rural highways, some rain, dirt and gravel roads, and even a bit of snow.

The Toyo A/T II is mud + snow rated, and does well in snow.

Kingston Summit, Nevada, 8,680’.

The audible hum emanating from the Xtreme version of Toyo’s A/T II may surprise the uninitiated, but this 5-rib tread has a fairly open pattern for an all-terrain. The voids needed to help evacuate rain, snow, slush, moderate mud, and other debris, will make any tire louder than a less aggressive design. Of course the roadway surface makes a difference, tires typically sing more on concrete than asphalt, and the slightly wider (than I usually run) 12.5” meats put extra rubber on the road. The tires are not loud by traction tire standards, but you can hear them, and as I headed for the Southwest, the title track from Steve Earl’s 1986 debut album, Guitar Town, started playing on my radio, including:

“Hey pretty baby don’t you know it ain’t my fault

I love to hear the steel belts hummin’ on the asphalt…”

Being familiar with the tread, there were no surprises; the tires handled varied terrain well, as expected. I’ve run the Toyo A/T II Xtremes before, and was happy to evaluate them again.

James Langan

This article was also published in the Turbo Diesel Register magazine.

Copyright James Langan/RoadTraveler/Turbo Diesel Register. All Rights Reserved.

Sources: 

Toyo Tires: toyotires.com 

SEMA 2016

This 2016 SEMA Show post is centered around diesel pickups, and towing and hauling. Originally written for and published in my Still Plays With Trucks column, for the Turbo Diesel Register magazine. 

Was it Ford’s Year to Shine At SEMA?

The publisher of the Turbo Diesel Register suggested that I gauge enthusiasm for the new 2017 Ford Super Duty trucks based on how many were used for SEMA projects. There were certainly several new Super Dutys prominently displayed and flying Ford colors at various booths. One of my favorites was Mickey Thompson’s Tall Boy, created by X-Treme Toyz, which had a 6.2L gas V8 under the hood instead of a Power Stroke Diesel. As big and bad as the Tall Boy is, it is tastefully moderate compared to many of the ridiculous and all-show-but-no-go trucks. But that is SEMA, and I’m guilty of being too practical. Sporting Mickey Thompson’s new 20” Sidebiter wheels and 40” Baja MTZ P3 tires, the front bumper and grille treatment tastefully subdued Ford’s huge and blinding factory pieces. mickeythompsontires.com 

Tall Boy 40 Mickey Thompson Super Duty Project

Tall Boy 40 Mickey Thompson Super Duty Project

Noting a few new Fords was fine, but my personal bias favors the Ram/Cummins combination. Despite 18-years of Ford Power Stroke ownership (a good-old 7.3L) I never loved the sound of the rattling V8 compared to the inline-6 tractor music of the Cummins ISB. Even in its quieter modern form, there is simply no comparison. Despite the race to upstage each other with the highest power, torque, and/or tow rating numbers, the venerable inline-6 still delivers, admittedly with less horsepower, as an inline-6 doesn’t like to rev like the V8s. However, personal biases aside, all the heavy-duty diesel pickups offered in North America these days are insanely capable and cool. Pick one. For my 2016 SEMA Show assignment for Turbo Diesel Register, I focused on some of the new stuff, some of it Ram-specific, and the remainder good for most any truck. 

PERFORMANCE/MAINTENANCE
BD Diesel Performance

New for the 2007.5 to 2016 6.7L Cummins is the BD HE351VE Screamer Turbo, which offers:

-Drop-in replacement for the factory turbo; no downpipe or air intake mods required

-New Ballistic 64.5mm 7+7 blade compressor wheel, and new 70mm 12-blade turbine

-Exclusive BD turbine profile to reduce back pressure and increase turbine flow

-Supports up to 690 HP

-Lower EGT

-NEW Holset VGT actuator

BD’s Brian Roth explained that one of the problems observed with the 6.7L engine is high exhaust temperatures and high-drive pressures (the amount of pressure it takes to drive the turbo—or resistance), even on stock trucks without increased fuel delivery. This drop-in replacement turbocharger was designed to address these issues, while supporting 90HP injectors and a tuner set on “extreme”, delivering up to 690 horsepower.

It’s noteworthy that BD includes a new control module atop these turbos, which is important because it’s one of the more failure-prone components, even on the OE turbos according to Brian. He cautioned that often rebuilt turbochargers employ used electronics of unknown reliability. This isn’t surprising because the controllers are about $1,400, but BD focuses on quality and reliability and doesn’t want worn electronics on their new turbo. The MSRP for the new Screamer Turbo is $3,000, and the very good factory exhaust brake button on the newer trucks will still work.

BD Diesel Perfomance Screamer Turbo

Fewer performance products have been available for late-models trucks, partially because of increased emissions testing and enforcement, which helps make this bolt-on product even more significant. Of course, it takes extra fuel to make more power and torque, so the Screamer is intended to complement fuel-delivery modifications. Diesel Tech Magazine liked the Screamer Turbo enough to award BD one of their top five “Show Stopper” awards.

BD Dana 70 Diff Cover

There is no denying that high-capacity, replacement aluminum differential covers are functional, sharp, and come with none of the possible compromises associated with some high-performance modifications. This new BD cover is for 1981 to 2002 Dodge trucks, and features:

-Baffled design to keep the oil on the gears

-Extra oil capacity

-Internal and external cooling fins

-Stainless-steel Allen cap screws and fill plug

-Magnetic drain plug

-Gasket-less, reusable O-ring-sealed cover

BD Dana 70 Rear Diff Cover

Patriot Plug

The aftermarket’s response demonstrates that many enthusiasts are not comfortable with the capless fuel filler on new Ram diesels. BD joins the fray with their anodized billet aluminum filler cap. It has a magnetized base, a bottle-opener feature, and a gun-cylinder-styled handle that accepts spent 9mm shells. dieselperformance.com

BD Patriot Plug fuel cap

TOWING/HAULING
BOLT

TDR readers know from my TDR93 SPWT column that I love BOLT’s ignition-key locks. (BOLT Lock review on RoadTraveler) Their new Off Vehicle Coupler Lock makes it virtually impossible for someone to hookup and move your trailer. I hope to give this piece more attention in an upcoming article. boltlock.com

Off Vehicle Couple Lock from BOLT

CURT Manufacturing

The A25 fifth-wheel hitch from Curt includes:

-25,000 pound rated fifth-wheel hitch (20k was the largest before), designed to work with the factory Ram fifth-wheel prep option

-360-degree locking jaws

-Release lever that rotates in an arc around the pivot pin, instead of pulling straight out

-Patented yoke system under the head provides 10-degrees of movement in all directions

-Auto resetting jaws allow coupling without a manual reset

-Green, yellow, red coupler condition indicator

TruTrack 15k weight distribution system for 2” shank receivers:

Building on the existing TruTrack system that integrates sway-control into the weight-distribution hitch, Curt revealed a new 15,000-pound version. Trailers and ratings continue to climb, but not everyone wants a 2.5” receiver, preferring to keep their 2” hitch.

Curt is still a U.S. manufacturer of truck accessories, making their products in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. curtmfg.com

TruTrack 15,000 lb. 2” hitch from CURT

Air Lift LoadLifter 7500 XL

Designed for owners of heavy-duty pickups, the new LoadLifter 7500 series provides up to 7,500-pounds of load-leveling capacity for towing heavy gooseneck and fifth-wheel trailers or hauling big slide-in campers. The 7” bellows were engineered for maximum loads, but like most air springs they can be run anywhere between 5 and 100 psi. airliftcompany.com

7500 XL LoadLifter from Air Lift

Trailer Legs

Are you concerned about flat spots and the overall health of your trailer tires as they sit motionless for months during the off-season? Pulling onto Trailer Legs rotates them into position and lifts your trailer axles, allowing the tires to rest without supporting the weight of the trailer. Each stand is rated to hold two tons, or 8,000 pounds per axle. trailerlegs.com

Off Season Trailer Legs supports

Transfer Flow 40-Gallon In-Bed Tank

This 40-Gallon in-bed auxiliary fuel tank system for 1999 to 2017 Ram trucks is available for both long and short bed pickups. It is designed to fit the newer pickups that come equipped with OEM fifth-wheel pucks in the bed. The tank will also work in RamBox trucks. As with all Transfer Flow tanks, it’s made from 14-gauge aluminized steel, with internal baffles, in Chico, California, USA. transferflow.com

40-gallon Transfer Flow tank that works with OE fifth-wheel pucks

GENERAL ACCESSORIES
A.R.E. Caps

Windows for the pickup shell industry are mostly aluminum-framed products very similar to those used in RVs. They work, but there are some limitations. A.R.E. is raising the bar by installing front and side windows using a new urethane adhesion process. These widows eliminate the frames and screws, provide exceptional sealing, and a seamless integration of tempered automotive glass to the caps. This also means that a local glass shop can replace a broken window easily. A.R.E. is also introducing all-glass rear doors that are contoured to fit modern tailgates, precisely. In early 2017, both the urethane adhesion windows and contoured rear doors will be offered for current trucks and a few recent models. 4are.com

Automotive-style windows for A.R.E. truck caps

Rear glass with tailgate contour

Rigid LED Lighting

The new ADAPT series from Rigid are capable of adjusting from a wide flood to a spot beam based on vehicle speed. Drivers can also use a dash controller to select eight different beam patterns from 60-degrees to a mere 5-degrees as well as any RGB-W accent light. All this from a single light bar that is available in several lengths. rigidindustries.com

Versatile ADAPT lights from Rigid

Luverne Truck Equipment

New Baja Guard uses 2” tubular one-piece construction, Made-in-USA, and powder coated black with vehicle-specific mounts for 2014-forward Ram trucks.

O-MEGA II 6” Oval Steps are an updated design featuring T6 aluminum 6” oval steps, vehicle-specific brackets, boards that are trimmed to the desired length, with the stainless-steel step pads (screwed-in) placement as chosen by the owner/installer.

The Tow Guard slides over your receiver, allowing 3/8” thick textured rubber flaps to deflect road debris, protecting your trailer. This 4-month-old product is designed for the most common 2” receiver, but Luverne is working on a version for 2.5” and 3” hitches. luvernetruck.com

Tow Guard 3/8” thick flaps

Extreme Outback Products Endura Compressor

Possibly the most powerful 12-volt compressor I own is an older ExtremeAire from Extreme Outback Products. However, that portable, metal toolbox-mounted version is not the smallest or lightest unit, and Extreme Outback’s new Endura was designed to fit a smaller space while still providing plenty of air for many needs.

The Endura can be permanently mounted (in any orientation), the compressors are waterproof, with a 30-amp motor rated for 1.2 CFM @ 100 psi, and they have a 100% duty-cycle at 70-degrees Fahrenheit. The Endura is ideal for air-suspensions, air-horns, or the occasional tire inflation chore. Single- or dual-compressor portables mounted in stout plastic boxes will also be produced. Like all Extreme Outback Products, the Endura employs only the highest quality fittings and hoses. This is just the latest addition to a complete line of 12-volt automotive compressors and recovery gear from Extreme Outback. extremeoutback.com

Extreme Outback Products Endura compressor

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