On The Fast Track To Fuel Savings: 3rd in a series of articles
From the November 2008 issue of Movin' Out
By Antoinette "Toni" Trotta
In the September 2008 issue of Movin' Out we started a series of articles that introduced Arlindo "AJ" Jardin, an independent truck owner/operator with over 36 years of driving experience who had set out on a mission to increase his fuel mileage. "AJ" is also an inventor and co-owner of the ValvePal company.
In April of 2006 "AJ" was running an average 6.166 miles per gallon. "AJ" drives a Freightliner 2000 FLD 120 with a 3406E 600hp CAT, an 18 speed Eaton transmission and 3:58 rears. The truck runs on 11R 22.5″ tires and he pulls a 53ft dry van. He has a regular weekly run from Boston to Minneapolis and back, running primarily across I-90.
In the September issue we reported how "AJ" achieved an overall increase of .515mpg from April 2006 to December 2006 bringing his average up to 6.681mpg. In our second article (Movin' Out—October 2008) we detailed the changes "AJ" made that brought him an increase of .649mpg for the year 2007, an overall increase of 1.164mpg from his starting point in April 2006 to a new average of 7.549mpg a the end of 2007.
As we enter the fall months and begin to feel colder temperatures it's a good time to review the importance of maintaining proper tire air pressure. For every ten degree drop in temperature there is a 2psi drop in your tire's air pressure. Tires also lose an average of 2psi per week just in normal operation. The single most important factor in tire performance and longevity is proper inflation—we just can't say that often enough. Fifty percent of all road calls are in response to failed tires—83% of all tire failures are due to improper inflation. For optimum performance, tire longevity and top fuel efficiency pressure should be checked on your tractor and trailer once a week. This should be done out of direct sunlight and at least three hours after parking your vehicle.
ValvePal has a line of quality tools all designed to simplify tire maintenance, reduce inflation time and maximize your tire maintenance routine. And don't overlook the simple items, either. As Harvey Brodsky of TRIB (Tire Retread & Repair Information Bureau) will tell you; your air pressure reading is only as accurate/reliable as the air gauge itself. Invest in a quality air pressure gauge. ValvePal carries an all metal air gauge that can be re-calibrated. The same is true of your valve caps. Use good valve caps. That means metal caps with a heat resistant inner seal. Caps should also be replaced every year to be sure the inner rubber seal is not degraded. The valve cap is the final seal that keeps air inside your tires. The core inside the valve stem is only designed to temporarily seal the tire from air loss while you are checking the pressure or adding air. It is not meant to be the main seal. If you leave your caps off, as so many people do, water and dirt get into the seals causing the valve to leak or in the winter to freeze so that you may not be able to add air at all to your tires. You'll also find the original ValvePal tool indispensable, especially in colder weather. It removes, retains and re-installs your caps in seconds. You can buy the most expensive tires on the market with all the latest "state of the art" technology: super wides, increased block stability, enhanced aggression resistance ("rolling resistance") but without attention to proper inflation all of that technology will not perform at its optimum level. As we showed you in our first article, just from weekly air pressure maintenance alone "AJ" added .138mpg to his fuel mileage. A typical long haul trucker can save as much as 100 gallons of fuel per year.
From January 2008 to March 2008 "AJ" made no adjustments to the truck. Cold weather can cause up to 13% loss in fuel economy. As before, he experienced a drop in his fuel mileage. During the first three months of 2008 he drove 35,249 miles, using 4,908 gallons of fuel with an average speed of 52.0mph and an idle time of 37.8 hrs. He lost .413mpg bringing his average down from the 2007 year end point of 7.549mpg to 7.181mpg.
During this time "AJ" read numerous articles about port and polished ceramic coated exhaust manifolds and felt they made a lot of sense. He contacted one of the manufacturers who gave him enough information to convince him that this was his next step. In April 2008 he had the new ceramic coated exhaust manifold installed. "AJ" instantly noticed the spooling of the turbo was louder and he could feel a difference in the engine's response. He couldn't wait for his first grade to see how the engine and the exhaust temperature would react. The results were exciting. Not only did the flow through mufflers he had installed in April of 2007 drop the exhaust temperature 100º, the ceramic coated exhaust manifold brought it down an additional 125º. With the combination of the flow through mufflers and the port and polished ceramic coated exhaust manifold the exhaust temperature on the truck went from 1100º to 875º. He didn't have to down-shift or drop speed to climb the grade and there was no worry about the exhaust temperature. For April and May of 2008 the results remained consistent giving him an increase of .393mpg—his largest single gain so far! For those same two months "AJ" drove a total of 28,159 miles, using 3,523 gallons of fuel with an average speed of 52.9mph and an idle time of 15.2hrs. He had a total increase of .398mpg bringing his average to 7.992mpg.
Because his results were so dramatic and encouraging "AJ" decided to take the next step—what he calls his fuel efficiency upgrade. After much research on fuel efficiency "AJ" had read many claims that increasing the flow (volume of fuel) and the fuel pressure would result in increased horse power and fuel mileage performance. He first changed his fuel lines from a #6 fuel line to a #8 fuel line. This would give him the increased fuel flow he wanted. But an increase in flow causes a concomitant loss in pressure, the opposite effect of what he needed. To address the pressure issue he shimmed the transfer pump, giving him an increase in pressure from 100psi to 110psi.
There was an immediate and significant response in acceleration and he was anxious to see how it would handle pulling a load.
Within an hour of making the adjustments he had hooked up to a load and was ready to go. He was amazed by the results. "AJ" felt like a kid in hot rod once again waiting for that first big grade to see how the new adjustments would handle the challenge. He was not disappointed. The truck felt as if it never slowed down. "AJ" was thrilled by the results and the truck’s performance. For June and July of this year "AJ" ran a total of 24,699 miles, using 3,043 gallons of fuel with an average speed of 52.1 mph and an idle time of 18.9 hrs. This time he realized a gain of .123mpg in fuel mileage, making his average a total of 8.115mpg.
From his starting point in April 0f 2006 at an average fuel mileage of 6.166mpg to the end of July 2008 "AJ" had achieved a net gain of 1.949mpg with an average fuel mileage of 8.115mpg running on a 600hp CAT; a significant increase that paid off not only in satisfaction but at the fuel pump as well.
To our readers: We at ValvePal make no apologies for our somewhat blatant promotion of ValvePal products, a number of them a direct result of "AJ's" search to find a simpler and more efficient method to address the many maintenance issues that plague every driver or truck service personnel. After all, who would know better than another driver!
After talking with Brad Ekstam, owner of FASS Fuel Savings at the Walcott Truckers Jamboree, "AJ" became intrigued with the concept of removing the air from his diesel fuel. In August 2008 "AJ" installed a FASS Fuel System on his truck. In the December edition of Movin' Out we will examine the results.