“We’ve seen this quality difference in different parts of the country. We even see that in our bulk tank,” he continues. “We get pretty good fuel for the most part, but every once in a while we get a load that’s not up to snuff. That’s always been a problem, but it seems to me that the ULSD magnifies the problem.”
Although he’s not a big fan of fuel additives, Drake confesses that he may have to make some adjustments to his thinking. Accordingly, he is currently testing some fuel treatments in the hopes of addressing the ULSD quality problem. The biodiesel option, meanwhile, is off the table, because Drake feels biodiesel is “not quite there.”
CJ-4 COMES THROUGH
What is quite there is the new blend of CJ-4 engine oil. Not only has it met all performance expectations, Drake says, but he has been able to maintain the fleet’s 30,000-mile oil drain intervals without any difficulties.
“We’re using Chevron, and the switch for us was seamless,” he says. “We’re testing, but we haven’t had any issues.”
In fact, Drake is fearlessly plotting a switch to a 50,000-mile oil drain. Because every truck in the fleet is equipped with an APU and a Spinner II centrifuge bypass filter, Drake has already scored some big successes with fuel economy and engine wear, and he’s feeling lucky.
“Between the Spinners and not idling the trucks, at 30,000 miles the oil’s still pretty translucent,” he says. “So, that’s a good sign, and we test every other oil change.
“Actually, we have two trucks we’re testing now at 50,” he admits. “We used two team trucks, because they rack up the miles pretty quickly. We’ll do a couple oil changes and move forward from there.”
Even the much-feared underhood heat issue has become a non-issue to Drake.
“Underhood heat issues? I really haven’t heard anything about it,” he says. “The OEMs did an excellent job of expanding the surface areas of their radiators, and making sure that air moved under the hood. The exhaust temperatures? Yeah, they’re hot, but they’re where they were expected to be, between 1,100 and 1,300 degrees.”
The only issue remaining is the regeneration cycle of the DPF element. For an over-the-road fleet like Duplainville Transport, DPF regeneration should be transparent: The exhaust should reach a high enough temperature during everyday driving to trigger active regeneration, which oxidizes the accumulated soot and cleans the filter element.
“The only question the drivers had is what to do when the light came on on the dash,” Drake relates. “That’s the only issue that we had going through the conversion.”
The drivers’ questions were answered by training materials provided by the OEMs, and there was no issue.
“Peterbilt and Caterpillar both put out a simple sheet that tells the driver what to do when the light comes on, and what it means,” Drake explains. “We supplied our four guys with it, and as new trucks start coming in in January we’ll train our drivers. But really, theoretically, a driver shouldn’t have to worry about regeneration, because it’s going to be passive regeneration—it’s going to be regenerating while the truck is driving down the road, if everything is working properly.”
If the drivers have little to worry about, the maintenance technicians have even less, according to Drake. Maintenance practices and routines have not been affected in any way, and the only anticipated maintenance event may be years away.
“All we have to do through our maintenance department is worry about that cleanout,” Drake says, “whenever that period’s going to be. And nobody’s really defined that yet.”
Of course, the EPA did set a standard that a DPF should be able to go a minimum of 150,000 miles before it needs to be removed from the truck so that the ash accumulation can be cleaned out of the filter element, but OEMs quickly claimed that a minimum of 250,000 miles was achievable.
Which will it be for Duplainville Transport?
“We’re going to operate on the 250,000-mile interval, and it’s such an unknown that we just have to wait and see,” Drake explains. “We know we have to do it, we just don’t know when. I was just talking to one of our local vendors yesterday, and they’re not even sure what type of device they’re going to buy, because they’re uncertain about what they have to do.”