But It's a Dry Heat...

In my last column, I printed a letter from a reader who was experiencing underhood heat issues with his pre-2007 but post-October, 2002 heavy-duty trucks.

The fleet maintenance manager who wrote in had difficulties with a 2004 Peterbilt with a Cat C15 engine. The truck had alternator problems, and an inspection revealed a broken belt and frozen bearings on not just the alternator but the idler pulley and fan hub as well.

The reader's diagnosis was that "They all have sealed bearings so what happened was due to excessive engine heat grease in bearings had gotten hot & ran out of bearings therefore they all locked up."

Today I got a response from another reader, who writes, "Please advise Bill Crenshaw that his repair may come back to him. He did not find the heat problem. On 2004 and up Petes the cooling systems were upgraded, which pulled more air from under the truck. This caused dirt and road waste to be pulled onto the radiator, fan and front of engine. Inspecting cooling system hardware for clean air flow & pressure washing ALL external parts of dirt will repair the problem. We have found on our fleet accounts with Petes that fan hub, idle pulleys and a/c compressors last longer. We pressure wash the cooling system once a year on over the road units and when needed on off road units. Hope this helps.

If only all underhood heat problems were this easy to solve!

I expect I'll be getting more letters on this topic, and I'd like to encourage anyone who is moved to write in to do so at the new maintenance forum at http://forums.fleetmag.com/forumdisplay.php?f=13.

Another recurring topic came up this week, but this time the conversation was about a different kind of maintenance issue.

We have been proud to belong to the Technology & Maintenance Council (TMC) for a number of years, and I think it's safe to say that we have gotten far more out of our membership than we have put in.

Most recently, we have become involved in TMC's SuperTech Technicians Skills Competition, and you've read quite about this on these pages.

We were in Alexandria, VA, last month to meet with the TMC staff about ways we could help grow SuperTech this year and in the future. While talking to executive director Carl Kirk and technical director Robert Braswell, we were reminded of the many benefits of TMC membership. Fleet maintenance managers who want to run their fleets more efficiently while developing their own professional skills and those of their technicians would have a hard time finding a better value.

First of all, TMC holds two national meetings each year, at which fleet maintenance professionals can get face-to-face time with representatives from OEMs and component suppliers, as well as countless opportunities to exchange ideas with colleagues from around the country who are dealing with the very same maintenance issues they are.

The SuperTech competition and training fair, held every year during the Fall Meeting, has added a whole new level of value and excitement to these proceedings.

TMC also offers members invaluable information on government regulatory issues, vehicle maintenance and information technology problems. The TMC Recommended Practice (RP) manuals, for example, should be in use in every maintenance garage in the country.

Members receive two regular technical service publications, as well as an annual industry directory, and have the chance to guide the development of new technical standards through participation in TMC Study Groups and Task Forces.

Regular readers know that we also support strong and active state maintenance councils, and while some may feel that the state councils can take the place of a national council, we see the need for both. Fleets that can be active in both have a lot to gain by participating on a state and national level.

SuperTech 2007 is coming up in only a few months, and you'll be reading a lot more about it on these pages. Keep reading, and ask yourself if your fleet could benefit from a TMC membership. If you or one of your techs comes back from a TMC activity armed with one new trick to keep a truck on the road, your membership has probably already paid for itself.

For more information, go to http://www.truckline.com/aboutata/councils/tmc/join.