Respect the semi truck, a US engine of interstate commerce (Pt. 2)

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747 wing on semi truck during transport.

A semi truck can even carry the wing of a 747. (Photo Credit: CC BY-SA/Superfastjellyfish/Wikipedia)

The semi truck delivers nearly everything you buy to your favorite grocery, hardware and department stores. For that reason alone, it’s interesting to know what’s going on beneath the hood. CLICK HERE if you missed the beginning of this article.

Semi truck fact No. 6 – Maximum weights Down Under

In the U.S., a semi truck with full trailer is about 80,000 pounds spread over 18 wheels. Yet in wide-open spaces of other countries like Australia, mega-trucks can tow as many as four full trailers and weigh well over 300,000 pounds.

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Semi truck fact No. 7 – Torque it up

When you’re pulling 40 tons down the highways of the U.S., you need plenty of torque. A common beast of a semi truck engine, the Detroit Diesel DD15, is more than up to the task. The 14.8-liter inline six-cylinder engine weights 2,880 pounds, about one NFL offensive lineman more than a Mini Cooper. The power plant’s 560 hp cranks 1,850 lb-ft of torque. Even at the relative leisure of 1,200 rpm, the engine generates 1,500 lb-ft. Turbocharged diesel semi truck engines can crank it up to as high as 2,050 lb-ft of torque, which keeps big loads moving.

Semi truck fact No. 8 – Romance of the open road

Without meaning to make reference to truck stop girlfriends, boyfriends or variations thereof, the romance of the open road has made its impact upon American popular culture. Movies like “Smokey and the Bandit” (1977), “White Line Fever” (1975) and the C.W. McCall pop song “Convoy” (1975) have all put the hammer down and transported us to a simpler place where luxurious mustaches, Trans Ams, Jan-Michael Vincent and C.B. lingo were once acceptable. Dave Dudley’s 1963 country hit “Six Days On the Road” is arguably more acceptable, in that it dealt more realistically with the loneliness of long-haul semi truck drivers, and was more muscular and masculine in its approach to the subject matter.

Semi truck fact No. 9 – The one that moves the most product

Which semi truck maker sells the most in the U.S.? It’s Freightliner, which sells around one-third of the 190,000 new semi trucks sold each year. Owned by Daimler Trucks North America (which also owns Western Star), Freightliner leads the pack over Navistar International, PACCAR (owner of Peterbilt and Kenworth) and Volvo (Mack).

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Semi truck fact No. 10 – Stop and roll

One of the worst things a semi truck can do on a highway is jackknife and cause a crash. When the rear wheels of a truck lock and the trailer swings around, bad things happen and injuries can occur. Thankfully, mandatory anti-lock brakes have reduced the number of jackknife incidents since 1997.

Unfortunately, rollover semi accidents are still a problem. When a semi truck passes over a loose surface and the driver overcompensates while trying to steer back onto solid pavement, the whole thing can flip.


Popular Mechanics

The Truckers Report

Wikipedia entry for semi-trailer truck

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