November 2013 - AKMI Corporation

Monthly Archives: November 2013

Heavy Duty Trucks: Finding a Parts Supplier

The trucking and shipping business today is a multi-billion dollar industry. It is also crucial to today’s economy and infrastructure. Items from Apples to Zoo equipment, and everything in between have been loaded onto a version of a heavy duty truck at some point, while being transported from point ‘A’ to point ‘B’.
 
A ‘Heavy Duty Truck’ is referred to as:
A motor vehicle or combination of vehicles operated as a unit that has a combined weight greater than 26,000 pounds. The term can refer to many types of vehicles, such as; aggregates, asphalt, heavy haul, site construction, garbage trucks & big passenger buses.
 
Heavy Duty Trucks and diesel engines particularly are a breed all their own. Maintaining proper service on these larger vehicles requires not only a special set of tools, equipment, and knowledge, but quality heavy duty truck parts as well.
 
There are thousands of trucks on the road today, which means an always growing need for replacement heavy duty truck parts. There are many different brands of heavy duty truck parts out on the market today. This in turn leads to many different suppliers or sources for parts.
 
When you are looking to purchase heavy duty truck parts for your truck(s) or fleet vehicles:
Would you go to your local parts store, or would you take the truck(s) to a trusted repair shop and trust whatever parts they use?
Do you pay attention to the brand name of the parts being purchased or installed?
Are you a company that uses strictly OEM replacement parts, or do you look to save money when possible?
 
OEM parts can always be a good way to go when purchasing replacement heavy duty truck parts since they are supposed to be the exact specifications of the part you are replacing, but they are usually very expensive. In some cases, they can be four times the amount of its new replacement counterpart.
 
There are many different options besides OEM parts, but caution needs to be taken as the quality of other brands may not be comparable to that of its OEM counterpart.
 
When it comes to determining if a product can be trustworthy, you may want to ask yourself the following:
Do you know anything about the company’s reputation for service?
Looking through the internet for reviews on the company and speaking with people you know that frequently use a specific product can be useful information. You can obtain different viewpoints about companies.
 
How long has the company been around?
The longer a company has been in business, the more likely they are to have quality parts. With this business, it is hard to last several years, let alone decades.
 
Does the company have employees who can answer any questions that you may have about the products?
A company that can answer the questions in regards to any of their parts shows that they care about their parts and making sure their customers understand them as well.
 
Heavy duty trucks play a major role in the country’s shipping infrastructure. When it comes to finding quality heavy duty replacement parts, there are many options. Make sure you understand your needs.

Flywheels: The Basics

Heavy rotating disks that build up very high mass & are connected to a rotating shaft. They are often used to provide continuous energy in systems where the energy source is not continuous.
 
Interesting description for something that is very simple, yet often a crucial component to the functionality of an engine or generator.
 
As the majority of you reading this are going to be diesel mechanics or parts shops, you would already understand how flywheels for diesel engines work and how they are to be installed on the engine.
 
There are plenty of things that you may not know about your flywheel needs when it comes having to order a replacement; casting number, ring gear part number, clutch size, mounting holes.
 
A company with salesmen who have the knowledge needed to help find out what your exact needs are comes in handy.
 
Did you know that some flywheels are designed to accommodate various size clutches?
There are flywheels with multiple drill patterns so a customer may switch the size of their clutch, depending on vehicle usage and needs.
 
Would you know the difference between a ‘dual mass flywheel’ & ‘single mass flywheel’?
A dual mass flywheel is a flywheel in 2 concentric parts or 2 facing flywheels stuck together with a flexible compound to damp down transmitted vibration and gear rattle.
 
Many trucks that come with dual mass flywheels can be converted to single mass flywheels. Some of the benefits of doing so include an increase in acceleration, reduced turbo “lag” with turbo charged engines and increased supercharger efficiency.
Also, single mass flywheels can be resurfaced and reused, while a dual mass flywheel cannot. Dual mass flywheels also, cannot withstand a high rate of abuse & may fail sooner under certain driving conditions.
 
Are you aware of how long your flywheel can last?
Granted, there are a lot of factors that would go into determining an expected lifecycle of flywheels. Engine & transaxle conditions play a key role as well as the driver and driving style, not to mention road conditions.
 
Over the years, I have had discussions with customers, various mechanics and different vendors and one common thing that seems to be agreeable is that average minimum lifecycle is approximately 4 years. There is some debate on the high end of a flywheels lifecycle, somewhere between 5-6 years.
 
Regular maintenance of your flywheel can help extend its lifecycle.
This can consist of replacing the ring gear, the bearing, or both. Sometimes the flywheel may need to be resurfaced. If these items go bad, they can cause damage to the engine, but if caught in time they can be replaced with relatively little trouble & expense.
 
Resurfacing a flywheel can help extend the lifecycle of the part.
This is done when the surface of the flywheel has scratches/gouges on it that could ultimately affect the performance of the flywheel. Resurfacing a flywheel consists of shaving metal from the surface of the flywheel until the surface is smooth & level.
 
There has been many debates on whether flywheels should be resurfaced and how many times it can be done. Some feel that you should not resurface a flywheel, just scrap it. Others feel that flywheels can be resurfaced up to 4 times during the life of the flywheel.
 
Knowing your vehicles flywheels and how to maintain them will lead to maximizing their full lifecycle.
 

Exhaust Gases & Emission Reduction

Usually made from cast iron or stainless steel, an exhaust manifold collects engine exhaust fumes from multiple cylinders, (fumes made during the combustion process) and delivers them to the exhaust pipe. The exhaust pipe in turn, funnels the exhaust gases to a catalytic converter and the muffler.
 
When an engine starts its exhaust stroke, the engine piston moves up in the bore of the cylinder, which decreases the total chamber volume. The exhaust valve opens and the high pressure gas escapes into the exhaust manifold or header, creating an ‘exhaust pulse’.
 
Exhaust manifolds can be an important source of back pressure because exhaust gases from one cylinder can build up pressure in the manifold and that affects the next cylinder that uses the manifold.
 
Exhaust can be harmful to inhale, making it very important to have a fully functional exhaust manifolds for your trucks or fleet vehicles. Detecting an exhaust leak can be very difficult, people may inhale exhaust gases without being aware of it.
 
Exhaust manifolds come in all different types, shapes and sizes depending on the engine type and model.
Some can have 4 port holes, if it’s a 4 cylinder engine, or 6 port holes if it’s a 6 cylinder engine. No matter size or material of the exhaust manifold, they all perform the same basic function.
 
Over the last few decades, air emission standards have forced automobiles to improve the exhaust process so vehicles are not sending too many harmful pollutants into the air. These same standards are beginning to catch up with the diesel engines heavy/long haul trucking industry.
 
As technology improves, so has engine parts. One such improvement was the advent of the EGR system.
 
E.G.R – Exhaust Gas Recirculation:
Exhaust Gas Recirculation is a process that is supposed to reduce the nitrogen oxide emissions that are released into the air, by engines in general. This is done by recirculating some of the engines exhaust gases back into the engine itself.
 
With diesel engines, the exhaust gas replaces some of the excess oxygen in the pre-combustion mixture, and can lead to lower temperatures in the lower combustion chamber, which can result in a loss of engine efficiency.
 
With the introduction of EGR, many engine parts have been redesigned to accommodate this new system.
Parts such as: Exhaust Manifolds, Oil Coolers, & Water pumps, have been redesigned specifically for EGR systems.
 
The first EGR systems were crude and simple in design. Some cases, an orifice jet between the exhaust & intake tracts, circulating air from exhaust to the intake, while the engine was running. This design resulted in rough idling & reduced performance. Later an EGR valve, controlled by a manifold vacuum, was added to control the flow from exhaust to intake, under certain conditions.
 
In modern diesel engines, EGR gas is cooled with a heat exchanger to allow the introduction of a greater mass of recirculated gas.
 
Exhaust Gas Recirculation is now a requirement in most modern engines, due to emission regulation standards.
 

Diesel Engines: Pros & Cons

Diesel engines are becoming more popular, and are being used more & more in automobiles as well as heavy haul trucks. As diesel engines are now being used more often, there are more places where you can fill your diesel engine spare parts needs.
 
Do you know the difference between a Diesel Engine and a Gas Engine?
All diesel mechanics would be able to tell you the difference, but for those who aren’t, I have some information for you.
 
Both diesel engines & gas engines are considered “Internal combustion engines”, so they are similar in this regard. It’s how the combustion happens that makes them different.
 
Diesel Engine: (aka – compression-ignition engine)
Uses heat of compression to initiate the ignition & burning of fuel that has been injected into the combustion chamber.
 
Spark-Ignition Engine:
Can be referred to as either petrol or gasoline engine. Instead of using compression to initiate an ignition, spark plugs are used to ignite an air-fuel mixture.
 
Even though the use of diesel engines is on the rise, finding reliable diesel engine spare parts can be tricky. Not all parts shops carry diesel engine spare parts, and the ones that do usually carry just the more popular brands or parts found in their local area. The best thing to do is find a parts shop that specializes in diesel parts if possible.
 
Do you know some of the pros/cons of diesel engines vs gas engines?
PRO: Diesel engines get great mileage and can deliver anywhere from 20%-30% better fuel economy.
This all depends on the setup of the engine and if it’s an automobile or long haul truck.
CON: As the use of diesel engines increases, the price of diesel fuel will continue to increase. Diesel fuel is used not just for engines, but home & industrial generators & heating oil.
 
PRO: Diesel fuel is one of the most efficient & energy dense fuels available because it contains more usable energy then gasoline.
CON: The extra energy doesn’t result in extra high-speed performance. Diesel engines are more considered work horses, while gasoline engines are considered racehorses. As technology advances, so does the efficiency and output of diesel engine spare parts. Some automobiles with diesel engines can compare to certain high powered gasoline equivalents.
 
PRO: Diesels have no spark plugs or distributors, so they do not require ignition tune-ups.
CON: Regular maintenance is still required to keep diesel engines running. There are multiple filters that regularly need to be changed.
 
Due to how diesel fuel burns, diesel engines provide more torque to the driveshaft than gasoline engines.
This allows diesel powered trucks, SUVs and cars to “out tow” gas powered vehicles while still providing that improved fuel economy. It’s no wonder that the majority of heavy haul trucks use diesel engines instead of gasoline powered engines.
 
The use of diesel engines are not limited to automobiles, trucks or generators. Many of today’s construction machines, buses and farm/agricultural machines utilize diesel engines.
 
As the use of diesel engines increases and technology improves, the need for diesel engine spare parts will increase and improve with them.
 

Fleet Maintenance: Your Commercial Truck Part Needs

Your company fleet vehicles, are they starting to put on miles or years? Are they driven in rough road conditions, or on smooth highways? Does your company have a separate garage to do in-house maintenance and replacement of your commercial truck parts, or are the vehicles sent to an off-site location trusted for their work?
 
Do you know what brand/company can be your solution to your commercial truck parts needs?
No matter if your company repairs your trucks in house or sends them out to a trusted licensed repair shop, it’s worth knowing what you are putting into your vehicles.
 
There are many different types of commercial vehicles on the road today, as the definition leads to a wide array of styles, from your regular pick-up truck to the big semi’s hauling trailers behind them. Any company that purchases a vehicle(s) for company use, no matter if it’s a taxi shuttling passengers, or mobile truck repair carrying tools & parts, these would be considered commercial vehicles. Just imagine how many different possibilities there are in this country alone.
 
How can you be sure that a certain company has the right commercial truck parts for your needs?
Well I am here to help you figure that out.
 
First:
If you are a retailer or repair shop, you want to find a company who is a diesel engine parts wholesale/distributor. They are designed to sell their product with no sales tax for their customers. Sorry to all the customers whose fleet vehicles are regular gas engines, but diesel engine commercial truck parts is the topic today.
 
Second:
Not all diesel parts distributors carry parts for all diesel engines. Some may specialize in certain commercial truck parts for “Heavy & Medium Duty” trucks only. These types of trucks are the big Semi-Tractors you would see on the highway hauling one or more trailers behind it.
 
Then there are also the box trucks or straight trucks. These types of trucks are more common for city deliveries, but have similar engines as the bigger semi-tractors.
Big passenger buses also fit into these categories as well.
Pick-up trucks with diesel engines do not fall under these categories and may not fall into a distributor’s product range.
 
Now that we have narrowed down the field, there are still some concerns that need to be addressed to determine the right brand of commercial truck parts for your truck or fleet needs.
 
What type of truck do you have?
Some of the more popular trucks on the road are equipped with the following types of engines: Aftermarket Caterpillar , AFTERMARKET CUMMINS, AFTERMARKET DETROIT Diesel, International/Aftermarket Navistar, & Aftermarket Mack/Aftermarket Volvo to name a few.
 
Okay, so your truck(s) has one of the mentioned types of engines and now your next concern would be the quality of the products themselves. This is always a valid concern, especially when you are thinking of trying out products from a new source.
 
Make sure that your research is thorough, and you review more than one source of information about a company.
 

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