Truck biodiversity
April 9, 2006 11:47 AM   Subscribe

Dromedaries, centipedes, B-trains, Road Trains, and more. Where the continental U. S. has nurtured the "18-wheeler" as an iconic form, commercial trucks in other countries (or within certain states) have flourished in a wide variety of forms, adapting to regional industry, terrain, population, and laws. A 7-axle cement mixer in Nevada. Twin-steer short trucks in Europe. 42-wheelers in Michigan. More at Hank's Truck Pictures (GIS lists about 144,000 of them).
posted by kurumi (15 comments total)
posted by piro at 12:30 PM on April 9, 2006

This fully skirted B tanker is sweet. And I've loved the look of Renault Magnum's since I saw one in The Transporter. I didn't even realise B-trains weren't used in the US, they are everywhere up here.

The 7 axle cement trucks are very strange, I spent a long trip back from LV trying to figure what regulatory influence generated them. It's not just cement mixers either I saw several dump bodies hauling pups with 5 axles.
posted by Mitheral at 1:04 PM on April 9, 2006

Out of curiousy, how much fuel do some of recent beasts consume per kilometer ? it looks like they need their own private oil well
posted by elpapacito at 1:20 PM on April 9, 2006

Trucks are taken too much for granted, considering that most of the stuff we buy gets to the store by truck. Here's a few stats from the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics January 2006 report, Freight in AmericaThe Nation's Freight:
  • ...trucking as a single mode was the most frequently used mode, accounting for an estimated 70 percent of the total value, 60 percent of the weight, and 34 percent of the ton-miles.
  • In 2002, the trucking industry, both for-hire and private own-use, transported over $9 trillion worth of shipments, weighing over 11 billion tons and generating about 1.5 trillion ton-miles.
  • Measured by ton-miles, trucking [at 34 percent] was followed by rail at 31 percent, pipeline at 15, and water with 11 percent.
The National Highway System deserves a little credit, too.

*Ton-mile = moving one ton of freight one mile.
posted by cenoxo at 1:22 PM on April 9, 2006

Those road trains freak me out. Never seen one in real life.
posted by Bugbread at 1:38 PM on April 9, 2006

posted by sharksandwich at 2:04 PM on April 9, 2006

Elpapacito, apparently the big guys use over four times as much fuel as other types of trucks, but you would have to balance this with the larger amounts of freight they carry for longer distances (ton-miles). From the Argonne National Laboratory analysis, How Much Fuel Do Trucks Use?:
  • Fuel use of Class 8 trucks [long-haul semis], at 18 billion gallons per year, far exceeds that of commercial trucks in any other weight class.
  • Class 6 [delivery vans] and Class 2b [pickups] use the next largest amount of fuel, but both are well under 4 billion gallons per year.
  • Class 8 trucks with trip length of less than 100 miles (typical urban delivery trucks) use more fuel than either Class 6 trucks or Class 2b trucks.
Figures from 1997-2000. The 21st Century Truck Initiative (aka "Partnership") started up under the Clinton adminstration to improve fuel efficiency and safety, but it seems to have stalled: there's not much recent news about it.
posted by cenoxo at 2:18 PM on April 9, 2006

cenoxo: thanks for the link ! It looks like the most aggressible problem is idling.
posted by elpapacito at 2:35 PM on April 9, 2006

Best truck movie: Friedkin's 1977 Sorcerer (Imdb), a remake of the 1953 Wages of Fear.
posted by cenoxo at 3:18 PM on April 9, 2006

"Ehh this doesn't feel right, Prime."

"I know."
posted by loquacious at 3:55 PM on April 9, 2006

Mitheral: More axles means less weight per axle and wheel, so that the truck builders don't have to use really massive axles and wheels, and can use smaller tires. It also lessens the PSI (pounds per square inch) load at the point of contact with the road, so that (in theory) the road will last longer.
posted by jlkr at 5:49 PM on April 9, 2006

jlkr writes "More axles means less weight per axle and wheel, so that the truck builders don't have to use really massive axles and wheels, and can use smaller tires."

That's just common sense. What I was wondering about is a 12 yard pup around here manages to get by on two dually axles. What are they hauling in Nevada that requires 5 axles, deplete urainum?
posted by Mitheral at 9:50 PM on April 9, 2006

Those road trains freak me out.

Overtaking one in a sedan can be quite an adventure, a couple of minutes (at least it feels like it) on the wrong side of the road. At least hey operate where there is very little traffic so you can assume there wont be any oncoming cars.
posted by wilful at 9:56 PM on April 9, 2006

Mitheral: probably the second sentence in my reply - lower PSI on the road. Why the maximum Load per Wheel is lower in Nevada than in Canada, I don't know.

Two dual axles is 8 wheels, 5 single axles is 10. Loading is about the same per wheel, and it's easier to change wheels on a single axle than on a dual.
posted by jlkr at 6:16 AM on April 10, 2006

Great post. Reminds me of the creative decoration of trucks in Southern Asia, where hand made decorations are valued. Individual drivers may spend around two years worth of salary on decorations and truck 'make over'. Its not all on the outside though, lavish interiors are also created so the drivers feel as if in their dreamland while traversing the country from Peshawar in the north to Karachi in the south. If so inclined to view one upclose,no need to travel to Pakistan. There is one at the Smithsonian Institute as it was prepared and decorated live by two Pakistani artistes for the 2002 Smithsonian Folk Life Festival.
posted by adnanbwp at 11:07 AM on April 10, 2006

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