We are set up and ready to go in Birmingham, Alabama at the beautiful Truckworx Kenworth facility. The folks at Truckworx Kenworth have been enjoying a very busy 2012, and I can see why. Their full service facility in Birmingham is second to none. We have an entire building dedicated to this event, with our gorgeous T680’s sitting center stage. This is going to be a grand event.
Holy service bay Batman!
The setup crew at Truckworx Kenworth of Birmingham was ready to go this morning, making sure the floors were polished to match our trucks, and the tables ready for hungry customers. If you have the chance to visit this facility, you won’t be disappointed. This all-encompassing dealership includes sales, 24/7 service center, driver’s lounge, overnight sleeping accommodations and ample customer parking. One look at this place, and you know they mean business.
The brawn behind the operation!
Big thanks to Mike and Scott for going the extra mile today making our T680’s look better than ever. They were up first thing this morning, going through these trucks with a fine toothed comb. This tour wouldn’t be possible without their dedication and experience.
If your look closely, you can see Mike and Scott, hard at work.
Come by and see us from 11:00am to 1:00pm and see for yourself why this is the best dealership around.
The morning bell has rung, everyone’s done their homework, and we’re ready to start yet another chapter of Kenworth curriculum. With lunch almost ready, take the chance to break away from your work schedule to go back to school on the new T680.
Erik alluded to this late last week, as he was seated on the plane back to Seattle, so I think I’ll pick up right where he left off. You see, at the same time Erik was contemplating the luxuries of the T680 seats on his way back to Seattle, I was doing the same while en-route to Nashville to join back up with the T680 convoy. While seated on one of United Airlines “intimate” puddle jumpers from Houston to Nashville, I came the following conclusions:
1) After logging over 2,000 miles in the T680, sometimes driving (a T680) IS better than flying.
2) Business class is to the T680 as Economy class is to a 1958 BMW Isetta.
3) Boarding an airplane is ten times harder, and a hundred times more dangerous than getting into the driver’s seat of a T680. There are NOT 3 points of contact when boarding an airplance.
4) Overhead storage on the T680 is far superior to a Boeing 757.
5) While the refrigerator on the T680 is easy to reach, even from the driver’s seat, it does not ask you if you want more ice for your Coke. Stay tuned folks, I hear the Kenworth folks are working on a flight attendant call button. The proverbial “6 months” is what I’ve been told.
I want to thank Erik for his standout performance at the Indianapolis event, and it looks like I missed a great one. Now that Erik has had the chance to experience life on the road with these trucks, as I have, I fear my tenure as road warrior may be at risk. I’ve been having so much fun out on the road with these trucks, I had a hard time relinquishing the reins.
…we all scream for T680s. And ice Cream. Kenworth of Indianapolis was armed and ready for the Friday heat with an ice cream stand that all enjoyed visiting at least once during the day. Or twice. Here’s Brad with a couple customers.
The event today was excellent. The Palmer trucks team is a class act and they truly put on a great show throughout the entire day. Not only did they bring in 175 customers, but they went above and beyond by providing food off the grill, music, customer giveaways, and the aforementioned ice cream. They even setup a speaker system and threw a mic at me to conduct a quick walkaround of the T680. Action shot!
The Palmer Trucks team wasn’t done yet, they provided yet another treat, but this time it wasn’t edible. Monarch Beverage Distributors brought in their CNG powered T660. A special thanks to Monarch for having their T660 on display for the entire event. This one in particular was a crowd favorite as it sports the new ISX12G with dual frame mounted CNG tanks! Additionally, many of their company’s representatives were on hand to view the T680s and discuss their success with the natural gas powered Kenworths. I can attest, however, that the trailer on this unit was locked throughout the entire day. Great looking truck, though!
Later, I met up with Mike and Austin as they toured the T680s with their father. They sure were ready to drive the T680 home. With Mike on the steering wheel and Austin on the shifter, I’d say these two bring a whole new meaning to Team Driving. Now if only they could agree on who gets the upper bunk!
It is to much chagrin that I write this posting. I am currently at 30,000 feet, give or take, heading back to Seattle. Pete has recharged his batteries and (hopefully) done his laundry. He will be back with the tour and this blog starting Monday. I am sitting in row 12 on this 737 and have been dealing with turbulence for the past hour or so. I find myself suddenly longing for one of the new Kenworth GT700 seats out of the T680. Seriously, why should only truck drivers get to benefit from the fatigue-reducing, advanced air suspension and the 18-way adjusting seats with integral heating and cooling? I think I’m on to something… GT700 seats for the airlines!!
And while they’re at it, I could use a GT700 for the office back in Seattle.
But I digress; being on the tour this past week has been an awesome experience. There are some truly great people out there selling, supporting, and driving Kenworth products. Trucking is a wonderful industry to be in and Kenworth a great company to be a part of.
With that said, I’ll sign off one last time and leave you with this last picture…that Oro Adonis color really pops in the Indianapolis sun.
The Palmer Trucks team has prepared a great event today to highlight Kenworth models and showcase the brand new T680. The grill is all fired up, drinks are on ice, and there is even an ice cream stand. So grab the sunblock, grab the shades and head down to Kenworth of Indianapolis where this first class team is ready to support your every need.
Today was a long day on the road, travelling from Carlisle, PA to Indianapolis. However, driving I-70 through Pennsylvania and Ohio provided a great drive with excellent scenery. The rolling green hills coming through Pennsylvania was a pleasure with the sun shining through the clouds. I even saw a herd of deer on a hillside above the freeway. On a somewhat related note, I came away with a couple of observations…One, trucks along I-70 easily outnumber cars. Don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining, but as a truck aficionado, it’s rather distracting. And two, there is a high number of road kill along the road.
[Don’t worry, no pictures for this post]
While it’s unfortunate to see so many deer on the side of the road (I lost count after about 20 or so cases), undoubtedly, the two observations are related.
So why you ask am I writing about road kill on a T680 dedicated blog?
Seeing all the road kill along a freeway that is predominantly populated by trucks sparked our conversation on deer strikes. To avoid deer strikes, the T680 is armed with best-in-class headlights that equal the light output of the T660 and the T700. These headlights, both in the standard halogen and the optional xenon HID, throw out hundreds upon hundreds feet of light down the road providing more than ample time for the driver to see and avoid a “deer in the headlights” situation. I’ve had conversations with customers who have been able to eliminate the need for installing deer-guards because the Kenworth headlights alone significantly reduced deer strike occurrences.
But Kenworth didn’t stop at the headlights. Because there is always the chance of a deer jumping in front of a truck, the T680 incorporates reinforcements in the hood structure that absorb the energy of a deer strike and channel it around the cooling module reducing the damage to the truck. Included during testing of the T680 was a simulated deer strike test that mimicked the impact and forces of an actual deer strike on the truck. Pretty impressive technology!
No animals were harmed during the creation of the T680.
Thanks for the handoff, Pete. I have been looking forward to my time on the road with the T680s. For those following the blog that I haven’t met, I am the On-Highway Marketing Manager for Kenworth and I am privileged to be responsible for the marketing side of the T660, the T700, and now the all new T680. The T680 has been a truly great experience to be a part of and today was no different. The event at Carlisle was great! There were over 150 customers that enjoyed the weather, the French fries, and, of course, the T680s.
The crowd jumped from the T680s and other Kenworths into the line for the French fries…not a bad way to spend the afternoon.
I spent some time with local driver, Jerry Guy, who made a point to tell me how much he prefers driving manual transmissions. Because of which, I introduced him to the new T680 air-assisted, hydraulic clutch. The resulting grin from his first experience with the new clutch said it all, Jerry turned to me and exclaimed,
“That was so easy. Wow. Holy cow!”
The new T680 clutch reduces pedal efforts to new levels, creating a fatigue-free driving experience. But dont take my word for it, work with your local dealership to schedule a test drive.
Check out this W900 that rolled in towards the end of the event! The eye-catching graphics pay homage to those who have served our country. The truck is a fitting tribute and was an exclamation point for the event.
Thanks to all of the Kenworth staff on hand supporting the Carlisle event. Local PA customers are in great hands with this crew. Top notch!
A special shout out to our drivers, Mike and Jake. They have been great throughout PA.
Mother Nature was no match for the T680's in Buffalo
It poured down rain all day at the Buffalo event last Friday, but even that couldn’t stop some 250 people from coming to the event. Dennis Dintino and the Buffalo group brought out numerous stock and customer trucks, their Hazmat T680 daycab and a huge tent. I thought for sure the tent was overkill, but sure enough, it was filled by 11:30am. As if the T680’s, tour trailer, catered lunch, music and row of vendor support weren’t enough, Buffalo brought out the Buffalo Bills cheer squad as well. They were great, but it was the complimentary umbrellas that made my day. It was a grandiose event!
Despite the rain, I spent a great deal of the day talking with customers in both trucks and walking them through the tour trailer. It takes time to explain the new approach that Kenworth took to create the new electrical and air system architecture. It’s actually a very simple system when it comes to the components involved, but the functionality and benefits of having what they call “Safety Interlocks” are so expansive that they’re most easily explained using multiple displays within the tour trailer. Here we are running through the manufacturing video and how it relates to the electrical routings, build consistency and serviceability with several customers. The weather has been so agreeable so far on this tour, I was almost starting to miss the Seattle rain. Thanks Buffalo.
One of the first pre-production T680’s that went into service was delivered to Hazmat. Hazmat is a Buffalo based hazardous waste transport fleet with terminals in Buffalo, New York, Cincinnati, Ohio, Linden and New Jersey. Hazmat has been operating this truck for since spring of this year, and have been getting great results. Driver extraordinaire Jerry, said he’s been getting over 7 mpg with a fully loaded trailer, and the tractor only has about 3000 miles!
Kenworth of Buffalo did an amazing job bringing people out to this event, showing them a good time, and showcasing our T680’s. If you’re in the Buffalo region, come see them. They are extremely knowledgeable about the Kenworth products, including the new T680. I look forward to returning to Buffalo to work with this group again, they are a first class operation.
Lastly, I’d like to say farewell to the Kenworth of Buffalo group by giving props to their very own David Zicari. Thanks for the shots David, you’re making me look like an amateur.
“Kenworth Buffalo. First time for me, and definitely not the last.”—
We arrived in Buffalo last night around 10:00pm, after waiting hours for our paperwork to cross the border into the United States. Once here, owner Dennis Dintino and crew were waiting to help us set up the trailer and get to bed for today’s meet and greet at the dealership. We set a record for the fastest setup of the trailer ever. What usually takes us 2 hours to complete, we accomplished in 1 hour with the help of his men. That’s one more hour of sleep for yours truly, and rest doesn’t come cheap when you’re on the road like we are.
This morning, Dennis and gang took the trucks out to the waterfront for some photos outside downtown Buffalo. Nice shot Marie!
The Kenworth of Buffalo event is tomorrow, at the 100 Commerce Drive location just outside downtown Buffalo. The event starts at 10:00am sharp, and goes until 6:00pm. The first 10 people to come find me, introduce themselves and mention the blog get a free Kenworth hat!
It’s official, we are back from our short stint in Canada and in the New York State. As we drove south from Montreal, we crossed the border at Champlain, NY and headed straight for highway 8. We had a very picturesque drive down this narrow winding two lane highway, and the T680’s handled them with ease. I haven’t seen roads this rough since Detroit, and I think we may have knocked the tour trailer out of alignment… These incredibly crowned and pothole ridden roads couldn’t detract from the views of upstate New York on a beautiful day, and although they required our full attention, we weren’t the least bit fatigued come Interstate 90 east to Buffalo. We drove right past Lake Pleasant and several small towns. The small court houses and neighborhoods were a welcome sight after all the highway driving we’ve been doing.
Sharp winding roads, 45mph speed limits and steep rolling hills were easier than I expected with the PACCAR by Eaton 13 speed transmission coupled to the air assisted hydraulic clutch. I’ve put about 1500 miles on this daycab truck, and really enjoy the way it drives. The positive feedback from the short throw shifter and clutch pedal make it very easy to drive. I’ve found that some of my old bad habits of shifting without a clutch are gone, given that it’s so easy use. With only about 33 pounds of pedal force required, there’s no excuse not to. I find myself enjoying stop signs for the opportunity to row the 40% reduced throw shifter.
We’ve moved on to Montreal, Quebec but I wanted to wrap up the great show we had at the Concord Kenworth facility in Ontario. Concord Kenworth has an enormous facility, with a serious service center, new truck sales office and storage grounds. They sell a large number of highly customized vocational trucks. Versatile, durable long lasting trucks are a requirement up here, and C500’s and T800 heavy haul models are the norm around here. They also represent quite a number of local companies that haul freight through the northern and central United States using T660’s and T700’s, so they were anxious to show them the new T680’s we drove over from Toronto.
When we first arrived in Concord, we were greeted by Gary Crudge and a very busy tow truck. Apparently, the lot in front of the dealership was being used by another company, who was told they couldn’t park there this week. Disobeying direct orders resulted in 30 cars requiring towing before we could park the tour trailer and set up for the event. It took four hours to clear the lot, which provided me ample time to explore the grounds.
Concord Kenworth has an enormous back lot, and there were a ton of new T700’s and split fender T660 daycabs yet to be delivered to customers.
Once set up, we had a great show. There was steady traffic through much of the morning and early afternoon, with much conversation with current and future customers. I think we sold six T680’s at this event, just by showing them the truck and trailer!
There were also a few skeptics on hand. Casual onlookers are sometimes quick to judge something new. I had one such customer with this attitude, and after 20 minutes walking him through the tour trailer, his attitude changed dramatically. I wasn’t selling him on the comfortable seats, or the incredible new interior, which he already liked. It was the design and manufacturing processes of the serviceable cab and sleeper, the completely revised strategy for electrical harnesses and the logic of the electric over air systems and safety interlocks that made him a believer. These are things that you won’t see just by looking at the truck, but understanding them leads to a realizations of the potential to save you money down the road. Repair costs, warranty costs, service costs, quality control and driver safety, we attacked them all with this truck. Truth be told, he will be specing 3 new T680’s next week through Concord Kenworth. It’s a great looking truck, but if you aren’t talking to your sales representative, you don’t know the half of what the T680 is made of.
As usual, the event included our trucks, trailers and fantastic barbeque. Concord also brought out a new Kenworth K370, which sparked great conversation. The K370 cabover is also a new Kenworth product this year, and is a great driving truck for regional pickup and delivery and small businesses.
Our T680’s in good company.
Foot long Hot Links, Hamburgers or Hot Dogs anyone?
The sales force here at Concord Kenworth was great to deal with, and after last week’s event, I think their jobs are going to get a lot easier. Kenworth’s General Manager, Gary Moore likes to say that this truck “sells itself from the inside out”, and I think everyone who attended was a believer.
I had plenty of time to take this photo while the T680 was selling itself…
Case in point; I spent some time with Max Gaudreault, an owner operator anxiously awaiting the arrival of his fully loaded T680 76” sleeper. Max ordered the truck after seeing some interior photos online, without having even seen it in person. We spent almost an hour walking through the features of his new truck before I needed to take a break. He’s definitely looking forward to the quality of life improvement and higher profit margins. Congratulations to Max, you’re one of the first lucky few drivers to discover the merits of this great new truck. According to Max, “I saw the interior of this truck and I said to myself, I have to have it. So I ordered one.” Hope you enjoy your new T680 as much as I’ve enjoyed ours!
Get your own, Max. This one’s mine!
I would like to say thank you to all the wonderful people we met at Concord Kenworth last Friday. I enjoyed spending Thursday talking with the sales group here, you all were a great crowd. Honorable mention goes to Concord President Vince Tarola and Gary Crudge for their hospitality, generosity and local cuisine recommendations.
I’ve noticed that as well, Jake. I’ll be taking over in a few hours for my partner in crime Jake Acker, another driver from Spiff. We’ve been enjoying the quiet cab in the T680 and Vivaldi’s Four Seasons on the 9 speaker audio system. Streaming bluetooth audio from my iPad through NavPlus and the a-pilllar, b-pillar, door card and sleeper backwall speakers means there isnt a bad seat in the house.
Jake has been doing a great job dancing the T680 around the pothole ridden I-169 to Grand Rapids, Michigan as well. Clearly, the toll collections in Indiana are focused elsewhere. We’ve both found the T680 to be a very stable, predictable handling vehicle. There are several improvements that were made to both the front steering geometry and the cab suspension that make this truck handle expansion joints, overpasses and country roads particularly well. Let’s review some of the cab structure improvements.
The cab support and suspension components were completely redesigned for the T680. Engineers repositioned the forward cab supports as far outboard and towards the front of the cab as they could, to create a stable foundation. They are approximately 3 inches further outboard on either side of the truck than the T660. After all, it’s a 10” wider cab! If you think about a table as an example; where does it make sense to put the legs for maximum stability? Exactly, and that’s precisely what these engineers did. In addition to a wider footprint, the cab supports are also oversized Aluminum castings, with a triangulated bolt pattern. Most trucks utilize a steel fabricated bracket. While they may cost a bit more, aluminum castings are stronger and lighter. The Kenworth geniuses also integrated these castings into the overbell structure. The overbell is a large beam that connects the two forward cab supports together, by crossing above the frame rails just behind the engine block. It’s the shortest, straightest distance between the two objects and it’s also the strongest and lightest. The stiff support structure allowed Kenworth engineers to more effectively isolate road and engine noise and vibration from the cabin. So much so, that we’re talking about a 2-3 decibel (db) reduction in interior noise. If you remember from school, the decibel scale is logarithmic and not linear. That means a 3db reduction in interior noise of 72db to 69db equates to an approximately 40% quieter interior!!!
Kenworth also redesigned the rear sleeper suspension as well. The sleeper suspension is a dual unit design, with bags and shocks located outside of the framerail on both sides of the truck. This dual unit suspension was optimized for the weight and width of the 76” sleeper and further improves the roll stiffness of the cab. The result; a flatter cornering truck with improved cornering stability and control. Overpasses and freeway expansion joints become less noticeable to the driver and potholes, less upsetting to the vehicle. Most importantly, the driver makes less steering corrections and becomes less fatigued over time. It’s definitely a noticeable improvement over a single rear sleeper suspension system, and exceeds ride expectations found on most wide cab vehicles.
“Fact: Driving a T680 will make you live longer!”—
Physicians might argue that it won’t add years to your life, but I challenge you to come visit us at Rihm Kenworth in St. Paul, Minnesota to see how the T680 can make you a happier, healthier driver. With incredibly adjustable and comfortable seats, logically placed vehicle controls and suberb visibility, fatigue is something you’ll never experience in the driver’s seat.
Even after 400 miles of midwest insect battle, a beautiful Minneapolis skyline as seen through the massive windshield!
If you spend a few minutes at Rihm Kenworth, it’s easy to see the rich history that this dealership has shared with the Kenworth Truck Company. One of our oldest dealerships, Rihm Kenworth is a veritable compound.
The service center at Rihm Kenworth.
With a full service body shop, new and used truck sales department, parts and service centers, Rihm has it all. I spent the morning exploring the grounds before people started showing up. There are secret stairwells, passageways, hidden truck bays and very unique office spaces. To say this place has a lot of character would be an understatement.
A T660 receiving a new front bumper in one of the many truck service and repair bays.
Need an oil change?
Speaking of character, Kari Rihm, President and CEO has been a great host and I’ve enjoyed meeting her and the Rihm crew. We have great weather today, with temperatures in the high 80’s expected this afternoon. Stop by, enjoy a cold beverage and ask myself or one of the many knowledgeable Kenworth sales professionals to show you around the T680. We’ll be out here all day, situated in the parking lot behind the service center.