Bottom Line
Paul’s Picks
Mid-America Trucking Show Louisville, KY, March 25-27
The Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville has become the No. 1 venue for introducing new products. Here are my annual ‘picks.’

Paul Abelson
Senior Technical Editor

Now, more than ever before, security matters. The Power-In-Lock from Mi-Jack (1-800-IN-LOCK 7, is the modern way to protect cargo. The electronically controlled trailer lock defeated a team of security experts time and again. It has remote control and access control, and it records all entry to the trailer.

Jones Performance Products (1-800-451-1600, custom fabricates hoods to give your truck a unique shape. Bullet headlamp housings can be added onto Truk-Rodz custom hoods and fenders, and scoops and vents can be fitted where you want them without sacrificing structural integrity. Several show trucks in the Stars and Stripes event had them.

Other show truck favorites were custom steering wheels. Inc. [(205) 601-7052,] makes some beauties out of billet aluminum, rosewood and leather. They fit almost every truck.

Penray (1-800-373-6729,, long a leader in cooling system products and maker of the Need Release Extended Life Cooling System Treatment, has Pencool 3500 small-engine cooling system treatment designed exclusively for smaller diesels such as reefer units, generators and even pickup trucks. It does for small engines what SCAs do for big ones; lubricating pumps, preventing both pitting and corrosion, inhibiting scale, protecting metals and more.

Air-Weigh (1-888-459-3444,, the leader in on-board scales, has a 2-inch dashboard LCD gauge that works with the AW5700 and AW5800 series of scales. The gauge has three display lines, to give “Steer,” “Drive” and “Trlr” weights to the closest 10 pounds. It also calculates “GVW” and “Net” weights. For straight trucks, it can give “Steer,” “Lift” and “Drive” weights. Trailer data are communicated to the tractor over the J-560 seven-pin connector cord using Air-Weigh’s own multiplexing built into the AS5800 system.

There is an alternative to the atlas most drivers use. Universal Map (1-800-829-6277, benchmarked its Professional Drivers’ Road Atlas against “the other one” and made many improvements. Universal Map’s lists more than 51,000 ProMiles distances, more than 1,900 truck stops and 3,000 low-clearance listings. Indexing is on the same page as each map, and maps highlight every truck route in a state. In earlier editions, highlighting routes made reading numbers and town names difficult, but that has now been corrected in the 2004 edition. Laminated atlases are available.

A compass is always a nice convenience. Accurate Instruments from Clark Brothers Instruments [(586) 781-7000,] makes a Compass Gauge. This 2-inch, round analog display comes in V-bezels or step-bezels, in stainless or black finish.

Truck-Lite (1-800-888-7095, introduced the smallest (less than 3/4-inch diameter) clearance/marker lamp, the Mini-Marker, designed to combat all four reasons for lamp replacement: damage, corrosion, theft and burnout. This single LED lamp is solidly embedded in epoxy and has minimal protrusion to reduce most physical damage and corrosion, especially when used with Truck-Lite’s Model 88 sealed harness system. The Mini-Marker carries Truck-Lite’s limited lifetime warranty against burnout. It fits where other lamps can’t, and is too small to be stolen to replace other lamps. A flange mount resists theft.

Wabash National agrees. The company incorporated Truck-Lite Mini-Markers and innovative new LED interior strip lightingin the Wabash 10, its 10-year maintenance-free trailer. Wabash (1-800-937-4784 — worked with customers to identify primary customer maintenance concerns, from sidewalls, roofs and floors to doors, frames and lighting. It also improved axles, suspensions, hubs and brakes.

Cummins introduced Comfort Guard as an idling-reduction device. Based on a two-cylinder Onan generator set, the unit is integrated into the vehicle during OEM installation. It will be available in 2005. Cummins (1-800-DIESELS, also extended oil drain intervals to 35,000 miles (on-highway long haul) for users of Valvoline Blue motor oil. Valvoline went through extensive testing and development with Cummins.

Kenworth [(425) 828-5000,] announced the availability of Dana-Spicer front air disc brakes, designed to meet the new federal stopping requirements due later this month. The expected up-charge to list price is $800.

Peterbilt [(940) 591-4000,] also has front air disc brakes available. Pete also announced that production of the 379X will end this December, officially making it a limited edition. Jerry and Ronda Diemoz of J&R Trucking bought the first 379X and have their order in for the last one off the line.

Peterbilt made Delphi’s remote keyless entry available in its model 387, with others to follow. The system uses random signal technology as a safeguard against signal theft.

Spare Change (1-888-831-1120, has an innovative and secure way to mount a spare tire on a tractor, instead of being chained to a rack under a trailer, subject to theft by anyone with a strong enough bolt cutter. Spare Change also supports hoses behind the cab. Check for special offers for OOIDA members.

Caterpillar [(309) 675-1000,] announced two new “engines with pure attitude.” The C-15 family offers a new 625 hp “King of the Hill” engine with 2,050 lbs.-ft. of torque and from 1,200 rpm out to 1,700 rpm. Maximum horsepower is at 1,800 rpm, with 595 hp available at 2,100 rpm. Optional on this and other engines are Cat’s compression brake and its hydraulic BrakeSaver retarder. The brake provides 600 retarding horsepower, with BrakeSaver bringing total retarding to 725 hp, the limit of most drive trains.

Cat also has a new 600 hp C-15 with 1,850 lbs.-ft. of torque and a multitorque 470/1550-1750 that yields maximum fuel economy with Gear Fast-Run Slow specifications.

Also for show trucks, RM custom wheels by Relative Motion ( for Freightliner, Kenworth and Peterbilt trucks and all trailers come in both solid and bearing mounts. Bearing- mount wheel hubs spin free of the rotating wheel or hang stationary, giving a unique custom look while running down the highway.