Sterling Displays a Light Touch

TWO TRACTORS displayed in the Sterling Truck Corporation booth at the 2000 Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, Kentucky, demonstrate the manufacturer's ability to engineer and build lightweight trucks without sacrificing productivity, performance, or comfort. Saving weight is critical because it reduces fuel consumption and increases payload capacity.

The tractors-an ST9500 SilverStar and an LT8500 daycab-while built for very different sectors of the trucking industry, show how heavy-duty trucks don't need to be excessively heavy. And both tractors are built entirely with regular production components, not exotic prototype parts or one-of-a-kind components. In other words, these are real trucks, ready to go to work.

The long-haul SilverStar, with its 77-inch high-roof sleeper and abundant amenities, tips the scales at only 16,980 pounds. The LT8500, a regional distribution or bulk haul tractor, weighs a mere 13,160 pounds.

"Many people assume Sterlings must be heavy, since they are so rugged and durable," said John Merrifield, Sterling's senior vice-president of sales and marketing. "Not so. In fact, we engineer our trucks to be as weight-sensitive as they are durable and productive, and these two tractors prove it."

The SilverStar's weight reflects thoughtful component selection drawn from Sterling's huge option list. The 122-inch BBC tractor has an 80,000-pound gross combination weight rating and a true long-haul heritage with its 470-horsepower 12.7-liter Detroit Diesel Series 60 engine, Jake brake, 18-speed Eaton Fuller transmission, and AirLiner air-ride suspension.

It also comes with the full complement of driver amenities and comforts expected in a SilverStar-full cabinetry and storage consoles, premium sound system, big, comfortable bunk, and Sterling's exclusive Stellar interior trim, available only on SilverStar. Plus, the tractor's exterior has the styling and features expected in a modern owner-operator tractor.

Unlike other "lightweight" tractors, this SilverStar achieves its low weight while equipped with full chassis and side fairings for aerodynamic efficiency.

Sterling used several strategies to keep the weight off this SilverStar. First was good basic design, such as the standard welded aluminum cab and sleeper. Second was careful component selection and extensive use of weight-saving materials.

In addition to the cab and sleeper, the SilverStar has many other weight-reducing aluminum components, including:

*flywheel housing.

*clutch housing.

*rear axle carrier.

*air reservoirs frame components, including some cross-members.

*dual 100-gallon fuel tanks.

*fuel tank brackets.

*wheels.

*hubs.

The SilverStar uses lightweight brake drums to pare weight compared to standard cast iron drums.

Bulk Hauler The lightweight LT8500 daycab tractor on display in the Sterling booth is aimed at a sector of the trucking industry where weight savings are of paramount importance. Every pound of weight that can be eliminated from a bulk hauler will show up directly on the trucking fleet's bottom line by generating another pound of profit-producing payload.

This 113-inch setback axle tractor has an aluminum cab, a Cummins ISL engine rated at 330 hp with 1,150 foot-pounds of torque, and an Eaton 10-speed transmission. The ISL has about a 500-pound advantage over the Cummins ISM engine, while also having a smaller overall size.

The LT8500 has a number of other weight-sensitive components, in addition to its cab and drivetrain. Sterling made extensive use of aluminum components, including battery box, flywheel housing, rear axle carrier, brake reservoirs, bumper, fuel tanks, wheels and hubs, as well as some frame components where appropriate.

Some other weight savers are a single exhaust stack, lightweight front and rear brake drums, and an AirLiner suspension.

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