The engine brake innovation on the Volvo FH allows the driver to have even more control of the truck in descent situations. Diesel News drove one of the new models to Adelaide to check this out.
The control of the engine brake is done by using a stalk on the right hand side of the steering column. All functions for this are now automated, in the fully forward position. In this case, if the driver touches the brake pedal, the system will blend all braking systems depending on the kind of braking required. Exhaust brake will be joined by engine brake and, finally, service brakes, as and when required.
Pulling the control backwards turns the engine brake off and then a series of steps increase the amount of braking engaged in three steps. Maximum efficiency for the engine brake is available from 2000 to 2100 rpm.
This test run gave Diesel News a chance to test this functionality in an ideal situation, descending down through the Adelaide Hills into the city. First off, the driver needs to get into a suitable gear for the entire descent before the grade steepens. This is achieved by getting into the gear and then hitting the ‘hold’ button.
It was reckoned seventh would be appropriate with a fully loaded B-double set in tow. After setting the gear, the engine brake is engaged fully. There is a button on the end of the engine brake control, which, if pressed, will set in train a deceleration procedure, engaging the engine brake, down changing to get the revs up and so on until its down into sixth. This can be deactivated by a touch to the accelerator.
Interestingly, on another section of this test run it was possible to drive a Mack Superliner and see how some of these technologies are starting to appear in the North American brand. Over time the amount of technological help for the driver is set to increase as these systems are adapted to the Mack trucks and the way in which they are driven. Hill start aid and traction control (without sensitivity control) have already appeared. Next cabs off the rank include adaptive cruise control and lane keeping support.
As it happens, the grade down into Adelaide would probably have been manageable in eighth gear, travelling down in seventh felt extremely secure and the FH was overtaking a considerable number of trucks making the descent.
Often climbing into a truck to drive a shift, it’s is all about getting there and enjoying the view. On this occasion it was less about what was going on in the landscape and more about just pushing the buttons and seeing what they do.