With the ever increasing fitment of automated and automatic truck transmission, are those of us with the hard-earned skills involved in simply changing gear becoming RoadRanger dinosaurs? For those who haven’t been initiated in the dark arts of double de-clutching, this video shows just how much is involved in the skill.
The techniques required for truck driving are transforming fast at the moment. The introduction of computer control systems in the automatic gearbox have transformed the way drivers drive in local deliveries and working in vocational tasks.
Autos had been used for some time, but it was the improved performance coming along with multiple sensors, CANbus data and computer control, which gave the technology the impetus it needed to become close to ubiquitous in new truck sales in a number of market sectors.
However, the transformation which has led to fewer and fewer drivers being completely conversant with the mystery of the RoadRanger has been with the introduction of the automated manual transmission.
These are constant mesh boxes which need double de-clutching and careful matching of revs and road speed to work properly, but ones where the computer does all of the fine tuning and shifting of the cogs. The driver simply put the foot on the go pedal, or the stop pedal.
Of course, these skills which have been widespread in trucking for so long are not going to go away anytime soon. There is a place for the gearbox on which the modern Australian trucking industry was built to continue to do what it does best.
Here is the RoadRanger version of how to use the gearbox:
There are applications and sectors of the industry which will hang on to the constant mesh manual for a lot longer than others in the industry. Trucks hauling top weights in rural areas and in rough road conditions have traditionally stuck with the crash box and will do for many years to come.
New levels of computer control in AMTs does mean the subtle control performance of the autos will be able to get closer and closer to replicating those high level skills needed in extreme conditions, but those doing the job are likely to prefer to stick to the manual box.
It will be interesting to see just how much of an obscure historical document this YouTube video will have become in twenty years time. Will it be yet another of those lost skills, like roping, which will be left with the old hands when reminiscing, but not used day-to-day in the majority of trucking?