Aussie Angles - Freightliner CL112-Low Trial Truck

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Safety enhancements are the driving force behind the design of Freightliner’s new CL112-Low [centre of gravity] agitator spec truck that promises no compromises on efficiency, productivity or reliability. New Zealand Trucking magazine was given a private reveal of the latest Freightliner to hit the road.

Freightliner are certainly seasoned players when it comes to producing vehicles for the vocational sector. While their market share in Australia and New Zealand is considerable, over the past five years they’ve gone on to dominate the US market with innovative newly designed vehicles that are bringing greater productivity and safety solutions across a broad sector of vocational applications.

On our side of the globe, concrete delivery companies are exploring new means to enhance safety for their drivers and customers, along with minimising the inherent risk of concrete truck rollovers caused by the movement of the load in the revolving bowl.

Freightliner engineer Kevin Buschert heads up the Columbia CL112-Low agitator project here in Australia, and looks after the New Zealand market as well. He took time out of his busy schedule to demonstrate how Freightliner in Australia have drawn upon the resources and research in the US, and working with body builder Cesco, adapted these latest technological advances to fit with local specification, delivering a cement agitator that has lowered the centre of gravity by an impressive 140mm.


Photo: Freightliner engineer, Kevin Buschert is immensely proud of what the company has produced.

“We have gone to a 28 percent thicker and nine percent deeper chassis rail,” Kevin said. “Sure, the rails might sit a bit higher, but it is worth it for the increased torsional stiffness we’ve gained. Certainly, the thicker and larger rails add a small amount of weight but all of the other changes that have been added means we are still lighter than the standard model. Our tare on this new CL112-Low is class-leading,” he adds with a smile. The reason behind larger size chassis rails that give the vehicle increased torsional strength is apparent when you look at how the Cesco bowl is mounted directly to what would typically be turntable angles strategically located along the chassis.

The absence of the traditional agitator bowl sub-frame has delivered approximately 100mm reduction in bowl height. The CL112-Low is shod with low-profile 275/70 R22.5 tyres that replace the standard 11R22.5 ones. This lowers the vehicle a further 40mm and also saves 66kg off the tare due to the lower weight of the low profile tyres. Because there is less flex in the sidewalls of the low profile tyres, roll stability is enhanced.

Consequently, the rear axle ratio has changed when specced with the Allison MD3000 RDS transmission, from a 5.86:1 rear axle ratio to 5.29:1. This maintains performance with the lower profile tyres.

“ We have retained the Freightliner Airliner 46K airbag suspension for drivability and comfort, as well as compatibility with low cost weight scales for operating efficiency,” Kevin explained.

“Meanwhile, the batteries have been relocated from the side of the chassis to under the passenger’s seat to free up space along the chassis and save weight. “ You might notice on this CL112-Low that we have located the DEF and fuel tanks on the left-hand side of the chassis and kept the right-hand side of the chassis free for the body builder to mount the pressurised water tank.” Kevin said other features that are unique to this agitator spec truck and make the driver’s daily operation safer include high grip steps. The external grab handles have additional ribs moulded into the outer circumference to ensure a driver has positive grip when entering or exiting the cabin. “Because the agitator barrels are considerably narrower than a traditional van body, we have mounted the mirrors on narrow arms, which greatly reduces the overall width of the vehicle and enables the vehicle to be more easily manoeuvred into tight construction sites safely.”


Photo: The mirror arms have been narrowed to take advantage of the concrete bowl not being as wide as a normal body. This improves working room when manoeuvring in tight spaces.

Another area that helped shed weight is the use of Meritor STEELite brake drums on the front steer axles and CentriFuse drums on the rear axles. The inclusion of alloy air tanks also helped shed a few more kilos. Industry-leading ConMet PreSet Plus hubs with Timken bearings are fitted as standard. On the safety side, an additional maxi-brake booster can also be optioned to run on the trailing steer axle to improve the park brake operation when a concrete truck is unloading on steep gradients.



Photos: Mounting both the DEF and fuel tanks on the left has allowed room for the pressured water tank on the right.


Under the hood there is the latest generation 8.9-litre engine Cummins ISLe5. In this vehicle the engine has the top power rating of 298kW (400hp), and 1700 Nm (1254lb/ft) of torque, and is married to an Allison 3000 RDS automatic transmission. The high power-to-weight ratio of the combination makes this an ideal combination for urban concrete distribution in either the 8x4 or 10x4 configurations.

The standard Cummins compression brake delivers up to 335kW (250bhp), which means there is less wear on the vehicle’s ser vice brakes. The rear engine Power Take Off (PTO) on the Cummins ISLe5 delivers ample power to drive the agitator’s hydraulic drive.

Up front there is a massive 1300 square inch (8387 sq cm) engine-mounted radiator that ensures close fan to shroud clearance for maximum cooling efficiency.

Nevertheless, the Freightliner CL112-Low can be optioned up with either Eaton’s 18-speed manual or UltraShift PLUS or the larger Allison 4500 RDS, which can bring the vehicle’s gross combination up to 40,000kg.


Photo: Mounting the bowl directly to the meatier chassis reduces its height by 100mm. Running a lower profile 275/70 R22.5 takes a further 40mm out.

That’s good news for country operators who may prefer to option the Eaton FO-14E309ALL-VMS (VMS – Vocational Multipurpose Series) AMT, which has 11 forward gears and three reverse gears, as this transmission with its tall top cruising gear ratio of 0.73:1 will deliver improved fuel economy on longer leads that country operators traditionally experience. Meanwhile, the extra low ratios – 26.08:1 in first and 20.84:1 for reverse – in the VMS UltraShift PLUS make this transmission well suited to curb and channel work where the vehicle is required to crawl along while feeding the profile machine. “ The CL112-Low can be fine-tuned to perfectly fit whatever job our customers have and the platform is not just limited to agitator specced applications either,” says Kevin. “ We can deliver it in 6x4, 8x4 and 10x4 configurations to suit a wide variety of construction and distribution applications.” Other standard safety features include Roll Stability Control, traction control and Wabco ABS anti-lock brakes. The cabin design really has put the driver first, with wide opening doors and clear vision over the steep sloping hood. The dash layout is practical with all the gauges in clear view at a glance, and the switches are easily accessible in an intuitive layout for ease of operation. Given that the CL112-Low is traditionally specced as a day cab, the spacious interior means there is ample room for a driver to store his lunch box and paperwork.

This CL112-Low has been prepared for upcoming field trials in NSW. New Zealand Trucking magazine will report on the results of the trials when they have concluded.