They're Back

Rugged, rigid-frame off-highway trucks get a new lease on life.

Before articulated dump trucks arrived on the scene, rigid-frame, heavy-duty, no-frills off-highway dump trucks performed the haulage tasks at construction sites, quarries and mines. One by one however, the firms that built trucks named Cline, Hayes and Dart eventually turned off the lights. While some of the older rigid-frame trucks are still kept on the job by dedicated shops, it's a best-kept secret that brand-new examples can still be ordered. That's something Western Star intends to change with its 6900 XD 40-ton truck.

A new model of a truck that has actually been available for a number of years, the 6900 XD is designed to minimize cost per ton of material hauled and maximize shift productivity through efficient fuel consumption, fast cycle times and operator comfort.

These trucks are already in the field, working in mines from South Africa to West Virginia. To order such a truck before required the buyer to do the work at the dealership, selecting the proper components and finding a dump body manufacturer to have one custom-made. With the 6900 XD, Western Star has made the truck a package, creating marketing materials that speak to construction and mining equipment buyers and simplifying the ordering process: it's now a point and click experience, a turn-key solution for mining and quarry customers.

Other than the 110,000-lb. planetary drive axles, the truck shares its major components with other Western Star products. There are no proprietary high-priced parts: customers don't want to have to replace expensive fenders.

Key components include a Detroit Diesel Series 60 engine with Tier 3 off-highway emission ratings, a fully automatic Allison 4500 RDS transmission, and purpose-built dump box.

Western Star is collaborating with Somerset, PA-based J&J Truck Bodies & Trailers to build the truck for extreme-duty mining and quarry applications. The program provides customers with a new Western Star 6900 XD paired with a dump body from J&J. Trucks are shipped from Western Star's Oregon plant to Somerset, where the box is installed.

"Western Star is known for its rugged construction and durability, and this is the first time we've offered a body program that caters specifically to the extreme-duty operator," said Chuck Whitehead, vocational segment manager for Western Star Trucks. A subsidiary of Daimler Trucks North America LLC, Western Star Trucks Sales, Inc., Redford, MI, produces heavy-duty custom trucks for long-haul and vocational applications.

The 6900 XD features proven technology in a new package. One of the most significant changes over an old Cline, for example, is that the 6900 XD has an actual cab, rather than an operator's station. The truck benefits from Western Star's experience with long-haul trucks and gets air conditioning, a telescopic steering wheel, air-ride seat, wood-grained dash, and more.

The 6900 XD can be up to 35% more fuel efficient than traditional off-road haulers when haul distances exceed one mile. Good fuel economy, combined with stable loaded top speeds of more than 40 mph in the proper application, gives this truck highly efficient cycle times.

"Our bodies are a complement to Western Star vocational and extreme-duty trucks," says Bill Riggs, president of J&J Truck Bodies, which was founded in 1958. "Together, we now offer customers the ability to carry heavier payloads and conquer the toughest road terrain."

J&J Truck Bodies & Trailers specializes in building aluminum and steel dump bodies and trailers for light, medium, and heavy-duty trucks and tractors.

Whitehead believes a lack of marketing helped spell the untimely demise of this category of truck. To sell the 6900 XD, Western Star will get creative. An on-highway Western Star dealership might not have one on the lot, and may not be ready to discuss rim pull or rolling resistance specifications. Western Star is working to educate those dealers and help them find customers where dealers might least expect it.

"We'll be educating Western Star dealers, and help them open people's eyes to technology that has always been there and works today," says Whitehead. "For the overall cost of ownership for the lifetime of the vehicle, you can't beat it."