If you’ve been on the receiving end of a concrete truck’s chute, like I was for a while in 1976, you know that a front-discharge mixer can save you some work, because it drives right up to where the stuff’s needed and starts pouring. The trucks I saw were labeled “Rite-Way” because, I learned later, its inventor out in Utah believed that this was the “right way” to deliver concrete.
Rite-Ways were made in Fort Wayne, Ind., by a group of midwestern producers who obtained a license to build them for their own use. Others wanted to buy them, so these guys spun off the company, and it and the trucks took the name “Advance.” After more changing of hands, that operation today is Terex Advance Mixer, Inc., owned by Terex Roadbuilding.
Terex Advance FDB6000 Specifications
- Truck: Terex Advance FDB6000, front-discharge mixer chassis, forward cab, rear-engine, six axles, w/ full frame inserts, Work Truck Premium and Cold Weather packages, tare 36,300 lb., GVWR 84,000 lb., legal GVW 75,000 lb.
- Engine: 12.8-liter MTU 1300 (Detroit DD13), 450 hp @ 1,800 rpm/1,550 lb.-ft. @ 1,100 rpm, w/ engine brake and block heater.
- Transmission: Allison HD4560 fully automatic 6-speed double overdrive.
- Front driving axle: 22,000-lb. Marmon-Herrington MT 22H w/ hub reduction gears & 5.38 ratio, w/ 445/65R22.5 tires on aluminum discs, on steel leaf springs.
- Rear tandem: 46,000-lb. Dana Spicer 46-160 w/ driver-controlled differential locks & 5.38 ratio, on Hendrickson Primaxx air-ride, w/ 445/65R22.5 tires on aluminum discs.
- Brakes: 16.5 x 7-in. S-cam drums on front and rear drive axles, 15 x 4-in. S-cam drums on lift axles.
- Wheelbase: 204 inches
- Pusher axles: 11,020-lb. Hendrickson Composilite air-liftable w/ 285/70R19.5 tires on aluminum discs
- Rear booster tag axle: 13,200-lb. Watson & Chalin air-ride, hydraulic Hi-Lift T2 w/ 11R22.5 tires on aluminum discs
- Fuel tank: single 75-gal. aluminum
- Body: 11-cu. yd. Terex/Advance Mixer Package
Several competitors today also build rear-engine trucks with forward-facing barrels, but only Terex/Advance can claim this lineage. And the company is moving ahead with new-and-improved FD models. They look similar to the previous trucks, but a test of one of the larger rigs showed that drivers will benefit from more cab interior room and a shorter turning circle. The improvements are incorporated into all-new trucks, like this one, as well as glider kits that are powered by rebuilt or remanufactured engines, transmissions and axles.
Terex began producing the new trucks last October, one year after halting new-truck production because, except for gliders, the market for new front- and rear-discharge ready mix trucks had about died in the wake of the Great Recession. Many employees were let go, but parts and service workers stayed on, because business in those sectors stayed strong as producers kept old trucks running. And key line workers stayed on to help engineers take advantage of the long lull by redesigning the plant for more efficient flow of components and parts.
FDs remain low-volume products, with production of 25 to 30 per month in January, but it’s climbing as the improving economy, pent-up demand, and Terex’s new vehicle design bring in orders and create more jobs, said the director of sales and marketing, Dave Rinas. In the pre-delivery shop, he and others pointed out some of the changes to the new trucks, using the test vehicle as a massive prop. It was an FDB6000, meaning Forward-Discharge with a long-armed rear Booster axle, with six axles total. (Non-boostered trucks are called FD, though all have at least one lift axle.) Like all new Terex trucks, this one had a set-forward front-driving axle mounted to slightly shorter leaf springs, plus repositioned steering gear. These alterations were made to cut weight and provide more cab room for drivers, but they also allow the wide front wheels to cut more sharply and reduce the turning circle by 10 to 25 percent. This was noticeable a little while later when I drove the truck.
Also obvious were the 8.5 inches of extra leg room—I could really kick my short legs out, and long-legged guys should be comfortable, too—and several inches more overhead room in the enlarged, stainless steel cab. The leg room came partly from stretching the wedge-shaped nose by 3 inches, which also made space to house air and electrical junctions accessed through a removable panel. Rerouting air and electrical lines throughout the chassis should improve access to them, Rinas had said earlier. Also, the wiring harness is now modular and can be replaced in sections. The old FD series had 13 basic axle and frame configurations, but to cut costs, the new model has just six configurations and these will cover 98 percent of the market.
Our subject truck was one of a healthy order from Ernst Enterprises, based in Dayton and with operations in Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky and Georgia. The truck had worked briefly before returning to the plant for some adjustments. Jim Aslin, a veteran truck specialist who covers the Northeast for Terex, explained that this truck’s rear booster, two pusher-type lift axles and long, 204-inch wheelbase are needed to comply with Ohio’s bridge-formula law that requires stretching out those axles. With an “outer bridge” (the distance between axles 1 and 6) of 33 feet, 7 inches, the truck can legally gross about 75,000 pounds in Ohio and, with a payload capacity of 47,000 pounds, can usually carry 10 yards of concrete.
These things I was told in the nicely heated inspection area, but outside it was only 15F—a cold, cruel world, for sure. But a good heater made the FDB’s cab snug and warm, I soon learned after climbing a two-rung ladder and stepping onto the left fender and then down into the driving compartment. I punched the Allison into Drive and moved out, making my way to nearby streets. Soon I had a gripe: The heater blower was noisy, even at low speed, but that turned out to be my only negative observation.
The FDB had far fewer gauges then most highway trucks, but included a toggle switch to engage the front-driving axle, plus a few more for the locking rear differentials and the transfer case’s high and low ranges. I left those alone because I stayed mostly on pavement, but did venture onto a large construction site to shoot some exterior photos. The ground was almost as frozen as the air, so footing was firm, even if the big wide-base tires left shallow tracks. Climbing down and back up with my camera was easy, thanks to well-placed steps and handles.
I had gotten a feel for the truck’s solid steering, strong braking, and rather smooth ride by the time I drove down a ramp to Interstate 69 and some high-speed travel. There and on city streets, straight-ahead steering was agreeably stable with no wandering; tight turns required quickly spinning the small, sporty wheel and then spinning it back to center. With the tight wheel cut, I could easily make hard right turns from curb lane to curb lane, while watching that the rear end’s swing-out didn’t clobber anything.
Brakes were powerful, and the pedal is now hung from above rather than hinged on the floor—another change in the new model. There was some bouncing, but it was muted by my suspension seat, as well as the long leaf springs on the steer axle and air bags on the rear axles. There was a bit of vibration during hard acceleration, but that’s more than understandable with the power running through a transfer case and the three tandem gearboxes in a driveline and chassis set up to handle rough off-road travel. This is no Lincoln limo.
At 65 mph, the 12.8-liter MTU diesel revved at about 1,725 rpm, busy but within specs for a vocational engine, and noise was muted because of the engine’s far-away placement at the rear of the chassis. It was rated at 450 horsepower with maximum torque of 1,550 lb.-ft., so with no load in the barrel, it accelerated well and got up to road speed quickly. I imagine this engine can propel a loaded truck quite well, too.
A competitive marketing situation requires Terex to call it an MTU 1300, though it’s a DD13 in other companies’ product lines. MTU is Motoren und Turbinen Union, a German company. The organization that sells Detroit-built, MTU-branded, on-highway engines to Terex Advance for use in its forward-discharge mixers is Tognum America, Inc., a joint venture of Daimler and Rolls-Royce. At Terex, MTU has taken the place of Caterpillar, which exited the on-road truck-engine business at the end of 2009. All of Terex’s new-truck production into February was with MTU 1300s. The first Cummins diesel, an ISX12, was in the plant’s receiving area while I was there, and the 11.9-liter ISX will be the second engine choice.
As a 2013 model, the MTU 1300 included on-board diagnostic equipment mandated by the federal EPA. Otherwise it had 2010 equipment, with a DPF and a dosing chamber for diesel exhaust fluid, or DEF. These are mounted in a strongly braced vertical stack just to the left and ahead of the engine.
A new engine with its aftertreatment equipment costs about $45,000, which pushes up a truck’s price to more than $200,000, Rinas said.
“Customers comment on the cost until they get the trucks,” he said. “Then they like the fuel economy, which is substantially better” than pre-2010 diesels. Fuel savings help pay for pricey new trucks, in this application and most others, industry people have said.
Front-discharge mixer trucks have traditionally cost more than rear-discharge mixers on conventional chassis, Rinas said. “But in an apples-to-apples comparison, the difference is 15 to 18 percent,” which is less than I had heard. The “apples” include an Allison automatic transmission which is standard with Terex but not on the other truck type. But an FD’s life-cycle cost is less, he said, because it lasts several years longer and can be glider-kitted to extend its life even more. Glider kits are 40 percent of Terex’s production, and it’s common at competitors, but kitting is seldom done with conventional trucks.
If I could’ve foreseen all this back in ’76 when those Rite-Ways showed up at our work sites, I’d have appreciated them even more. And maybe I’d have looked for a job driving one. But it wouldn’t have been nearly as capable and comfortable as this Terex FDB.