Next up, “SCR 101.” SCR is an emission control system that has been developed and applied toward meeting 2010 emission control requirements. By the use of Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF) exhaust gas flows into the device and is scrubbed and continues to flow downstream to an Aftertreatment System (ATD). The ATD is the device that finishes off the cleansing of the exhaust gases by means of Selective Catalytic Reduction. Prior to the exhaust gas entering the ATD it is dosed by Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF) in a decomposition reactor. The resultant material on exit from the DPF is water and Nitrogen. It is entirely possible to run one of these machines in downtown LA and actually be cleaning the air. During the class all aspects of the SCR system are discussed so I would like to leave those details for you when you attend the course.
The receiving department — Seen are diesel engines of various models and Allison 3000 Series transmissions in the foreground and a number of 1000 and 2000 Series transmissions stretching off into the distance.
During our discussions we all noticed the door opening and into the room entered Robert Harbin, President of FCCC. Mike introduced him and without wasting much time Robert greeted the attendees of and began speaking to the group.
Robert began his comments by speaking about the Oasis Service Center Network. He also spoke about receiving customer feedback and encouraging owners to be actively involved in making the centers better by completing dealer surveys. Freightliner is also committed toward introducing Factory Service Centers in select markets like the one currently in operation in Gaffney. Robert stressed that customers should call 800- FTL-HELP for any difficulty or concern during business hours or emergency situations after hours. Continuing his comments, Harbin said that he expects a 100% callback on emergencies by an FCCC tech that will have the best grasp on any type of situation that an owner might present and how to bring the matter to a successful resolution.
Robert said that he often travels in an RV to rallies and talks directly to customers as a fellow RV’er. Bob also spoke about gaining business from Newmar which had been lost in 2004 because of service issues. The business has been renewed, he suggested, because the network of service dealerships have significantly improved. Robert concluded his remarks by telling us about the employee recognition program that is offered to company employees that go the extra mile to deliver services to customers beyond expectation. Bob’s comments and confident tone in speaking with the group was quite impressive. Concluding those comments Bob was given a round of applause. After Bob departed, Mike said that Bob makes it a priority to always come and meet both his customers and the attendees of Camp Freightliner.
Resuming class, we began a discussion about the various fuel filters and fuel water separators and speaking about the maintenance and servicing guidelines for each. Mike went to the parts room and obtained a fuel water separator so that we could get a better look at a real unit. What we looked at was a separator unit for a CAT 3126/C7/MBE application. The do’s and don’ts of fuel system maintenance were well covered by Mike and we have a good understanding of what the requirements are. Mike also demonstrated the correct way to fill a fuel filter before installation. Concluding this discussion we moved on to Air Dryers and their replacement and maintenance requirements.
This day was so far crammed with information however it wasn’t over yet. We concluded the day’s activities by receiving a complete and thorough discussion of air pressure requirements, weights and loading and tire balance and maintenance for both Goodyear and Michelin tires. By the time Mike called it quits we had covered 100 pages of material, had a number of video presentations, blackboard sketches and a thorough question and answer period. I can tell you one thing; it was exhausting but so rewarding in having learned so many new things about Freightliner chassis. The class let out at 4:30 but not before being asked to return at 5:30 for the Camp Freightliner cookout.
Since Mike brought me to camp this morning he took me back to the campground. He is an avid dachshund owner that he just had to stop and spend some time visiting Miss Roxy. Colleen was walking Roxy in the doggie park and I made the introductions. Mike just fell in love with Roxy and lifted her up off the ground and held her for a moment. Mike has 5 Doxies I have come to learn and he loves them all like they are his kids. He also has a Sheppard I believe just to keep all the Doxies in check I expect. One of the stories that Mike told us today involved the automatic coach levelers. You see Doxies are very protective of their environment and there was this time when Mike observed the herd go from one side of the rig to the other which triggered enough of a weight change to call for the air bags to inflate and deflate. Mike told us he was in stitches watching the rig rock back and forth and the Doxies went from once side to the other.
At 5:15 or so I got in my car and drove back to the center. When I arrived I found Dave Hoover grilling up hamburgers, hot dogs and sautéed onions. As I arrived the food was coming off the grill and we went inside. Again tables were setup and there was a nice spread put out by the Freightliner folks. While we were having dinner, Jonathan Randall, Director of Marketing was there and he took the time to speak to us. He told us that he was looking forward to his upcoming ride in a company RV out to the west coast with his children. Jonathan told us that he often travels in an RV so he has hands on experience with the products that they manufacture. In his comments Jonathan expanded on some of the comments that we had heard earlier from Bob. Jonathan took some questions at the end of his comments and I thought his answers were very informative.
During the course of the dinner the question was asked as to where folks had hear about Camp Freightliner and 2 of the participants responded that they had heard about it on iRV2.com. I was surprised to hear that however these folks continued their comments and were not shy in relating how good the content is on the website. The BBQ dinner went well and concluded at 6:30pm at which time we said our good evenings and each went our way. By the time I returned to our rig I was just about spent from getting up so early and training all day. I grabbed a cool bottle of ice tea and sat in front of the TV for a moment, checked my email and in a short while went off to bed at a somewhat earlier time than I normally do.
Another nice day on the horizon I thought as I finished up walking Roxy. I came back inside and said my goodbyes and gave Colleen a kiss and headed off to Camp. I arrived at the center at just about 8:00am and shortly thereafter Mike began his training session. The first topic of the day was all about vibration and tires. Mike instructed us to be able to identify the GG ring on a tire and be able to visually see whether or not a tire was properly mounted. He offered that if the GG ring was allowed to be eccentric for a number of days or weeks that there may have been a good chance that the tire would be permanently damaged and would need replacement in the event a vibration setup in the tires. We also learned that shaving tires is an absolute last resort if all else fails. We also learned 2 terminologies for aligning wheels called hub piloting and stud piloting. One thing that I can share with you is that when a tire is removed from the factory installed position one should mark the rims and studs so that the wheel can be re-installed in the position found. When the chassis leave the factory the wheels are properly balanced and the rims are perfectly centered. In closing the class discussed all matters that pertain to air gages and how to verify accuracy. We took the time to discuss devices like TPMS, Crossfire, valve stem positioning and extensions.
This appears to be a Cummins ISB07 and Allison transmission installed in the rail after the rollover.
One of the discussions that Mike presented was specifically for co-pilots and what to do in the event that the pilot winds up slumped over the wheel. This is not at all pleasant of a thing to think about however training is being prepared. Mike taught that a woman has a lot of strength in her left elbow and that she should position herself to push the pilot off and away from the steering wheel if there’s time enough to react. The first thing would be to stand adjacent to the driver’s seat and hold the steering wheel so the vehicle can continue down the road. At this point it is expected that the throttle pressure will have diminished. Pushing the driver back from the wheel and reaching over and pulling the emergency brake button out will cause the vehicle to slow quickly and when driven to the shoulder this situation can be handled much better than if nothing were attempted. Once the vehicle is pulled over to the side of the road, emergency medical assistance should first be summoned by calling 911 and emergency aid can be rendered until the EMS units arrive.
Our next topic of discussion was the Freightliner Vehicle Identification Number System, being able to interpret what is being shown by the 17 alpha-numeric characters and dissecting each position. The camp instruction book finished off with VIN#s up to 2009 and we established that Freightliner would be using the letter “A” in the 10th position to show vehicles built in 2010. All Freightliner Custom Chassis RVs will begin with the letters 4UZ. In regard to VIN number locations, we were shown where the VIN# can be found on the chassis in the event one needs to find that information in places other than the owner’s documentation. Most often the VIN# can be found in close proximity to the radiator and stamped on the inside frame rail. Closing this discussion we located where engine serial numbers would typically be found and where one could find the serial number for the Allison transmission.
After a brief Q&A we moved on to transmissions, the shift pad and the employment of the Mode switch. On recently built vehicles one can probably find an Ahrens Controls push button shift pad. The Mode switch takes on added benefits as well as a slight performance penalty if one is not trained to use the Mode properly. Mike covers the use of the Mode switch quite well so that it makes sense and it should become second nature to an owner much more rapidly rather than trying to read through all the literature. All Freightliner RV Chassis will have either a 2000 or 3000 series Allison automatic transmission. All FCCC Allison transmissions installed after January 4, 2004 are Transynd equipped. Depending on your year and model you will have either a 5 speed or 6 speed 2000 Series and the 3000 Series are all 6 speed. The current generation (4) of computer (TCM) will indicate on the shifter the selected gear and the gear that the transmission is currently in. Although the motorhome is powered by an automatic transmission, Mike will instruct that manually selected gear shifts are going to be preferable in some situations where grades need to be considered.
In closing this discussion Mike taught that Allison transmission have 2” and 4” pans and this will determine which oil filter should be used on the transmission. There are only 2 filter types, shallow or deep so getting the right filter is just dependent on knowing the depth of the pan.
Although I did not complete the entire course of training for the day, I want to say the Mike Cody is a very capable instructor and any new Freightliner owner should indeed consider attending this course. At about 11:00am my participation with the class concluded as there were other items on my agenda that I had to complete before day’s end. Gathering my materials I bid farewell to everyone and told them that I would hope to see them on iRV2.com at some point in the future.
I departed the building and made my way over to the assembly plant located on Hyatt Street. The Freightliner Custom Chassis sign at the entrance leaves nothing to the imagination as to where you have arrived. Parking, I entered the building’s lobby and was asked to sign in. Situated in an open lobby the guard behind the desk handed me a visitor pass. Shortly thereafter I was met by Bryan Henke. Bryan is the Marketing Project and Planning Manager for FCCC and is very closely tied into what happens on the plant floor. As we began our tour Bryan pointed toward the administrative, marketing and the engineering offices. Bryan commented that the building that we were in was the former Oshkosh stripped chassis plant. The business was purchased in 1995 from the Oshkosh Truck Corporation and since then they have been expanding and improving the 200,000+ sq. ft. facility.
Entering on the plant floor I put on the provided eye protection over my glasses and we began our tour. Bryan explained that in this plant there are 3 production lines. Two are dedicated to commercial chassis construction and school busses and a 3rd entirely dedicated to RV chassis. To my right was a staging area for uncrated engines and Allison transmissions. There were many pieces there and I took note that there’s no doubt a million dollars of power train gear waiting there for assembly. The process from being uncrated to the point where the engine and transmission are installed in a chassis is all orchestrated in a line that begins with the installation of the engine’s accessories and plumbing. The engines are rolled along the floor on a jig to the next station where more gear is installed. The transmission is mated along the way and then as the finishing touches are applied the subassembly is wheeled to a holding area. Identified by specific VIN# the engine and transmission are brought out to the line and installed JIT or just in time.
The laser alignment process finishes the assembly at this station. We are at the end of the line. Chassis is fitted with temporary steering wheel; dunnage box is on the frame and the rail will be driven from this station to the next.
At the head of the assembly line were a number of C channel rails and cross members. These pieces were precision aligned and assembled on a frame jig upside down and completed moved on to the next station. Bryan told me that the rails were custom ordered per customer specifications and did not have any extra holes in the rails unless they were going to be needed. Continuing, axles and springs are installed along with other accessories that are easier to fit in this attitude. Once all the gear is fitted, the chassis arrives at a roll over station. Apparatus is temporarily attached to the frame and by means of wide straps the roll over begins. The entire rollover process was very smooth as the chassis finished upright. The straps were removed and the chassis continued through the outfitting process to completion. One thing that was very noticeable through the tour was that there wasn’t an elevated noise level as one might expect in such a huge plant and we were able to carry a normal conversation without any trouble.
Continuing the tour Bryan showed me a large clean area where he stated that random chassis are pulled off the line and a team of quality control technicians go over the chassis with every intention to uncover any deficiency that might appear. Bryan stated that several chassis may go through this process in a single day but the intention is to trap any type of anomaly before it becomes a problem. Very noticeable at every stage of the assembly process were the recycling containers. Freightliner has recently achieved recognition from the South Carolina Smart Business Recycling Program as being a zero landfill contributor and did so 3 months ahead of schedule.
Turning away from the QC station the RV chassis line came into view. The XCR RV rails were moving along the production line and it was all very interesting to see the various stages of assembly. As we walked along the chassis became more complete and at the end of the assembly process Bryan pointed out the equipment that is used to verify the thrust alignment once the vehicle is in its completions stages. Each chassis is then taken to a station where the ABS operations are dynamically verified on rollers and a number of circuit diagnostics are recorded. The final phase of the assembly process places each chassis into a Dyno booth and the chassis are run up to temperature and observed operating up and down through the gears while every system gets a good workout. All of the data become a permanent record with the VIN# and concluding this verification phase the chassis are ready to ship.
As we were walking back from the testing buildings there was a brand new tag axle chassis sitting the yard which I was told was being shipped to the FMCA Rally in Albuquerque, NM. The factory tour took about an hour and I thanked Bryan for being such a great tour guide. Once we returned inside the admin offices, I was invited to meet some of the guys that make this whole thing run and that was great. I had the opportunity to meet David Hoover the Customer Support Manager, Jonathan Randall and Jennifer Edwards from Marketing were also there. Bob Harbin also made time to come out and participate in the discussion. FCCC is excited about joining iRV2 as one of its newest sponsors and we had a brief meeting over lunch. We discussed how best Freightliner could continue supporting their owners on iRV2 in monthly chat room sessions. The chat room sessions are normally going to be held on the first business day of every month and they will be announced a few days ahead of time. Jennifer was very upbeat about how well the first chat session went and we expect that the second will be even better. Reaching out and listening to their customers is a big part of the “Driven By You” concept and iRV2 is pleased to be able to be a part of that effort.
Click on the following link for more information about Camp Freightliner.
Freightliner Custom Chassis
552 Hyatt St.
Gaffney, SC 29341
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