Compression Ignition Addict
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Central Virginia
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I am also an 'experienced' trucker -- and it is hard to explain how the "shifting without the clutch" works, but it is possible and most of us do it every day. We used to have 7-speed International straight trucks (DT466 & 530 engines) - which were replaced by Sterlings (Freightliner's leftover junk brand) with Cummins ISB & ISC engines, of course. They were phased into our fleet between 2007 and 2009. They all have Allison automatic (!) transmissions (6 speeds + reverse); nice in city traffic but just not the same as a good Spicer stick-shift in IMHO.
Our tractors are a mix of Internationals, Sterlings and Freightliners -- all of which are 10-speed manual transmissions (Eaton-Fuller, mostly). My favorite is the 2009 Freightliner Cascadia, with the next-best one being the 2007 Columbia. The Sterlings we have are junk, but they do have a nice Mercedes-Benz diesel under their hoods. The 435-hp Detroit Diesel in the '09 Cascadia is the quietest of all, however, and the whole cab rides on air (rather than just the chassis & the seat).
When I shift, I don't pay much attention to the tachometer; but rather I can "hear" when the right time to shift is upon me. I suppose it is sort of an instinct (?), as I can jump into an entirely different truck and have it nailed down in about ten minutes. With the newer trucks, it seems a little trickier because the tranny & gears might not be "loosened up" for awhile. Even so, you'll figure it out by driving it and driving it.
The cool thing about trucking is that you learn something new every single day. Show me a driver who knows everything, and I'll show you a damn liar!
Good luck to you and keep the shiny side up!!
~ Trucker by trade ~
2008 Sterling Acterra 3-axle straight truck (240-hp Cummins ISC)
2006 International 8600 tractor (350-hp Cummins ISM)
"If I passed you on the right, you're in the wrong lane!"