The week before Christmas, we switched out trucks at the Freightliner Cleveland, NC manufacturing plant. We dropped off our 2018 Cascadia, known as New Blue, and moved into our new Cascadia, which we have named Celeste. Celeste has some pretty big shoes to fill, as New Blue's lifetime fuel economy came in at 9.513 mpg.
After moving everything out of the old truck and settling into the new one, the first load to be transported put us at a gross vehicle weight (GVW) of 78,500 pounds. Having a fairly heavy load was not really how I wanted to test out the new Cascadia on its first trip. Celeste's specs were designed to really take advantage of lighter loads, by being able to lift an axle when its weight carrying capacity is not needed. The trailer which I pull also has a liftable axle, for this very purpose. So now, with our new truck, we can run on five axles when needed, or as low as three axles when loaded extremely lightly, or when empty. There are many advantages to lifting an axle when not needed:
- Less parasitic drag
- Less scrub from a tandem axle assembly when lifted
- Better tire wear
- Reduced tolls
All this leads to improved efficiency and profitability.
As a side note, there seems to be an unexpected benefit of having a lift axle on the truck and on the trailer as well... ride quality seems to be improved. At this point, I haven’t gotten the opportunity to drive our new truck with its axle lifted, due to the heavy load incurred on its first trip. I have, however, had a lift axle on our trailer for several months. What I noticed is that when the axle is lifted, the ride quality seems to be better. The only reason I can come up with, is there are fewer points of contact to the road surface. So the question becomes, “Which is smoother: five-axle positions hitting a bump, or three to four axles hitting the same bump on the road?”.
Here are the specifications for our new 2022 Cascadia, Celeste, powered by:
- Engine:Detroit Gen 5 DD-15 455 / 1850FTP @ 975 RPM
- Transmission: Detroit DT12 overdrive automated manual transmission .78
- Rear-axle: Detroit 23,000 lb with 2.61 rear axle ratio and active lube management
- Lift axle: Hendrickson Optimax
- Steer axle: Hendrickson Airtek air ride
- Single left side-mounted 150-gallon fuel tank
- Detroit Assurance Gen 5 collision mitigation system
- Lane keep assist
- Link active cab suspension
- Freightliner dual HVAC battery-powered sleeper HVAC system
- Merlin solar panels on the cab roof and hood
- 229-inch wheelbase riding on the latest Michelin X-Line energy tires
- And of course, wide base singles on the tandem axle assembly
The trip home from the Carolinas to Laredo at 78,500 lbs, with holiday traffic, yielded 8.8 miles per gallon on the dash, as well as figures calculated from the pump. This trip was 1,382 miles each way and at one point, traffic on the interstate got so heavy that we decided to play tourists, and explore the city of Anderson, South Carolina and follow some older U.S. and state routes, just for a change of scenery.
So, you might be wondering how we came about naming our new ride “Celeste”. Well, after going through many names ranging from Chameleon to Centipede, which all had to do with the truck's ability to lift axles and reduce its footprint upon the highway, we decided to look in a different direction. You could say we looked to the stars. The name “Celestial Blue” came to mind for two reasons. The first reason was for the Merlin solar panels, which extract energy from the sun, and the second reason was for the heavenly ride provided by the air ride front suspension and link active cab suspension.
After some discussion, we decided on shortening it to just “Celeste”. We feel the name is very fitting:
Celeste (name) - Wikipedia
"Celeste or Céleste is a given name or surname which derives from the Latin caelestis, meaning heavenly or celestial.".