Crown C5

Make de­liv­ers last­ing tech­nol­ogy in its C5 se­ries, with en­gi­neer­ing also to the fore

Australian Transport News - - Contents - ANDREW NOR­TON

In­ter­nal com­bus­tion (IC) trucks are great for mul­ti­ple shifts when there’s just not enough time to swap a bat­tery pack. And they have way more torque for climb­ing ramps laden com­pared to bat­tery trucks. But Crown has taken IC truck de­vel­op­ment to the next level. Its torquey cast iron John Deere en­gine (of­fi­cially des­ig­nated JD de­signed as Crown man­u­fac­tures the en­gine) is built to sur­vive the rigours of work­ing in ex­treme tem­per­a­ture, and it has fea­tures I’ve never seen be­fore in a small IC truck.

For ex­am­ple, most IC trucks have a solid cou­pled ra­di­a­tor fan that blows air through the ra­di­a­tor and out the back of the truck. Not so the C5. Ev­ery time the en­gine is started, the elec­tric cool­ing fan sucks air in through the ra­di­a­tor to clear it of de­bris and blow dust away from the en­gine.

The fan runs in this mode for 20 sec­onds, and then re­verses flow so cool­ing air is blown back over the ra­di­a­tor. But only when the en­gine ap­proaches nor­mal op­er­at­ing tem­per­a­ture. In cooler cli­mates, the fan only comes on when needed to re­duce coolant tem­per­a­ture, which saves fuel as it’s not run­ning all the time.

A sep­a­rate ra­di­a­tor (within the same hous­ing) is fit­ted to cool the trans­mis­sion fluid. Known as ‘on-de­mand cool­ing’, the con­cept is so log­i­cal it makes you won­der why it isn’t com­mon­place in all IC trucks.

An­other fea­ture is the ‘power brake’. In­stead of con­ven­tional drum brakes, larger C5 mod­els have full-cir­cle fric­tion disks on the trac­tion wheels that are de­signed to last up to 10,000 hours. The brakes are fully en­closed to vir­tu­ally elim­i­nate any dust and de­bris from en­ter­ing them, re­duc­ing main­te­nance costs.

The US-made C5 range has load ca­pac­i­ties from 1800 to 3000kg with lift heights from 2060 to 6100mm. Quad mod­els (four trac­tion wheels) have lift heights to 7500mm. As with Crown’s FC 5200 bat­tery trucks, there’s pro­vi­sion for hitch­ing up a small trailer.

JUST THE FACTS

Crown was very clever in us­ing the 2440cc JD 4024 in­dus­trial en­gine. This is avail­able in nat­u­rally as­pi­rated or tur­bocharged diesel ver­sions, or as gas or petrol en­gines.

I first tested a 4024 as a tur­bocharged diesel in a steel trawler yacht for Trade A Boat. The en­gine had a rel­a­tively low (for an in­di­rect in­jec­tion diesel) com­pres­sion ra­tio of 19.1:1 and un­usu­ally had hy­draulic lifters, elim­i­nat­ing the need for valve clear­ance ad­just­ments.

This well-bal­anced en­gine de­vel­oped 49.2kW at 2800rpm and an im­pres­sive 221Nm of torque at 1600rpm. It started in­stantly, didn’t blow any black smoke and was re­mark­ably smoothrun­ning for a rea­son­ably large dis­place­ment four cylin­der diesel. This shows just how flex­i­ble the 4024 en­gine is re­gard­less of whether it runs on dis­til­late, LPG, or petrol.

With its twin har­monic bal­ance shafts gear driven from the crank­shaft, the gas ver­sion is even smoother run­ning. Though not men­tioned in the en­gine brochure, I’d imag­ine the gas ver­sion would also have hy­draulic lifters.

Like the diesel, the gas ver­sion has a gear-driven camshaft that ac­tu­ates the valve rock­ers via push rods, which is way more re­li­able than even a chain-driven camshaft. Un­usu­ally, the spark plugs are mounted in the top of the rocker cover, and each plug has its own ig­ni­tion coil. To the right of the en­gine are an easily-reached sump oil dip­stick and a starter bat­tery for quick re­place­ment if needed.

The en­gine has a counter-flow or non-cross flow cylin­der head, so the ex­haust man­i­fold is be­neath the gas-mix­ing in­take man­i­fold. There is a 70 amp-hour al­ter­na­tor at the back of the en­gine which is driven by a self-ad­just­ing ser­pen­tine belt that also drives the cool­ing wa­ter pump. To the right of this is the coolant over­flow tank.

The air in­take is high up in the right rear-roof sup­port, and air is di­rected down to the large air cleaner, which ap­pears to be cy­clonic as there is a vac­u­a­tor at the for­ward end for clean­ing out any dust re­moved by the cy­clonic ac­tion.

Side pan­els are quickly re­mov­able to ac­cess more of the en­gine and re­lated com­po­nents such as the oil fil­ter, while the floor panel un­clips for ac­cess to the trans­mis­sion and the fluid fil­ter.

The hy­draulic pump for lift/lower and steer­ing is gear driven from the crank­shaft.

The oil and fil­ter change in­ter­val for the en­gine is an im­pres­sive 1000 hours.

With cast iron used for the en­gine and trans­mis­sion and dif­fer­en­tial hous­ings, the en­tire power train is de­signed to last 20,000 hours. The fac­tory war­ranty is 6000 hours – or three years – for the frame, power train and power brakes, and 4000 hours – or two years – for the ra­di­a­tor and se­vere-duty bat­tery.

DRIVE TIME

It was so good to get back to an IC truck. I do love bat­tery trucks for in­door work, but I have to ad­mit the C5 made me re-think that be­lief. The com­bi­na­tion of a torque-y and in­cred­i­bly well­bal­anced en­gine, and a re­spon­sive trans­mis­sion, make in­door or out­door tasks a plea­sure.

Turn­ing the ig­ni­tion key fires up the en­gine af­ter a few sec­onds, and it set­tles down to an al­most to­tally vi­bra­tion-free idle. With the en­gine cover raised, touch­ing the rocker cover while the en­gine was run­ning re­sulted in a slight tremor through my fingers but noth­ing more.

The gas en­gine was even smoother than the diesel. There was no smoke or even a gas smell on start­ing, and the re­verse cool­ing fan flow each time was so clever.

Once the 20 sec­onds were up, the fan just cut out as the en­gine warmed, and only came on when I was work­ing the truck up and down Crown’s Syd­ney ware­house floors or rais­ing the 1.3-tonne pal­let of en­gine oil we had as a test load.

Climb­ing up to the seat­ing po­si­tion was no sweat, though an op­tional grab han­dle on the left front roof sup­port would have been nice. The sus­pen­sion seat with ad­justable lum­bar sup­port was in­cred­i­bly com­fort­able, even for a porker like me.

Once set­tled in, I could ad­just the tilt of the steer­ing col­umn and quickly fa­mil­iarise myself with the con­ven­tional three-lever con­trols for lift/lower, mast rake, and fork tyne side shift. Vi­sion through the mast was very good. For older op­er­a­tors used to con­ven­tional con­trol lay­outs, the C5 would make them feel right at home. No fancy joy­stick con­trols here, just the in­cred­i­ble pre­ci­sion pos­si­ble from long travel levers.

The demo C5 had a load ca­pac­ity of 2.7 tonnes and lift height of 4570mm. But even with the pal­let fully raised, the truck was sta­ble. With­out the ac­cel­er­a­tor depressed, the lift speed was im­pres­sive and the en­gine barely bogged down rais­ing the pal­let. Of course, de­press­ing the ac­cel­er­a­tor pedal slightly does in­crease lift speed, but this isn’t nec­es­sary un­less some­one is hold­ing a stop­watch to your per­for­mance.

The well-bal­anced en­gine put hardly any vi­bra­tion through the seat, and ex­haust noise lev­els were lower than I re­mem­ber with most open IC trucks. Ac­cel­er­a­tion was good, though not quite as quick as the twin-trac­tion mo­tor bat­tery Crown FC 5200 se­ries. Still, with a top un­laden speed of 17.7km/h the C5 is no slouch and, touch­ing on top speed in a quiet cor­ner of Crown’s Syd­ney ware­house, I could start to feel the wind in my hair. Though, like the FC 5200, I just couldn’t get the trac­tion wheels to spin from a stand­ing start.

The elec­tri­cally op­er­ated park brake was quickly re­leased and, once for­ward or re­verse was se­lected, there was the usual ‘creep’ elim­i­nat­ing the need for us­ing the inch­ing pedal un­less on a slope. Crown’s ‘hill-hold’ fea­ture holds the truck on a slope when the trans­mis­sion is in gear with­out hav­ing to use the brake pedal. A very handy safety fea­ture.

The large brake pedal was way eas­ier to use than a con­ven­tional small-width pad, and handy for quick stop­ping with­out think­ing about it. When needed, the fric­tion disk brakes were very ef­fec­tive and, at low speeds, could vir­tu­ally stop the truck in­stantly. And, be­ing disk in­stead of drum, the brakes re­main ef­fec­tive when work­ing out­side a ware­house in the rain. THE FI­NAL WORD Crown has shown that there’s very much a fu­ture for small IC trucks. The amount of de­sign and de­vel­op­ment work is amazing for such a small truck – not bad con­sid­er­ing that over its 50 years plus of fork­lift truck man­u­fac­tur­ing, it has con­cen­trated mainly on bat­tery trucks.

The stan­dard of en­gi­neer­ing in the John Deere 4024 brings tears to the eyes of an old fart like me. It’s sim­ple, log­i­cal and vir­tu­ally un­break­able, and re­flects the ef­fort Crown has put into the C5. Bring on more of the same.

For more in­for­ma­tion on the C5, con­tact Crown Cus­tomer Sup­port on 1300 072 572.

Be­low: The amount of de­sign and de­vel­op­ment work is amazing

Right: The sus­pen­sion seat with ad­justable lum­bar sup­port was in­cred­i­bly com­fort­able

Op­po­site and above: Long-travel levers al­low for great pre­ci­sion

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