Cum­mins X12 en­gine

As the say­ing goes, it’s not the size of the dog in the ght but rather the size of the ght in the dog, and therein is the essence of the Cum­mins X12. Small in stature, it is an en­gine punch­ing well above its weight. Lit­er­ally! Yet de­spite an ex­ten­sive

Australian Transport News - - Contents - WORDS & PHO­TOS STEVE BROOKS

Small in stature, it is an en­gine punch­ing well above its weight. Lit­er­ally!

Some­times it takes a while to come to grips with a par­tic­u­lar piece of hard­ware. Other times it seems to hap­pen in a heart­beat. And so it was with the Cum­mins X12. Al­most from the mo­ment the right foot went down and the Ken­worth tugged its 56-tonne bulk for­ward, the 500hp (373kW) X12 re­vealed it­self as some­thing spe­cial. Some­thing out­side the square.

Sure, there’s no short­age of po­tent en­gines in the 12- to 13-litre class and one way or another they all have their at­tributes. For the most part they are strong, re­li­able and fuel ef­fi­cient. No ques­tion!

That said, though, af­ter a day and a half be­hind the wheel of a Ken­worth T408 SAR and quad dog com­bi­na­tion hauled by this livewire light­weight, I’d ar­gue long and loud that none de­liver this much punch and this much re­sponse from such a mod­est lump of metal as the X12. Again, it truly is some­thing out­side the square and it’s in­creas­ingly ap­par­ent I’m not the only one who thinks so.

Sit­ting in the shot­gun seat of the 408 was the truck’s owner, John Cramp­ton. A straight-shootin’, quick-wit­ted in­di­vid­ual with a lar­rikin sense of hu­mour, the bloke known sim­ply as ‘Crampo’ has been in the dirt-mov­ing busi­ness in and around the Coffs Har­bour dis­trict of north­ern NSW all his work­ing life.

But be­ware! Lurk­ing just be­hind the ea­ger smile is a wily thinker with blunt in­tol­er­ance for ap­a­thy and a mind honed sharp by ex­pe­ri­ence and com­pet­i­tive in­stinct.

Thirty years ago – and just out of his teens – he bought his first truck, an ’88 Atkin­son tow­ing a 2-axle dog trailer. Thus evolved the com­pany called Crampo’s Tip­pers, today op­er­at­ing a fleet of 24 units rang­ing from PBS truck and dog com­bi­na­tions to spe­cial­ist rigid tip­pers and a hand­ful of con­crete ag­i­ta­tors.

When it comes to trucks, trail­ers and any­thing else to do with his busi­ness, he does not suf­fer medi­ocrity.

Yet while stick­ing with what works,

“Along with a num­ber of signi cant changes to the cool­ing sys­tem and front sus­pen­sion, Cum­mins has stripped more than 820kg o the weight over the front axle com­pared to the 15-litre lay­out”

there’s no hes­i­ta­tion in try­ing some­thing new if the case stacks up.

Cum­mins-pow­ered Ken­worths dom­i­nate the op­er­a­tion but the pres­ence of a cou­ple of Freight­lin­ers and Detroit en­gines, along with a few DAFs, sug­gests that choices de­pend largely on needs and op­por­tu­nity.

An adamant Cramp­ton ex­plains: “One type of truck doesn’t fit all the things we do. Never has and prob­a­bly never will.

“Some trucks run long dis­tances with grain and fer­tiliser, oth­ers spend most of their time do­ing quarry and con­struc­tion work along the coast, some run in and out of farms, oth­ers do hot mix and bi­tu­men seal­ing, and then there are four ag­i­ta­tors as well.

“There’s a lot of di­ver­sity in the work we do and the trucks re­flect that. I guess the en­gines do, too,” he adds. “I fig­ured a long time ago that it doesn’t pay to have all your eggs in one bas­ket.”

And it shows. Ken­worth and Cum­mins are the pre­ferred com­bi­na­tion for a num­ber of rea­sons but none more than ser­vice, essen­tially through the lo­cal Brown & Hur­ley deal­er­ship. Still, no one model reigns supreme and you don’t have to look hard to find ex­am­ples: a T480 with an M11, T408s and 409s with 15-litre ISX and Paccar MX en­gines, and T3s with the 8.9-litre ISL. Still do­ing an hon­est day’s work, there’s even an old K-se­ries with its orig­i­nal 14-litre Big Cam un­der­neath.

As for the rel­a­tively new in­stal­la­tion of the X12 in an eight-year-old and ex­tremely well-pre­served T408, Cramp­ton is sur­pris­ingly quiet for a mo­ment.

“That’s some­thing you prob­a­bly need to ask Chook,” he says with a shrewd grin. “But I do know he was keen to get you up here to drive it.”

Funny thing, though, I think Cramp­ton was keen to get a sec­ond opin­ion as well.

SUC­CESS­FUL PART­NER­SHIP

‘Chook’ is Mike Fowler, Cum­mins di­rec­tor of en­gine busi­ness, and I’d talk to him soon enough. For now, and with a bit of urg­ing, Cramp­ton was at least will­ing to pro­vide some back­ground be­hind the rea­sons for re­plac­ing the truck’s orig­i­nal 15-litre ISX EGR en­gine with its 12-litre sib­ling.

The short ver­sion of the story is that ‘Chook’ and ‘Crampo’ have known each other for a good while. With Cum­mins want­ing to add another di­men­sion to its long-run­ning X12 trial pro­gram, and Cramp­ton more than will­ing to op­er­ate an en­gine that even on pa­per ap­peared to tick a lot of boxes, ar­range­ments were promptly put in place.

Essen­tially, the truck went to the pi­lot cen­tre at Cum­mins head­quar­ters in Mel­bourne, the 550hp (410kW) 15-litre ISX that had notched more than 17,500 hours pulling dog trail­ers through the hills and hol­lows of north­ern NSW was re­moved, and over the next few months a highly de­tailed trans­plant was per­formed.

It wasn’t just the en­gine, though. With Cramp­ton firmly con­vinced that time and tech­nol­ogy are now right, the Ea­ton 18-speed man­ual gear­box

was re­placed with its au­to­mated Ul­trashift-Plus coun­ter­part. The au­to­mated Ea­ton is, in fact, now the Cramp­ton stan­dard.

“You have to keep mov­ing for­ward,” he com­ments, “and from what I see, they’ve ab­so­lutely got the auto box right.”

In­deed they have. In fact, it took lit­tle time be­hind the wheel to form the firm opin­ion that the re­la­tion­ship be­tween en­gine and trans­mis­sion in this in­stal­la­tion is with­out doubt the best I’ve ever found in US equip­ment, and that in­cludes the for­mi­da­ble en­gine and au­to­mated trans­mis­sion pair­ing in var­i­ous Mack models.

What­ever shift pro­gram Ea­ton wrote for this par­tic­u­lar truck with this par­tic­u­lar en­gine in this par­tic­u­lar ap­pli­ca­tion, it should be set in stone. It was that good, with lev­els of in­tu­ition and shift qual­ity sim­ply sec­ond to none.

The trans­mis­sion’s ca­pac­ity for mak­ing huge skip shifts and the en­gine’s will­ing­ness to pull away with­out moan or groan from as low as 1000rpm was noth­ing short of ex­tra­or­di­nary. This truly is a big en­gine in a small pack­age.

What’s more, this trans­mis­sion also fea­tured a ‘dual mode’ func­tion, read­ing sus­pen­sion air pres­sure to in­stantly ad­just shift se­quences be­tween loaded and un­loaded con­di­tions. Clever!

RE­PORT CARD

Now, with more than 10,000km un­der its belt since the truck’s re­turn to Coffs Har­bour, there are no re­grets. None at all, and it’s a se­ri­ous Cramp­ton who ex­plains: “Truck com­bi­na­tions in Aus­tralia are for the most part con­strained by di­men­sions, so for a high-gross ap­pli­ca­tion like a PBS truck and quad dog, you need a truck with a short BBC [bumper to back of cab] like the SAR.

“But with a big bore en­gine, a short BBC puts re­stric­tions on space and weight, so there’s a neg­a­tive im­pact on pay­load.

“That’s where an en­gine like the X12 is such a vi­able al­ter­na­tive if it can de­liver the right lev­els of per­for­mance and fuel econ­omy. And, as far as I’m con­cerned, it’s de­liv­er­ing both.”

“It’s def­i­nitely not shy when it comes to work. It

“Given its mod­est dis­place­ment, en­gine brake per­for­mance of the X12 is mar­ginal at best”

might be a small en­gine but there’s noth­ing small about the way it pulls.

“Like I said, it ticks a lot of boxes for this sort of work.”

Ar­guably the big­gest tick of all, though, is in the box marked ‘tare weight’. With a dry weight of just 860kg in its cur­rent Euro 5 form, the X12 is around 540kg lighter than its 15-litre brother.

How­ever, the big news in the Cramp­ton in­stal­la­tion is that, along with a num­ber of sig­nif­i­cant changes to the cool­ing sys­tem and front sus­pen­sion, Cum­mins has stripped more than 820kg off the weight over the front axle com­pared to the 15-litre lay­out.

For the record, the stan­dard multi-leaf front sus­pen­sion was re­placed with par­a­bolic springs, while the orig­i­nal cop­per and brass ra­di­a­tor made way for an alu­minium assem­bly based on the cool­ing pack­age used with Paccar’s MX en­gine and in Ken­worth’s new T610 range.

The pay­load im­prove­ment is ob­vi­ously sig­nif­i­cant but, ac­cord­ing to Cramp­ton, there’s still more work needed to max­imise the en­gine’s full pay­load po­ten­tial.

At the mo­ment, the truck strug­gles to reach six tonnes over the steer but, as Fowler ex­plains, there are ways and means of

in­creas­ing weight over the front axle. For ex­am­ple, the X12 is an ex­tremely com­pact pack­age – in fact, it’s now also be­ing tri­alled un­der the short snout of a Ken­worth T359 in a weight-sen­si­tive fuel haulage ap­pli­ca­tion – and sim­ply lo­cat­ing the en­gine fur­ther for­ward will re­sult in a no­table in­crease over the steer, which, in turn, will al­low more pay­load over the drive axles.

As for fuel, the av­er­age is 1.93km/litre, or 5.5mpg in the old scale, mea­sured over the en­gine’s first 4000km since re­turn­ing to Coffs Har­bour. AdBlue con­sump­tion is typ­i­cally around 3.5 per cent of fuel con­sump­tion.

Cramp­ton ad­mits to be­ing sat­is­fied with the early fig­ures. As he is quick to point out, the en­gine is still new, the hills are many in and around Coffs, and loaded weight is al­ways around 56 tonnes.

“Any­one who reck­ons that’s not rea­son­able fuel con­sump­tion for a new en­gine hasn’t spent much time pulling quad dogs around here,” he says abruptly. “Be­sides, it’ll only get bet­ter as it goes along.”

Still, there’s one box the en­gine doesn’t tick. At least not yet.

Given its mod­est dis­place­ment, en­gine brake per­for­mance of the X12 is mar­ginal at best, an opin­ion no doubt ac­cen­tu­ated by the for­mi­da­ble brak­ing power of the 15-litre en­gine it re­placed.

And there’s the thing: Cum­mins set the bar ex­cep­tion­ally high with its 15-litre en­gine dis­pens­ing up to 600 brak­ing horse­power.

So given the X12’s peak brak­ing out­put of about 375hp, it’s easy to be dis­ap­pointed in a high-weight ap­pli­ca­tion run­ning over steep hills. Even un­loaded it’s sur­pris­ingly unim­pres­sive, strug­gling to pull road speed back when run­ning from, say, an 80km/h zone into 60. It needs to be bet­ter.

For­tu­nately, Fowler says there are sev­eral ways to im­prove the 12-litre’s brak­ing per­for­mance – but again, given its rel­a­tively mod­est dis­place­ment, im­prove­ments may be sim­i­larly mod­est.

DRIVER’S SEAT

Mean­time, back be­hind the wheel, ev­ery­thing Cramp­ton was say­ing was quickly be­com­ing ob­vi­ous.

In terms of pulling power, the X12 was full of sur­prises. There’s a deep rum­ble rem­i­nis­cent of its big­ger brother as it digs to­wards a torque peak of 1700lb-ft (2305Nm) at 1100rpm, matched by a level of gritty de­ter­mi­na­tion across the rev range be­ly­ing the en­gine’s humble 11.8-litre dis­place­ment. Again, though, in this in­stance it’s a per­for­mance un­equiv­o­cally en­hanced by a su­perb affin­ity with the Ea­ton shifter.

Yet marry this in­her­ent tenac­ity with a level of throt­tle re­sponse, which I’m pre­pared to sug­gest is un­matched in any in­stal­la­tion of sim­i­lar pro­por­tions, and you can be quickly left won­der­ing about the vast ar­ray of work­loads ap­pli­ca­ble to some­thing so light yet of­fer­ing such solid per­for­mance.

As Cramp­ton puts it: “It’s al­ways horses for cour­ses and I prob­a­bly wouldn’t use it for pulling a 5-axle dog, but other than that I can’t see why it wouldn’t han­dle most other jobs. I ex­pected it to be a rea­son­ably good thing but it’s def­i­nitely bet­ter than I thought it’d be.

“Think about the pay­load you’d get if it was in a T350 pulling a 3-axle or even 4-axle dog. That’d be awe­some, I reckon.”

Cramp­ton pauses for a mo­ment: “There’s never re­ally been any en­gine like this since Cat’s C12 and C13.”

He’s right, but the dif­fer­ence is the X12 does it with con­sid­er­ably more grunt. Then again, the Cum­mins cur­rently lacks some­thing the Cats didn’t. A truck to call home!

HOME­LESS OR HOMELY?

They may not like to ad­mit it, but it’s a fair bet Cum­mins in­sid­ers have long known it wouldn’t be easy find­ing a home for the X12.

Sim­ply ex­plained, the gi­ant diesel en­gine spe­cial­ist missed the boat badly al­most a decade ago when it found it­self largely empty handed in the wake of Cat’s 2008 de­par­ture from the on-high­way en­gine busi­ness.

Sure, Cum­mins had its 15-litre Sig­na­ture en­gine to sup­plant the yel­low com­pany’s C15 but what it didn’t have was some­thing to step into the void left by the sud­den de­par­ture of Cat’s su­per-suc­cess­ful C12 and its C13 suc­ces­sor.

It’s no se­cret, of course, that in our part of the world, Cat’s lit­tle big boys carved a huge fol­low­ing – never more than in Ken­worth’s T4 range. Be­fore then, Cum­mins had rea­son­able suc­cess with its M11 and ISM en­gines but, as Fowler ad­mits: “Once the C12 ar­rived, we were out of the pic­ture be­tween 400 and 450hp.

“The C12 kicked a lot of goals and Ken­worth was quick to cap­i­talise with the T4, par­tic­u­larly as 50-tonne truck and dogs en­tered the mar­ket.”

Of course, Cat’s de­par­ture also cre­ated a mas­sive void at Ken­worth. It, too, had noth­ing to fill the hole and it would take a long and te­dious de­vel­op­ment pro­gram be­fore the Paccar MX-13 was ready to start life un­der the snout of a T4.

How­ever, with the MX now on stream, why would Ken­worth con­sider adding the X12 to the port­fo­lio and po­ten­tially risk sales of Paccar’s own en­gine?

An an­swer de­pends on who you talk to. Ask some Ken­worth deal­ers and sales­men, and they will qui­etly and very un­of­fi­cially ad­mit they’d like the X12 be­cause the Cum­mins rep­u­ta­tion for ser­vice is sec­ond to none and re­ports about the en­gine’s at­tributes are start­ing to fil­ter deep into cus­tomer ranks.

Fair enough, but what Ken­worth’s cor­po­rate masters in Seat­tle would have to say about the X12’s in­clu­sion is open to spec­u­la­tion. From the out­side look­ing in, it won’t be an easy sell. Then again, Ken­worth and Cum­mins are both ex­cep­tion­ally good at keep­ing the cus­tomer sat­is­fied.

Like­wise, it’d be a brave in­di­vid­ual who’d sug­gest that Volvo Group would al­low Mack to add the X12 to a fam­ily sta­ble al­ready en­dowed with a hugely pop­u­lar 13-litre en­gine.

Sim­ply put, there’s a bet­ter chance of win­ning Lotto.

Maybe Freight­liner! Maybe so, ex­cept that Freight­liner is part of Daim­ler. So, too, is Detroit Diesel, and it has an en­gine of sim­i­lar dis­place­ment called a DD13. Sure, DD13 in Aus­tralia sells lit­tle bet­ter than square mar­bles but, nonethe­less, it’s still part of a large and pow­er­ful cor­po­rate col­lec­tive with its own agen­das.

Then again, cor­po­ra­tions can be strange crea­tures at times and the re­cent ap­pear­ance at a ma­jor US com­mer­cial ve­hi­cle show of a Freight­liner with an X12 un­der the snout did not go un­no­ticed.

Make of that what you will but it cer­tainly fires the thought that Daim­ler’s other de­pen­dant, West­ern Star, could also be a can­di­date for an X12. It’s a big maybe, though, par­tic­u­larly in our neck of the woods where West­ern Star and Detroit Diesel both op­er­ate un­der the Penske ban­ner, and the con­sis­tent feed­back from the mogul’s men is that X12 and Star won’t be co-habit­ing any­time soon.

How­ever, as you’ll read soon enough, the X12 is al­ready on trial in a cou­ple of West­ern Stars and, from all re­ports, do­ing a great job.

Mean­while, what about In­ter­na­tional’s

ProS­tar? With no vi­able al­ter­na­tive to the X12 from within its own ranks, surely ProS­tar’s ap­peal for short-haul truck and dog ap­pli­ca­tions would be en­hanced by adding the light and lively 12-litre Cum­mins to a port­fo­lio al­ready equipped with the X15 en­gine. Be­sides, it’d cer­tainly be some­thing of a coup to be the first to of­fer an en­gine with so much ap­par­ent po­ten­tial. But don’t hold your breath.

Given the de­bil­i­tat­ing de­lays in bring­ing ProS­tar to mar­ket, you’re prob­a­bly bet­ter go­ing for another Lotto win than wait for any­thing re­sem­bling an In­ter­na­tional ini­tia­tive.

Look­ing out­side the square, per­haps X12 could be a can­di­date for a na­tion­al­ity other than Amer­i­can. Ja­panese, for in­stance. Mar­ket leader Isuzu doesn’t lack for much ex­cept an ef­fec­tive prime mover model, and it’s no great se­cret that some of its lo­cal lead­ers would dearly like a strong, ef­fi­cient, ad­vanced en­gine around the 12- or 13-litre size for its flag­ship Giga. Again, though, it’s hard to see a way through the cor­po­rate com­plex­i­ties.

On all th­ese sce­nar­ios and sug­ges­tions, Fowler just shrugs and says: “We’ll keep do­ing what we’ve been do­ing, and that’s build­ing a case for the X12 by show­ing the mar­ket what it’s ca­pa­ble of.

“We al­ready know it’s ca­pa­ble of so much and so do a lot of oth­ers. Word is get­ting around.”

BUILD­ING A CASE

On a quiet Satur­day af­ter­noon in the lat­ter part of 2012, I was given an un­of­fi­cial and def­i­nitely ‘off the record’ steer of a Ken­worth T609 in the in­dus­trial back­blocks of south-east Mel­bourne. Un­der­neath the droop­ing snout was a Cum­mins 13-litre en­gine, se­cretly in­stalled at the com­pany’s Scoresby pi­lot cen­tre.

Yep, that’s right, 13 litres! The en­gine was a test unit built at a state-of-the-art Cum­mins man­u­fac­tur­ing plant in China. With Aus­tralia be­com­ing a global field test site for Cum­mins, it was sent here for a two-year trial to val­i­date re­li­a­bil­ity, per­for­mance and fuel econ­omy in a B-dou­ble shut­tle op­er­a­tion. Horse­power was said to be “some­thing above 500hp”.

Known in­ter­nally as the ISZ13, the en­gine was essen­tially built for the bur­geon­ing Chi­nese mar­ket where Cum­mins has es­tab­lished large op­er­a­tions in joint ven­tures with the mas­sive Dong Feng and Fo­ton brands.

In this case the 13-litre was part of the Dong Feng busi­ness, and for Cum­mins South Pa­cific it was an ideal op­por­tu­nity to as­sess the en­gine’s mer­its for the Aus­tralian mar­ket. Af­ter all, there re­mained a yawn­ing gap in the Cum­mins prod­uct range be­tween the 11-litre ISM and the 15-litre ISX.

How­ever, lit­tle more than a year later, in Septem­ber 2013 to be ex­act, some­thing oc­curred that would take the lo­cal fo­cus off the 13-litre and shove it square in the face of an en­tirely new en­gine project called the G-se­ries. Not to be con­fused with the ex­ist­ing ISX12 en­gine de­signed and built in the US for the US, the G-se­ries would come in 10.5- and 11.8-litre dis­place­ments, with the big­ger of the two ul­ti­mately known as the ISG12.

While de­sign and de­vel­op­ment would be led by a team in the US, the G-se­ries was cre­ated in a joint ven­ture with Fo­ton – the Beijing Fo­ton Cum­mins En­gine Co. – and would be built in China in a high-tech plant de­scribed as the show­piece of Cum­mins man­u­fac­tur­ing fa­cil­i­ties around the world.

In­deed, at the an­nounce­ment of the new en­gine fam­ily, its im­por­tance was ide­ally de­scribed by Cum­mins vice-pres­i­dent and chair­man of Cum­mins China Steve Chapman, when he said: “The G-se­ries global de­sign ap­proach is a vivid demon­stra­tion of how Cum­mins is trans­form­ing from a multi-na­tional to a truly global com­pany.”

Af­ter that, noth­ing much was heard of the ISG12 in our neck of the woods un­til its ap­pear­ance at the 2015 Brisbane Truck Show, ac­com­pa­nied by a press re­lease an­nounc­ing the start of Aus­tralian field tri­als.

Cum­mins was ex­cited, and rightly so. Fi­nally, here was an en­gine with the ap­par­ent at­tributes to fill a seem­ingly in­ter­minable void in the Cum­mins cat­a­logue. What’s more, Cum­mins was quick to point out that “the field test pro­gram is solely a Cum­mins project, with en­gine in­stal­la­tion car­ried out at the brand’s Scoresby pi­lot cen­tre”. In other words, it was to­tally a Cum­mins ini­tia­tive.

Still, look­ing small and spindly along­side its 15-litre brother at the Brisbane Truck Show, and with no im­me­di­ate sign of an ea­ger truck part­ner, the fu­ture was un­de­ni­ably un­cer­tain.

Nonethe­less, Cum­mins was de­ter­mined to push

“The Cum­mins rep­u­ta­tion for ser­vice is sec­ond to none and re­ports about the en­gine’s at­tributes are start­ing to lter deep into cus­tomer ranks”

for­ward, cit­ing a long list of fea­tures start­ing with the “in­no­va­tive ar­chi­tec­ture” of a sculp­tured block de­sign and ex­ten­sive use of com­pos­ite ma­te­ri­als to bring the en­gine’s dry weight down to just 862kg.

What’s more, with 500hp and 1700lb-ft of torque, and torque rise said to be as high as 60 per cent, the ISG12 could claim ti­tle to the high­est power-to-weight ra­tio of any en­gine in the 10- to 16-litre class.

Then there was the XPI com­mon-rail fuel sys­tem de­rived from the 15-litre en­gine, gen­er­at­ing in­jec­tion pres­sures over 30,000psi to achieve high lev­els of fuel ef­fi­ciency and en­gine re­sponse. Plus, the rel­a­tive sim­plic­ity of a waste gate tur­bocharger, a sin­gle cam in-head de­sign, and a rear gear train to keep vi­bra­tion and noise down.

By the time the 2017 Brisbane Truck Show rolled around, Cum­mins had more big news. For starters, in a clever mar­ket­ing ini­tia­tive, both the ISG12 and the 15-litre ISXe5 were re­branded the X12 and X15 re­spec­tively. The re­ally im­por­tant news, how­ever, was that both en­gines would be able to meet the pro­posed Euro 6 emis­sions stan­dard with­out any EGR in­put.

Given the depth of dif­fi­cul­ties with its ISX EGR en­gine, it was wel­come news that went way be­yond the Cum­mins camp. On those 12-litre field tri­als, the first unit ac­tu­ally went on the road a month be­fore the 2015 truck show, again in a Ken­worth T609 run­ning top-weight B-dou­ble shut­tles be­tween Mel­bourne and Tar­cutta. Yet de­spite the prospect of fill­ing an ob­vi­ous gap in the Cum­mins range, Fowler ad­mits he was ner­vous about the 12-litre en­gine’s abil­ity to with­stand the pres­sures of an in­tense B-dou­ble work­load.

“I hon­estly wanted to see if we could break it,” he con­fides, “but, in two years and 400,000km, it has done ev­ery­thing asked of it and then some.

“I sup­pose you could say I’ve been sur­prised, but when you take a long, hard look at it, I think the real tech­no­log­i­cal break­through with the X12 has been the cre­ation of an en­gine with such strong power den­sity in a light­weight cast iron block.”

Four more X12s are now on trial in var­i­ous ap­pli­ca­tions. There’s one in a Lind­say Trans­port West­ern Star haul­ing non-stop B-dou­bles be­tween Sydney and Brisbane, which has now notched an as­ton­ish­ing 1 million kilo­me­tres in less than two years.

Word has it that fuel con­sump­tion of this unit is con­sis­tently around 2.3km/litre (6.5 mpg), which is in­cred­i­bly im­pres­sive con­sid­er­ing the work­load. It’s worth not­ing, how­ever, that AdBlue con­sump­tion is rel­a­tively high at around 7 per cent of fuel con­sump­tion.

There’s another en­gine in a B-dou­ble fuel tanker op­er­a­tion with Toll Liq­uids, again in a West­ern Star. Still in the Toll op­er­a­tion, there’s also an X12 in a Ken­worth T359 pulling a sin­gle fuel tanker which has ap­par­ently set a new bench­mark for tare weight.

Most re­cent in the ranks is John Cramp­ton’s T408 tip­per and quad-dog com­bi­na­tion.

“There have been the oc­ca­sional is­sues,” Fowler re­marks, “but se­ri­ously, we’re more than happy with the re­sults in re­li­a­bil­ity, per­for­mance and fuel.

“We’re par­tic­u­larly ex­cited about some of the fuel fig­ures that are com­ing through.”

WATCH THIS SPACE

As for the fu­ture, it’s a cau­tious and per­haps even eva­sive Fowler who says: “There are many op­tions on the ta­ble but the po­ten­tial for the X12 is ob­vi­ous to most peo­ple who know any­thing about it.

“All I can re­ally say right now is that Cum­mins will con­tinue to pur­sue all op­por­tu­ni­ties and there are def­i­nitely many ap­pli­ca­tions where a light­weight, fuel-ef­fi­cient, high-per­for­mance en­gine would be wel­come.

“It’s all about en­ergy pro­duc­tiv­ity and by that I mean max­i­mum pay­load and min­i­mum fuel. The X12 ticks that box prob­a­bly bet­ter than any, so it’s more a case of when rather than if it will be of­fered in a truck.

“Per­haps the big­gest ques­tion is whether a Euro 5 or Euro 6 ver­sion will be the first X12 on the books of a truck sup­plier. I reckon we’ll know soon enough.”

Above: Strong, light and com­pact. The X12 ts eas­ily un­der the SAR hood and dra­mat­i­cally re­duces weight over the front axle

Be­low: John ‘Crampo’ Cramp­ton. Cum­mins X12 ticks a lot of boxes. The en­gine’s har­mony with Ea­ton’s Ul­trashift-Plus shifter is ex­cep­tional

Op­po­site: Cum­mins en­gine chief Mike Fowler and John Cramp­ton. X12 in­stal­la­tion in a well-pre­served T408 was a good move for both. Per­for­mance of the 12-litre is sur­pris­ingly strong

Above: There’s a lot of pride in the Cramp­ton eet and work­loads are di­verse. Ken­worth and Cum­mins dom­i­nate but un­der the snout of this classy SAR is a Paccar MX-13. Still, Crampo says he’d pre­fer an X12 if it was avail­able

Be­low: Cramp­ton is a big be­liever in ‘horses for cour­ses’ and MX-pow­ered DAF CF does a good job in a par­tic­u­lar ap­pli­ca­tion

Above: Snapped dur­ing a driver change in Lind­say Trans­port’s Co s Har­bour de­pot, this West­ern Star is punched by an X12, notch­ing more than a million kilo­me­tres in less than two years. All on Brisbane to Sydney B-dou­ble work. Fuel con­sump­tion rates highly

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