Thursday, April 16, 2009

PACCAR Truck testing facility

We recently visited the PACCAR facility down in Mt Vernon, WA. They have a yearly open house to coincide with the Tulip Festival down in La Conner, WA.

Here is some information on the PACCAR truck testing facility (<--- click link) , short exerpt follows:

"And 70 miles to the north, at Paccar's main research center just west of Mount Vernon, the company can bake a truck at more than 100 degrees Fahrenheit, or freeze it to 50 degrees below -- and dump 5 inches of snow on it every hour"

"To test designs and prototypes, as well as finished products, in the real world, the Mount Vernon technical center has twin mile-and-a-half tracks. The outer loop is a banked high-speed track used for testing aerodynamics and fuel economy. The inner loop features sections of broken concrete, potholes, diagonal speed bumps, sharp curves, a dirt road, a salt-water shower and a 30-degree hill. As a company video on the center says, "Bad roads go on forever"


This is truly a very large facility dedicated to the testing, improvement and design of Kenworth trucks, 242 acres and 200 people work here.


They have set up displays throughout their complex.


You are able to find trucks of all kinds, old trucks, new trucks, restored trucks


Many of the local car and truck clubs make an appearance to display their collector vehicles


The local fire department is also showing off their impeccably restored fire trucks. The facility is all about safety. Safety in design of trucks, and road safety. They had a display of a truck's blind spot. If you drive a small car you have to be aware of the forward blind spot. This Miata sports car cannot be seen by the driver


Just imagine if you were travelling down the freeway and pulled in front of this truck, perhaps when the driver was distracted and didn't notice that you were there. We are all aware of the blind spots along the sides of a truck, but perhaps never noticed that there is a blind spot created by the long hood and high elevation of the truck cab. There is another problem of less visibility if you ride a bike for oncoming traffic would not be able to see you blended into the grill. Your bike and the truck would appear to be one vehicle.

Here is another view from the driver's position


The Miata has disappeared. Make sure if you pull in front of a truck that you maintain some distance forward from the truck just so that the driver will know you are there. If the driver pokes his head out his window, then he will be able to see you


This situation if probably something that you have never thought of before. Trucks have a blind spot from the FRONT


There were many displays set up throughout. They had a "snow" room. A complete truck is left at freezing temperatures with fine mist being blown onto the front with fans to produce SNOW. This is to test cold weather starting and windshield wiper operation. There are also many robots opening and closing doors, switches being turned on and off, shocks being pressed . . . videos running, voluteers explaining everything, but unfortunately they have posted signs prohibiting photography, so being the good person that I am, I abided by their request of NO PICTURES. I presume that a lot of their procedures are top secret and they don't want any information leaking out.

If you wish to go, you will have to wait for the open house next year. It is definitely worth a visit.

Message for Conch: (<-- click link)

You are able to find various varieties of coconuts in Vancouver

(Filet variety, grown without a shell and covered in resin wrap)


  1. Must be Canadian genetically engineered coconuts- I've never seen pointy headed ones before. Anything we can do they can do better.
    I used to drive a truck to fulfill a lifelong ambition and I hated the way car drivers viewed the truck as an obstacle and would pull in front at any cost, apparently even at the cost of their lives sometimes. After I vested in the Teamster pension plan I checked that experience off my to do list (I didn't go over the road as I like my wife).

  2. Conch:
    I think every driver should ride in the cab of a Tractor unit as part of their licence process. It would open their eyes as to how the truck drivers are always being cut off, or cars coming into their "safety" zone. Hopefully they will realize that trucks, with their 40,000. lbs of cargo, cannot stop on a dime.

  3. Dear Bobskoot:

    Against all odds, you have included extremely practical information in your blog today. I am compelled to recommend it to my riding club and advise them to look at this installment of your blog.

    Thank you for including this demonstration.

    Jack Riepe
    Twisted Roads

  4. those coconuts are the norm here in Asia. they are machine cut into shape.