How Much Horsepower & Torque Do You Really Need?

As much as you can possibly get, right? Well, that’s true in some situations, but it’s definitely not the case for every vocational truck or application. Over-powering could end up costing you money—not just a higher initial engine price, but also increased fuel costs. Under-powering can be expensive, too, if it prevents you from getting work done as fast as you want. And making corrections after your truck is delivered isn’t cheap, either.

Here are a few tips to help you determine exactly how much horsepower and torque you might need, right from the start.

The relationship between horsepower & torque
We use these words all the time to describe engine capability, but what do they really mean? In the simplest terms, torque is what gets you started moving, and horsepower is what keeps you moving.

If you’ve ever used a torque wrench, you know that torque measures the length of the wrench multiplied by how hard you can push it. If you apply 100 pounds of force to a two-foot-long wrench, that equals 200 ft-lbs of torque.

By comparison, horsepower measures how fast you can apply torque. Imagine being asked to maintain exactly 200 ft-lbs as you circle a bolt faster and faster. That quickly becomes a challenge, and engines face it, too. That’s why they produce peak torque at low RPMs—just what you need to get your truck moving. At higher RPMs, however, the focus quickly shifts to horsepower and how fast the engine can apply its torque.

Additionally, key loads like rolling resistance and wind loading (just to name a few) are also measured in horsepower—thus making it convenient for designers to predict the required horsepower rating for the engine.

3 applications that might require as much horsepower or torque as possible
Here are a couple common scenarios to illustrate when choosing the highest horsepower engine available may be in your best interest:
1. You’re not concerned about how much the engine weighs (higher horsepower engines typically weigh in at 1,000 pounds or more) OR how much it’s going to cost you (acquisition + fuel costs). If that’s your situation, then absolutely choose the most horsepower and torque possible. You’ll be able to get more work done faster.
2. Your application requires hauling heavy loads fairly long distances on the highway or interstate. Your truck is never off road, and you load and unload at docks in paved parking lots. On the highway, your truck travels at 75-80 miles per hour, encountering significant wind resistance (the effect can be as much as double your next biggest load). In that situation, a higher horsepower engine allows you to maintain the highway speeds you need to get where you’re going quickly. But you might consider a lower torque rating since startability isn’t as critical.
3. You’re in a heavy-haul application, loading and unloading large machines at jobsites located off road in gravel or dirt lots. Your loads can top 100,000 pounds and are very un-aerodynamic, with significant wind resistance. When traveling on the highway, you want to maintain relatively normal road speeds. In this case, you want to spec your truck with a high horsepower engine to help maintain good road speeds, as well as high torque to provide good startability from load sites.

Performance is about much more than horsepower & torque
Not in one of those situations? Then you want to think more carefully about matching horsepower and torque to your application—and that means selecting the engine AND driveline components that will work together to meet your expectations. After all, a high-horsepower/high-torque engine coupled with the wrong driveline won’t give you the performance you demand.

First, you need a good understanding of the conditions your truck will face. What kind of surfaces or slopes will you work on? How much rolling resistance or wind resistance will you encounter? Will you use the power take-off while moving? What about accessory loads on the engine?

Second, you need to know your performance requirements. How much load do you need to haul? How fast do you need to get work done? How much fuel are you comfortable using?

The answers to all these questions are critical when selecting engine size.

Predict performance before you order your truck
That’s a lot to consider. The good news is, truck manufacturers have some fantastic electronic tools to help you out. Just work with your dealer to input your parameters—horsepower, transmission, axle ratio, tire size—and one of these analysis programs will spit out a report that predicts how your truck will perform in a variety of conditions. These programs are remarkably accurate, and you can play around with the inputs until you achieve the level of performance you want—all before you ever place your truck order.

(A word of advice: If you have a truck that’s performing the way you want it to, spec a truck electronically with the same or similar engine and driveline components. Then run a performance report. Next, modify a couple parameters—change the transmission type or axle ratio, for example—and run a second report. That way, you can compare the two to see how the performance will differ. It’s simpler than starting from scratch and gives you a known baseline to work with.)

The bottom line: Horsepower and torque matter, but they’re just one piece of a much bigger puzzle when it comes to maximizing truck performance. Take advantage of the tools and experience your dealer offers to choose the engine rating and driveline components that are right for your application—the combination that lets you keep costs down and profits up.

73 Cat® Trucks & Counting For Kentucky Construction Firm

If you want to know how the Cat® Truck performs in a rough, tough hauling environment, there’s no one better to ask than Fernando Messier. His Louisville, Kentucky-based firm has purchased a total of 73 CT660s since 2013—and has put them to the test on a variety of challenging construction, demolition, roadway, bridge and concrete projects.

“I am 100% confident that I put my trucks to work in the roughest, toughest conditions, and the CT660s have been up to the task,” Messier says. “We’re a heavy-duty company—hauling anything and everything—and they’ve taken it, no problem.”

A “stellar” reputation
A civil engineer by training, Messier started Messier & Associates, Inc. 15 years ago, focusing initially on consulting. About eight years ago, the company branched out into construction—and today, construction hauling and trucking is Messier & Associates’ biggest line of business. With a fleet of more than 60 vocational trucks, the company hauls asphalt, dirt, sand, aggregates, stone and more to and from construction sites in Louisville and across the region.

Today, 46 of those trucks bear the Cat logo. While shopping for some heavy construction equipment in early 2013, Messier learned about the Cat Truck from his sales representative at Cat dealer Whayne Supply and was intrigued.

“Caterpillar’s reputation has always been stellar,” he says. “We had very high hopes for our Cat Trucks from the beginning.”

Excellent horsepower, driver comfort & technology
Those hopes quickly turned into reality. Messier & Associates purchased 27 CT660s in 2013 and, in June 2015, traded those units in for 46 newer models. Why? Messier says Cat Trucks are built solidly and deliver the horsepower he needs. Plus, his drivers love them.

“They love the logo on the front of the trucks—they all know the reputation Caterpillar has,” he says. “And they tell me they’re intuitive and easy to operate, and they really like the ride.”

As a business owner, Messier likes the technology built into Cat Trucks—specifically Product LinkTM, Caterpillar’s asset and fleet management tool, and its web-based user interface, VisionLink®.

“It provides ongoing diagnostics on the trucks in real time, which has helped us identify problems before they end up costing us a lot of money,” he says. “It’s a very proactive system, which is a good thing in this type of business.”

The best service out there
In addition to purchasing his Cat Trucks from Whayne Supply, Messier relies on the dealership to keep them up and running.

“Three years ago, I had 10 trucks—today, I have more than 60,” he says. “Our business has grown rapidly, and we don’t have the shop or technicians to handle that much equipment.

So we have a Customer Support Agreement in place with Whayne for all of our Cat Truck maintenance. They have a very good reputation and do good work.”

Messier acknowledged he experienced some “growing pains” with his first batch of Cat Trucks, which wasn’t unexpected for a new product.

“But even when there’s a problem, Cat dealer service is still the best out there, bar none,” he says. “I’d encourage anyone to give the Cat Truck a try. Take it on a test drive. Do a demo. I can tell you they’re running laps around my old trucks, and I’ll absolutely go back to Caterpillar when it’s time to replace them.”

Cat® Truck Saves A Holiday, Boosts Company’s Bottom Line

Beth flood 1

In late June, when the Illinois River reached 24 feet—about six feet over flood stage—the city of Peoria, Illinois, had to work fast to keep the water from dampening one of the community’s biggest celebrations.

“They needed to save the Fourth of July,” says Chris Dillon, vice president of J.C. Dillon Inc., a local plumbing, heating and underground utility firm. “The river was originally supposed to crest at 24 feet, but it just kept raining and the river just kept rising.”

“Basically a big shop vac”
As the water rose, the city called on J.C. Dillon to help reinforce a sand barrier wall, as well as install plugs and caps on existing storm sewer drains, in an effort to keep the flooding away from Peoria’s riverfront—where tens of thousands of spectators gather annually for food, music and fireworks on Independence Day. While those preventive measures worked well, the wall sprung a few leaks, and the floodwaters began to seep through.

Enter J.C. Dillon’s Cat® CT660 Vocational Truck, a hydrovac unit developed through a relationship between Caterpillar, Cat dealers and Premier™ Oilfield Equipment. Hydrovacs use heated water to break up earth, then remove it with a powerful vacuum—a fast, safe and effective alternative to traditional excavation.

“It’s basically a big pump, a big shop vac,” Dillon says. “It pulls out material and it pulls out water.”

And it does both fast. That allowed J.C. Dillon to suck up the rising river water quickly enough to find the leaks in the wall and plug them—keeping the riverfront area dry for Peoria’s Fourth of July festivities.

Boosting production & the bottom line
Of course, removing flood water wasn’t the main reason J.C. Dillon invested in a Cat Truck hydrovac unit. The company has been using hydrovac technology for the past 15 years to increase production, boost the bottom line and reduce liability in several key areas of its business—including trenchless utility installation and directional drilling.

According to Dillon, hydrovac units also play an important role in verifying the location of existing underground utilities.

“In the past, we would rely on hand digging, which was labor intensive and costly, and we still ran the risk of hitting a gas line—which could lead to fines and liability issues,” he says. “Now, we send the hydrovac out in front of our crews to expose the lines quickly and safely. That allows us to do the work more cost effectively for our customers. The initial investment in the truck may be high, but it’s worth it in the long run.”

Service & support from one supplier
Dillon says he put off purchasing a hydrovac unit for some time because he didn’t like the idea of buying the chassis from one supplier and the body from another.

“I was concerned that there was no one to back up the whole truck,” he says. “What if something goes wrong and you send the truck to the chassis supplier, and they sit on it a few days and then tell you the problem is with the body? You could lose a week or two of production.”

Eventually, though, Dillon began pricing options with a variety of suppliers and was about to sign on the dotted line when he learned that Caterpillar had recently teamed up with Premier Oilfield Equipment to offer hydrovac units.

“I was pretty much sold when our dealer salesman at Altorfer told us they would be able to service the entire truck—the body and the chassis. It’s the only hydrovac on the market I’m aware of with that kind of dealer support,” Dillon says. “And since Altorfer runs two shifts, I knew we’d be able to bring the truck in anytime and get it back to work in a day or two.”

In fact, Dillon is so pleased with the Cat Truck’s performance and Altorfer’s service that he recently purchased a second hydrovac unit. The company also owns a Cat Truck lowboy tractor.

“At the end of the day, the combination of the Cat Truck and the Premier Oilfield Equipment hydrovac is one of the best solutions on the market,” Dillon says. “It’s a great all-around unit, and I have access to a dealer who can handle the complete truck. For the best long-term value, it’s the way to go.”

Truck Manufacturing Moves To U.S. Caterpillar Facility

Did you see last week’s big news? We’re bringing Cat Truck design and manufacturing in house! The transition will take a little time, but when it’s complete, the CT660, CT680, CT681 and any future models will be built in an existing Caterpillar facility in Victoria, Texas. Here’s a bit more detail for you:

Why bring design and manufacturing in house?
It’s part of our commitment to grow our presence in the vocational truck industry and to provide you with the best solutions. Chris Chadwick, Caterpillar’s director of the Global On-Highway Truck Group, had this to say about the decision:

“We appreciate the collaboration we have had with Navistar, but as we look to future launches of new truck models, this updated strategy will better position us to continue to provide our customers with the best products and service for this market. Caterpillar continues to drive the design phase of all models, both current and planned. We spent hundreds of hours on the road asking customers to describe the ideal truck. We know what customers want and need—from functionality of the truck itself to comfort in the cab. We plan to provide that as we grow this product offering to meet our customers’ needs.”

Why manufacture in Victoria, Texas?
The Caterpillar Victoria facility has a great team and outstanding reputation for quality. Just ask Ed O’Neil, general manager for Excavator Operations in Victoria

“The Victoria facility was selected because of our team’s proven record of building high-quality Cat products, our commitment to safety, our successful implementation of the Caterpillar Production System and lean manufacturing. In addition, support from the community and its excellent skilled workforce, as well as the proximity to suppliers, were also strongly considered.”

We’re excited to bring Cat Truck manufacturing back to the U.S. and to create about 200 new jobs in the Victoria area over the next few years.

What’s the timeframe?
The manufacturing transition will start right away, and we expect production to begin in Victoria in the first half of 2016. In the meantime, you have our commitment to keep producing high-quality Cat Trucks to meet your needs—and you can count on ongoing dealer support for any trucks you already own.

More questions? Check out our Cat Truck Q&A page for answers or ask your dealer. You can also submit questions on Facebook and Twitter using hashtag #CTQA. And watch this space over the next few months for more updates!

Caterpillar Announces New Strategy for Vocational Truck Product Family

Company to Bring Production of Trucks to a U.S. Caterpillar Facility

PEORIA, Ill. – Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE: CAT) today announced it will begin independently designing and manufacturing its vocational truck product family at its plant in Victoria, Texas. The plant, which opened in 2012, currently produces hydraulic excavators.

“The on-highway vocational truck product family is important to our product line; customers like our trucks and want to include them in their fleets in a variety of heavy duty applications such as dump trucks, mixers, haulers or one of the other configurations we offer,” said Chris Chadwick, Caterpillar’s director of the Global On-Highway Truck Group. “To continue to provide the best solution for our customers, we will bring the design and manufacturing of this product into Caterpillar, and the production specifically to Victoria. Our updated strategy reaffirms our commitment to grow and develop our presence in the vocational truck industry moving forward.”

Caterpillar launched its first vocational truck, the CT660, in the North American market in 2011. Two more models have since been added to the lineup, the CT680 and CT681. To date, Caterpillar has worked with Navistar for the products’ design and build, which are currently manufactured in Escobedo, Mexico.

“We appreciate the collaboration we have had with Navistar,” Chadwick said. “As we look to future launches of new truck models, this updated strategy will better position us to help provide our customers with the best products and services for this market. Caterpillar continues to drive the design phase of all models, both current and planned. Before launching the product, we spent hundreds of hours on the road with customers, asking them to describe the ideal truck. We know what they want and need – from functionality of the truck itself to comfort in the cab. We plan to meet and exceed those expectations as we grow this product offering to fulfill our customers’ needs.”

The transition process will begin immediately, with production expected to begin in the first half of next year. Caterpillar Victoria will continue to produce excavators, and the addition of the vocational truck production is expected to add around 200 new jobs at the facility.

“Caterpillar Victoria is proud to be a part of this opportunity,” commented Ed O’Neil, general manager for Operations for the Excavation Division. “The Victoria facility was selected because of our team’s proven record of building high-quality Cat® products, our commitment to safety, our successful implementation of the Caterpillar Production System and Lean manufacturing. In addition, support from the community and its excellent skilled workforce, as well as the proximity to suppliers, also contributed to the sourcing decision.”

Caterpillar dealers will continue to sell and support Cat vocational trucks.

About Caterpillar:
For 90 years, Caterpillar Inc. has been making sustainable progress possible and driving positive change on every continent. Customers turn to Caterpillar to help them develop infrastructure, energy and natural resource assets. With 2014 sales and revenues of $55.184 billion, Caterpillar is the world’s leading manufacturer of construction and mining equipment, diesel and natural gas engines, industrial gas turbines and diesel-electric locomotives. The company principally operates through its three product segments – Construction Industries, Resource Industries and Energy & Transportation – and also provides financing and related services through its Financial Products segment. For more information, visit To connect with us on social media, visit

Forward-Looking Statements
Certain statements in this Release relate to future events and expectations and are forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Words such as “believe,” “estimate,” “will be,” “will,” “would,” “expect,” “anticipate,” “plan,” “project,” “intend,” “could,” “should” or other similar words or expressions often identify forward-looking statements. All statements other than statements of historical fact are forward-looking statements, including, without limitation, statements regarding our outlook, projections, forecasts or trend descriptions. These statements do not guarantee future performance, and we do not undertake to update our forward-looking statements.

Caterpillar’s actual results may differ materially from those described or implied in our forward-looking statements based on a number of factors, including, but not limited to: (i) global and regional economic conditions and economic conditions in the industries we serve; (ii) government monetary or fiscal policies and infrastructure spending; (iii) commodity price changes, component price increases, fluctuations in demand for our products or significant shortages of component products; (iv) disruptions or volatility in global financial markets limiting our sources of liquidity or the liquidity of our customers, dealers and suppliers; (v) political and economic risks, commercial instability and events beyond our control in the countries in which we operate; (vi) failure to maintain our credit ratings and potential resulting increases to our cost of borrowing and adverse effects on our cost of funds, liquidity, competitive position and access to capital markets; (vii) our Financial Products segment’s risks associated with the financial services industry; (viii) changes in interest rates or market liquidity conditions; (ix) an increase in delinquencies, repossessions or net losses of Cat Financial’s customers; (x) new regulations or changes in financial services regulations; (xi) a failure to realize, or a delay in realizing, all of the anticipated benefits of our acquisitions, joint ventures or divestitures; (xii) international trade policies and their impact on demand for our products and our competitive position; (xiii) our ability to develop, produce and market quality products that meet our customers’ needs; (xiv) the impact of the highly competitive environment in which we operate on our sales and pricing; (xv) failure to realize all of the anticipated benefits from initiatives to increase our productivity, efficiency and cash flow and to reduce costs; (xvi) additional restructuring costs or a failure to realize anticipated savings or benefits from past or future cost reduction actions; (xvii) inventory management decisions and sourcing practices of our dealers and our OEM customers; (xviii) compliance with environmental laws and regulations; (xix) alleged or actual violations of trade or anti-corruption laws and regulations; (xx) additional tax expense or exposure; (xxi) currency fluctuations; (xxii) our or Cat Financial’s compliance with financial covenants; (xxiii) increased pension plan funding obligations; (xxiv) union disputes or other employee relations issues; (xxv) significant legal proceedings, claims, lawsuits or government investigations; (xxvi) changes in accounting standards; (xxvii) failure or breach of IT security; (xxviii) adverse effects of unexpected events including natural disasters; and (xxix) other factors described in more detail under “Item 1A. Risk Factors” in our Form 10-K filed with the SEC on February 17, 2015 for the year ended December 31, 2014.

Six Tips to Make Sure Your A/C Keeps its Cool

It’s summer, and the last thing you want on a hot, humid day is to be stuck inside a truck with no air conditioning—especially if you can’t open your windows on the jobsite. The best way to ensure your A/C is running efficiently is to get it professionally serviced before hot weather hits. That typically includes a check of the refrigeration charge, cleanliness of condensor-evaporator cores, recirculation filter, receiver dryer and vents. Then, follow these six simple steps to keep your cool all summer long.

1. Change your vent control.
Set it to the “summer” position—done!

2. Test your blower.
Make sure you run the blower at all speeds—and be sure to both listen and feel for changes in the air flow at each setting. Then, idle your truck and make sure the air conditioning fan keeps running at a steady rate.

3. Check your recirculation filter.
Clean out any dirt or lint you find in the filter. If you can’t clean it, that means it’s time for a new one. Also remember that you may need to inspect and replace this filter more often if you work in a dusty, dirty environment. (FYI, you’ll find the recirculation filter underneath the passenger seat in the Cat® Truck.)

4. Clean your condenser.
For the condenser to do its job as a heat exchanger properly, good air flow is essential. So check it often. Get rid of any debris, small rocks or bugs that may get caught inside and restrict air flow.

5. Inspect your hoses and drive belt.
Make sure all hoses, lines and fittings are secure. If hoses appear worn, replace them—the same goes for any broken lines and fittings. You also want to take a good look at the condition of the drive belt. Again, if it looks worn, you’re due for a replacement.

6. Park in the shade when you can.
That sounds like a no-brainer, but it can really make a difference on hot, sunny days. No shade? Turn on your A/C and roll down your windows for a few minutes when you start driving to let out the hot air. Can’t open the windows? You probably won’t melt. Cabin temperatures are designed to reach a comfortable level in five to eight minutes.

These six tips should keep you nice and cool during the dog days of summer. And remember, it’s never too late for a professional A/C service. Just ask your Cat dealer.

The Tide Waits for No Truck

Remember Win a Cat® Truck contest winner Coley Mulkern? Back in November 2011, more than 3,000 entrants competed for a brand-new Cat CT660 Vocational Truck, and Coley and his company—Lionel Plante Associates (LPA)—took home the grand prize. The folks at Milton Cat, LPA’s local dealer, recently checked in with Coley and provided this update:

“No passing, and no toll booths either. Instead, the Cat CT660 truck owned by Lionel Plante Associates spends a lot of time getting barged around from island to island, hauling drainage stone, seawall blocks, road gravel, winter sand and salt, waste-water drainage sand, topsoil and landscaping material. When it gets to its destination, off it goes to deliver its cargo, driving on rough and windy dirt roads and then back to the barge. Everything has to be perfectly planned and impeccably executed—the tide waits for no truck.

“It was four years ago, in November 2011, that LPA, one of over 3,000 contestants, won the Caterpillar ‘Win a Cat Truck’ contest, and time has not erased the smile from Coley Mulkern’s face. Actually, the very much hands-on CEO exudes the kind of energy that makes things happen and makes you want to be part of it, too. When we visited him to check on how his CT660 was doing, we were told that to see the truck in action we had to jump right then and there into one of LPA’s smaller boats to travel to another nearby island. Sorry, no time to grab a jacket; the truck could not be slowed down or it would miss high tide for its next delivery.

“Coley’s enthusiasm for his chosen way of life has spilled over to the younger generation. The pride and self-assurance with which his son Nathaniel and Coley’s nephew Matthew share their own LPA stories and plans for the company’s future is infectious.

“When we asked Coley for a summary of his CT660’s performance, he starts by telling us that the excitement generated by the contest has not completely died down. ‘We still get new customers who tell us that they heard about us because of the award; when I drive the truck in Portland, people wave at me!’

“Coley reminds us that the need for dependability, always a concern for a contractor, is increased even more when your territory is the islands of Casco Bay. ‘The simple task of delivering a load of material is a big deal for us; we have a very small window because of the tides, and failure becomes enormously expensive.’ He’s happy with the support he gets from our coworkers in Scarborough, and although he has not had any serious issues, he counts on them for scheduled maintenance. But the best compliment sure is this one—Coley has convinced a couple of his friends to buy Cat trucks, also; one of them, a Cape Elizabeth contractor, actually bought two.”

Click here for more pictures of LPA’s truck and its unique application.

Three Things To Know About The New CT680

The Cat® Vocational Truck family just added a new model—the CT680 recently joined the CT660 and CT681 in the line-up. There are plenty of detailed descriptions and specifications to review, but let us make it easy for you. Here are the top three things you need to know about this Class 8, set-forward-axle truck.

1. It works hard—and looks good doing it.
The CT680 stands up to big loads and tough applications without sacrificing comfort and appearance, thanks to a rugged exterior, attractive automotive styling and industry-leading materials, fit and finish. Its bold design will definitely set you apart from the crowd.

Plus, it comes with two exterior trim level options—L and LG—so you can choose the features that best fit your budget, style and serviceability needs. There’s also a dual external air cleaner option that lets you achieve efficient air management—and a stylish appearance—even in dirty, dusty applications.

2. It sets new standards for comfort and ride quality.
With its set-forward axle, parabolic taper leaf suspension, tuned cab air suspension system, and premium sound insulation and trim, the CT680 delivers industry-leading ride quality. And its wide, spacious interior offers all-day comfort, productivity and safety. It has all the features you’ve come to expect from Cat Truck cabs, including:
• An ergonomic dashboard and center stack
• Easy-to-read gauges
• Multiple seat options, including the Cat Comfort Seat
• Tilting, telescoping steering column with leather-wrapped steering wheel
• Plenty of storage and work-area lighting
• Excellent visibility

3. It saves you service time.
The CT680’s modular components—grille, grille surround, bumper and fender extensions—can be replaced individually and go back together looking brand new. Key service points like coolant, washer reservoirs and air filters are easy to access, too, and you can quickly replace headlight bulbs and windshield wiper blades without any tools.

Of course, like all Cat Truck models, the CT680 features a performance-matched engine and transmission, complimentary Cat Product Link, bumper-to-bumper service at Cat dealers across North America and much more. Explore all the features here

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