Gliders 101: Five common questions about glider kits answered

JAMES JAILLET |

Glider kits in the midst of the assembly process at Fitzgerald Glider Kits’ Byrdstown, Tenn., plant.  Today’s glider kits are taking off, offering the same amenities and similar resale value and warranties as dealer trucks.  One of the biggest attractions lies under the hood: Pre-EGR Detroit 60 Series engines. 

Despite the industry’s lackluster truck sales since the recession, Cookeville, Tenn.-based Fitzgerald Glider Kits has seen sales double each year since 2010, and it expects the trend to continue in 2014.””>Though Fitzgerald concentrates its builds and engine programming on fuel economy and maintenance ease, its sales point to a growing trend for its owner-operator customers: the desire to run a new truck powered by a pre-exhaust gas recirculation engine.  Also, gone are the concerns from 20 or 30 years ago about gliders’ quality and resale value, says Jay Burgess, a buyer for Insurance Auto Auction, a used truck reseller.

 HOW GLIDERS COME TO BE |

 Glider bodies, chassis, rear-ends and wiring are fully assembled and delivered to manufacturers such as Fitzgerald, the largest glider maker in the United States, and Ervin’s, the second-largest, which then install the engine and transmission.  Builders like Fitzgerald and Ervin’s have helped spur demand for new and used gliders.  What’s the most popular glider equipment? Fitzgerald stocks its own engines, obtained from truck teardowns or salvage companies, says Tommy Fitzgerald, owner and vice president.  It remachines and rebuilds them with remanufactured components.  Fitzgerald uses only 2003 year-model or older 12.7-liter Detroit Series 60 engines that are torn down and rebuilt in-house.  It couples them with remanufactured Eaton-Fuller transmissions purchased from Eaton.  Ervin’s buys Freightliner “powered gliders” with remanufactured Detroit engines, 2003 and older, already installed, says Ken Eggen, director of business development.  The company also uses reman Eaton-Fuller transmissions from the factory.

 Why buy a glider?  Three key benefits of buying a glider are lower upfront cost and the potential for both lower maintenance costs and improved aftermarket value, says Eggen.Ervin’s sells Freightliner Coronado and Columbia models, and they cost about 10 to 15 percent cheaper than a similarly spec’d factory truck. Gliders offer simple way to natural gas use: Glider kits can give owner-operators an easier, cheaper way to delve into natural gas power than buying a new dedicated truck off the lot, and for about $50,000 cheaper than a new natural gas truck off the lot.  A Coronado from Fitzgerald starts at about $109,900, and its Peterbilt 389 starts at $126,500.  Compared to a similarly spec’d factory truck, that’s about 25 percent cheaper, says Tommy Fitzgerald.  Initial equipment costs aside, Fitzgerald concentrates its builds on lower cost of ownership through fuel economy and lower cost of maintenance. “We set the engine up to where it can be more efficient,” says Tommy Fitzgerald.  Fuel economy benefits, he says, are achieved through special programming of the engine’s electronic control module and from the external and internal parts used in the engine rebuilding process.

RESTLESSNESS

July 13, 2014  
 

        Everyday I have the same routine, I get up at 4:45 or 5:00 in the morning, go to the bathroom and clean up before heading out at 5:30 to work. My hours are 6 to 2 p.m., but sometimes I am there until about 3. I return home after a 20 minute drive and walk into the house with little children running around and screaming.  After a hard day, that is the last thing I need to be hearing! It really sucks!!!  

        Back in December 2013, I said ‘goodbye’ to a job I really enjoyed so I could spend more time with my family, especially my granddaughters.  Now that I have been here for 6 months, I am not happy or satisfied.  Everyone is getting on my nerves and I am feeling like it is time for me to go.  Visions of the road are on my mind everyday.  I find myself in places I’ve traveled through when I was out there.  Even though, I’ve said the biggest thing about the road I didn’t like is using so many different bathrooms, I still want to go back.  I am happiest out there! I’ve been sitting around way too much! I have tried to work 2 jobs to take my mind off of being out there but I still feel like I have to go!  

I love my grandbabies more than life but Gramma gotta go! I’m sleeping too much, watching too much TV, eating way too much, and twiddling my thumbs a lot; if those are not reasons to hit the highway, nothing is!!  Don’t get me wrong, I love my family, too, but staying around here is DRIVING ME CRAZY!!!  

So needless to say, I am looking for another driving job, something that will bring me home on the weekends, maybe. Seriously though, I think I was born to ride the highways and byways, keeping the truck moving, stopping by home every couple of weeks to say ‘hi’.  I will get rid of all the things I put in storage and return to the road until I can’t do it anymore.    

As we truckers say, “Whoop whoop, trukkin up!”

FACES

Have you ever looked at the swirls in wood or the speckles that are in floor tile, or the patterns of  wallpapers in the doctor’s office and seen something that is not there.  I mean, have you seen faces or other objects in each?  For several years, I have been seeing faces in all types of patterns.  When I first started driving a truck, I worked for a company that had trailers that were lined with plywood.  With each trailer that I hauled, I could see faces in the swirls of wood.  Well, one day when it kind of got to me, I took my marker, which I keep in my pocket, and traced about 15-20 faces in the plywood.  Needless to say, that trailer was mighty crowded.

Everyone talked about the artwork and asked who did it.  I didn’t own up to it, at first.  But of course, they tracked it back to me.  It became something that drew everyone’s attention to the point that they displayed the trailer out front of the dispatch office for everyone else to see.  I was called up on the carpet for the “defacement of company property” and had to forfeit a couple of hundred dollars for my…. impulsiveness.  But, truly, it was worth it!  Faces are found in the smallest patterns on the floor or on the wall, in the tops of the trees as the wind blows, in water when food coloring is dripped into it.

Remember as a child, you and your friends would lie on the ground and look up into the clouds and see animals, cars, faces and other things?  Even now, as grownups, people are taking pictures of objects they see in the clouds.  Some most famous are those that look like Jesus, reaching out to us or looking down at us.  These phots are posted all over Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.  Use your imagination as much as possible, you will be surprised at the things you are able to see.