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The day the music died: Reviewing the quiet Freightliner Argosy


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Trucks.com  /  March 17, 2016

Matt Wood takes the new Argosy for a test drive to find out where the traditonal music went

No one can tell me when elevators stopped playing music.

There was a time when piped muzak soothed passengers travelling between floors in hotels and office buildings everywhere.

Rather than awkwardly clearing one’s throat to cover a gurgling stomach, or staring intensely at a smartphone to avoid uncomfortable silent eye contact, people could close their eyes and bask in the soothing tones of regurgitated instrumental renditions of Lionel Richie’s greatest hits.

You could even hum along if you wanted. But, no more.

Now Freightliner has killed the music – the squeaky soundtrack that has long been the accompaniment to a long drive in a cab-over Argosy. I must admit, I was sceptical.

I’ve travelled over 800,000 kilometres (497,097 miles) in Argosys and long ago accepted that the dash will squeak, the cupboards will rattle and things will occasionally fall off.

There’s been quite a bit of speculation on the future of the cab-over Freightliner of late.

Yet, Daimler Australia states emphatically that the Argosy isn’t departing anytime soon.

While Australia and New Zealand are now the only markets that buy the Argosy, the tooling required to build the Freightliner has well and truly been paid for by now.

One Freightliner source even went so far as to say that the Argosy platform will cope with Euro 6 if, and when, it arrives.

Filling in the gaps

So to back this up, Freightliner has just made the Argosy available with the Cummins ISXe5 engine, a new multimedia system that incorporates a blind spot camera and, it seems, no rattles.

Not only that, the famous, or infamous, swing out step has also been strengthened.

The key to hushing the Argosy’s chatter has been to disassemble the interlocking dash panels on arrival in Oz and insert sound deadening material between them. This not only makes for a tighter fit it also removes the chirp.

As for the cupboard clatter, Freightliner has removed the offending doors completely and replaced them with elasticised netting. If you happen to be attached to the idea of doors however, they do remain an option.

Testing the change

Of course I wasn’t going to believe Daimler’s outlandish claims without seeing for myself. So I fronted up to Mulgrave HQ to spend a few hours behind the wheel of the cab-over contender and experience it for real.

My red Argosy was fitted the aforementioned ISXe5 and also with an 18-speed Eaton UltraShift Plus AMT to keep the gear ratios shuffling.

The rear end used a 4.33:1 ratio, and on the back was a loaded B-double set that gave me a gross weight of about 59-tonnes.

Our route took us down to Leongatha, through the rolling hills of South Gippsland, across to Morwell in the LaTrobe valley and back to Melbourne on the freeway.

 There should’ve been enough lumps and bumps along the way to elicit at least some sort of rattle going inside the Freightliner. But, as it turns out there wasn’t.

I will admit that this Argosy only had 2,000km on the clock, but seeing as every Argosy I’ve driven in the past has rattled from new I reckon that’s no mean feat.

The e5 was still a little green with so few kilometres on the clock, but it hauled along well.

Probably what stood out the most with the driveline, however, was the performance of the Eaton AMT. This one had the latest iteration of software on board and for the most part I didn’t have to intervene too much in its operation. 

I got to test out the clutch engagement of the trans under load as I had to reverse around a couple of corners to get out of the yard – the AMT is getting better all the time.

The SmartShift paddle set up that Freightliner uses is by far the most intuitive UltraShift installation that I’ve come across. It makes manual intervention very easy.

As the road condition deteriorated though I couldn’t believe just how rattle free the cab was inside.

The optional touch screen Parrot infotainment and multimedia unit was also a good thing.

Aside from the usual Bluetooth streaming functions, it also displays text messages, which makes ignoring the boss a little harder. But it’s most significant function is, in my book, displaying the view down the left hand side of the vehicle via a blind spot camera. The left hand side of the Argosy has long housed quite a significant blind spot. In the past this has been countered by a blind spot mirror mounted above the passenger side door. The camera displays the view whenever the left hand indicator is turned on, and it’s a much better solution.

Final thoughts

If I had a tasty enough hat I’d have to sit down and eat it because Freightliner seems to have achieved something that I didn’t think possible. The Argosy is now quieter, sturdier and easier to see out of. And I can now listen to Lionel Ritchie dance on the ceiling without blowing the speakers.


Photo gallery - http://www.tradetrucks.com.au/truck-reviews/1603/the-day-the-music-died-reviewing-the-quiet-freightliner-argosy/


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plenty of humps and hollows on his drive and lots of winding road heading down to Morwell that way good road heading home though 

If they Argosy is only made for Australia and NewZealand is KW the same I dont know are any COE trucks made in the US anymore 



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Fixing loose fitting and noisey interior panels by using sound deadener is sorta fixing the symptom and not the cause?

But this is the thinking of all truck makers now days, instead of redesigning the interior and using better quality materials they do this....

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22 hours ago, mrsmackpaul said:

plenty of humps and hollows on his drive and lots of winding road heading down to Morwell that way good road heading home though 

If they Argosy is only made for Australia and NewZealand is KW the same I dont know are any COE trucks made in the US anymore 



Paul, the Freightliner Argosy is produced in Cleveland, North Carolina.  http://www.freightliner.com.au/trucks/argosy

They are then shipped SKD (semi-knocked down) to other global regions including South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.

The stunning Freightliner Argosy II COE shares the same cab as the Century Class, Columbia and Coronado (the Argosy variant is 305mm wider). Of the US market brands, Freightliner has made the biggest effort to offer both left and right-hand drive trucks (http://www.freightliner.com.au/).

Ironically, although they're built in the U.S., Americans operators haven't been able to buy one since 2006 (Wal-Mart has purchased glider kits in Canada  -  http://www.bigmacktrucks.com/topic/34233-wal-mart-to-expand-test-use-of-supercube-concept-in-canada/ ). Production is all right-hand drive now, however Freightliner still has the ability to build left-hand drive (LHD service cabs and glider kits remain available).

The Argosy is a blast to drive, truly designed in the American spirit of COEs.

Production of the International 9800i COE ended at Springfield, Ohio on March 31, 1999 (the last year for US sales), and was shifted to the leased Agrale plant in Brazil. From 2002 to 2010, Navistar suspended Brazilian production and built the global market 9800i in Minnesota. Production then returned to the Agrale facility in Brazil, and then shifted in 2012 to Navistar's self-owned Canoas plant in Brazil to reduce costs. The 9800i, born out of the U.S. market 9700 axle-back COE that, in addition to the 9600 axle-forward, was originally launched in 1981, is old school. BUT, it still efficiently gets the job done!   http://www.internationalcaminhoes.com.br/trucks/9800i.html

Of course the spectacular Kenworth K200 is produced in Oz, at Bayswater (Victoria).  http://www.kenworth.com.au/trucks/k200/

FYI - The last production year for the breathtakiing Peterbilt Model 362 was 2005. Paccar sold many 352s and 362s in South Africa.

So we can say that three American heavy COEs remain in production, and one (Argosy) is still assembled there in North Carolina (where the locals love to point out, "If God is not a Tar Heel, then why is the sky Carolina Blue?").


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The Return of the Truck that Never Went Away

Heavy Duty Trucking  /  January 13, 2014

Cabover fans rejoice! The Freightliner Argosy is alive and well, and available through most DTNA dealers in North America – as a glider kit.

While many were glad to see them go, cab-over-engine chassis designs still appeal to a small but loyal sector of the industry. Many will be surprised to learn that the Argosy COE never completely disappeared. According to Don White, manager for Cab and Glider Sales for Daimler Trucks North America, the fully assembled truck was taken out of production due to low market demand in 2006, but it has remained on the books in the NAFTA countries as a glider kit ever since.

"The numbers have been extremely low," White says. "There has been very little demand for it, so there was never any reason for us to publish or promote its availability. Then along came Walmart and some others that saw a fit for the truck in a particular niche. That suggested to us that there is still a place for the cabover in the industry, but probably not in full production quantities."

With that, White said the company recently decided to publish the availability of the glider option to the dealer network to see if that would stimulate interest in the truck. It worked.

"We have seen an increase in quotations, but not yet a big increase in orders," he says. "We are now seeing a lot more interest in this alternative."

In early January, Kevin Bigliazzi, sales manager at Freightliner of Hartford in East Hartford, Conn., ran an ad in Truck Paper for an 2015 Argosy glider. The phone started ringing almost immediately and it hasn't really stopped.

"The ad was a bit of a trial ballon," Bigliazzi says. "We decided to advertise one since we were told they were available, and lo and behold we started getting calls on it right away. Many said they were shocked to see it advertised. They didn't know they were available."

White says now that the cat is out of the bag, the company is hearing from a lot more people who say they are really interested in an Argosy.

"Nobody was really asking the question before, because they figured it just wasn't available," White told Truckinginfo.com. "Now that we are actively pursuing the market, I think things will heat up for the Argosy. I think it's an opportunity for DTNA to help some of these people get into a truck they say they need for some special business application."

According to White, DTNA is targeting a few large carriers that use bigger trailers for one reason or another and that can take advantage of the truck with regard to length or weight restrictions. He said they have had inquiries from a few West Coast hay haulers and some different niche market operators who can need the lower weight and shorter overall length.

An Argosy glider sparked a bit of a buzz in late 2011 when Walmart Canada unveiled what it calls the Supercube truck, pulled by an Argosy glider tractor. The trailer is 60 feet, 6 inches long with a deep 62-inch kingpin setting, and boasts a cubic capacity of 5,100 cubic feet – 30% more cube than a standard 53-foot trailer at 3,900 cubic feet.

The key to making the truck work in Canada was the Argosy glider tractor. It's a day-cab, but it totes a drom box capable of carrying four pallets in its additional 521 cubic feet of cargo space. The overall length of the thing is 75 feet 6 inches bumper-to-bumper.

Truckinginfo ran a story on the Supercube truck back in November 2011.

While White declined to speak to Walmart's plans for the Argosy or the Supercube concept, he did say that the retail giant has "made some further inquiries into this program."

The company continues to build Argosy tractors for export, though they are now mostly right-hand drive models offered for sale in Australia, New Zealand and other countries. Left-hand drive models were sold for a while in South America, but they have been discontinued as well. Click here to see the Argosy website from New Zealand.

Subject to Restrictions

Because it's a glider kit, there are certain restrictions prospective Argosy owner must keep in mind. It is sold without an engine or transmission and rear-axle assembly. The customer is required to take a so-called "donor truck" out of service and use the major components to complete the glider. Under EPA guidelines, the final assembly can use engines the same age or newer than the donor truck but not older.

In the case of the Argosy, because it was never engineered to accommodate engines and emissions systems beyond EPA 2004 levels, the newest engine customers can use are of that vintage. DTNA also offers remanufactured Detroit Diesel Series 60 and Cummins ISX engines to power the glider kit.

And of course, the completed glider needs to meet NHTSA/FMVSS/CMVSS and all state, as well as Canadian and Provincial regulations -- as well as EPA guidelines -- for where the truck will operate.

White says the main attraction with any glider is the price.

"Depending on the model and the trim package and what major components the customer orders through DTNA, the acquisition cost can be up to 40% less than a new truck," he says. "If it's done properly, some customers may be eligible for an additional Federal Excise Tax savings of 12%."

All the details are available on DTNA's glider kit website.

Even with the restrictions, Bigliazzi says the ad he ran in early January has probably already sold one Argosy glider.

"I had a call from a customer with whom we were just starting to work up a spec on a Western Star glider," he said. "When he saw they ad for the Argosy, he called and told me to stop work on the Western Star and get going on the Argosy instead.

"The Argosy is more expensive than a Columbia or a Coronado glider, and that's probably just a demand thing," Bigliazzi notes. "The last figure I heard from DTNA was that they sold less than 400 of the trucks last year. That's really not a big number. I think the number would be higher if people knew they were available."

Well, they are available, and dealers like Freightliner of Hartford are ready to put an Argosy together for you. And you thought the COE was history ....

Photo gallery - http://www.truckinginfo.com/channel/aftermarket/news/story/2014/01/the-return-of-the-truck-that-never-went-away.aspx

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Rattly Freightliner aluminum cabs were not a bug, the rattling that kept you awake was a "feature". When I worked at Hostess, we never had a driver fall asleep at the wheel of an aluminum cab Freightliner, they only fell asleep at the wheel in steel cab Fords and the Mercedes LN2 steel cabbed Freightliners.

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