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Western Star vocational cab ‘back pack’ extension


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Kevin Jones, Trailer-Body Builders  /  October 27, 2017

WINDSOR, ON. Recognizing that vocational truck users need crew cab space, but not necessarily more space for crew, Western Star will soon introduce a cab extension package that allows customers multiple options on the amount of room behind the front seats and, more importantly, the freedom to configure that extra room as they see fit.

John Tomlinson, XD and vocational sales manager for Western Star, provided Trailer/Body Builders with an exclusive preview of the IronFeather 24” Back Pack Cab Extension System this week at the Canadian Transportation Equipment Association Technology Conference here. Essentially, the back pack system is a variation of the Western Star extended cab crew cab, introduced earlier this year.

“The more I talked to customers, the more I found that many of them actually don’t use the crew and extended cabs for a crew seating, they use it for storage—but it’s the only thing they could get,” Tomlinson said. “So we took that and went back to the drawing table: Why don’t we just design something for storage?”

Indeed, Tomlinson tells of simply walking outside his home where utility workers had parked a truck equipped with a crew cab. He asked if he could look inside, and found the seating area covered with gear—tools, jackets, notebooks.

And he also tells of vocational customers who have fabricated their own work-arounds—though these perhaps were not up to OEM engineering standards. So, in keeping with Western Star’s recent innovation push to leverage its unique market position as a small, premium brand backed by Daimler, the world’s largest truck manufacturer, the company worked with Northside Industries (NSI) on a factory-built solution.

The system will be presented formally at the NTEA Work Truck Show next March.

“It was pretty easy for Western Star. We have an open-back cab, so all of our sleepers use a socket,” Tomlinson said. “We worked with the people that developed our crew cab, NSI, to develop this Back Pack system that uses our socket mounting. It snaps on right at the factory; we get CARCO to do the install.”

While a 12-in. storage extension and the full crew cab have been announced, the new Back Pack will be available in 12-in. and 24-in. configurations, or with a 36-in. extension that can be equipped as a rest cab sleeper, with a 3-person certified bench seat, or even with a work table.

Among the marketing bullet points:

• The extremely light weight storage units are fully customizable

• Clean design allows users to fabricate custom interiors; and

• The extension can be set up for light loads or heavy loads using rear chassis mounting.

The absence of a crew cab had kept Western Star “out of a lot markets,” Tomlinson noted, but customers have insisted the brand would be “in” with the option. And now Western Star has upped the ante: The IronFeather Crew Cab and the Back Pack extension are available with all Models including the big bore Detroit DD16 and Cummins ISX engine offerings. More to come in the spring.

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I like that small “locker room” on the back of the cab. We really need those on our trucks. The company doesn’t want to buy sleepers but they also have us carrying more and more gear (to the point of there’s no way we could haul a passenger and all of the extra stuff could become projectiles in an accident). Does Freightliner offer this?

The problems we face today exist because the people who work for a living are outnumbered by the people who vote for a living.

The government can only "give" someone what they first take from another.

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See a lot of bulk haulers running day cabs with a long wheelbase to meet the bridge formula and several feet gap between tractor and trailer. In a lot of cases an extended cab would cut the wind resistance by shortening that gap and pay for itself in fuel savings.

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30 minutes ago, Dirtymilkman said:

Why does it take so long for truck manufacturers to figure this out?! I'd love 18 inched behind the cab. Enough for a small fridge, gear and a place to hang clothes. I liked the Navistar extended cab. 

It does make you wonder since the big 3 figured it out about 40 years ago for their pick ups. I have owned three crew cabs and I could count on one hand the number of times folks have ridden in back, but the space is almost always full with coolers, tools, etc. for every trip.

Money, sex, and fire; everybody thinks everyone else is getting more than they are!

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12 hours ago, fxfymn said:

It does make you wonder since the big 3 figured it out about 40 years ago for their pick ups. I have owned three crew cabs and I could count on one hand the number of times folks have ridden in back, but the space is almost always full with coolers, tools, etc. for every trip.

Amen- 04 Ranger Super Cab- FX-4 off road package.  Youngest son bought it new then when he became a family guy he (or daughter in law) decided not a good second vehicle.  So I bought it from him at an inflated price.  Added a Back Rack, and the jump seats stay folded up.     Great weather proof tool box!

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