Dyno-Mite! Ford Builds Sled to Test New Super Duty

Ford says its old testing equipment isn’t up to the challenge posed by the ’17 Super Duty, so engineers had to build a new, super-strong towed dynamometer to put the truck through its hill-climbing paces.

Bob Gritzinger, Editor-in-Chief

April 4, 2016

3 Min Read
Ford Super Duty tows test dyno
Ford Super Duty tows test dyno.

Ford says its ’17 F-Series Super Duty truck is so powerful it requires all-new, extra-robust dynamometer equipment to test its mountain-climbing capability and durability, with a side benefit that considerable testing can be done without taking prototypes to the mountains.

The stronger dynamometer sled uses a brake limiter to mimic the effect of gravity on a vehicle climbing a steep incline, Ford says. The brake limiter uses a series of energized electric coils to create a pulling effect on the drawbar.

Towed behind the truck, the new unit can simulate a 5,620-lb. (2,549-kg) drawbar pull – equal to a 30% grade, Ford says. It replaces a towed dynamometer that Ford says was capable of generating just 2,000 lbs. (907 kg) of pull. Incline testing typically involves 7% grades.

Jim Sumner, product development engineer, says even with the dyno set at maximum load, the new Super Duty is able to pull it.

“The fact that, even under full load, Super Duty didn’t have any trouble at all is a testament to just how capable this new truck is,” Sumner says.

Technicians can dial in mountain profiles, such as the legendary Davis Dam in Arizona and Townes Pass in California’s Death Valley, to simulate those steep grades while never leaving the flat test roads at the company’s Arizona Proving Grounds.

The Davis Dam Grade is the route used in the Society of Automotive Engineers’ J2807 standard to determine a truck’s capability and durability.

While the new dynamometer offers extra development-testing capability, Ford says the Super Duty still will be subjected to the on-road tests as specified by SAE before final sign off.

Ford has yet to reveal the ’17 Super Duty’s exact specifications other than to promise the new truck will outperform the outgoing model by a healthy margin. The current Super Duty lists a 31,200-lb. (14,152-kg) towing capacity and 7,050-lb. (3,198-kg) maximum payload.

Not So Fast, Competitors Say

Competitors who are closely monitoring Ford’s claims as it relates to the coming heavy-duty truck say the Dearborn automaker’s new towed dynamometer is interesting but hardly groundbreaking.

“We’ve had dyno carts – 25 or 30 years ago,” says Rod Romain, vehicle integration lead engineer-Ram. “We do similar testing right here in a cell.”

General Motors also can simulate grades of up to 30% in a test cell, says Tom Read, Global Propulsion Engineering spokesman. In addition, cells at the company’s Pontiac, MI, engineering center can simulate trailer weight and load, as well as elevation up to 5,000 ft. (1,524 m) and temperatures as low as -22° F (-30° C).

While test-cell dynamometer work is valuable, engineers agree nothing beats real-world testing involving everything from high winds to downhill loads.

“In the real world, on real roads and in real conditions, we simulate real conditions for our customers,” says Romain. The Ram 3500 dually currently claims the title for highest towing capacity at 31,210 lbs. (14,157 kg).

The ’17 Super Duty joins its light-duty siblings in shedding weight by using aluminum for the entire body and truck bed. Ford says aluminum saves up to 350 lbs. (159 kg) in the new truck’s curb weight. The ’17 Super Duty goes on sale late this year.

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About the Author(s)

Bob Gritzinger

Editor-in-Chief, WardsAuto

Bob Gritzinger is Editor-in-Chief of WardsAuto and also covers Advanced Propulsion & Technology for Wards Intelligence.

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