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Low-floor front drive delivers cube, increases productivity

MARMON-HERRINGTON and Kentucky Manufacturing Company have teamed up to make it easier for the City of Los Angeles to transport recycling containers.

The companies recently completed an order for 34 Peterbilt chassis on which Marmon-Herrington installed its Axleless suspension to substantially reduce the loading height and increase cube in the van body manufactured by Kentucky Manufacturing.

The Peterbilts, now front-wheel drive models, have a floor height of only 15 inches, the result of the installation of the Axleless suspension developed by Dallas Smith Corp. This enabled Kentucky to build a van body with a 112.25-inch inside height (108 inches from the floor to the rolled-up door) in a truck that is only 129 inches in overall height. The inside height specification allows recycling containers to be double-stacked inside the body, while the low floor height makes it possible for the containers to be loaded or unloaded easily from street level.

The City of Los Angeles also purchased four low-floor trailers for the same application — delivering recycling containers to new residents, picking up containers from residents who have moved, or replacing damaged containers.

One of the City's first low-floor front drive sanitation trucks was recently unveiled at the Wastecon Show in Long Beach.

Vans for transporting recycling containers are the latest in a series of applications for the Marmon-Herrington low-floor front-drive concept. The product initially was developed in response to a bus company's request for a lower floor.

According to Tyler Bean, marketing manager for Marmon-Herrington, “It's great to be responding to a market demand that is clearly the future of the bus and delivery industries.”

Until this project came along, Kentucky Manufacturing had not built van bodies for vehicles in nearly 30 years. However, the concept and the company intrigued company management.

“Low-floor bodies were something no one else was doing,” says Larry Hartog, president.

Kentucky, noted for its drop-frame van trailers, is not planning to use this order to reenter the van body manufacturing business. But, says Don Hobbs, senior product designer for Kentucky Trailer, “As a result of this project, we've decided that if other customers want a low-floor body, we will build it.”

Marmon-Herrington has been a leader in steer drive technology for more than 70 years. The company recently developed an exclusive partnership in Axleless suspensions. With the combination of front-wheel drive and the removal of the standard rear drive-axle, Marmon-Herrington has technology that allows the floor of a truck, trailer, or bus to be positioned as low as 14 inches.

Low-floor front drive is achieved by cutting off the OEM frame behind the cab and attaching Marmon-Herrington's low-floor frame. The result is a floor that is equally low from the back of the cab to the rear of the truck.

The low-floor front-drive conversion can be applied to virtually all commercial chassis. OEMs are gearing up to provide factory offerings of the product, which is also available as an OEM glider conversion.

“We are getting interest from every application that does not require a loading dock,” says Bill Riley, vice-president of sales at Marmon-Herrington.

Riley says a leveling valve keeps the ride height at a consistent 15 inches above the ground. However, the City of Los Angeles has indicated interest in a manual override that would raise the truck slightly if additional clearance is required. By contrast, other applications for the suspension — such as low-floor buses — sometimes use a valve to lower the air suspension to further reduce loading height.

For more information on low-floor front drive, contact Marmon-Herrington Co, 3001 Magisterial Drive, Louisville KY 40223 (800) 227-0727, via email at [email protected], or on the web at

TAGS: Truck Bodies
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