Where would modern civilization be without refuse trucks? Like all vehicles, they’re always evolving, and mostly for the better. Today I’m going to show you a newer and unique refuse collection truck: a 2011 Crane Carrier Company LET2, fitted with an Amrep Frontloading Packer Body. I’m assuming you’ve already figured out it’s the one on the right.
Crane is a small specialty builder of vocational trucks for use in construction, oil exploration, airport operations and refuse collection. The LE in the model name stands for “low entry”; the cab step height is only 18 inches off the ground, which is approximately half the step height of our Pete 320s. When combined with a Work Brake “macro” button that sets the brake while shifting into neutral, and the large doors that allow seamless exit and reentry for the driver the cab, this vehicle is a huge productivity enhancer on a residential route–and the added street cred that comes from its Lambo-suicide doors is simply a bonus.
The way the mirrors are mounted to clear the reverse-hinged doors tends to make them vibrate a lot. This is something endemic to this design, as our two new reverse-hinged Pete 320s shake their mirrors even more. In tight spots you have to rely upon the side- and rear-view cameras.
Our truck is also equipped with optional dual controls, so on-route it can be driven from either side of the cab. No, this Atari-style joystick is not for playing Pong and Space Invaders. Actually, it operates the side loader adapter, whose controls are found in the right-hand drive station.
When used as a side loader, the right-hand controls give the operator better sight lines, as well as fewer steps to deal with when it’s necessary to hop out and re-position errant cans for the gripper arm.
The other notable feature of the LET2 is that its radiator is mounted behind the cab, unlike every other low, cab-forward refuse truck. Severe stop-and-go driving tends to clog up the low-mount radiator on a conventional truck with dust and debris. With the high-mounted radiator on the Crane, even on a hot day with the A/C working, the fan clutch is only on for 30% or less of the time (vs. almost 100% of the time with our other trucks). The Crane is so much quieter, when we first started operating it on residential routes we had an uptick of people chasing us down in their PJs–they’d actually grown accustomed to the Peterbilt “Alarm Clock” fan announcing our presence in the area.
As engines run hotter with higher levels of EGR to meet tighter emissions standards, the limited radiator area on competitors’ trucks becomes a limiting factor, as it prevents full use of the engine in a mountain environment. When pulling larger hills, you always have to keep one eye on the temp gauges in a newer Pete 320.
The Crane is powered by a Cummins ISC 8.3-liter engine with output in the ballpark of 1,050 lb-ft and 310 hp. Compared withthe slightly larger M 11s & ISLs (1,200 lbs-ft) in most of our equipment, the smaller Cummins’s power peak comes at higher RPM. While the ISC Series has been successful in urban transit applications, when it’s mated to a Allison five-speed and a heavily used PTO in a vocational role it’s fighting above its weight class. It’s the heavy truck equivalent of a small displacement four-cylinder car–the overtaxed small motor ends up using more fuel that the larger-displacement engine. It burns an additional 5-10 gallons daily than a comparable Pete 320 four-axle loader with ISL Power.
This is a heavy truck, crossing the scales at 44,000 lbs empty, and over 60,000 lbs packed out with a full load of residential trash. The Amrep XH450 FL Body is made from 3/16″ abrasion-resistant Hardox™ steel. It unloads via rear ejection: With the rear door open, the packer blade hyper-extends back the length of the body.
As an operator I loathe this, since with every dump cycle I inevitably have to walk back to the transfer station with a rake and clear off the last bits of material clinging to the blade. I much prefer the hoist ejection of the older Maxon body equipment. Service access to clean the void behind the blade is also worse, due to the smaller door and more difficult ingress. The guide rails for the packer blade also make it more difficult to clean behind the blade.
Overall, the Crane is a good truck; for a busy residential route, it’s my first choice. While it has some quirks, and a few figurative and literal rough edges, it’s unmatched as a specialized tool for residential refuse routes.