We’ve all seen those mudflaps, “Without trucks Australia stops” – but without that reliable supply chain of genuine and quality Cummins engine parts – the trucks, the diggers, the gensets and boats – will stop first.
You don’t have to be in the mining industry to be at the coal face of a business where the decisions that you personally make can mean the difference between success and failure on a broader scale. Take a hypothetical local heavy transport fleet workshop in say, Dajarra, outback Queensland. Everyone there would understand the importance of a fast and reliable spare parts supply- especially one that was underpinned by an information system that ensured “the right part first time”. Those making key maintenance and support decisions in that Dajarra workshop would want only to work only with people who can walk the torque.
The workshop is hypothetical – but the principal is far from it.
So, right back in 1998, after twenty years of coal face experience repairing nothing but Cummins engines, the Torquepower planners recognised that efficiency in spare parts support was something that could be done much better.
The first step was to partner with an independent IT specialist and using his code building skills and our Cummins experience, scratch-build a completely new and innovative IT platform that would take the company forward into the next century while concurrently providing a best-in-class online platform for our customers. And that is what we did – and that partnership remains to this day and the product has continued to evolve as a one-of-a-kind in our industry. With around 250,000 lines of code – and growing, we call it the BOSS.
The system allows us to completely integrate our essential business functions with our strong online presence at www.torquepower.com
And the benefits for our customers now include their secure access to any of their own document copies, real time inventory levels, specific account pricing, online ordering and quote lodgement, exchange core reconciliation, Control Parts List (CPL) support, and even the ability to look up parts by the application and function of the part in service.
We have a Torquepower app too, of course, where you can find and buy Cummins parts using our unique Application/Function look-up tool or you can check and buy from our current Clearance Lines – or you can check the meaning of your active Cummins fault codes.
Initially, the online shopping part of the new website used the name Clessie Online in recognition of the work of Clessie Cummins in establishing the Cummins brand almost 100 years ago, however customers found the two identities rather confusing so we reverted to the well established Torquepower brand right across the board.
Of those long days and even longer nights, Ken says “I guess I was driven by a need that I had come to know well, the need to keep the wheels turning – to mitigate the losses for a customer when a truck, a digger, a pump, boat or generator goes offline. And now, after 40 years of supporting many thousands of Cummins operators throughout Australia and beyond our shores, we know that none of our customers can afford delays in getting their Cummins equipment back into service.
My accountant continually berates me about our high Cummins inventory levels that we hold on a daily basis, but we are proud in the knowledge that we will almost always have the part that you need for your Cummins engine, even with older, hard to find parts – and the price will be right too.”
We’ve all seen those mudflaps, “Without trucks Australia stops” – but without that reliable supply chain of genuine and quality Cummins engine parts – the trucks, the diggers, the gensets and boats – will stop first.
I am a long-time admirer of the power and simplicity of our modern diesel engines and believe their continuing success will require skilful qualified servicing and repairs – and having the right spare part just when you need it. “
Ken Roberts is Managing Director of Torquepower, one of Queensland’s top privately held companies, a qualified Diesel Technician himself, and since 1978, an employer of choice.
www.torquepower.com 0732778277 170 Beatty Road ARCHERFIELD QLD.

The TORQUEPOWER tradition continues

The TORQUEPOWER tradition continues as Jessie Fuenzalida, another generation, learns the ropes at Torquepower.  Jessies’ grandfather Hector Fuenzalida worked at Torquepower in the mid-1990s. When he first immigrated from Chile to Australia years before Jessie was born, Hector settled into a little Italian workshop in Melbourne (an Italian girlfriend helped with language training!) then a stint with Isuzu before coming to work with the Torquepower team.
At four years old, Jessie also emigrated, and connected closely to his Granddad. “ As a child, I watched my grandfather in his shed, helped him out, and took a real interest in truck mechanics. I live at his house just two minutes down the road while I’m here doing work experience. Though he is semi-retired, today Granddad is pulling the gear box out of his own truck! ”
“I am studying Cylinder Head Reconditioning at Acacia Ridge TAFE. Once the course is done, I want an apprenticeship. Later I’d like to work on heavy diesel mining equipment . The best thing about work experience at Torquepower is taking cylinder heads apart and servicing them. I am really enjoying learning from the people here. They are easy to get along, and hands on work beats studying.”
“On the weekends, I help set up for festivals with my mate. I genuinely enjoy setting up music, lighting and generators . Once the work is done, you can really relax. Another hobby is gardening, really; any work with my hands is good. “ Good people, good products. www.torquepower.com 0732778277 170 Beatty Road, ARCHERFIELD. Pictured; Jessie learns from Torquepower’s Blade Walker.

The right tools is half the battle

Tools are an interesting issue. A basic tool, like a hammer, keeps life simple, but you know what happens: everything then ends up looking like a nail. A complex tool can do a lot but may have a steep learning curve: just knowing what each function of the tool can do takes time, then learning how to use each feature may take more time. But there is a definite pay-off.

It’s just common sense as a technician that when you are using the right, fit- for- purpose, quality, genuine tool, life gets easier, jobs are quicker, stress levels stay down, and customers are happier. If you are the service or workshop manager, your key issues are around timeliness, effectiveness, and operational costs. This is instinctive. But what do technicians in the field think ?

“My best tool is the workshop manual, even after 40 years ; but for me having the correct testing gear is really important. It means I can diagnose it . Then having the correct tools means I can actually fix it myself. Having the right tools is half the battle.” Neil Bird, Cummins engine specialist.

And if you’re the boss ? “ It’s almost impossible to do tasks correctly with confidence without the right tooling. Without the right gear, productivity goes out the window because you are scratching and trying to improvise. For example; lets imagine you don’t have the right gear for testing fuel systems? Some engines take a day to test with the right tools; without them, it’s impossible to do the job at the right cost. If I’m having my guys work on the Cam timing on an ISX engine, they just won’t be able to complete that at all without the correct tools. “ Carl Bickle, Torquepower Workshop Manager .

With an end of financial year clearance, slashing 10 to 60% off the cost of new quality Cummins tools, now is the time to invest in the right tools that meet everyone’s needs. See https://shopping.torquepower.com.au/#ClearanceAbout ; call 07328778277 or visit us at 170 Beatty Road, Archerfield, QLD before 15th July 2016. Speedy deliveries all over the country.

Five Ways to Murder your Diesel

The song says there must be 50 ways to leave your lover, and there are probably just as many ways to kill your diesel engine. Today we focus on the top five steps that you can take to ensure your diesel doesn’t end up in an early grave.

Although many see themselves as diesel experts, bad maintenance practices abound. Often these are “easy to fix” mistakes for a real expert, and Torquepower’s recent trip to Port Moresby to resuscitate non-operational relatively young machinery, illustrates this point well.

Aside from the obvious technological barriers where specialist training and equipment may be necessary to support modern and complex engine systems, there remains a core service level that is appropriate for any diesel engine if it is going to last the distance.

Common failures include: insufficient access to good (or any) information; limitations in local mechanical skills or experience; parts availability, incorrect parts applied or the correct parts applied incorrectly; close attention to a proper maintenance program. Factors as simple as the proper application of correct lubricants can lead to expensive and unnecessary maintenance expenses – especially in remote regions.

Torquepower’s field service technician Neil Bird says, ” The PNG local technicians are willing and helpful people but lack the experience that we take for granted back in Australia.”

There’s no doubt good qualified servicing can dramatically lengthen the life of the heart of your truck. Robert Dellman of PNG Concrete Aggregates has the last word, “ We now have a detailed report and a step by step plan to ensure the D65 and the excavator are functional and productive in the very near future. There are many opportunities for Torquepower in Papua New Guinea.”



So, here’s our five top Tips:


  1. Change your Fuel Filter on schedule.

Fuel is not just fuel. It is also a lubricant and coolant, transferring heat away from the injection components and back to the fuel tank (from where it is often cooled). As fuel however, it requires good access to the fuel pump and injectors. A clogged fuel filter will at best result in a loss of power and increased fuel burn. A filter that becomes breached will allow contaminants into the fuel system resulting in costly and time consuming loss of operation. Do not extend fuel filter life.

  1. Service your Air Filter

As you read in our previous column, fuel economy suffers with a clogged air filter. If the filter subsequently fails as it can when overloaded, dust will eagerly enter the engine causing serious damage to turbochargers, valves and cylinders within a very short time. If you elect to clean the filter rather than replace it make sure you follow the manufacturer’s instructions as many do not recommend the practice at all. New air filters can be the cheapest part of your engine maintenance in the long run.

  1. Respect your Oil and Oil Filter

Clean oil to an engine is akin to clean blood in your body. The oil filter is the kidney. Oil provides vital lubrication, cleaning and cooling services to an engine and oil filters remove contaminants collected by the oil during the engine operation. Both the oil and the filter have a useful service life beyond which, if they are not replaced, each is capable of abetting damage rather than preventing damage. Contaminated oil is poison to an engine and a blocked filter will either stop oil flow or will allow a bypass valve to supply unfiltered oil to vital engine components – all with catastrophic, expensive consequences. Best practice is to change your oil and filter in strict accordance with the engine manufacturers recommendations and to sample your engine oil at every scheduled service interval. Oil analysis can provide a great insight into your engine’s health without the expense and inconvenience of major surgery. We can talk more about oil analysis in a future Torquepower Tips. The key here is to treat your oil and oil filter with the respect they rightly deserve.


  1. Reading Smoke Signals

As the Native American Indians in our favourite old westerns taught us, smoke can communicate – and smoke from diesel engines is not excepted. Diesel engine smoke comes in three kinds: White, Blue and Black – or a mixture. A healthy diesel engine will not emit noticeable exhaust smoke so it should be one of the daily checks that you make. White smoke relates to poor combustion; Blue relates to oil being where it is not supposed to be; and Black is too much of a good thing – more fuel than can be burned in the oxygen that is available.

Don’t assume that an exhaust smoke problem will get better of its own accord. Talk to your engine expert before it is too late. The earlier exhaust smoke is detected and reported the less costs will be associated with the repair or adjustment that has caused the smoke to appear.

  1. Cooling your Heels

Cooling system importance is older than the diesel engine itself as the high temperatures generated by the engine’s combustion processes need to be controlled. The days of using “just good old tank water” in the radiator, are gone. Modern engines require more. Today, special coolant chemistries that include elements designed to protect the engine in a more highly stressed environment than before, are commonplace. Where once operating temperatures were controlled below 76degC, today’s engines typically operate at 90 degrees and above. This places more thermal load on all engine fluids not least the coolant itself. To that end, coolant packages come in sealed containers and are used to fill the cooling system. “Water” is not required nor should it be used for top-up. Cooling system chemistry can be checked periodically (say, at every lube service) by using test strips marketed by the filter or coolant suppliers. Adjustments to that chemistry are available as product is consumed or lost in the course of the service interval. The coolant filter plays an important part in this process. Failure to manage your cooling system correctly can have expensive consequences ranging from cavitation, erosion and overheating. So make the time to look after your cooling system.

Torquepower can assist you with specific advice on policies and procedures that will help you keep your engine alive longer.

Your Checklist for Buying a Reconditioned Diesel Engine

A reconditioned engine, also known as a remanufactured engine, is an engine that has gone through substantial repair intended to bring the worn engine back to “as-new” condition and enabling it to be used for another full service life. Rebuilt, reconditioned, recon, recond and remanufactured are terms commonly used but the final product quality achieved can differ widely.

Each engine is dismantled and the constituent parts cleaned and inspected. But this is where the similarities end. The depth of and commitment to both the cleaning and inspection processes alone can have an immense impact on the integrity of the finished product.

Thereafter, the replacement of all consumable items such as gaskets, seals, sealants and o-rings and the supply of quality assured replacement engine component parts will see the successful completion of the rebuild project.

It goes without saying that strict compliance with manufacturer’s specifications, service advisory bulletins, tolerances and assembly procedures will help ensure optimum results. It is good to remember that any sub-contractor used (e.g. machinists, fuel injection specialists etc.) must operate to the same high standards.

Sometimes, the cheapest option is not the best option. Do your homework before entering into the supply contract. Buy the steak – not the sizzle. A good relationship between customer and rebuilder will leave the customer with confidence that the proposed commissioned work will deliver value for money performance in the remanufactured engines next life.

Choose carefully. It is not the kind of decision that you will make often and it is important that you get it right. After 36 years reconditioning diesel engines, we are happy to be your sounding board.

To summarise – we recommend you check;

  • Industry reputation of the chosen rebuilder (make enquiries)
  • The supplier should be a specialist in the particular field

And, consider

  • capacity to deliver on time
  • capacity to meet all of the quality criteria you expect
  • commitment to you the customer
  • the external relationships (sub-contractors)
  • supply of or access to the necessary component resources
  • qualified technician resources (are they adequate and experienced ?)
  • The repair entities’ stability and capacity to provide suitable warranty
  • Your ability to have a quality dialogue with decision makers

Torquepower has independently specialised in the service and support of all Cummins engines applications since 1978

Contaminated Oil is Poison to your Engine

To prevent life-threatening disease, annual blood testing is the most important step aging humans can take .With your blood test results, you can catch critical changes in your body and empowered, you begin a new approach that could add decades to your life.

Clean oil to an engine is like clean blood to your body, with the oil filter as the kidney. Similar to collecting forensic evidence at a crime scene, oil samples are drawn into a small, clean bottle which is sealed and sent to a laboratory for analysis.

If you read our previous story  ( 5 Ways to Murder Your Diesel) , you would recall that contaminated oil is poison to an engine. Oil provides vital lubrication, cleaning and cooling services to an engine and oil filters remove contaminants. Both the oil and the filter have a useful service life but if they are not replaced, each is capable of creating damage rather than preventing it.

Oil Analysis (OA) is the laboratory analysis of a lubricant’s properties, suspended contaminants, and wear debris. First used after World War II by the US railroad industry to monitor the health of locomotive diesel engines, OA is performed during routine predictive maintenance to provide meaningful and accurate information on lubricant and machine condition. By tracking oil analysis sample results over the life of your engine, trends can be established and these can help eliminate costly repairs. The study of wear in machinery is called tribology. Tribologists perform or interpret oil analysis data.

Oil samples register contaminants in parts per million. We test for deposits relevant to metal wear, coolant entry and external contamination to name just a few. Many mining equipment failures are caused by the introduction of contaminants whist servicing and sampling. Often, it’s not the oil itself but the equipment used to meter and supply the new oil that create the problems . Oil analysis is a particularly great tool for equipment operating in remote locations.

For your diesel engine there are distinct fluid challenges which ultimately decide the operational reliability and longevity of your engine. Torquepower’s technical staff are not tribologists, but they have been trained in the interpretation of oil analysis reports as produced by the laboratories and can reliably advise you of the state of play and of your best maintenance options going forward based on those OA observations.

Industry best practice is to have your engines lifeline tested every 250 hours, 20,000 kilometres or as a minimum in concert with each lube service event. Each element analysed will lead us to specific area of the engine where close scrutiny often provides an early remedy for a pending or potential problem. As was once said by wiser men than I, ” an ounce of prevention is better than a tonne of cure”.

Your OA report will be emailed to Torquepower from the laboratory in a matter of a few days from dispatch of the sample. We will contact you immediately in the event that the report is flagged as “Caution” or “STOP” and discuss the ramifications of the report’s terms.

The technical advice provided by Torquepower is at no additional cost to you. If the report gives an all clear we will retain the information on your engine file both physically and electronically for trend reference down the track as may be required.

A major scuba diving and cruise company in the Solomon Islands have recently asked us to look at the tribology of some of their old hard working high hour power generating engines – some of which show more than 40,000hrs of service since they were last overhauled by Torquepower. Sending us oil samples for analysis allows us to manage and advise on future maintenance requirements with a high level of accuracy and provides the customer with the confidence he needs to take bookings well into the future.

Improving Diesel Fuel Economy

Andy from Redwood Park in Adelaide drives a Detroit 15 litre Western Star. He hauls 85 tonnes from Whyalla to the Wimmera Air Base bringing road base for the new air strip. At $19,000 per month in fuel costs, I asked his best fuel saving tip?” Don’t start her up!” he joked.

Diesel fuel is usually your operation’s largest variable cost, so achieving the best fuel economy is crucial. Efficient drivers and well maintained engines can make a huge difference.

Vehicle power is a simple calculation. You burn fuel to make horsepower, and you use horsepower to overcome forces trying to hold back your truck. Maintaining a given road speed depends on the total of these forces – Aerodynamic drag, tyre rolling resistance, engine accessories and drivetrain losses.

Aerodynamic Drag is the most significant factor above 80 kmh. Even a 2% improvement in frontal shape, and aerodynamic cab aids will result in 1% improvement in fuel economy. Tractor-trailer gaps should be minimised. Beyond 75 cms, every 25 cms increases drag by 2%. Wind resistance accounts for over half of your power demand.

Below 80 kilometres per hour, tyres make the biggest difference. Rolling resistance results from the internal friction of a tyre as it flexes during motion. Energy spent generating tyre heat does not contribute to moving, so cooler running tyres are more fuel efficient. Apart from tyre construction, influences are vehicle speed, load, inflation, ambient temperature, road surface and axle alignment. Tyres flex more at higher speeds, and economy decreases over 88 kph. Every 10psi of under-inflation will also represent a 1% penalty in fuel economy.

Andrew Lawrence, Torquepower’s General Manager believes the key issues for saving fuel are ; Engine operating temperature, intake and exhaust restriction, air compressor operation, fan operation, engine idling and a pre-trip inspection.

Andrew says, “It’s critically important that you have the correct gear ratio specs to ensure your engine operates within the peak torque range, this allows for correct gear selection and better fuel economy. Ideally to maximise fuel efficiency of your engine you should be in top gear for more than 90% of your trip.”

“Idling too is significant. Even an hour of idle time in a long-haul operation can decrease fuel efficiency by a further 1%.”

Good qualified servicing can make a dramatic difference. Torquepower’s on-site technician Neil Bird headed to Gin Gin to improve running of Gorlick Earthmoving’s 1996 Western Star, 1988 Kenworth T600 , 1984 Kenworth K125 Cabover and a 1989 Kenworth T600 . Says owner Peter Gorlick, “Honestly, the trucks have never run as well. One of our trucks hauls 30 tonnes of road base non-stop every day, the driver’s been able to go up a gear and the fuel economy is unbelievable! We can’t believe how much we are saving. “

Cleaning your Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF)

As with any filter, the job is to ‘filter’ or trap pollutants, and your DPF needs to be cleaned regularly, through a process called regeneration. Often this will require no action from you, the driver or operations manager, until the maintenance intervals, which may require a clean; or an exchange unit.

The regeneration of a Diesel Particulate Filter is the process of removing harmful diesel exhaust soot particles regularly from a diesel engine to maintain performance, through active, passive or forced regeneration.

Passive Regeneration occurs when the vehicles duty cycle and exhaust temperature drive the continuous oxidation of carbon. This typically occurs when the vehicle is driven at highways speeds under normal load. No actions are required by the driver in these instances. In linehaul operations, passive regeneration is expected to occur approximately 95% of the time.

Active Regeneration is required when duty cycles don’t generate enough heat to convert all of the carbon being collected in the DPF. The Engine Control Module will initiate an Active Regeneration in these cases by injecting a small amount of diesel into the exhaust stream which generates heat as it enters the filter. This additional heat ensures that excess carbon oxidises without any driver intervention, and will occur more frequently in vehicles with low speed, low load or stop and go duty cycles.

Lifecycle of your DPF. In linehaul operations, the maintenance intervals on your DPF could be up to 500,000km or 250,000 litres of fuel burn. Your engine will perform an Automatic Active Regeneration every 96 hours to clear any build-up of soot in the filter. When you notice that regenerations occur more frequently, this is an indication that your filter is approaching the cleaning maintenance interval. The filter will need to be removed from the vehicle for cleaning. Torquepower are also able to provide exchange units for a quick turnaround.

Initiating a Manual Active Regeneration can be triggered via a dash mounted switch in the cab. This is required on rare occasions (usually parked) due to unusual duty cycle conditions or when the DPF lamp lights to indicate the soot loading is increasing. There are occasions where a driver will switch off automatic active regenerations. This might include driving in off highway conditions that could cause a fire, or due to excessive engine temperatures when climbing steep terrain under heavy loads. This may result in the need for a Manual Active Regeneration at a later time.

For further assistance, Torquepower’s technical team are happy to be of service.

Torquepower has specialised in Cummins genuine parts and servicing since 1978

Magic technology keeps the wheels turning

Going way back to my early days in the industry I remember having a serious discussion with an educated mate who owned a Commodore 64 computer. We talked about how good it would be if we could have a computer guide young technicians via the knowledge of more experienced people and a structured troubleshooting “tree” that could be delivered by a modern computer. What a great and timely way to pass on acquired knowledge.

It was based on questions like “If this – then x ; if not then y.” Pretty basic stuff. And that was about the limit of a Commodore 64 with its data transfer rates around 0.000005Mb per second anyway.

We soon worked out that it really was impractical (no such thing as a laptop and no one had computers in the workplace) and we moved on to other things.

The idea however remained sound and thanks to the evolution of more capable computer platforms, computer driven diagnostics is now an everyday tool for today’s technicians (note they are no longer referred to as “mechanics”).

At Torquepower we are very familiar with the Cummins Insite software system which does just what we envisioned all those years ago but is a thousand times more capable than any of us could have ever imagined.

No longer bearing a shifter and screwdriver in the back pocket of his overalls, the modern technician now uses a laptop as a primary means of communicating with the engine. This diagnostic software interfaces with the on-board computer or Electronic Control Module (ECM) that manages all aspects of engine operation.

The ECM in turn can “multiplex” with the vehicle’s own computer to ensure that it makes its decisions in the vehicle’s overall best interests. The ECM collects data from a range of sensors located throughout the engine and vehicle systems. Based on that data, it is able to command changes to key performance and protection parameters for the engine.

When it sees a “problem” it logs the event by way of a Fault Code (FC) which includes a numeric value. That number can be retrieved by the driver via in-dash diagnostic switches or by the servicing workshop using Cummins Insite or a similar diagnostic computer system.

A recent development has seen mobile platform apps that can be freely downloaded from websites like Torquepower’s to give the driver a deeper understanding of just what the fault code means and what might be required to address it. More broadly, the codes are divided into two groups: Caution and Emergency. In some cases the ECM is set to protect the engine by a commanded engine shut-down when it encounters an Emergency level code for more than a few seconds.

Once the engine is in the workshop, the particular fault code is identified and the technician then uses the diagnostic fault tree such as Cummins Insite to track the fault back to a specific cause – which of course can then be addressed by traditional workshop means.

They say that, technologically, if you want to know where the trucking industry is headed, you take a look at the car industry – and if you want to know where that’s headed, you look at the aviation industry.

I recall visiting a RAAF facility some years ago where F/A18 maintenance was carried out. When the aircraft logged a non-emergency fault in flight it was delivered to the maintenance section (481 Sqn) once on the ground. The tech localized the fault to a removable “compartment” (looks like a wall of post office boxes under the aircraft’s forward skin).

They removed the box and installed a replacement unit meaning that the serviceability of the aircraft was reinstated in the shortest possible time. The box then went into another area of 481 where a card within the box was identified as faulty. The card was replaced and the box returned to “stock” as mission-ready. The card was sent to another area and a component of the card identified as faulty. The component was replaced in the card and the card becomes mission ready.

Expect to see this model as an integral part of the transport task at some time in the future. Expect also to see remote monitoring (and even adjustment) of the vehicle’s operation via transmissions from on-board computers via satellite. Again, this is already standard operating procedures within commercial aviation.

All of this magic technology will bring badly needed productivity gains to the industry because there’s no return on investment unless the wheels are turning.