Steel spring suspensions have been around since horses pulled wagons. The leaf spring design incorporates flexible steel strips that are layered together and secured to form an inverted arch shape that acts as a single unit. The compound spring unit, or “leaf pack,” attaches to and supports the vehicle frame above the axle.
Steel spring suspensions are as simple as they are effective and are particularly popular in heavy haul and off-highway applications because of their roll stability and substantial carrying capacity. However on rough or uneven terrain, their ride quality can accurately be described as bone jarring.
FEATURED IMAGE: Triton Tri-Drive Air Suspensions: The industry’s first ultra-high-capacity tri-drive air suspensions are engineered to be used in multi-axle configurations for heavy-haul and off-highway applications.
ABOVE: Link Manufacturing’s ultra-high-capacity 105K Triton Tri-Drive Air Suspension sets a new industry standard for capacity and overall performance.
Air-ride suspensions are a more sophisticated form of suspension and are far more effective at delivering a smoother, more comfortable ride. The systems employ a network of valves, airlines, and air-spring bags that rely on the same air compressor and reservoir that supplies a vehicle’s air braking system.
Air-ride systems are engineered to use the movement of pressurized air throughout the system and in particular in the air-spring bags to dampen the concussive forces encountered between the axle and the frame. The result is a smoother, more level, and more comfortable ride for vehicles both under load and unloaded.
“The ride and handling characteristics of air-spring suspensions are quite simply superior to their more primitive steel spring predecessors,” Bill Ott, vice president of engineering for Link Mfg., LTD, says. “But air-spring suspensions have never been engineered to rival the load carrying capacities of steel-spring suspensions—that is until now.”
In April of 2019, Link delivered the first set of its new Triton™ Tri-Drive Air Suspensions to a major global OEM. The 105,000-lb-capacity Triton is the industry’s first ultra-high-capacity tri-drive air suspension system engineered to be used in multi-axle configurations for heavy-haul and off-highway applications.
The Triton Tri-Drive is the latest addition to Link’s heavy vocational line of suspensions. The company’s background in this arena includes decades of emergency vehicle, military, and off-highway application experience.
“In part, the Triton is also the result of the knowledge our engineers gained in the development of high-capacity military suspensions,” Ott says. “And our line of Air Link® Suspensions have been 100 percent off-highway-rated for 25 years, giving us decades of practical engineering experience in that market space as well. The Triton Air Suspension is the byproduct of that collective experience and Link’s considerable brain trust.”
Until now, the majority of heavy-haul axles were designed and installed as exotic components. Suspension designers and manufacturers alike simply assumed that high-capacity systems would be installed off-line or by up-fitters.
Designed for traditional production line installation, the Triton Tri-Drive Air Suspension changed the product offering and delivery time equation for original equipment manufacturers. Triton’s exceptional 105K carrying capacity gives OEMs a new and exciting opportunity to expand their product offerings by increasing the load-bearing capabilities of existing vehicle platforms.
Designed for traditional production line installation, Triton’s brawny 105K carrying capacity gives OEMs a viable and efficient path to broaden their product offerings by increasing the load-bearing capabilities of existing vehicle platforms.
Triton also enables end-users to specify heavy-haul equipment from manufacturers that may not have traditionally served their market. The system not only expands product diversity and access, it also increases competitiveness.
Triton Tri-Drive Air Suspensions are also engineered for enhanced application flexibility. Triton systems can be combined to provide a variety of vehicle carrying capacities, including 35K single-drive, 70K dual-drive, and the industry-leading 105K tri-drive configuration.
Regardless of a vehicle’s configured disposition, Triton Air Suspensions are designed to seamlessly integrate with most major heavy-haul axle makes and models. This feature makes the Triton system even more practical and versatile.
“Our new Triton Tri-Drive Air Suspensions will enable OEMs to sell higher-capacity equipment into off-highway mining, quarry, and logging markets they may not currently have access to,” Ott says. “The Triton has single-handedly expanded the envelope of air suspension applications for both OEMs and end-users.”
Ott explains that the Triton’s heavy-duty mounting system was another innovation born of the company’s off-highway experience. He noted that through voice-of-the-customer feedback, many of the problems associated with other tri-drives have been engineered out of the Triton, making its traditional installation fast and simple.
THE RIGHT STUFF
“Link’s experience in designing heavy-haul military suspensions has contributed significantly to the component design for the Triton Tri-Drive Air Suspension,” says Neil Mardell, manager—defense programs and heavy vocational products for Link. “Triton’s remarkable articulation, its tractive performance on uneven terrain, and its robustness are in part the result of its highly advanced, military-grade beam design.”
The Triton mounting system features a solid-frame hanger with a highly engineered 20-bolt pattern that provides maximum strength. Extra-wide, weight-bearing mounting brackets promote yaw stability while delivering predictable and well-balanced handling. Ride quality is also enhanced by Triton’s high-mounted air springs and under-slung spring saddles, which allow plus or minus 4 inches of articulation, minimizing roll. Each air spring features an internal rubber bump stop.
The Triton is also equipped with both longitudinal and lateral control rods for each axle, ensuring proper axle tracking and alignment. Trailing beams feature rugged box construction and through-pin axle attachment. They are also interconnected by a torsion bar, further improving roll stability.
Unique dual-height control valves help the suspension maintain optimum ride height independent of load levels, and all units are fitted with heavy-duty shock absorbers. The combination of two valves helps level the vehicle from side to side, even when cargo shifts.
Triton Tri-Drive Air Suspensions are engineered to maximize durability while minimizing maintenance requirements. Polyurethane bushings provide longer service life and eliminate lubrication requirements. Polyurethane is also far more resilient than natural rubber bushings and resistant to petroleum distillates and other common contaminants.
ROLL WITH THE PUNCHES
All Triton suspensions are treated with Link’s exclusive Link-KOAT® corrosion inhibitor. Link’s proprietary coating protects metal components and welds and promotes durability and longevity. Link-KOAT is a wax-based coating with migratory and self-healing characteristics.
Link-KOAT’s hydrostatic qualities interfere with the oxidizing mechanisms that cause corrosion. Even if the coating is scratched or abraded, a residual anticorrosive barrier remains and closes over the bare metal. Link-KOAT provides unparalleled corrosion resistance and rust protection even when surfaces are exposed to rocks, debris strikes, humidity, harsh chemicals, and other severe-duty environmental factors.
Triton Tri-Drive Air Suspensions can reduce vehicle damage, improve handling characteristics, and enhance operator comfort, which could result in better driver retention and higher productivity.
“For fleets and end users, this suspension will improve the laden and unladen ride quality and the overall lifespan of the vehicle,” Mardell says. “With Triton, users will enjoy the load-bearing capacity and roll stability rivaling those of traditional steel spring suspensions, but without the concussive ride.”
“Now drivers will also be able to more safely, comfortably, and quickly navigate challenging and uneven off-highway terrain, resulting in more loads hauled in each work cycle,” Ott adds.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Find out more about Link Mfg., LTD, visit www.linkmfg.com.
MODERN WORKTRUCK SOLUTIONS:
OCTOBER 2019 ISSUE
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