Saturday, April 11, 2009

PACCAR Technical Center Visit

Today started off with the quarterly RCMC breakfast. I'd tell you what that means but you'd have to show me your decoder ring first and then be able to do the secret handshake.

RCMC is a group of current and former co-workers and we like to stay in touch now that our company has been just about decimated by a so-called "sister" company. More like the evil step-sister. But I will stay away from that subject because I will just get all riled up.

On a side note, I received my 60-day WARN notice for the second time in six months this past Tuesday. My position on the new engineering team has fallen victim to the budget axe and I will be leaving on June 1st. I think. Who knows. The evil step sister may decide to send me on my way sooner. Which is okay. I think I will spend the summer working on the cabins and job hunting from the east side of the mountains.

But I digress...

After breakfast, one of my co-workers and I went to the annual PACCAR Technical Center's Open House in Burlington, WA. Wow! I was surprised by how many people went to this event.

PACCAR builds Kenworth and Peterbuilt trucks and this is a test facility for them. Unfortunately, I was not able to photograph most areas, and with good reason. But I saw all kinds of testing in process; everything from electrical harness and light testing to vibration and impact testing.

I was particularly impressed with the vibration testing areas. They had truck cabs and other parts of the truck on specialized equipment shaking the heck out of the them. They are able to significantly reduce the time required to test their vehicles by putting them on the shakers instead of months of time on the test track. They can replicate all kinds of driving conditions. PACCAR does have a test track on site and I would have liked to have driven around it, just for kicks but that was closed to the public.

See, I work with engineers all day long so I find this stuff fascinating. We got to talk to some of the employees and ask questions about the various displays.

One display we visited was the Kenworth Hybrid Electric truck. Now I haven't given much thought to larger vehicles going hybrid, but PACCAR is doing it. I think this is a good thing. Kudos to them!

Kenworth Hybrid Truck

The guy manning this exhibit suggested we talk to one of his co-workers who had his Honda Insight car on display in another area. We went in search of it and hooked up with owner.

He is a hyper-miler and has gotten over 100 mpg with his Insight. He invited us to sit in his car and check out the modifications he has made. One mod was the removal of the side view mirrors on the outside of the car. In place of the mirrors, he has this wide, 5 panel mirror that pretty much stretches across the inside of the car where the sun visors would be. That plus one more mirror inside on the driver's side allows him to meet the requirements for rear and side vision. He also had removed the rear window wiper and the antenna to improve aerodynamics. There were a few more minor mods he made but are hard to describe so I'll just have to skip them. No pictures either. :-( But he was an interesting fellow to talk with.

After visiting the inside exhibits, we took a quick stroll past several old trucks on display outside. Then it was time to head home.

Antique Fire Truck

Antique International Pickup Truck

1938 Ford Truck

I'm already looking forward to going again next year!


Small City Scenes said...

Every year I say I am going to the open house because I find it all so interesting. Every year I miss it. Wah!!!

I suppose the summer off and working on the property and looking for work over the hump sounds good to me.

Happy easter to you and your family.


okanogangirl said...

So sorry to hear about your job {again}. Praying you find something new. Hey, at least you got a trip to Poland out of the deal though, huh?

BTW - that's so cool about PACCAR. I always knew they were there but didn't really know what they did.