Much to be done by Hino
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All was not well, Tim Blakemore found, when road testing the Hino HE 336E tractive unit. It seems likely to satisfy only the unsophisticated operators
HE HINO (pronounced "Hee-io" rather than "High-no" by he Japanese) HE336E tractive nit is probably the least familiar :o operators of any tractive unit ;urrently on the British market. Dnly around fifty have so far )een registered in Britain.
But the name Hino is far from anknown in the transport indusry here, and is even more easily .ecognised in much of the rest of he world. Hino claims to be ;econd only to Dain,ler-Benz in he number of diesel-t,ngined :ommercial vehicles it manufacures annually.
Controversy has surrounded it Iver since HCV Motor Vehicle Nstributors Ltd moved into its Varrington premises in May 1980 and began to import the 34 onner together with sixand Iight-wheeled tipper chassis rom Ireland where the marque had already achieved astonishing success, capturing around 52 per cent of the heavy commercial vehicle market in the ten years since its first appearance there.
In this operational trial report I have striven to ignore the controversy and the emotive, often ill informed, irresponsible and irrationally prejudiced cornment that goes with it, and simply report on the vehicle as I found it. The issue of import control, generally inseparable from the subject of Japanese vehicles, is an interesting one btit should not be mixed up with road tec+s. This report would have been the same if the vehicle had had Leyland, Ford, Volvo or DAF badges.
The tractive unit tested was an "off the peg" demonstrator from Tadcaster Commercials of Yorkshire, produced at very short notice by HCV. CM's 38tonne tests had kept us extremely busy for some time and meant that we were unable to allow the usual pre-test preparation time. It soon became clear on the morning of the first day of the test that all was not well with this Hino. HCV'S engineer had mentioned that on the trip down to MIRA from Warrington, the tractive unit had seemed to be sluggish for the first part of the journey. On MIRA's twin horizontal one mile straights it was certainly that, being unable to accelerate from rest to 80 km/h (50 mph) in the one mile available. Even the least powerful 32-tonner should be able to reach 50 mph within a mile.
We proceeded to MIRA's 2.8 mile high-speed circuit and the impression that the Hino EK 100, 13.27-litre engine was being starved of fuel at high speed became even stronger. The maximum speed that the fully laden vehicle could maintain in top gear (overdrive in the Fuller RTO-9509A) on the reasonably flat circuit, on a virtually windless day, was 50 mph.
Our first day's busy test schedule did not allow time for any lengthy investigation into the problem but a quick check of the fuel system before we left the proving ground revealed a slight kink in one of the two braided fuel pipes which run through the chassis frame to and from a filter. Straightening this pipe seemed to do the trick: on the M6 that afternoon the Hino maintained a speed of 60 mph with ease.
And when we returned to MIRA two days later the HE336E proved itself capable of respectable acceleration when its engine is on song. The best 0-30 mph time was 30 seconds and the best 0-50 mph time was 1 minute 28 seconds.
The implication is that the bore of the Hino's fuel pipes running from tank to lift pump is barely adequate to allow the fuel flow-rate demanded by the engine at high speed. Any slight restriction, in this case a kink but perhaps even a dirty filter, can have a drastic effect on engine performance.
Everything also was not as it should be with this Hino's brakes. The peak deceleration and stopping distances recorded during the full pressure stops from 20 and 30 mph were not bad, indeed they were better than average, but the only wheels locking up during these tests were the drive wheels and that Made me very cautious when it came to the 40 mph test. It was as well that I was alert to the danger because, sure enough, the drive wheels locked up early and began to swing the rear of the tractive unit out of line — the beginning of a dreaded jack knife. I only managed to avoid this by lifting off the brakes completely.
Some other tractive units, including a Volvo and a Scania, have exhibited this disturbing tendency in recent CM tests, but none to such an extent as the Hino. Clearly this vehicle's drive axle was considerably overbraked, even when it was loaded to 93/4 tons — not far short of its design weight. On a lightly laden or unladen vehicle on wet roads such a characteristic could be disastrous.
The HE 336E's front brake lining width is unusually narrow, just 127mm (5in). Of course this should have no effect on specific braking efficiency but it could make the brakes susceptible to fade, and that is probably why the vehicle is fitted as standard with an automatically operated exhaust brake.
A switch on the steering co lumn can be used to switch off the brake but the Hino recommendation is that it should be left on at all times. It works in a similar way to the system used on Fodens and the Retro brake offered as an option by ERF. Micro switches on the clutch and throttle pedals break the circuit and prevent the brake's operation but with the steering column switch on, if the clutch pedal is up and the accelerator returned to the idle position, the butterfly valve in the exhaust pipe will be activated (pneumatically) automatically.
found the retardation to be nothing to write home about but nonetheless the exhaust brake was more effective than Volvo's, Mercedes' or MAN's, for example. Perhaps this is simply because the Hino engine is generally working at a higher speed than these.
Until about five years ago the engine used by Hino in its tractive units sold in Ireland was an MAN-designed, turbocharged in-line six. It is alleged to have been far from a complete success, having the unfortunate dual disadvantages of poor fuel economy and unreliability. Th experience has not endeart turbocharging to Hino's eng neers, though there are rumoul of a turbocharged and chargl cooled 8.6-litre Hino engine di veloping as much as 280hp.
The replacement for that MA engine was this naturally as rated EK 100 unit. Its power an torque ratings (the latter beir exceptionally low) put it in th same category as the MA D2566 MF 11.6-litre engine fitted to the 16.240 FTN tracti‘ unit which CMtested in July la year. There is no question of th Japanese engine being a copy the German one — its dimei sions are entirely different — bi it does have "Japanese Bosch fuel-injection equipment an there are marked similarities bi tween what Hino describes as ii MMS ("Micro Mixing System' combustion chamber desig and MAN's M-type (mittelkuge combustion system.
The Hino's overall averag fuel consumption was 0.5 mp worse than the 16.240 MAN (and in fact was the worst to dal for any 32 tanner tested with th van semi-trailer over the Sco tish route) but its overall averag speed was faster and its hill pe formance better, most not ceably on long motorway gr. dients such as those we no
me on the M18 and M1 southiound.
With a maximum net torque of 849Nm (626Ib ft) this Hino annot be expected to give parkling performance over nigh gradients. The engine peed must not be allowed to 311 below 1,400 rpm except on le gentlest of slopes if a reasonble rate of progress is to be laintained. That is bad news as as fuel consumption is conerned because the EK 100's pecific fuel consumption curve ses steeply as engine speed inreases.
At 2,000 rpm — the engine peed that gives a road speed of 0 mph in top gear with the .714:1 rear axle ratio — the lino engine is gulping diesel Jel like a thirsty camel at an asis. Our operational trial reults show clearly that mpg in le low sixes always results .om road conditions which lead )Sustained high engine speed. The new range of vehicles which is to become available in Iritain and Ireland in September 3ee "Tech news") is to have a lightly uprated version of the K 100 engine (and an optional 20hp vee eight) as well as oponal rear-axle ratios. But unless le engine's torque is increased onsiderably or its thirst at high peed reduced, Hino will still be la dilemma when trying to proide the versatility demanded by :ritish operators: for if a higher peed diff, were used, motorway
running could be more economical, but, laden to 32.5 tones, the tractive unit would then become almost undriveable over steep hills.
As it was with the current standard (only available) 5.714:1 rear axle the Hino by no means disgraced itself over the most demanding section of CM'S Scottish route. First gear (not crawler) was needed three or four times but an average speed of 44.16 km/h (27.47 mph) over probably the most difficult 53 miles of road in Britain is certainly not discreditable.
Optional Fuller gearbox The standard gearbox for the HE336E is Hino's own six-speed model. Specifying the popular Fuller RTO-9509A adds £1,500 to the retail price.
The reliability and speed of gearshifting possible with a Roadranger box generally prove their worth when the engine driving it is working hard, and so it was with this tractive unit. But the Fuller installation in the Hino comes nowhere near the standard currently being set by Seddon Atkinson, ERF and IVECO, to name but three. The long gearlever, with range-change air pipes taped inelegantly to it, curves ungracefully from the cab floor and is capped by the old style, large diameter, uncomfortable-to-grip Fuller knob which Seddon Atkinson once used in the 400 Series.
Also like the 400 Series, the gearshift pattern is turned through 180 deg from the conventional so that, somewhat confusingly, first (and fifth) is towards the offside and forward while fourth (and eighth) is towards the nearside and forward. When the cab is titled (manually, and to only 33deg) to reveal the complicated arrangement of rods and knuckle joints which connects the box with the lever it becomes clear why the gearchange is also imprecise.
Outdated features The Hino's steering was actually a little better than I feared it might be when I saw that it was equipped with the old fashioned external ram-power assistance. However, I have yet to drive a vehicle with this type of power assistance which does not have insensitive steering. The Hino was no exception and moreover it suffered from insufficient power assistance at low speeds. It required minor but constant correction in the straight ahead position, and on the third day of the test developed a disquieting slight knock as the wheel was rocked to and fro.
Internally and externally, this fifteen-year-old Hino cab looks more like a typical American heavy vehicle than a European one. And, as with all American heavies, the attention paid to driver comfort is minimal by European standards. But a Japanese 'suspension seat is a standard fitment and while it is poorly finished compared with the Bostrom or Isringhausen products, it did prove to be reasonably comfortable.
To get into the seat, the driver must make a long detour to the rear and then along the front wing to the door. The location of the access steps is certainly eccentric, and seems to be based on the principle that when a driver enters or leaves his seat he is invariably en route to or from the trailer couplings at the rear of the cab.
Either our noise meter has become faulty or much of the noise generated by the Hino does not register on the "A" weighted dB scale. At 60 mph the meter read 77.5dB(A) in the cab but my impression was that the level was much higher than this. The predominant sound was a rattly, metallic one which seemed to be a combination of engine, gearbox and exhaust noise.
Summary It is easy to see why HCV has been more successful in selling Nino tippers than tractive units. Tipper operators generally like more utilitarian cabs, and by comparison with European tractive units that is what the HE336E has. But its retail price and kerb weight are low.
It also has a reputation in Ireland for reliability in tough operating conditions. However, that reputation was not confirmed by this test. As well as the initial problem with the fuel line, on the second day the tachometer failed due to a broken tongue on the drive shaft of the sender unit. This I know, was not an isolated occurrence but has happened with numerous other vehicles because of the brittleness of the steel used for the shaft. Modified shafts on later models should solve the problem.
Hino, and indeed most of the Japanese vehicle manufacturers, are very good at responding to market requirements rather than attempting to dictate what specification a market should have. Perhaps this is a major reason for their consistent success with lighter vehicles. The range of Hinos currently available in Britain, including the HE336E, was obviously intended for unsophisticated markets. The next generation looks as though it will be much more akin to what the European heavy vehicle operator expects.