Riding Tandem

Since it debuted in local markets in 2018, the Meritor 14X family of tandem axles have proven a robust driveline solution for operators who need a light weight axle in specialist applications.

Meritor’s high quality local program has many success stories.

Its 14X axle group is one. Although the product range is relatively recent, having debuted in the market in 2018, its history can be traced back to the late 1970s when the company at the time was known as Rockwell.

It was the launch of the SP40 axle, which introduced a 40,000lb differential into the local marketplace.

Over the next two decades, the SP40 saw increasing demand especially in concrete and waste management applications for which it was particularly suited. As it was developed with Australian operators in mind it soon became a dominant component for the brand.

That 40,000lb portfolio of driveline axles were expanded in 1993 with the newly introduced RT40-145. Drawing on local knowledge and global expertise to ensure the product maintained Meritor’s assurances of reliability, quality and optimum performance, the RT40-145 effectively became the predecessor to the new MT18 14X/ MT20 14X — the change in nomenclature reflecting the new Meritor brand.

Considered a transitional design, the MT18 14X/ MT20 14X contains the same wheel ends and housing as the RT 40-145 family.

Whereas the previous iteration was in a one piece shell, the new design comes in two pieces allowing for ease of service to the crown wheel and pinion as the front cover can be unbolted for direct access to the entire differential.

Before arriving in Australia, the MT18 14X/ MT20 14X had found popular uptake in North America in linehaul operations.

Long since refined for Australian conditions, the 14X axle series is now common in refuse, agitator and 14-pallet Tautliner applications.

Localised through welding to Australian specification, the 14X range has been modified by Meritor Australia specifically for locally built Mack, Kenworth and IVECO trucks and is factory fit on many North American and Japanese built trucks sold in Australia and New Zealand. It can also be configured with a Meritor lazy axle for use in more unique configurations such as 10×4 plant and specialty work.

Meritor’s MT18 14X driveaxle.

According to Ivan Cassar Meritor Truck Territory Manager there has been a notable improvement made to the front diff of the 14X series of driveaxles.

“The front carrier now has a 20 per cent larger interaxle which helps with the higher torque engines of today,” he says. “In certain applications it can take up to 2050ft pound of torque.”

The MT18 and MT20 14X models have been metracised to indicate the respective 18- and 20 tonne carrying capacity of each. An MT18 has a standard wall housing while a MT20 has a heavy wall housing. The main point of difference lies in the banjo (axle) housing.

Ivan explains the 14X group, at present, provides the fastest and most complete range of axle ratios. These start at 2.47:1 and go as high as 7.17:1.

“The larger main differential bearings add another 30 per cent capacity,” he says. “With the 14X, additional efficiencies have been created by the low spiral angle design gearing. What’s more, the elimination of the main differential case ribs and smooth internal surfaces of carrier castings have minimised energy loss through churning lubricant.”

Meritor this year celebrated 50 years as a leading supplier and manufacturer of driveline components in Australia. Ivan has been at the company nearly half that time having started out in 1997 as a 17-year old high school graduate in the position of trainee parts interpreter.

By way of coincidence, it was the same year that Rockwell Standard changed its name to Meritor Heavy Vehicle Systems.

Ivan’s encyclopedic knowledge of Meritor parts and componentry and the trucks and applications they are used in, has enabled the business to develop in Asian markets such as Vietnam, Korea and Indonesia.

Meritor’s ongoing investment in its local people, of which Ivan is one of many long serving staff, ensures that it safeguards the customers of its best products through the quality service and expertise this continuum of knowledge provides.

To date the 14X driveaxle group has given Meritor and its customers little trouble. Ivan puts this down to specific modifications engineered and applied to unique Australian conditions.

“The axle was localised through welding to Australian specification and it’s been a particular success for us thanks to the durability of the 14X,” he says. “We hardly hear of any issues with this axle. It’s been well accepted in the market and has really held its own.”

Meritor offers two options in a drum brake or disc brake.

The disc brake is the Meritor EX225. Alternately, it can be spec’d with the Meritor Q plus which is the standard drum brake.

Perhaps the most important feature of the 14X compared with the previous 145 series is the power divider which is 20 per cent larger than its predecessor. Both forward and rear pinions utilise overhung design for improved capability for retardation loads.

It’s also reportedly the lightest-weight axle in its class. This means it can help operators increase their payload.

“For concrete agitators and the fuel haul customers that are looking for a light weight 40,000 lb spec’d axle the MT18 14X is 26 kilos lighter than an MT20 14X,” he says.

“It doesn’t sound like much initially but for concrete fleets who might be making multiple trips in a day, getting an extra 26 kilos on each load will have a cumulative effect on the bottom line if they use a MT18 14X.”

Ivan adds, “For us it’s a big thing. We want to put quality products out there and the 14X family of axles is synonymous with reliability. Every brand in road transport wants to be associated with something like that.”

Meritor’s manufacturing facility in Sunshine.

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