Experimental Evaluation of a Trailing-Arm Suspension for Heavy Trucks
Glass, Jeffrey Lewis
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This study includes an experimental evaluation of a prototype trailing-arm suspension for heavy trucks. The primary goal of this new suspension is to match or improve the kinematics and dynamic performance of an existing â Z-barâ suspension. Significant reductions in cost, weight, and number of parts are the main reasons for this redesign. A permanent facility is constructed to support the testing of different heavy truck suspensions. For actuation of the vehicle suspension, hydraulic actuators are used in the kinematics tests in a quasi-dynamic manner. For the dynamic tests, the vehicle is excited using two hydrodynamic actuators. A collection of forces, displacements, velocities, and accelerations are measured during the tests using transducers that were installed on the suspension and test vehicle. The test measurements are analyzed in both time and frequency domains and then the results of the two suspensions were compared to establish the dynamic merits of the prototype suspension. The kinematics tests include vertical stiffness, roll stiffness, and roll steer measurements for each suspension. The results from the kinematics tests show that the trailing-arm suspension exhibits kinematics traits that are quite similar to the â Z-barâ suspension, within the context of the tests conducted in the study. The dynamic testing consists of three input signals commonly used for such tests, namely: a chirp signal input, a step signal input, and a range of pure tone inputs. The test results show that the resonant frequencies of the two primary suspensions differ by an amount that is most likely too small to affect ride dynamics. The two suspensions, however, exhibit significantly different damping characteristics. The new suspension has much less frictional damping than the existing suspension. This is expected to provide better ride characteristics, assuming that the primary dampers (shock absorbers) are properly tuned for the vehicle that the new suspension was designed for.
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