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Automated Transmissions


Av8r3400

Automated Transmission  

40 members have voted

  1. 1. What automated transmission do you have?

    • Volvo iShift
      10
    • Eaton Ultrashift
      13
    • ZF Meritor Freedomline
      10
    • Other
      5
    • Freightliner DT12
      2


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I would like to start a discussion of the merits and faults of the various automated transmissions that can be found in HDTs. I would like to limit to the "Two-Peddle" variations, rather than including the Autoshift units still in possession of a clutch peddle.

 

From my research, there seems to be three options:

 

1. Volvo iShift

 

2. Eaton Ultrashift

 

3. ZF Meritor Freedomline

 

 

The iShift seems to be the benchmark for technology and intelligence in it's operation. Since their introduction in North America they seem to be leading the pack in their operation and acceptance into the market. Skip shifting up and down and better rpm management have been with the iShift since its introduction. The newest with the dual clutch will most likely be even better, but is way out of the price range for most (for sure me!). The downside is it is only available in a Volvo tractor with a Volvo engine.

 

The Ultrashift has gone through a couple of generations and has improved greatly since its first introduction. Things like skip shifting up and down, it can now do but couldn't when the model was first introduced. The older models work fine, but are not very smart in comparison, sometimes requiring the dealer computer to set parameters (starting gear etc.). These are available in many different tractor brands and engine combinations.

 

The ZF Meritor is somewhat more intelligent than the early Ultrashift, but still behind the iShift in its operation. It did skip shift but it is not as good with RPM management for efficiency as the iShift. These transmissions are no longer installed in North America, so they are now somewhat orphaned in the market with potential issues of finding experienced people to service the transmission. These also appear in various tractor brands behind differing engines.

 

 

 

Do I have a fair handle on these? Is there things I'm incorrect about? What can you add?

 

Thank you in advance for your input.

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I have the ZF and have a strong dislike for it. But to be fair I have not driven any of the others for comparison, my dislike comes from driving 13,15 and 18speed on their own and in combination with 2 and 4 speed auxiliaries and completely being in control of shift points, being able to creep (slip the clutch for small movements (like hooking up a ball hitch trailer), and skip shift properly.

 

I probably would not have bought the coach with the ZF but here in Canada it is fairly rare to find a Class 8 conversion , let alone one that is for sale, so when I found this one I couldn't be too picky (if I was it wouldn't be a Freightliner, it wouldn't be Detroit powered and wouldn't have any type of autoshift or automatic transmission).

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To add...the Freedomline transmission is synchronized and uses an air-operated clutch for each shift. It is basically a 3-speed transmission with a high/low range and a splitter...so 3x2x2 = 12 speeds. I believe the I-shift is similar. Mine typically shifts 3-5-7-9-10-11-12.

 

I would have preferred an I-shift but I would be limited to more emission systems and a Volvo motor, so for me the Freedomline was the second choice.

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You have the IShift pegged about right but the newer UltraShift Plus and the Freightliner DT12 are just as good and have almost the same features as the IShift. They have creep mode, can skip shift up/down, have selectable starting gears, hill hold to start out easy and the Eaton can even have the throttle set up to engage the clutch differently by the amount of throttle requested.

 

Scrap can give you a LOT more info than that on the Eaton and some of the shifting parameters and options. The earlier Eatons were not as user friendly and have issues in some areas but pretty much all of the late model automated manuals are on fairly level ground when comparing their capabilities.

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I am the one who had the Freedomline go out in Kansas a few years ago. I had zero trouble finding a qualified shop/mechanic. My local dealer stasys up to date on software as did the deaker in Kansas. Parts were available in the US and were shipped overnight. The Freedomline is still manufactured overseas and parts seem readily available here...and even if they become scarce here, there are planes flying back and forth daily.

 

And I love my Freedomline. Shifts well, backs smoothly and hitches well. Would I prefer an I-shift? Sure I would. I would also prefer a new Volvo with a Ferrari on the rear deck.

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I would like to start a discussion of the merits and faults of the various automated transmissions that can be found in HDTs. I would like to limit to the "Two-Peddle" variations, rather than including the Autoshift units still in possession of a clutch peddle.

 

From my research, there seems to be three options:

 

1. Volvo iShift

 

2. Eaton Ultrashift

 

3. ZF Meritor Freedomline

 

 

The iShift seems to be the benchmark for technology and intelligence in it's operation. Since their introduction in North America they seem to be leading the pack in their operation and acceptance into the market. Skip shifting up and down and better rpm management have been with the iShift since its introduction. The newest with the dual clutch will most likely be even better, but is way out of the price range for most (for sure me!). The downside is it is only available in a Volvo tractor with a Volvo engine.

 

The Ultrashift has gone through a couple of generations and has improved greatly since its first introduction. Things like skip shifting up and down, it can now do but couldn't when the model was first introduced. The older models work fine, but are not very smart in comparison, sometimes requiring the dealer computer to set parameters (starting gear etc.). These are available in many different tractor brands and engine combinations.

 

The ZF Meritor is somewhat more intelligent than the early Ultrashift, but still behind the iShift in its operation. It did skip shift but it is not as good with RPM management for efficiency as the iShift. These transmissions are no longer installed in North America, so they are now somewhat orphaned in the market with potential issues of finding experienced people to service the transmission. These also appear in various tractor brands behind differing engines.

 

 

 

Do I have a fair handle on these? Is there things I'm incorrect about? What can you add?

 

Thank you in advance for your input.

 

Four.

Detroit DT12 with creep and auto coast also has Ecom and Performance modes and with a kick down for passing. The Jake is interrogated with the trans for a 3,5, and 10 mph setting so it brakes automatically when your speed excedes your set speed. Without my RV hooked up it starts out in 5th gear then goes 7,9,11 then 12.

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Blue the 3 pedals are the Eaton autoshifts. There were a couple different generations.

 

We have an early Ultrashift and have gotten use to it now so we feel it is great for what we need.

 

We use the two pedal method to back up while hitching and with practice have gotten pretty good and have never had a clutch abuse alarm.

 

R2 is basically useless so after trying it a couple of times we longer use it.

 

With the trailer, I start out in 2nd gear and it goes thru each gear. Like Glenn stated 7th gear is where she starts really moving.

 

Bobtail, if I want some fun, I put it in manual and skip shift. The 500+ horsepower and 14l really show their stuff and the smile shows up on my face. The paddle shifter is fun at this time.

 

On general hills , I turn off the Jake brake and let the cruise do its thing and if I need to slow down just turn the Jake back on for few moments.

 

Up big hills is all automatic and down hill is usually manual 9th gear with Jake on low and if more braking is needed, hit Jake up to high.

 

I just wish the Jake switch and cruise switch were closer on the Freightliner so I didn't have to reach to get them.

 

Dave

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Blue the 3 pedals are the Eaton autoshifts. There were a couple different generations.

 

We have an early Ultrashift and have gotten use to it now so we feel it is great for what we need.

 

We use the two pedal method to back up while hitching and with practice have gotten pretty good and have never had a clutch abuse alarm.

 

R2 is basically useless so after trying it a couple of times we longer use it.

 

With the trailer, I start out in 2nd gear and it goes thru each gear. Like Glenn stated 7th gear is where she starts really moving.

 

Bobtail, if I want some fun, I put it in manual and skip shift. The 500+ horsepower and 14l really show their stuff and the smile shows up on my face. The paddle shifter is fun at this time.

 

On general hills , I turn off the Jake brake and let the cruise do its thing and if I need to slow down just turn the Jake back on for few moments.

 

Up big hills is all automatic and down hill is usually manual 9th gear with Jake on low and if more braking is needed, hit Jake up to high.

 

I just wish the Jake switch and cruise switch were closer on the Freightliner so I didn't have to reach to get them.

 

Dave

 

Thanks for that info Star Dreamer. So with an Eaton Autoshift with the clutch, I would assume one advantage seems to be you can creep forward or backward using just the clutch like a standard manual transmission?

 

Are these autoshifts all 10 spds? Do they skip shift or do they go through each gear? Can they be programmed to start in a higher gear?

 

I think most of the autoshifts has a control pad like this, correct? While searching that picture, I found Jack's page that has more info on both Gen1 & Gen2. Thanks - http://www.jackdanmayer.com/converting_your_hdt_to_a_motorhome.htm#Autoshift Transmission

 

Trans%20Ultrax.jpg

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All of the newer generation autos work "about" the same. They have similar features, and they all seem to operate well. I don't think that "technically" one can lord much over another.....they are all very good. But in the 2008 vintage the IShift was the best of the bunch. My point is that I would not pick a used tractor based on which auto it has. I personally would not buy a Freedomline at this point, but I'm also not buying a truck that old.

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The 10-Speed Eaton Autoshifts can be setup to start in different gears, Mine was able to be set to 2 or 3. Some people had an AS that could be set to 4. The rear end ratio may have effect on this. Some AS had two reverse gears, one too fast.

 

I found gear 2 when the trailer was connected was the sensible gear to use. I would upshift the start gear to 3 when bob-tailing.

 

The Eaton AS stepped through the gears from start to 10.

 

In early Volvos, the Eaton AS had a tower with the stick shifter on top. Later versions had the push button shifter attached to the seat. Some other non-Volvos had the AS shifter on the dash.

 

AS is currently available in a 18 speed version. Mostly you are only going to find 10-speed in early (2000) trucks.

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Blue the 3 pedals are the Eaton autoshifts. There were a couple different generations.

 

We have an early Ultrashift and have gotten use to it now so we feel it is great for what we need.

 

We use the two pedal method to back up while hitching and with practice have gotten pretty good and have never had a clutch abuse alarm.

 

R2 is basically useless so after trying it a couple of times we longer use it.

 

With the trailer, I start out in 2nd gear and it goes thru each gear. Like Glenn stated 7th gear is where she starts really moving.

 

Bobtail, if I want some fun, I put it in manual and skip shift. The 500+ horsepower and 14l really show their stuff and the smile shows up on my face. The paddle shifter is fun at this time.

 

On general hills , I turn off the Jake brake and let the cruise do its thing and if I need to slow down just turn the Jake back on for few moments.

 

Up big hills is all automatic and down hill is usually manual 9th gear with Jake on low and if more braking is needed, hit Jake up to high.

 

I just wish the Jake switch and cruise switch were closer on the Freightliner so I didn't have to reach to get them.

 

Dave

I haven't tried manual shift to see if I can make it skip a shift. Will try next time I take for a spin
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Thanks for that info Star Dreamer. So with an Eaton Autoshift with the clutch, I would assume one advantage seems to be you can creep forward or backward using just the clutch like a standard manual transmission?

 

Are these autoshifts all 10 spds? Do they skip shift or do they go through each gear? Can they be programmed to start in a higher gear?

 

I think most of the autoshifts has a control pad like this, correct? While searching that picture, I found Jack's page that has more info on both Gen1 & Gen2. Thanks - http://www.jackdanmayer.com/converting_your_hdt_to_a_motorhome.htm#Autoshift Transmission

 

Trans%20Ultrax.jpg

 

That's how my Ultrashift looks also.

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This discussion is going very well, thanks to all participating. The technical information and links, so far, are wonderful.

 

Can anyone share any anecdotal stories on their transmission operation, learning curve or problems they have overcome?

 

 

 

@Jack, I have nearly memorized your website, along with the Resource Guide, thank you!

 

 

(Where I'm going on all this is my DW has a bum left knee precluding a clutch operation and she will drive the rig at least 50% of the time. I want to make a smart decision on this.)

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We just sold a 2010 Freightliner with the 10 speed eaton fuller and my wife hated to drive it. She had a hard time with feathering the throttle when taking off so she would brake my neck. I never liked the fact that you could not skip shift it, but once I was use to it I could make it shift to where you could not feel the shift, almost like floating gears with a Manuel transmission.

The new truck with the DT 12 transmission is just like a regular auto it starts to roll when your foot comes off the brake. While bob tailing It skips shifts through 7 off the gears and shifts really smooth and Another thing I like is the jake is part off the shifter so it is all on the steering column.

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