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Bill Taylor Transportation

Numbers adding up nicely for Eaton UltraShift user

"It is so easy to operate and is giving us a level of comfort that really helps eliminate many of the stresses associated with truck driving. We also believe it brings huge safety benefits because it eliminates another piece of the puzzle and allows us to focus more on the road ahead of us."

Bill Taylor (right), Robyn Taylor (left)
Independent Owner Operator, Bill Taylor Transportation


When Bill Taylor purchased his last new truck in January 2006, he wanted to make certain his new Western Star 4964 EX would meet his rigid requirements for reliability, fuel consumption and comfort.

Taylor, 63, is an independent owner operator who runs a team operation with his wife of 13 years, Robyn. They are leased to Landstar and currently haul air conditioning units to the Boeing Company plant in Charleston, South Carolina, and return near his home in Enfield, Connecticut, with the empty racks in which the units were transported.

He got his start in trucking in 1970 while serving in the Army in Vietnam. "It was exciting," notes Taylor, "we used to say there are hours of boredom filled with moments of pure terror."

Not quite as frightening was a stint he spent in 1999 hauling equipment for the touring Toy Story on Ice show. His rig was one of 18 tractor trailers that were employed for the gig.

"Robyn made me watch the movie before we started so I would know what we were doing," he quips. No doubt Woody, Buzz and Mister Potato Head appreciated the gesture.


With safety also a top priority on the road, Taylor reiterates that his other main concerns today are the same as those he identified in 2006 when purchasing his new truck.

"A comfortable driver is a safe driver," says Taylor. "There are a lot of distractions out there and it seems like the passenger car drivers of today are crazier than they have ever been. So you need to be alert and ready for just about anything."

Traffic and congested roads are also more troubling with each passing year, he adds, thereby making comfort all the more important.

"On the business side, the cost of fuel and getting the most out of every drop of diesel can mean the difference between running profitably or losing money," says Taylor.

Vehicle uptime is equally important to success. He adds, "In my line of work failure is not an option."

 Western Star 4964 EX Image

The UltraShift transmission that was originally specified in Bill and Robyn Taylor's Western Star truck in 2006 has delivered remarkably dependable service.


To help eliminate downtime, he's a proponent of regular preventative maintenance and credits his Western Star dealer, Midway Truck Service, in Bethel, Pennsylvania, with giving him excellent support. "I have a great dealer," he says.

He also credits one component that he specified with that new truck order in 2006 – an Eaton UltraShift LHP (Linehaul High Performance) automated 13-speed transmission – as providing him with just as much support. It is, in fact, giving him a level of support that is helping him meet all of his challenges.

Taylor's UltraShift transmission was built on Eaton's highly successful platform of Fuller manual gear boxes. Instead of relying on a clutch pedal in the cab to perform shifts, the transmissions are electronically controlled to ensure all shifts are made precisely when they are needed to maximize vehicle performance.

The original UltraShift represented a pioneering breakthrough in transmission technology, becoming one of the first of its kind to offer the North American trucking industry a two-pedal design. That concept laid a solid foundation for Eaton's next generation of automation and the 2009 launch of UltraShift PLUS.

While UltraShift was primarily designed for over-the-road, onhighway hauling, UltraShift PLUS greatly expanded the transmissions' applications to now include virtually every imaginable trucking vocation with no vehicle weight too heavy, no horsepower too high, and no slope too slippery yet to conquer the versatility of the PLUS.

Taylor, however, is more than okay with the on-highway version in his truck.


Indeed, he's downright ecstatic having recently surpassed more than 1.7 million miles of virtually uninterrupted service with his UltraShift transmission. Other than replacing a gasket to stop a fluid leak, he has not encountered another issue during that remarkable run.

"We couldn't be more pleased with the reliability and outstanding performance we've gotten out of that Eaton transmission," says Taylor. "It has never been taken apart. It's been amazing."

Equally amazing is the ease-ofuse and simplicity of the transmission. "All you do is put it in D for dumb," he jokes, "step on the gas, and away you go."

Smart is how he describes the transmission's shift changes to bring his fuel consumption where it needs to be to help him operate profitably. His Eaton transmission also has enough brains to help him and Robyn comfortably maneuver through all kinds of traffic.

"It is so easy to operate and is giving us a level of comfort that really helps eliminate many of the stresses associated with truck driving," he adds. "We also believe it brings huge safety benefits because it eliminates another piece of the puzzle and allows us to focus more on the road ahead of us."

But it's that 1.7 million miles that's impressing Taylor the most. So much so, he says he would definitely specify an Eaton transmission if he was to buy another truck.