_EVERYONE _ knows what happens if you get oil or hydraulic fluid in your brakes - discs or drums.

You have an urgent and immediate appointment with the scenery, that's what. And, if you're lucky, you don't take anyone else with you for the ride.

So when I first heard about a brake system developed in Australia that ran in an oil bath I figured it was another internet email stunt.

But, as I reported in WorkWHEELS a few weeks ago, the SIBS brake developed by Advanced Braking Technology in Osborne Park does more than surprise old hands about truck brake repair and maintenance.

I recently had the opportunity to drive the SIBS test truck in the middle of durability testing in and around the Hills area.

ABT is driving the Iveco, a former waste truck, on some corrugated dirt surfaces to test the ability of the system components, including mountings and fittings, to withstand vibration and road shock.

I met with test engineer Jeff Dodsworth at the top of Lesmurdie Hill on a day when local residents had already put out the rubbish and recycling bins for pick-up. So we decided to follow the bins and do a mock run.

The Acco had dual controls from its former life so without steering tilt adjust I wasn't all that comfortable behind the wheel. But hey, this is about brakes and how they perform.

The first thing I noticed was a row of data output lights directly in front of the wheel. It's linked to the brake coolant temperature and is a good measure of the stress that is being applied through the brake system.

As the system is sealed, there's no air circulating around or through the brake discs. SIBS uses a water-cooled system to dissipate heat from the brake units and a separate radiator with twin, two- speed electric fans is mounted on the chassis.

One advantage for this industry is that the cooling doesn't depend on road speed - cooling still occurs while the truck is standing still.

The Cummins/Allison combination is a tried and tested package for the waste industry, and after selecting drive we were off on the run. The first corner was the first feel I'd had of SIBS and it was clear that the pedal had no surprises for new users.

Braking effort was progressive and smooth, and the absence of squeal was noticeable. From the top of the hill we drove down to the Tonkin Highway intersection without using the engine brake - virtually on the brake pedal for the entire descent.

The temperature indicators started to rise, but only reached the second of six lights across the display, well within the normal operating range. It was only when we started rushing up to parked bins and doing the usual rubbish truck trick of standing on the brakes at the last minute that the temperature lights went to three, a light orange that the connected laptop indicated represented 120C.

But as the residual effect of the downhill run eased, the lights went back to two and then one, and it required frequent and brutal brake use to get the temperature up.

Looking at some trip records on the laptop illustrated the workout that truck brakes get in places like Brigadoon, where long and steep descents with an increasing load can push brakes to the limit.

And that's one vital advantage with SIBS brakes. They don't fade.

The West Australian

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