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Robert Hathaway, chief materials and process engineer for Oshkosh Truck Corp., manufacturer of military and fire-rescue vehicles in addition to construction vehicles, has a mission to produce a high-performance, corrosion-resistance-enhanced truck for the U.S. government. With a tighter budget, Pentagon officials are looking for ways to lengthen equipment service life. For the past 2 years, Hathaway's team, including Mark Thomas and Chad Johnson, has been studying materials, production processing techniques, and specific component selections in an effort to build a longer-lasting military truck.

U.S. Marine Corps program managers identified corrosion as a vehicle's greatest enemy to a long service life. Oshkosh was contracted to build and deliver 10 test vehicles to the U.S. Army's Proving Ground facility in Aberdeen, Md., to undergo a stringent testing program. After the units pass muster, the contract calls for the production of 5,666 vehicles over the next several years.

Oshkosh engineers have focused on three types of corrosion mechanisms: crevice corrosion, galvanic corrosion and cosmetic corrosion.

Producers will eventually share in the research results of this vehicle's development. Oshkosh will manufacture these tactical vehicles on the same flexible production line where it builds its construction trucks, including front-discharge concrete mixers.

Oshkosh engineers expect to transform their answers into longer-lasting concrete trucks sooner rather than later. Hathaway's lab is currently continuing material and process evaluations on various technologies. These include, but are not limited to, alternative galvanic isolation materials, cab floor liners, alternative finishes for aluminum, alternative finishes for hydraulic cylinder rods and pins, sulfonated rustproofing compounds, and non-metals including stabilized core composite technology.

Along with its work on building trucks, Hathaway's goal is to recommend which cleaner producers should use for mixer trucks. "We believe that evaluating the concrete mixer from both the materials and processes used in its manufacture, along with the effects of cleaning solutions, is the only way producers can effectively control corrosion," says Hathaway.