Magnum's New Generation Chassis

by Angela Brooks

Many People look at SMC coaches and comment on the outer beauty - the graphics, the tasteful interior decoration, the solid hardwood cabinetry. But one must delve deeper into the operations of the coach to recognize the rugged beauty of the chassis.

When making the decision to buy a coach, too much emphasis is usually placed on outer looks, when more consideration should be given to the most important component of the coach - the chassis.

SMC Corporation works especially hard to insure that the chassis which form the foundations of our coaches are built with only the best quality and componentry for each specific coach they are being built for. That is why it is so important that most of the chassis used by SMC are built by our own chassis company, Magnum Manufacturing.

Nobody knows more about Magnum chassis than the outgoing General Manager of Magnum, Gordon Perlot. Although Gordon has recently taken a new position as the General Manager of SMC’s Harney County Operations, he will always get credit for his key role in the start-up of Magnum Manufacturing - taking it from ground zero to the successful company that it is today.

He speaks fondly of the beginning of Magnum. There is a certain excitement in his voice when he talks about all of the reasons for starting Magnum. "The goal that we started with was to build a chassis that required no preparation or modification before going on the assembly line. When a manufacturer buys a chassis, they need to modify the chassis to fit their coach. But no matter what they do, they are still restricted by what someone else has built. We however build a chassis that interfaces with our coach - everything from holding tank placement to storage is considered when designing the chassis.

By using chassis built by Magnum, SMC maintains total control over quality and componentrv.

"Besides building great chassis, it allows us to 'one up' our competition. We can build chassis configurations that are not available on other chassis. By choosing our own component configurations, we are able to offer new products quicker than our competition." says Gordon. Adding, "We are able to find components that we want, and integrate them immediately. It is one management team making the decisions for both the chassis and coaches which makes it a smooth operation."

Then Gordon got down to dollars and cents "There is also a tremendous cost advantage in building our own chassis. Besides the obvious gain from cutting out the middleman, it also lets us cut out inventory costs. The chassis are finished one day and on the coach line the next. Also, when you order a chassis from an outside vendor, you need to be able to project your sales 90 days into the future, because that's how long it takes from the time you order until it is received. We cut that time down to about two weeks."

Different Chassis to Meet a Variety of Needs

Magnum started with one chassis, which was used on all of the Safaris and Continentals. "It was only three months from the time that the decision was made to start Magnum to the deadline for being in full production. it was an amazing feat to accomplish in only one model change period." says Gordon.

Now Magnum builds several different chassis for both Safari and Beaver. The Magnum "Blue Max" is built for Safari's Serengeti, Ivory, and Continental. The Magnum "Blue Streak" is used on Safari's Sahara and Beaver's Monterey. And the Magnum B-Series

"Magnum Air" chassis is designed exclusively for the Beaver Patriot.

All of the Magnum chassis have the same basic design and share major componentry. They are all raised rail chassis for maximum storage and strength. Magnum uses 9" C channel frame rails made out of ASTM 572 high-yield steel. And they all feature the powerful combination of the Caterpillar 3126 electronically controlled diesel engine and the Allison MD3060 World transmission.98catlin.jpg (10582 bytes)

Gordon was very involved with the integration of the CAT engine into our chassis. He says "CAT has been one example of how we are able to try different components and get it on the market before our competition. CAT has innovative new products, especially in electronics. By using the CAT engine in conjunction with the Allison transmission, the two are able to interface with each other and provide the driver with valuable information displayed on the MagIDä .

The CAT 3126 is the most technologically advanced engine on the RV market. By using electronics, CAT has provided high performance, expanded horsepower range, and excellent fuel economy. One of the key features of the engine is the HEUI, Hydraulic Electronic Injected fuel system, which provides high intake pressure at low rpms to apply an exceptional amount of torque to the road and give increased acceleration. The injected pressure does not rely upon engine speed, so low end response is excellent. The HEUI incorporates an ECM, Electronic Control Module, which controls all engine functions. It uses a combination of software and customer supplied performance to manage the system and provide hassle free operation.

And since the CAT 3126 has the electronic capabilities to communicate with the Allison MD3060 World transmission - the two can exchange information and adjust themselves according to terrain, environment, and driving style, allowing maximum performance from both. The engine is only able to operate as efficiently and powerfully as the transmission allows, and the Allison is very efficient on the highway, yet delivers plenty of torque for climbing and passing.

Although the different chassis have much in common, each is designed to meet the specific requirements of the line of coaches it is built for. They differ in GVWR and GCWR, engine horsepower, some componentry, and suspension.

To many people, suspension can be the deciding factor when buying a coach - a good ride can make a world of difference in comfort and handling. Magnum provides several different systems to meet all needs: rubber torsilastic, steel leaf spring, and air - each provides a little different ride and each has certain advantages.

When asked which suspension he prefers, Gordon has a hard time deciding, " They are all good systems. Elliptiride (spring) is simple, trouble free, and dependable. Velvet-Ride (torsion) is simple and has an outboard mounting for a broader stance. It definitely has superior handling. We use two different air suspensions at Magnum, the Reyco system is a four bag system used on the Monterey, it provides a good, comfortable ride. But I am most proud of the Magnum Air that we use on the Patriot, it is an eight bag system. We recently received a patent on the Magnum Air - by mathematically calculating the ideal location for the bags we have accomplished the perfect air ride."

"It is really a tough choice as to which is the best suspension when comparing the Velvet-Ride and Magnum Air. They are both excellent, it's a matter of personal preference."

Magnum has only been in business for three and a half years, but is already one of the largest producers of pusher diesel chassis. According to Gordon, "It's been a lot of fun. What I miss most of all is the people at Magnum, they are a good bunch - hard working, dedicated, and friendly. They have all been instrumental to the success of the company." When asked about Mike Dodson, the new General Manager, Gordon replied " Mike is the one guy that I feel comfortable leaving in charge at Magnum. He has been important to all of Magnum's Accomplishments. I don't lay awake at night wondering if everything is being taken care of - I know Magnum is in good hands."

A Division of SMC Corporation / 425 N. Third St. / Harrisburg, OR 97446

Chassis Specifications

Blue max (Continental)

  • Engine - Caterpillar 3126 Electronic Diesel Engine

  • Horsepower - 330 HP @ 2,200 rpm *Torque - 860 ft-lb @ 1,440 rpm

  • Transmission - Allison MD3060 World 6-speed w/2 overdrives

  • GVWR - 29,000 lbs.

  • GCWR - 33,000 lbs.

  • Suspension - Velvet Ride

  • Brakes - hydraulic over hydraulic disc

Blue max (Serengety & Ivory)

  • Engine - Caterpillar 3126 Electronic Diesel Engine

  • Horsepower - 330 HP @ 2,200 rpm *Torque - 860 ft-lb @ 1,440 rpm

  • Transmission - Allison MD3060 World 6-speed w/2 overdrives

  • GVWR - 28,000 lbs.

  • GCWR - 33,000 lbs.

  • Suspension - Velvet Ride

  • Brakes - hydraulic over hydraulic disc

Blue max (Sahara)

  • Engine - Caterpillar 3126 Electronic Diesel Engine

  • Horsepower - 330 HP @ 2,200 rpm *Torque - 860 ft-lb @ 1,440 rpm

  • Transmission - Allison MD3060 World 6-speed w/2 overdrives

  • GVWR - 29,000 lbs.

  • GCWR - 33,000 lbs.

  • Suspension - Velvet Ride

  • Brakes - hydraulic over hydraulic disc

Brake Specifications

Brakes Midland Actuators
Pistons Dual 2.88"
Rotors 15.325"
98allogo.jpg (3626 bytes)

Transmission

Specifications

98atrans.jpg (4775 bytes)
Gear Mechanical Ratio 4 1.00
1 3.49 5 .0.75
2 1.86 6 0.65
3 1.41 R 5.03

Engine

Specifications

98CAT3126.jpg (4772 bytes)
Model Caterpillar 3126 Displacement 7.21
Horsepower 300HP @2200 rpm Injection HEUI Hydraulic
Peak Torque 860 lb-ft @ 1440 rpm Dry Weight 1250 lbs.
Cylinders 6 Warranty 5 Year, Unlimited Miles

Suspension and Axle Specifications

Suspension Magnum Air Rear End Ration 5.29:1
Front Axle Westport 12,000 lbs. Wheelbase 195",237",272"
Rear Axle Eaton 19,000 lbs. Tires 255/70R22
Shocks Bilstein Gas