The National Alternative Fuels Training Consortium presented two workshops at the 2005 North American Council of Automotive Teachers (NACAT) conference, hosted by Spokane Community College in Spokane, Washington. The NAFTC also exhibited at the NACAT trade show.

NAFTC National Instructor Rich Cregar conducted multiple presentations of two separate workshops. The first workshop was to introduce NACAT members to the latest NAFTC curriculum offering, “Clean Air & Energy Independence”. During a two hour session, Mr. Cregar introduced the nature and intent of the course, and then presented the first module, titled “Why Do We Need Alternative Fuels?”

The second workshop was a cutting edge discussion of direct injection (DI) technologies for spark ignited engines and the latest developments in homogenous charge compression ignition (HCCI) concepts for Diesel (CI) engines. This two hour workshop introduced the group to the engineering goals that are driving DI and HCCI development, and then went on to describe some of the latest concepts in detail.

During the NACAT trade show, NAFTC Executive Director, Al Ebron fielded inquiries from dozens of NACAT members who visited the NAFTC booth. A great deal of interest and enthusiasm for NAFTC programs and curriculum was produced during the course of this conference.

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Rich Cregar, Clessie Lyle Cummins, NAFTC Executive Director Al Ebron. NAFTC Photo

Clessie Lyle Cummins, son of Cummins, Inc. founder Clessie Cummins, was on hand at NACAT to provide the keynote address at the close of the conference. As Mr. Cregar and Mr. Cummins are both alumni of Culver Academy, Culver, Indiana, and share a deep love of the Diesel engine, they had much to discuss.

One of the more interesting anecdotes provided by Lyle Cummins during his talk was his description of how his father was inspired to invent the “compression brake” for Diesel engines, known almost universally today as the “Jake Brake”. In the early 1930’s the Cummins Engine Company had developed a new series of Diesel truck engines. His father decided that to promote the engines he should drive a loaded truck across the country to demonstrate the reliability and economy of this new product.

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The famous Cummins Diesel Powered Indy Race Car, on display at the Cummins Museum. NAFTC Photo

Clessie Cummins chose to haul the famous Cummins Diesel Powered Indy Race Car, on the back of a straight truck equipped with one of his engines, as visible and already famous cargo.

As the truck drove west and encountered the steep mountain passes of the Rockies, Clessie realized first hand the limitations of the drum type brake systems of the day. Lyle, who was a young boy at the time, traveled with his father on this trip. He recalled that his father was having to press so hard on the brake pedal of the truck to maintain control that his back was pushed into the springs of the truck seat. The springs actually broke the skin and left scars, which Clessie carried for the rest of his life! The trip was a success and the new engine performed flawlessly. Cummins proved his statement of reliability and economy as the total fuel cost for this cross country journey was $12.80!

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