Sunday, August 14, 2005

Truck Testin' - GM Trucks on the Proving Grounds

GMC General
It almost never fails that any design looks better on paper than in person. Inherent flaws, quirks, and nuances that cannot be expressed in a drawing almost always show their face in a real-world scenario. The Tacoma Narrows' Galloping Girdie, anyone?

Chevrolet Military CEMMV in RF Testing
Regardless - with this "Law of Murphy", how would one go about creating a strong, safe, and reliable truck? The answer - even with the advancement of computer-aided engineering programs - has always been real world testing.

GMC 7000 in Testing
While GM has desert proving grounds in Tempe, AZ, the main grounds have been located in Milford, MI, since 1912. While the majority of products tested there are cars and light-duty trucks, products as diverse as heavy duty trucks, buses, military vehicles, and even earthmoving equipment have been put through their paces on the grounds.

GM Milford Proving Grounds
While the existing grounds could accomodate such vehicles, GM still built special facilities for such testing. The largest of which was built for GM Truck & Coach. The entire lower ring by numbers 23 and 24 was dedicated for truck usage. The facilities in the inner area were Truck & Coach facilities, and allowed for engineers to wrench on vehicles on site, as opposed to back in Pontiac.

GMC Astro EMC Testing
To accomodate the large size of these products, test facilities - for criteria like emissions and EMC - were installed at this location. The photo above shows the very large coils used for EMC testing on an Astro 95.

Additionally, a test facility for earthmoving equipment was established at the left end of the road strip at number 9. Facilities were installed here for dynomometers, scraping, bulldozing, and truck loading.

GMC RTS-II 04 in Milford
But if you're thinking that you've now come across up-to-date maps of a super-secret area, that's not the case. Since selling the heavy-duty truck and coach operations off, GM hasn't had much of a need for the specialized truck course, and have since put it to different use. This portion of the GM Tech Center now hosts a replica of segments of Germany's famed Nurburgring. The new curvacious, swooping course also has a nickname of the "Toiletbowl" thanks to its physical attributes.


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