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Council seeks ban on Jake braking

July 16, 2014 - A proposed ordinance to prohibit truck drivers from using noisy compression release engine brakes, commonly known as Jake brakes, within Oxford Village's limits is in the works.

Last week, council scheduled a public hearing on the topic for its 6:30 Tuesday, Aug. 12 meeting at W. Burdick St.

"I personally do not find the sound annoying, but I know that I'm in a small minority and I want to protect the ears of the people who do find it annoying," said village President Dave Bailey.

Installed on some diesel engines, particularly those that power large trucks, a compression release engine brake is a mechanism that, when utilized, opens exhaust valves in the cylinders following the compression cycle. This releases compressed air trapped in the cylinders, which in turn, slows the vehicle.

This type of brake is commonly referred to as a "Jake brake" because there's a brand of them made by Jacobs Vehicle Systems, based in Bloomfield, Connecticut.

Use of compression release engine brakes can produce a loud, distinctive exhaust noise, particularly with vehicles that utilize high-flow mufflers or don't have any muffler. Some describe it as a popping sound.

Complaints about the noise they generate have led many communities throughout the United States to prohibit their use.

Councilwoman Sue Bossardet, who volunteers at the Northeast Oakland Historical Museum on M-24 in downtown Oxford, said "you can hear Jake brakes all day long" every day of the week except Sunday.

"They're terrible," she said.

Oxford architect Jim Wilson, who's office used to be located in downtown Oxford, told council the use of compression release engine brakes is quite frequent.

"I've sat on M-24 for the last 30 years and the number of Jake brakes that go past my previous office . . . is fairly high," he said. "You hear it fairly often during the day. It's a very distinctive sound. If somebody counted them, I'd bet you'd find three to five an hour, every hour of the day. They're fairly common."

"You can hear it, (but) I don't know that anybody can really claim it's offensive," Wilson added.

"I live 100 feet from M-24, so I'm very familiar with Jake braking. I don't find it offensive, but I think it is a offensive to the majority of the population," Bailey said.

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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