Marooned in a Freight Yard in Chicago August 10, 2017
I have been away from the keyboard for a while. I am currently awaiting a load and have been for nine hours now.
Yesterday I was deep in the Chicago Permanent Traffic Jam delivering to a warehouse when the call came to clear out to a “safe haven”. The warehouse yard disallows parking and my 14 hour clock had run out waiting for their “Logistic Service” to unload my trailer. So, now I am cast out to seek refuge in a tollway “Oassis” which is the nearest “safe haven”. I can run for fifty minutes of “Off Duty Driving” to get there. It is only ten and a fraction miles from the warehouse – so no sweat, right? I mean, after all I only have to average a bit more than ten miles per hour to make it in time, right?
Did I mention the Permanent Chicago Traffic Jam? Yes, I have “Violated hours of service” yet again at the specific direction of my employer. I don’t know what to think of my Federal driving log record. I don’t want to point fingers at the employer advice like “…some drivers would violate hour to make the load on time”. So, I won’t – not now, at least.
No wonder why all the companies are looking for drivers. The drivers seem to get “used up” and – I expect – “thrown away” at some point. Again, I won’t go into that now. Buy the book.
Real Life Interrupts…my load is ready 2 hours early.
Backed In at a Receiver in Rock Rapids, Iowa
The voyage to this place was exceptionally pleasant, after Chicago, of course. The roads were mostly in good repair and sparsely-traveled. The weather was fine with occasional light rain. I enjoyed some crop duster aerobatics and a beautiful sunset. Upon arrival, I passed the place since it was not where they said it would be and labeled with the wrong name. Since there was only wilderness beyond, I circled around through town again and pulled into the “wrong” place anyway. A phone call to Dispatch confirmed that the wrong place was the place to be.
The majesty of the that particular Sunset was lost to photography. This is a bite out of a horizon-to-horizon spectacle. It fails dismally to convey the beauty eye-witnessed.
Alas, none of the crop-duster’s performance was captured. The camera on my phone is all but unusable and I am lucky to get what you see. At one point he flew across the highway no more than 200 feet in front of the truck, at an altitude less than 100 feet.
“Sliding the Tandems”
I have mentioned before that the load on a big combination vehicle is legally required to certain maximum loading on each axle or pair of axles. Consider that a fifty-three foot trailer is about the size of a studio apartment and can be loaded in all sorts of odd ways. That can leave the majority of weight on one of the two clusters of 8 wheels called “tandems”. Technically, they are dual axle tandems. To review: The term “dual” means that the wheels come in side-by-side pairs. The “tandem” part is the front-to-back pairing of dual wheeled axles. So, if you are keeping track, a “dual axle tandem” amounts to eight wheels.
The limits for each dual tandem set of axles are as follows:
12000 pounds for the steering axle – those two single wheels in the front of the tractor
34000 pounds for the drive tandem – the other eight wheels on the tractor.
34000 pounds for the trailer tandem – the eight wheels on the trailer.
That last tandem is the one that moves to allow balancing of the load. After all the references to this in past posts, I thought it would be appropriate to present the idea graphically:
Above: This is how the shippers and receivers want the trailer configured for loading and unloading. Why? Because heavy forklifts go in and out and need the support of the wheels at the door.
Below: This would be the configuration for a load that is heavily biased toward the front. Sliding the trailer tandem forward takes weight off the drive axles.
The transition is accomplished by releasing the tandems (via an air-switch mounted between or in front of the driver’s of the trailer axles) and pushing the trailer back over the sliding attachment. The driver makes a guess at where exactly the axles should be based on nothing much more than a weight on the paperwork and maybe a glimpse at the cargo before the doors are closed. After loading, the next destination is always a Certified Scale where the axle weights are determined and adjustments are made before proceeding through the multitude of State Department of Transportation “gotcha” scales that you guys ignore, but to which we drivers pay close attention. When open, those scales demand Compliance (exactly as demanding and unforgiving as it sounds) from all passing trucks.
Hiding the “Beached Whale” on a Dead End Street in North Texas – August 14, 2017
After fueling and scaling this new load (bound for Illinois) there was little drive time and little or nothing in the way of rest areas or truck stops in reach. The Pilot where I fueled was overflowing, as was the Loves across the highway. There was a Walmart, but the lack of trucks in their parking lot was a giveaway that they don’t welcome the very drivers that bring them all the stuff they sell.
The new road behind the store makes a dead end where they hope to finish it someday. Parking the “Beached Whale” there inconveniences no one and I hope to get away with it for ten hours. The wake-up alarm tells me that nine and a half hours have now passed. So, no expulsion from refuge, but it is time to wrap up this segment of the saga
I really seem to have little time for writing. I hope this is a temporary adjustment to the new phase of Walkabout and that I will be able to continue the Blog. This outlet is vital to my sanity. I have stories that illustrate that statement wherein sanity is lost – or at least not visible on the surface. I am not proud of those and you will have to buy the book to read that narrative. 😉
Pilot Interstate 44 exit 72, Springfield Missouri August 15, 2017
Further along on the trip that leads me away from the Eclipse Expedition. Dispatch has promised to get me to the Dallas rendezvous on time, though. This should start with a relay tomorrow that exchanges my Illinois-bound load for one that will wind up in Kansas.
It turned out that there were “no truck parking” signs on that dead-end road in north Texas. They were over 500 yards from where I parked (May it please the court!) and completely unjustified, given the remote emptiness of the location. Again, I was inconveniencing no one. But I remember a car that crept by in the Walmart lot and stopped near my location. I suspect it was some busybody collecting my DOT number to make a complaint.
As we have discussed before, there is a parking problem in the Trucking Industry that is spreading from the East Coast and getting worse. The volume of freight in the US has increased with the trend away from “brick and mortar” shopping and toward internet shopping. All that stuff y’all are ordering online has to be delivered, you know – and that means more trucks on the road. Yes, truck stops provide parking, but that is overwhelmed at busy hours and spills out onto the streets. Many communities have taken offence and are antagonistic to the gentle giants that bring all the “stuff”. A few have been welcoming.
Bold Prediction from Captain Walkabout
We just skirted this subject, so I will walk back and “dive in the lake” – so to speak.
The economy is beginning to expand with what will be a Renaissance of Prosperity in the next ten years. You may wonder what I am talking about and I will write more about it soon. Suffice it to say that the new abundance of petroleum production in the United States (the one that that made my career in Seismic Exploration obsolete) will soon – and quietly – make us the new “Power That Be” in the Energy Sector.
I can’t be the only one who sees this coming, but I don’t see anyone else writing much about it.
Over The Road,